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National Volunteer Week – Matthew ‘Maddi’ Coker

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Most importantly, my goal is to carry out and represent the Red Cross mission.

I joined the Red Cross in 2015. Today, April 13th makes it one year. The reason and how I came to join the Disaster Action Team (DAT) specifically began as wanting a challenge for myself all year round.

Last year, before I even had an inkling of the Red Cross, I had set a goal of collecting 50 volunteer T-shirts as a sign-up volunteer throughout Massachusetts. Suffice to say I achieved it and surpassed it by eight additional T-shirts for a grand total of 58.

Then one day I realized that I really wanted to belong to an organization that I could call my own, so I did a web search and the American Red Cross was one of the group results. Initially I was hesitant as my first thought was like most, blood! And needles and I share no kinship. But after some more in-depth research I discovered there was more to the Red Cross than blood. So I chose Disaster Services as it offered the chance of interaction with the elements, individuals and situations, which was right up my alley after having served 11 years in the British army.

I initially wanted to start off as a dispatcher, but had to become a DAT trainee first. I quickly took every class that was relevant to DAT, signed up for weekly shifts and within two months got promoted to member. This year I got promoted to DAT supervisor and recently became a DAT captain for the Metro 1 region.

There are many more titles and ‘hats’ that I’ve since achieved, but they all fail to compare to going out to a response with a DAT where you become a beacon of hope and salvation to the affected and displaced clients. Leaving a scene and knowing that the clients have a place to stay the night and have the ability to get food and clothing, and this was due to you and your team, is a feeling that can only be experienced. My goal and mission now as a DAT captain is to ensure that my trainees, members and supervisors are appreciated and supported to the best of my abilities and power. Most importantly, my goal is to carry out and represent the Red Cross mission which is to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

My fun DAT facts - 57 responses, 142 cases opened, 332 clients assisted, 2,591.6 on call hours, 478.2 worked hours, total of 3,069.8 hours.