Martin Healy, an American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter volunteer, from Lafayette in Contra Costa County, spent two weeks in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the end of June as a client caseworker, assisting people who had to evacuate from their homes, many of them destroyed, by the Waldo Fire.
Even through the devastation, 12-hour workdays and temperatures up to the 100s, Healy was heartened by the simplicity in the air.
“As we approached three people searching their property, the lady in the group began to tell her story. In the end, all she asked for was a hug,” said Healy.
As the disaster unraveled, residents of Colorado Springs stood on street corners each night, waving the American flag. They also held up signs of gratitude, rang bells and applauded the people helping them.
This was Healy’s 11th deployment for the Red Cross, after seven years as a volunteer. He says after starting off as a delivery driver for blood supplies, he found his calling to help people with disaster relief.
After helping with two hurricane relief efforts and the San Bruno Pipeline explosion in the Bay Area, Healy is ready to go even if given just 24 hours notice to pack his bags and board a plane for his next deployment. He doesn’t mind sleeping in a staff shelter with 180 other volunteers and waking up anytime his neighbor’s alarm clock goes off. It’s all worth it to help people whose lives have been torn apart by disaster.
As a caseworker, Healy knows how these devastating events can affect his client’s lives, and the best resources to help their recovery. He also knows how to canvas a disaster area to find people who need help.
Over time, evacuated homeowners in Colorado Springs were allowed back into their neighborhoods. Some 360 people found their homes were left to nothing but ashes and melted memories. But Healy says the high spirits and positive attitude will allow Waldo Canyon to rise from those ashes.
Healy is extremely glad to have helped out through this difficult time in Colorado. He hopes there won’t be another disaster, but is ready for his 12th deployment with the Red Cross wherever he is needed.
HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
About American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
As a community-based, humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter provides relief to those affected by disasters and empowers individuals in our community to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. By helping people in the Bay Area learn how to take care of their families and neighbors, the Red Cross strengthens the community and makes it ready for all types of disasters, including home fires, earthquakes, wildfires and health emergencies. Call 1-888-4-HELP-BAY (1-888-443-5722) or visit www.redcross.org/bayarea to learn more. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.