On a recent sunny Saturday in central Oregon, Lisa Stroup, her husband John and daughter Reid, knocked on an elderly couple’s door to inquire if they had a working smoke alarm in the home. The reason: The trio, all volunteers with the Central and Eastern Oregon Chapter of the American Red Cross, were participating in a day of community service, canvassing a high-risk fire neighborhood in Bend ZIP Code 97702 as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. Kris Meathrell, the elderly couple’s daughter, explains, “My parents, Paul and Jean Nolan, are 87 and 88 respectively and they don’t normally answer the door unless they are expecting someone. For some reason, my mom went ahead and opened the door to these folks and I’m glad she did.”
The volunteers checked the two smoke alarms the couple had in their home and discovered one did not work. The trio proceeded to install three additional alarms and helped the couple make an evacuation plan. Stroup remembers the couple well. “While the alarms were being installed, they shared a funny story about the summer they had to evacuate their home because of a large wildfire and grabbed four winter coats on the way out the door.” Stroup adds, “They were a joy to work with. My family and I left feeling like we a made a real difference and provided greater peace of mind. That’s what makes this program so valuable.”
This story came full-circle when Stroup was asked to identify three Home Fire Preparedness volunteers mentioned in a thank you note to the Red Cross. As Stroup read the thank you, she realized the team mentioned in the letter was her own family! And the note was from Kris Meathrell, a Red Crosser who recently retired from the organization. “Meeting the couple, installing the smoke alarms, receiving the thank you from Kris—it was quite a coincidence and very gratifying,” says Stroup.
And for Kris Meathrell, her career with the organization couldn’t have ended on a better note. “It’s inspiring to know that the Red Cross is still touching my life and that of my family.”