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Why I Help: Marc Ebersberg

A Disaster Action Team Member's Story
We all tend to focus on what is happening to ourselves and why we have bad things happen to us, but we need to get out of ourselves and see what is affecting others in our community.

Seven years ago when Marc Ebersberger first began volunteering at the American Red Cross, he thought about all his years of blood donations with the organization, as well as the massive relief efforts done after floods and major storms. At the time, it never occurred to him to think that Red Cross does a lot on local levels too, like coordinating community emergency preparation classes and home fire relief operations. But, he soon realized all that early on during orientation where he became intrigued with the work of Red Cross Disaster Action Teams (DAT). These teams visit disaster sites (local, regional, and national), and offer assistance to the disaster victims to help them recover from the turbulent events that ripped apart their lives.

Ebersberger had retired after about 40 years of working in both the public and private sectors, but said that he still keenly "felt the need to do something useful, and to give back in some way to the community" and, so he began volunteering at the Red Cross in the Chesapeake Region. He found his calling to help others in DAT, and discovered that being on this sort of team allowed him to directly work and interact with clients. He also works with the Howard County, Maryland Disaster Action Team; there, during one week per month he is on-call as a dispatcher, and on the weekend he serves as an on-call responder.

Although Ebersberger gets great satisfaction from engaging in DAT projects, according to him, his most memorable moment (so far) has been when he assisted Cyndi Ryan with the Restoring Family Links program. Most of this work involved contacting Holocaust victims and their families about any information concerning their relatives. This has expanded to include helping victims and families to contact loved ones throughout the world when a disaster or military action takes place.

Ebersberger had a chance to meet and work on a case involving a gentleman-client who was a Holocaust survivor. This client was 93 years old, and lived in an assisted-living facility. He was searching for his younger brother with whom he hadn’t had contact since during World War II. Ebersberger recalled, that "the most memorable part was listening to our client’s stories of his experiences during the war."

He saw several arbitrary killings and believed himself to be next, but the guard for some reason spared him. He lost his parents, a sister, and a nephew during the Holocaust. In the last days of the war during a transfer of prisoners, by a fluke of fate, he was reunited with two of his brothers who later came to America. He never saw his third brother again.

What was so remarkable to Ebersberger was that this Holocaust survivor was able to maintain such a positive spirit and outlook on life, even after all these tragedies. Sadly, even after extensive tracing coordination work was done, the Red Cross personnel could not find out any further details about the client's missing younger brother.

All in all, Ebersberger concludes happily that his volunteerism at the American Red Cross organization is an enlightening, worthwhile endeavor that balances his perspective on life. He gladly shares his talents and time with this charitable organization. He said, "We all tend to focus on what is happening to ourselves and why we have bad things happen to us, but we need to get out of ourselves and see what is affecting others in our community. Then, we start to realize that our problems may not be as bad or 'catastrophic' as we think they are."