Thursday, November 14, 2013

For Red Cross Volunteer, Typhoon Haiyan Hits Close to Home

Story and photo by Anita Salzberg

Since Typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines this past weekend, Ronnie Rigos knew he wanted to throw himself into the American Red Cross Haiyan relief effort. Rigos, a 25-year New York resident now living in Brooklyn, and a five-year Greater New York volunteer, hails from Quezon Province, about 45 miles north of Manila, the Philippine capital city.

“I literally jumped at the opportunity to be part of this response,” Rigos said. “It means so much to me personally.”

He, along with fellow volunteers and employees, has been eagerly taking calls from people searching for loved ones in the area devastated by Haiyan. From filling out tracing inquiries on missing relatives, to providing information on ways to support the Red Cross International Response Relief Fund, to offering emotional support and “being there” for people in this difficult time, Rigos is doing it all, including taking on a leadership role in the Greater New York response.

“I've reached out to local Filipino-American community leaders, established point-of-contacts and helped coordinate the services our local Red Cross is offering,” he said.

Rigos’ mother, sisters, brothers and other relatives remain in Quezon Province. Though they are safe, he has yet to hear from distant relatives and close family friends who may have been in the region hit by the typhoon.

He says he regards the American Red Cross, and especially the Red Crossers in the Greater New York region, as an extended family, and wants to thank everyone in the region, “For their enormous care, warmest of thoughts, awesome support, thoughtful kindness, and for being there, always.”

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