Marian Ford, a retired social security worker from the Bronx, was initially introduced to the American Red Cross after receiving help from our organization as a child when her family’s house burned down. Ford joined the Red Cross in 2014 and as part of her Red Cross volunteer work she is a member of our Disaster Action Team, helping families affected by fires, building collapses and other emergencies across the five boroughs. She also serves as a blood donor ambassador.
Can you talk about your work responding to local disasters?
I’m part of Red Cross Disaster Action Team. It’s on-call. We respond when disaster strikes. Usually fires. We arrive on scene to assist the residents. Whether they need a place to stay, emergency funds, or any other things we can provide, like clothing, we address immediate needs.
When we arrive on scene, some people are like, “Oh, you come out to all fires?’ Every time there's a fire, if it’s a residential fire, the Red Cross is there. It is refreshing to see that we’re able to help people. Residents we assist are very appreciative. And the community also sees that we’re helping.
What do you bring to the Red Cross?
I bring my experience working with people from all walks of life. I bring empathy. I bring a unique way of looking at things. I feel that I can read people pretty well. And I don’t take myself too seriously.
What does it mean for you to volunteer with the Red Cross?
I think it’s pledging an honor to volunteer for this agency. And I’m very, very appreciative of that.
Before I retired, I worked in an office and people came to me. Now as a volunteer I go to them--where they live, in the community. I go into people’s homes, into their neighborhoods. You really learn a lot about people’s circumstances.
Just recently with Hurricane Ida, there were so many basement apartments [affected]. I never really thought about that. I would never imagine that people could drown inside an apartment. I still get chills thinking about it. [Volunteering with the Red Cross] puts me on the scene of these situations. It gives me a whole different perspective that I didn’t have before.