Throughout his volunteer experiences in responding to disasters like floods, tornadoes, and local fires, Saul Maisonet greatly values all the experience and knowledge he has gained through the Red Cross. He volunteers as an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) operator for the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter (MAC) of the American Red Cross. Maisonet does his task with a smile because, as he states, "Volunteering is the right thing to do, and it feels good." Bill Hatherley, a Senior Incident Response Leader for the Red Cross, remarked that "when Saul and I worked together on an ERV, we were always [in] the first group to volunteer and the last to leave."
Loyal volunteer Saul Maisonet (working for the Red Cross' Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter in Atlanta, Georgia) sits at the ready in a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle truck at a Mississippi tornado site in April 2010.
Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Maisonet is a retired U.S. military paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to him, this prior military experience led to a smooth transition into Red Cross disaster relief efforts. Usually, Maisonet drives a truck, and delivers food and supplies to storm victims. He remembers sleeping soundly under his truck, while volunteering during a flood in Illinois.
One of the first disasters in which he delivered supplies was Hurricane Katrina. "I always feel compelled to go back and help [others], because after working in those kinds of situations you have that compassion for life," said Maisonet. And Hatherley added, "Saul is a dedicated volunteer and a role model to others who both understands the big picture and is willing to jump into any situation to help." Around the same time as Hurricane Katrina occurred, Maisonet and his wife, Magdalena (she was a volunteer cook), were called to help the victims of Hurricane Wilma. Maisonet recalls that while his wife was helping to cook thousands of meals for the victims caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, he and another group of Red Cross volunteers continually scrambled to find food when local supermarkets and restaurants were closed for business.
Maisonet strongly believes in teamwork, and wants to make sure that his children show this value to others too. He and his wife have a son currently serving on military active duty, and a daughter attending The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina.
Even when hurricane and tornado seasons are over, Maisonet tirelessly supports victims of fires in his community. He delivers Red Cross-supported funds for food, clothing, and shelter, and helps families fill out necessary paperwork. At the end of the day, Maisonet knows he is on a winning team with the American Red Cross. He says, "It's hard work serving hundreds of meals a day at a shelter, but you work together as a team [to make it happen] and make new friends."
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.