Hey there, my name is Shawn Mendes, and I am a Red Cross volunteer like the host of this blog Becky Austin, who is my friend and esteemed colleague and asked me to contribute with a story of my own. And so I shall, everything for the cause, and Becky.
When thinking about the Red Cross most people think of big international conflicts, natural disasters that affect millions of people. And that is understandable because the IRC is a key organization in managing such horrible events. But we also help with “small” things, like blood donorship, getting food and medicine to people who have no other way of obtaining them.
Your house – Your whole world
What I will be focusing on in my story is what I have the most experience with. The relief that the Red Cross provides for those who had lost their home in a house fire. Out of the 66.000 disasters, we respond to and help with annually in the U.S. the majority are incidents where someone’s home burns down or is badly damaged by fire.
Seems like a private problem, but of course to every person, his home is the place he makes his world, his family. Where he stores things precious to him, things he needs to live and work on a day-to-day basis. When that one safe place gets destroyed or badly damaged, how do you think people feel?
Thankfully the Red Cross is on such a level here in the United States that we respond to almost every house fire. I know just how precious this practice is because my own childhood home was burned down by a criminal arsonist and the kind voice and face of Mr. Connelly were essential in helping me and my mother cope that night.
I don’t want to talk about it
After watching the brave firefighters struggle with the flames which were swallowing our house for an hour, we were exhausted and could and realized that everything we own was burned and lost forever. We were dressed in pajamas when we left the house in a panic, our only remaining possessions.
Left wondering where we will sleep and what comes next we were directed to the care of Mr. Connelly who took us to a Red Cross community center to spend the night, organized a cooked meal and had a bathroom ready for us to take a shower.
We were so depressed we didn’t want to do any of those things, but he was right there to help us get out of a very dark place. After the initial shock and getting into some donated clothes he sat is down for a talk.
We were not up for cheese phrases about the replaceable nature of material possessions, or any kind of psychological general advice, and were dreading the talk with him. But he was not what we expected.
Getting real with us, with no drama he said just the right stuff we needed to hear, mixed in a little empathy and personal experience and that was enough to get us to some kind of sleep and rest. We rebuilt our life and I wanted to dedicate mine to help others the way Mr. Connelly helped us.