As an undergraduate at Greenville College in southeastern Illinois, Corey Ross was like any other student; excited about the future and starting his career. But an experience 6 months before graduation would show just how quickly life can change.
On December 9th, 1997, tragedy struck at a men’s dormitory on campus. A fire at Kinney Hall displaced 80 students and despite the firefighters best efforts, the building and all belongings were a total loss. But more tragic than that, a classmate of Ross perished in the fire - just days before his wedding.
“None of us ever thought this could happen," Ross said of the fire he experienced. "In college, you think you're invincible."
Now the Dean of Students at the University of Sioux Falls, Ross is trying to prevent the same thing from happening again. USF, along with Augustana University, partnered with the Red Cross and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to canvass 1,500 homes as a part of the ‘Home Fire Preparedness Campaign’, a resiliency initiative to cut home fire deaths and injuries by 25% in the next five years.
Ross encouraged staff and students to volunteer for the event, going home-to-home in neighborhoods near campus where many fellow students live.
“I understand first-hand how critically important it is to get into the community and to educate folks of all ages and in every stage of life how important it is play an active role in fire safety, but also just how simple it can be to prevent catastrophic loss from fires,” Ross added.
Nearly 100 volunteers participated in the canvassing event, third to take place in Sioux Falls over the past year. One life has already been saved in the community as a result of the program.
“Taking 15 minutes per house is what can make the difference between life or death,” said USF Student Body President, Lauren Nelson. “Such an easy way to make a difference."