The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
By Willetta Harris
Memphis, Tennessee, Friday October 4, 2013. American Red Cross volunteers David Compton, Larry Bomar, and I worked as a team to visit fire stations in the Fraser and South Memphis areas. Our purpose was to deliver clipboards with contact information for the Mid-South Red Cross and to thank the firemen for their conscientious efforts in quickly contacting the Red Cross when families are displaced by home fires, an event that occurs in the Mid-South on average of twice a day.
As our threesome traveled across Memphis, we each agreed to perform distinct tasks. Hence, the idea of us going to meet the Wizard popped into my mind: David, volunteered to drive as he had the Courage; Larry volunteered to read the map and give directions, so he was the Brain, leaving me to be the Heart.
Memphis is a city of many twists and turns. Negotiating those twists and turns was certainly more challenging than speaking to the men at the various fire departments. Getting to our assigned locations required us to use our collective knowledge and sometimes to improvise. Lamar Avenue, one of Memphis’ major thoroughfares, was a particular challenge that required a lot of time to negotiate.
Despite the travel challenges, we all had plenty of Heart, Love and Respect for the men of the Memphis Fire Department. They are the first responders to any major disaster, putting their lives on the line daily. The firemen at each location were gracious and very appreciative of our visit. On some occasions they stopped performing a “household” task or resting from a fire call to talk with us. We tried to get in and out as quickly as possible.
The highlight of the day was at the last stop. In order to drive into the compound, we needed to know a security code to open a gate. We did not know the code, so we slipped in when the gate opened for a waste dump truck that was leaving the site. Once inside, we halfway expected an armed guard to emerge and forbid us from going further. Luckily that did not happen.
The men at this fire station are responsible for putting out fires on large government aircraft, and it is also the location of Homeland Security. Unbeknownst to us, they had been watching us on camera the whole time. What a site it was! Larry was intrigued because he was in the Air Force. David is retired military, so it also captured his attention.
Our day of visiting fire stations turned out to be a very good day indeed, and the rewards were priceless. Tired but satisfied with a job well done, we made our way back to the Land of Oz at 1400 Central Avenue (the Mid-South Red Cross).