Michael Hornack has a long history with the American Red Cross, having spent roughly 30 years working and volunteering for the organization. He also served in the military starting when he was only 19 years old, and later joined the United Way as an executive director where he served for ten years. Today, Michael is living his best retired life, participating in a weekly Chili Night at Jamaica Bay, a local retirement center, and continuing to volunteer at his local Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter.
In the 1960s, Michael and a good friend had the idea of building a large community pool in Cleveland, Ohio. When their dream became a reality and construction was final, Michael realized that qualified people were needed to supervise the pool and ensure swimmer safety. After taking the Red Cross’ Lifeguard Training and Certification course, he began working at the pool as a volunteer lifeguard. Soon after, Michael was offered a full-time position by the Red Cross as a swim instructor. Michael’s career progressed, becoming the Director of Swim Services, a program he helped develop. This program was designed to advance CPR and lifeguard certified volunteers to diving and scuba instructors.
During his career with the Red Cross, Michael has received numerous awards for his generosity and dedication to the instruction of first-aid, CPR and water safety. He has also received awards from NASA and from the City of Gary, Ind. He has founded and taught many safety programs that have been instrumental in teaching different communities how to properly tend to basic medical emergencies, and how to keep people safe in or around a body of water.
When asked what his favorite experience working at the Red Cross has been, he replied, "There is no one experience that tops another. Instead, I like to think of everything I’ve done with the Red Cross as one big opportunity to help the community, and it is for that opportunity that I am truly thankful."
As Water Safety Month wraps up, it is only appropriate to salute Michael for his work encouraging safe summer water activities and preparedness. The Red Cross National Water Safety Program is the gold standard for aquatics training and has helped millions of people learn how to swim and keep others safe while in and around the water. Water Safety Month in May advocates for smart swimming habits such as not swimming alone, enrolling in swim lessons and knowing what to do in a water emergency.
Learn more about staying safe around water and register for water safety classes.
Written by Matthew Dulin