Friday, December 10, 2010

How the Red Cross Mission Becomes Personal

Last night I received a call that I never thought I would get. On my iPhone it displayed my brother’s phone number. When I answered, however, it was my father on the phone. Something was off in the way that he greeted me. My usually boisterous Dad was somber. My mind went into a tailspin. I thought my brother was hurt, but fortunately he was fine. My father went on to tell me that my mother’s house had just burned down. Shocked, my body began to convulse uncontrollably. My Dad talked me through it, and I finally got to speak to my mother. She was distraught, crying, but thankful that everyone got out okay.

My mother was cold, and decided to turn on a space heater in the house. After turning the heater on she decided to continue watching television. Moments later, she saw a large spark come from the heater. The spark turned into a flame. That flame, into a blaze. She immediately grabbed my dog and cat and ran outside of the house. She got in the car and drove it far enough away from the house just to stay out of harms way. My mom called 911 from her car, and fireman soon arrived.

It is still unclear whether the house will be inhabitable or not, but I know that half of the house has been charred. Our living room, kitchen, and my sister’s bedroom are all destroyed. Thankfully, my father lives just under 2 miles away from my mother’s now destroyed house and will be hosting my mom until her living situation has been sorted out. Unfortunately, for thousands every year, there is not a person close enough or even capable enough to help them through this process.

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago responds to 3-4 fires every single day. As an intern for the American Red Cross, I always left shocked after I left the scene of the fire. Now, the roles have been reversed.

I am working on finding a right in the situation. Everyone is ok, and everyone will be taken care of in the future. For those who don’t have a strong support system, the Red Cross becomes like a guardian angel. The Red Cross administers aid to fire victims in the form of food, clothing, emotional support, and shelter.

Space heaters are actually one of the leading cause of house fires in America, and I have written about this fact numerous times, and not thought twice about it afterward.

I never thought I would have to go through something like this, and this makes me appreciate even more the work the Red Cross does to help those in their darkest hour.

A few words of advice from a new fire victim. Surround yourself with the ones you love. Try as hard as you can to keep calm, because your strength may just be the rock that someone needs in order to cope.

As the cold begins to make itself at home in Chicago, the number of house fires increase. This week alone the Chicago Red Cross has responded to over thirty fires and provided food, shelter, clothing and more to disaster victims. If you would like to help us provide comfort to those in need this Holiday season, please consider donating to Chicago Red Cross and truly give the gift that saves the day.

-Zach Zimmerman, Communications and Marketing Intern


Jackie Mitchell said...

We're here for you, Zach. Thank you for having the courage to share your story with others.

Zachary Zimmerman said...

I can't thank you enough Jackie, you guys have literally been my rocks these last 48 hours.

LukeJorwic said...

This was a great blog post, the insights are really interesting, and I am so impressed and empowered you were able to tell your story so soon after this tragedy.

Danielle Dennis said...

Love you, Zach.

Zachary Zimmerman said...

Thank you so much guys, again I can't even begin to tell you how much i really appreciate this.

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts are with you and your family during this tough time following your fire. I'm glad that nobody was harmed and that you have a great support team. I agree about the feelings after departing the homes we respond to. Many of us go home,at times, double checking for a hazard, hoping we will not experience this chaos.
My best wishes,

Rich Arons ARC/DMHS

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking time out from your own personal tragedy to remind us that these things can happen to anyone. May Peace be upon you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking time out from your own personal tragedy to remind us that these things can happen to anyone. May Peace be upon you and your family!

Zachary Zimmerman said...

Thank you for your kind words and concern. It really does mean a lot, especially coming from a Red Crosser. And for the person who is listed as anonymous, thank you for the warm wishes.