Thursday, July 9, 2020

“Three Questions” with Red Cross Volunteer Gian Marco Delle Sedie

by Yixuan (Shirley) Luo, American Red Cross in Greater New York

"Three Questions” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.

Gian Marco Delle Sedie started volunteering with the Red Cross in past May. Among his different Red Cross roles, Gian Marco takes shifts supporting the NYC Healthcare Heroes Initiative, providing food and other supplies to hospital workers helping patients amid COVID-19. He has also supported a Red Cross coronavirus program providing food for elderly New Yorkers. On June 24, 2020, following his Red Cross shift in Far Rockaway, Queens, Gian Marco pulled a drowning boy from the ocean.

Gian Marco works as a short-film director, producer, actor. He also works as a server, bartender, and captain. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Gian Marco came to the U.S. in October 2017 to study Filmmaking at New York Film Academy. He graduated in January 2019.

What inspired you to join the Red Cross?

In the middle of all these crises, I felt I couldn’t stay at home, just watching TV. I know that it’s safe to stay at home, but I just felt that I could be of more help somewhere else, helping people. So, I got in contact with the Red Cross at the end of March. I took a lot of training courses online. Then I started to take shifts that were available in New York that were for food distribution. Red Cross deployed me to Tropical Storm Cristobal in Houston, Texas. I was there for five days to help with sheltering. After I came back from Texas, I kept doing [COVID-19 program] Red Cross shifts. In June, I normally worked two to three shifts per day and have completed more than 30 shifts last month. I help with bag distribution and food supplies to hospital workers. I also deliver food for senior houses in Far Rockaway on Wednesdays.

Can you tell me about how you saved that 16-year-old drowning boy?

After we finished our shifts at JASA senior home in Far Rockaway, we went to the beach because it was one of our volunteers’, Maria Anguiano, birthday. Suddenly, we saw a lady yelling “Help! Help! There are some kids in the water!” I saw hands outside the water and then they submerged. At first, we thought it was just kids playing. This lady kept shouting and yelling “Help! Help! Help!” In a second, as time passed, I thought I might need to do something because the kid is not coming up and we don’t have much time to save him. So, I ran to the water, but I couldn’t see the kid anymore when I got to the water. I had to dive because he wasn’t on the surface. When I dove, I saw a blur down there on the bottom. I found the kid down there, passed out. He was still floating and going down. I came behind him and started to push him up. Thank God! I was able to push him up in time to get the kid saved. We put him on the sand. Maria arranged him on his side, and he started vomiting a lot of sand and water. Thank God we were there!

What was going through your head during all this?

I’ve been swimming since I was like three years old. I took a lot of swimming classes in my life. I am a very strong swimmer. I never took someone out of the water like this. I may have helped some people in the water but not like this, going to the bottom and bringing someone up. It was kind of scary, but you don’t have time to think about it and you just go.

I was very comforted seeing him breathing again. I felt that night, the boy’s parents won’t be crying because of me and because he is still alive. It was very comforting and nice. I felt very good about it.

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