STORY: A Trip Back Home for a Red Cross Volunteer on Deployment

Sandy - A Trip Back Home
Typically when an American Red Cross Volunteer goes on disaster deployment, she or he thinks of it as leaving home for two to three weeks. But in the case of Al West, Red Cross site manager at the Cedar Creek fixed feeding site in Seaford, Long Island, NY, it is going back home. Al was born and raised in Seaford, and lived there all of his life until he retired, and he and his wife moved to Charleston, SC three years ago. “We really love Charleston,” he said, “But I can’t think of any place I’d rather go on deployment than right here. This is a real treat.”

As soon as he got to Charleston, Al joined the local Red Cross Chapter Disaster Services and has become involved in client services as a DAT team volunteer. He was eager to deploy to Long Island because of his ties here. “They really threw me under the bus,” Al said jokingly. “I didn’t know what I was getting in to.”  This is his first time as a feeding site manager, but he is quick to point out that he has gotten tremendous support from his old community where many folks still think of him as a “favorite son.”

Local catering companies under contract with the Red Cross deliver 7,000 meals per day to Cedar Creek Park. Up to fifty spontaneous volunteers from the community show up every day to arrange the sandwiches, snacks, fruit and water bottles in buffet fashion on long picnic tables for the local residents to pick up and carry home. They have been feeding 2,000 meals at lunch and 3,000 meals at supper time since the unit opened right after Superstorm Sandy.  At the end of the day, the community volunteers bag up whatever is left and distribute it within the community to those who aren’t able to come to the park to get their meal. It’s just one more example of people from the local town pitching in to help the Red Cross do its job of helping them recover from the disaster. “After all,” said Al, who still feels like part of the town, “We really are all in this together!”

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