On a crisp Coachella Valley morning, John Williams, an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader hiked up Bump and Grind Trail with a backpack filled with 100- pounds of sand. Casual observers would question the logic of such an effort until they discovered his deep commitment for the Red Cross.
“Through the Red Cross, I am fulfilling my personal mission of helping change a life in crisis into a life of hope,” said Williams. “America’s spirit shines when everyday people do extraordinary things. This is the spirit that shines in the work of the Red Cross.”
Williams made the 2.5 mile climb to support Hope 365, a grass roots campaign where supporters pledge to raise funds for the American Red Cross of Riverside County. He also wanted to test his resolve by proving to others his ability to accomplish things he did as a younger man.
When Williams reached the summit, a beautiful panoramic view of the California desert awaited him. Besides fulfilling a personal endeavor, he raised funds and awareness for the Red Cross. Along the journey, the 30-year public safety veteran reflected how the Red Cross has presented him many opportunities to help people in need.
Responding to Residential Fires
Williams serves as a Red Cross DAT Captain and Chapter Duty Officer for Riverside County. He sees the work of the DAT, particularly during residential fires, as “curb service.”
“We provide comfort and hope to families sitting on the curb in front of the ruins of their burnt out homes,” said Williams. “As volunteers, we sincerely care for those who have lost everything and lift them up off the curb.”
From offering hugs, comfort kits and a place to stay for the night, the work of the DAT is completely people-focused. This high level of compassion in a crisis has always made a deep impression on Williams who began serving the Red Cross as a disaster relief volunteer during Hurricane Katrina. Seeing this major disaster unfold on the news impacted him to the point where he had to do something.
Thanks to the support of donors and community partners, Williams and other DAT volunteers were able to assist more than 582 families who experienced residential fires and other disasters in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in fiscal year 2012.