On Sunday, December 19, 2021, thanks to the initiative of New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages and the American Red Cross New York, I had the privilege to participate in an extraordinary opportunity to help save lives.
Sound the Alarm aims to reduce home fires by installing free smoke alarms and sharing critical home safety information. The smoke alarms, installation, and safety information were provided by local Red Cross volunteers, and joining this dedicated group for the day was an amazing experience.
After check-in and training, we hit the ground running in small teams and went to our assigned homes.
The experience in each home was slightly different. Not only did the houses vary in size, but also the residents had different needs. Part of our job was to ascertain those needs and provide appropriate information and equipment.
For homes with someone with hearing loss, the Red Cross can provide a special alarm that includes a bed shaker and an even louder than usual alarm. For homes with people with mobility issues, the fire safety exit discussions include addressing how to assist them and how to help them in the event of a fire.
Throughout the day, our conversations were met with great appreciation, as the team shared safety tips for all areas inside the homes, how the residents’ actions can save lives, how to create exit maps, how to ensure the safety of pets, how to check the smoke alarms. Yes, we need to check them every month!
One of my goals for 2022 is to participate in one local hands-on volunteer project each month. Whether you shoot for 10, less, or more, I urge you to lend a hand where and when you can. Many nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers. Your assistance will be appreciated.
Growing up, I frequently heard, “whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world,” a Talmudic quote that appeared in one of the last scenes of Schindler’s List. What an amazing lesson for us all! There are many ways each of us can help save lives or improve the circumstances of people in need.
My heart is filled with appreciation for the extraordinary Red Cross volunteers — especially my Sound the Alarm partners, Peter and Margaret — and for Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, who recognized the need to help combat home fires to save lives in our community.
This volunteer experience has profoundly impacted me, and I will remember it with deep gratitude for a long time to come.