After a long career of working in computer programming, “way before there were desktop computers,” Roy Preuninger began volunteering with the American Red Cross to help people in need.
Preuninger, of Easton, Pennsylvania, made his first Red Cross deployment in August to Port Orford, Oregon, after a wildfire forced families from their homes. He worked in a Red Cross shelter to provide evacuees with a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support.
“I think those in shelters learn that there are other people who care,” Preuninger said. “They experience compassion, maybe for the first time.”
This deployment hit home for Preuninger. His daughter lost her home to a fire in California a few years ago.
“The whole town was great. People were thanking us for what we were doing,” Preuninger said. “It was refreshing to see a community come together and support each other.”
Preuninger’s deployment also taught him about the importance of being flexible while volunteering.
“You have to be open to anything and everything. Whatever you’re doing is what matters,” Preuninger said.
Now that he is back home in Pennsylvania, Preuninger is considering his next deployment.
“I’m looking forward to interacting with people in other areas of the country. There are cultural differences in all parts of the country, but we’re all people,” Preuninger said.
Preuninger hopes to inspire others to volunteer with the Red Cross.
“There’s nothing better on earth than helping your fellow man,” Preuninger said. “If you’re able, I think you owe it to your neighbors to improve their quality of life. It improves your own quality of life. It’s not all material things.”