Monday, January 31, 2022

“Three Questions” with Tamar Nagel

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.

Tamar Nagel is a disaster responder with the American Red Cross in Greater NY. As part of her volunteer work, she provides emergency relief after local emergencies. In the days after the tragic Bronx fire on E. 181st Street earlier this month, Tamar offered one-on-one support to affected residents at a Service Center set up by NYC. She resides in Manhattan.

When did you start volunteering?

I began the training process at the end of August [2021] but did not do my first disaster shift until the start of November. At the start, it is important to volunteer regularly to ensure that the training sticks, so I was going in about once a week. Overall, the Red Cross is an amazing place to volunteer.

Can you talk about your experience volunteering so far?

Volunteering with the Red Cross, helping people after disasters and connecting them with resources, is a humbling experience. I like going out in the field, assessing a situation, and figuring out how best to help those affected. I also enjoy the company of the other people who volunteer with me, people of all ages, many with fascinating life experiences. I hope to continue for the foreseeable future.

What kind of work did you do in the aftermath of the big Bronx fire on January 9?

I was out of town the weekend that the fire took place. I got the text message that they [Red Cross] urgently needed responders, but I went as soon as I could. I took several shifts at the [NYC] Service Center in the days after the fire, as a caseworker. It was hard but I feel that as a human being, it was the least that I could do. It’s been eye opening and again, humbling, in many ways. I was thankful that the Red Cross gave me the chance to connect directly, and help several families dealing with some really challenging circumstances. I was close to tears at times hearing some of their situations. Despite language barriers at times, simple sympathy and support needs no translation (although the City did a wonderful job providing translators to assist). It was incredible to see how many different services and agencies there were to help, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

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