“A caridade comeca en casa” – the charity begins at home – is a Brazilian proverb and one that Carlos McCluskey, the new manager of the American Red Cross of Tompkins County, lives by every day.
Born and raised in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Carlos witnessed many socioeconomic-related issues at a young age and quickly learned the importance of helping those in need.
“My family was very involved in the community, and I spent a lot of time as a child going to farms and teaching kids English and playing soccer with them,” Carlos said about his childhood in Brazil.
In 2002, Carlos moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he attended Florida Atlantic University. He majored in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and was a member of the men’s soccer team until he suffered an injury and became a coach. During his time in Florida, Carlos witnessed natural disasters such as hurricanes.
“I have lived through several, and I understand the importance of disaster preparedness,” Carlos said.
Following college, Carlos worked for the Florida Guardian Litem program in Broward County, where he represented the best interests of children who were abused, abandoned, or neglected in Dependency Court. Due to the high amount of children in care, the Guardian Litem Program depended on volunteers to represent the best interests of the children, and an important part of Carlos’ job was training those volunteers.
In 2008, Carlos received the Child’s Hero Award from the Florida Guardian ad Litem program. He was appointed to the state of Florida Guardian ad Litem Training Task Force in 2009, and in 2012 he was named to the state’s Volunteer Advocacy Committee.
For the Red Cross, Carlos’ duties include developing and maintaining community partnerships, recruiting and supervising the volunteers who provide Red Cross services, and promoting Red Cross services in Tompkins County. Red Cross services include preparing the public for disasters, responding to disasters, offering health and safety classes, hosting blood drives, and providing emergency communication and assistance for members of the Armed Forces and their families.
“I want to establish strong relationships with our community leaders and organizations to ensure our services, particularly disaster response and preparedness, are optimally run and used throughout the community,” he said.
Carlos will work daily at the American Red Cross of Tompkins County’s new office at 2 Ascot Place, Ithaca. As part of a reorganization effort that occurred this past summer, Tompkins County became a part of the Red Cross’ Southern Tier Chapter and a full-time manager was hired for the Tompkins County office. Carlos replaced former Tompkins County manager Toni Sacco, who resigned to take another job.
“One of our goals as we restructured the region was to have a full-time manager devoted to service delivery, volunteer recruitment and fundraising in Tompkins County,” said Shelley Bierwiler, Community Executive of the American Red Cross of the Southern Tier. “We’re thrilled to have Carlos in Tompkins County, where he can continue Toni’s great work and build on the strong relationships we have developed with the Tompkins County communities.”
Carlos lives in Ithaca with his wife, Justine Petry McCluskey, who grew up in Trumansburg and graduated from Trumansburg High School before attending the University of Oregon and Florida Atlantic University. In his spare time, Carlos enjoys traveling and the outdoors.
The Red Cross is fortunate to have a person of Carlos’ caliber to aid its mission of helping individuals and families from throughout Tompkins County prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
“I was raised with and always felt a moral obligation to be active in the community where I live and work,” Carlos said. “I am excited to be a part of an organization with a great history and tradition that is at the forefront of alleviating human suffering.”