Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer Justin Schlaefli has been volunteering for as long as he can remember. He began helping various organizations while in high school, and eventually became more involved with humanitarian work by the time he got to college.
As a full-time civil and traffic engineer, Justin devotes his extra time as the Disaster Action Team (DAT) coordinator at the Red Cross in San Diego. He regularly assists with paperwork and answers phone calls, but because he is a part of the disaster services team, his days often change. “A typical day varies and can turn a-typical very quickly,” said Justin.
Although Justin has been a Red Cross volunteer for less than two years, he has gained a lifetime of memorable experiences.
In July 2015, Justin and the disaster action team were dispatched to a SWAT scene. He remembered helping to revive the SWAT team by handing out food and hydration. “One of my friends was on the SWAT team and I didn’t see him the entire day,” said Justin. “Later he sent me a picture of him with one of the burritos we handed out, while still wearing his SWAT gear and covered in muck, thanking me and the Red Cross. Seeing the end result and having a connection to it was memorable.”
Aside from his memorable experiences, getting the opportunity to directly help those in need of assistance motivates him to continue his work with the Red Cross.
“There was one women who lost everything-- her house had burned down and it was raining,” said Justin. “She was trying to dig through her home to make us coffee, when it was us who was there to help her. It’s motivating to see how people can be hospitable and gracious during times of disaster.”
When he is not volunteering for the Red Cross, Justin enjoys spending time with friends or getting involved in outdoor activities, such as spear fishing, hunting and hiking.
Justin encourages others to join the Red Cross. “Not only is it a moral obligation, but they will have a lot of fun doing it,” said Justin. “The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that you get from giving back is invigorating.”
For more information about volunteering with the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer.