Having fond memories of supporting the Red Cross as a child, Sanford was immediately prompted to join the organization's relief efforts.
“My job was to shuttle people from the Brooklyn headquarters to the 9/11 site — what they call the Ground Zero site,” Sanford said.
This was the ideal job for the native New Yorker who, in addition to being a teacher, also worked as a tour guide. Sanford recalled spending months giving mini tours to the volunteers, pointing out the city's different landmarks as he shuttled them across the area.
“I felt that that was also an obligation of mine, to let people know where they are — give them a little perspective about New York City and a little joy about New York City.”
Sanford recalls the gratitude that people had for the Red Cross, particularly following the events of Sept. 11.
“Any time we did something, and they saw that Red Cross van,” Sanford said, “people just opened up to us.”
He also remembers the sorrow that came in the aftermath and the way the New York atmosphere changed.
“It was a very sad time; it was a difficult time. We couldn’t wait for the city to come back to life,” Sanford said. “The smell of the building burning just stayed with you, and it probably still stays with me today.”
Following the 9/11 recovery effort, Sanford knew he would remain with the Red Cross. He now serves as a Red Cross preparedness trainer and teaches volunteers how to drive Emergency Response Vehicles. Recently, he supported relief efforts for victims of California wildfires.
The ability to aid people after disasters and crises, and the ability to make a change in their lives, is what makes his work with the organization meaningful to him.
“I never felt that I would leave the Red Cross, since 9/11. I felt at home. You know, as a kid I was with the Red Cross as a volunteer, and as a teenager, and then I came back home again after 9/11. So it was very meaningful to me.”