Thursday, October 28, 2010

You help people right away—no “ifs,” no “buts,” no “tomorrow”

Denise Wilson (left), Sarah Greenidge (middle) & Mark Greenidge (right)
Denise Wilson lit the stove as she was preparing dinner for her family in their West Harlem apartment, and “it just blew,” setting fire to her hair. After patting out the flames burning her hair, she grabbed her grandson and 9-year-old daughter and ran out. She called the fire department, ran back in and banged on her neighbors’ doors to warn them.

The blaze destroyed her top-floor apartment. “There was no more kitchen,” says Denise. “They broke all the windows and made holes in the roof—we could see airplanes flying across.” She reports that Red Cross relief workers came to the building right away, while she was at the hospital being checked for smoke inhalation. By the time she was released the Red Cross had made arrangements for emergency housing for her entire family of ten, as well as assistance for food and clothing.

Denise and her husband, Mark Greenidge, like almost all victims of fires to which the Red Cross responds, knew only that when a flood, earthquake or other big disaster happens, the Red Cross is always there. When she and her family came to NY Red Cross Chapter headquarters the day after the fire, they were amazed by the amount of help and caring offered by the organization. “They gave us food and they looked out for the kids,” said Denise. “I hadn’t eaten, I was really upset, and the Red Cross caseworker talked to me about how important it was to care of myself. She went and got me something to eat. I was grateful for that.”

What impressed Mark was that the Red Cross had no hesitation about helping. “You come and help people right away—no “ifs,” no “buts,” no “tomorrow,” no “next week”—right away,” he said. Denise added, “You guys helped immediately and didn’t look at us like we just wanted handouts. I am very grateful for that as well.”

Denise Wilson and Mark Greenidge from New York, NY

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