‘I’d been looking for something more interesting to do with my time that involved helping people and giving back. So, I got into disaster and emergency response. My first deployment was to Alabama and Florida when they had a bunch of hurricanes the year before Hurricane Katrina hit. When I came back, I got put on a local team that responds to local house fires and floods. I’ve been doing this for thirteen years or so now. We’re trained to understand that we’re going to see people at their worst…they’ve probably lost everything, or a family member, or a pet…and we’re taught to realize that when people are distraught or frightened because of a bad situation, that’s a normal response. People also respond to a smile, a kind word, a gentle touch. We work to help people handle one thing at a time, like, do you have a place to stay, do you have access to clothes, food, and medication? Helping them with their immediate needs makes it possible for them to find the strength to deal with the other things later. It means a lot to be able to work to make a difference in the world, even if it’s one little thing for one person at a time. I’ve seen terrible tragedies, but I’ve also seen hope and compassion. I’ve seen people when they’re confused or terrified, but I’ve also seen strength and kindness. We are not here to handle things by ourselves. We need each other and we can and should use our strengths to help each other. A little love goes such a long way. It’s those little things that make the biggest difference.’

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