Monday, January 31, 2022

"Three Questions" with Matt McLeod

Interviewed by Linda Ayares, American Red Cross in Greater NY

"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.

Matt McLeod, a Manhattan-based tech consultant, has been a volunteer since the summer of 2021. He joined the Red Cross Mass Care team, which provides food, water, and relief supplies to individuals affected by disasters. He has also supported our fire safety program. On January 09, 2022, after the tragic fire on E 181st Street in the Bronx, he was among the first Red Cross team members on scene.

Why did you join the Red Cross?

I joined the Red Cross for a couple of reasons. First, my mom was a volunteer with the Red Cross many years ago, and she responded to United Airlines Flight 173, the aircraft that crashed in Portland, OR in 1978. Her experience of reaching out to her community in a moment of crisis left an impression on me.

Additionally, over the past two years, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic, I see a need and an opportunity to strengthen our global community. I saw the Red Cross as an avenue to explore this critically important work.

Can you talk about your work after the Bronx fire?

I responded with our Emergency Response Vehicle, and distributed blankets and bottled water to building residents that were being helped at a nearby school. I also coordinated with the Mass Care team to support immediate feeding needs, with 200+ meals delivered to displaced residents via a local partner.

What was it like to be helping after such an incident?

I tried to remain focused on my work while also being respectful of the incredible loss that had occurred. One of the ways that I attempted to strike this balance was to connect people. There were so many individuals who were on scene helping - FDNY, EMS, NYPD, and community leaders. As needs emerged, I tried to work together as one team to support the families as best we could. 

While disaster relief is one important piece, I also believe that disaster prevention is paramount - it sends a signal that we care about each other before a disaster strikes.

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