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Red Cross Volunteers Reconnect With Lisbon Family During Local Event.

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"Just knowing that whatever we needed, somebody was there to help us"

A Lisbon family found a special surprise when it attended the local library’s story hour in early July.

Every Thursday, the Lisbon Public Library hosts a story hour, where children are read books and can participate in various crafts and activities. July 9, Angie Clark and her three children attended event, but were pleasantly surprised to see two particular American Red Cross volunteers in attendance as well.

“I had no idea they would be there that day, but I was happy to see them show up,” Clark said.

The volunteers, Ken and Ann Opatz, responded to the Clark family’s needs when it sought help from the Red Cross after an electrical fire destroyed its home in January. They met with the family the following day to provide it with the necessary items to get back on its feet, which included toys for the children.

Months later, the library invited the Opatzes to be the guest speakers for the day’s story hour.

“I immediately went to them and asked if they remembered us,” Clark said. “They said they did, and I thanked them again for everything.”

During the story hour, Ann Opatz said because their audience consisted of young children, she and her husband didn’t wish to frighten them, so they decided to read pages from a Red Cross coloring book. They also talked discussed weather, disasters that can result from weather and the importance of fire safety. They also illustrated their experiences with responding to various disasters locally and nationally. To engage the children, the couple asked them how they could help people in their communities.

Afterward, the volunteers gave the children a tour of the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle, and both the parents and the children enjoyed the experience. Their intentions were to simply distribute cookies from the serving window, but decided to allow the children to partake in serving the cookies as well. They were also given the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat and experiment with the PA system.

“I think it was just the right mix of conversation and that hands-on activity,” Opatz said, “but being able to get inside that ERV was just really cool for those kids.”

The ERV was not present the night of the fire, so Clark’s children were excited to see its interior, she said. They appreciated the tour, especially knowing the vehicle belonged to the organization that helped them in their time of need.

“It was positive, I think, for the children and the adults that were there,” Opatz said.