By Sharon J. Alfred, Red Cross Senior Journalist Volunteer
There are many reasons people choose to become Red Cross volunteers. According to Gail Mcgaugh, a volunteer for the American Red Cross of Central California, participating in a Red Cross Home Fire Campaign was an ideal way to learn fire safety tips and to get to know members of her community.
Mcgaugh has volunteered for years as a member of the Central Valley chapter in her hometown of Fresno, California. Visiting homes to install smoke alarms as part of the home fire campaign gives her the opportunity to connect with her neighbors, as she explains the importance of fire safety and how to prepare.
She has met many memorable people as a home fire campaign volunteer, including:
- A revered elder of a Native American tribal nation
- A hearing-impaired man establishing a lifelong bond with his new service dog
- A colorful artist and publisher, and her gorgeous pet cat
- A retired Marine who found a second calling as a Red Cross volunteer
“The random of act of knocking on a stranger’s door to give them the tools they need to survive a home fire,” Mcgaugh says, inspires her again and again. And people aren’t shy about expressing their gratitude. “When I am on a home fire campaign, I get thanked and hugged by everyone.”
But Mcgaugh doesn’t just install smoke alarms and teach home fire preparedness. She is involved in many other Red Cross projects as well. For example, she leads the Madera, Merced, and Mariposa County region’s Pillowcase Project, a program that teaches elementary school children how to build their own emergency preparedness kits.
“I truly enjoy meeting community partners and building lasting relationships and goodwill towards the Red Cross within our communities,” says Mcgaugh.