Season of fires: A Red Cross story

Published 8:57 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

To the editor

In January of 2008, on the Sunday before the Martin Luther King holiday, my wife and I were returning from church. &bsp;

Our intention was to tend to our animals and then leave again to visit an old friend whom we called Aunt Cynthia for her birthday. &bsp;

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

We were to meet up with another friend who was truly Cynthias niece.

Upon entering our home we heard a ticking sound and searched all over to locate it. Elaine finally noticed little brownish circles appearing above our fireplace and along our hallway. I went outside to open the door to the attic area and was immediately smothered with black smoke and could see flames taller than myself.

We called emergency and frantically tried to get our two dogs and three cats safely in our vehicles. It was bitter cold and all sorts of worrisome scenarios were racing through my head.

Literally, within minutes, my driveway were full of fire, E.M.T.s and rescue units who screamed at us to leave the house as we tearfully were searching for our two older cats, who were hiding.

Through it all everyone on the scene acted swiftly, courteously and professionally. The fire was eventually put out and all our animals were safe. We later learned the cause of the fire was faulty wires that ignited our insulation.&bsp; Besides the attic, a great deal of the walls and ceiling had to be removed. &bsp;

Despite the cold and the holiday, many people pulled strings to get the proper people to my home to restore order.&bsp; In spite of that, it took nearly a week before I could move back in. Amidst all the chaos, what I remember most is Chuck Davis from the Red Cross, pulling me aside and offering a place for us to stay.&bsp; He also offered meals and a place for the animals. The Red Cross was simply an answer to my prayers.

Up till that day Ill admit Id never thought much of the Red Cross.&bsp; I, of course, knew who they were but never realized the capacity and scope of all they do and what it entails to achieve their goals.

When I was made whole, the very first check I administered was to the Red Cross. Subsequently Chuck, who has since become a valuable friend and supporter, asked if I would like to become a board member.

I have since learned so much more and have had the privilege to meet all the fabulous staff and volunteers who devote their time and efforts to this cause.

At each meeting we discuss disasters that were attended and our contribution. We also discuss training programs and the ever important blood drives. Inevitably we get down to financing and fund raising.

Each year at this time, house fires become our number one expense and I now know first hand what the Red Cross means to those who experience such a debilitating event. Each event dips heavily into our operating expenses and we all begin scrambling for new ideas to raise money.

How do you keep an organization such as ours afloat when it (thank God) never says NO!?&bsp; Please support our local Polk County chapter of the Red Cross and help us help your neighbors. Dont be like me and wait till a tragedy strikes your home. God bless this county.

Leonard Rizzo