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From Sandy to Home Fires, Volunteer Helps Families in Need

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We are grateful for the meaningful work Steve and all the members of the North Jersey Region Disaster Action Team do to help those in our community who have experienced devastating home fires.

From Superstorm Sandy to home fires, American Red Cross North Jersey Region volunteer Steve Latimer is committed to helping families in need.  

In October of 2012, 900-mile-wide Superstorm Sandy swept through the Garden State bringing with it violent winds, torrential rains and flooding that forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and left others without power. While communities across New Jersey experienced widespread destruction from the devastating storm, Steve Latimer of Bloomfield found his neighborhood to be largely untouched. 

Wanting to help those who had been impacted by the storm, the retired attorney became an American Red Cross volunteer. After attending a volunteer orientation, Latimer joined the disaster response. 

“The Red Cross sounded like the kind of organization I wanted to work with,” said Latimer.

In the weeks that followed, Latimer helped bring comfort and relief to those in need by manning phone banks, staffing shelters and working with Red Cross teams loading trucks and delivering much needed supplies to neighborhoods across the state.  

Following Sandy, Latimer wanted to continue to help those affected by disaster as a member of the Red Cross North Jersey Region Disaster Action Team. Members of the Disaster Action Team respond to local disasters, such as home fires and floods, to provide emotional support, financial assistance and referrals to those affected by disasters, open shelters as needed, and provide canteen services.

“I like leaving the scene knowing I brought people from a desperate situation to a place where they can begin to move forward,” Latimer said. 

After several months as a disaster responder, Latimer decided to complete the additional training necessary to become a Disaster Action Team lead. Since becoming a team lead in the summer of 2013, he has responded to more than 55 home fires to assist families when they need it most. 

This week, Latimer responded to home fires in Montclair and Newark to provide comfort and emergency assistance in the form of temporary lodging, food and clothing as needed to the two families, 10 people, displaced by the blazes. 

“We are grateful for the meaningful work Steve and all the members of the North Jersey Region Disaster Action Team do to help those in our community who have experienced devastating home fires,” said Mathieu Nelessen, regional CEO, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Their compassion and willingness to help others when they need it most truly embodies the spirit of the American Red Cross.”

All emergency assistance is free to those affected by disasters and is made possible through the donation of time by dedicated Red Cross volunteers and the generosity of the American public. More than 3,000 volunteers serve with the Red Cross North Jersey Region. Nationally, the Red Cross has nearly 400,000 volunteers, which represent more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce.

This year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region has helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. Local volunteers responded at all hours of the day and night to help more than 926 families, 3,009 people, who suffered home fires from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2014. 

The Red Cross invites the public to sign up to volunteer and be a part of the impactful work it does every day. 

BECOME A RED CROSS VOLUNTEER The Red Cross relies on the generosity of its volunteers to fulfill its mission. There are a variety of ways people can get involved and the Red Cross is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels.