By Joe Gutierrez, American Red Cross volunteer
As a police officer, Marcus Perez saw firsthand the commitment and dedication to disaster relief and community support of the American Red Cross. So, when it was time to retire, the former Pomona Police lieutenant had no hesitation about becoming a volunteer for the Red Cross.
“What better way to give back to the community and to the Red Cross for helping us when we needed them,” said Marcus, whose extensive volunteer efforts for the San Bernardino County Chapter led to him being named the Red Cross January 2024 Volunteer of the Month.
Marcus, who has been a Red Cross volunteer since December 2020, believes his willingness to help others in challenging situations along with strong communication skills and most importantly the ability to work well in a team environment have helped make him a strong fit for the Red Cross.
“As a manager with the police department, I was able to communicate well with the employees and the community, and I felt that they were able to connect with me,” Marcus said. “But I think my biggest quality is my ability to be very tolerant of people, patient and adaptable. The Red Cross is all that in a nutshell. Having been on deployments, I'll tell you, things change every hour. And so, I learned right away with the Red Cross be flexible, be tolerant and be patient.”
Marcus began volunteering as a blood transportation specialist, then took on additional assignments such as Logistics, Hot Shots smoke alarm installations and driving an emergency response vehicle (ERV). “I delivered blood (ASAP/STAT) to local hospitals, drove 26' box trucks to deliver goods or feeding disaster victims from an ERV during deployments in Florida and Northern California.”
He says what motivates him to stay involved with the Red Cross is a “sense of purpose, knowing you're making a positive impact in the affected communities. Additionally, the opportunity to develop new skills, networking, and a sense of camaraderie. Moreover, continuous learning and personal growth that comes from diverse volunteer experiences.”
“It's like making a monetary substantial donation because you're devoting your time and efforts to assist others unselfishly. And that feels good,” Marcus said. “It's not just what I can do for the Red Cross, it's what the Red Cross has done for me - It provides me with that gratitude and satisfaction than volunteering for maybe the city or something would not be able to provide.”
But he added laughingly, “It's also cool operating a forklift!”
Marcus knew he was volunteering for the right place based on the satisfaction he felt from people he helps.
“As the former Red Cross Hot Shots Lead in our chapter, I experienced firsthand how gratifying it was to hear the clients offer a heartfelt appreciation for providing a free service which provided fire safety to them and their family.”
The best thing about volunteering with the Red Cross is knowing that he is directly contributing to helping people in times of crisis.
“It's nice to be a part of an organization that is viewed in a positive manner by the public. Myself and other Red Cross volunteers take pride in supporting or being associated with an organization that is well respected worldwide,” Marcus said. “Okay, maybe it's the unlimited canteen snacks too!”
Being a Red Cross volunteer also gives him a sense of purpose and the chance to work alongside like-minded people to create a rewarding and meaningful experience.
“As a retiree I feel proud when asked ‘What do you do with your time now?’ When I inform them that I spend time volunteering for the Red Cross, I'm bombarded with follow up questions on how I became a Red Cross volunteer.”
He said he would tell other Red Cross volunteers that their selfless efforts make a significant impact on our communities in need.
“Thank you for your invaluable compassion and inspiration, which doesn't go unnoticed. On a personal experience level during deployments, I applaud those who possess extreme patience and flexibility knowing we are trying our best to complete the same mission,” Marcus said.
And to potential Red Cross volunteers he would tell them to “Consider joining a community of compassionate folks dedicated to making a real impact in the community. There's an assignment for just about every skill possible, from hands-on to virtual positions. It really is a great and rewarding experience.”