SYRACUSE The American Red Cross of Central New York has been quite busy in the last few months in the wake of many recent fires in the Syracuse area.
Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 10, the Red Cross responded to 13 fire calls, assisting a total of 75 clients and providing $19,755 in assistance to those in need. In the 12 months prior to Jan. 1, the Red Cross showed up to 178 calls involving 712 clients and provided $142,779 in assistance.
The squad assigned to fires and other disasters is the Disaster Action Team, a group of volunteers trained to help those clients immediately after something terrible happens. Most of the time, the DAT helps with people affected by fire.
Nicki Macallair, a Syracuse resident since 1970 and area English teacher whose father was a volunteer firefighter for 50 years, decided to give her time to the Red Cross. On May 30, 2009, Macallair became an official member because she wanted to give her time for not just a good cause, but a good cause and an exciting time.
“I was inspired by [hurricane] Katrina,” Macallair, who recently had minor surgery to clean up the inside of her knee, said. “I saw what those people had to go through, and I thought I’d volunteer somewhere, but I wasn’t certain where. I looked into some that weren’t really too exciting. I wanted something with some action in it. I saw an ad in the paper for the Red Cross, so I called and did some research. At first, I wanted to do something on a national level, then I saw just how much volunteers are needed locally. I decided it was time for me to join.”
What she found, though, was that it isn’t a volunteer job that you sign up for and immediately begin. There are a handful of classes to complete, from learning the ideals of the Red Cross on down to how to respond in efficient and helpful ways. Within a year, Macallair was promoted to team leader, meaning she has extra responsibility in the form of mounds of paperwork.