Volunteer’s ‘detective’ work helps reconnect missing people with family and friends

By Mauri Shuler

volunteer story_Simon Timony1Simon Timony told his two bosses (he works two jobs – as a caretaker and a bartender) that he was leaving his home in San Francisco to help fire victims in the North Bay. Then he got a ride to his assignment in Napa County. “It was so horrific, I had to get here.”

Simon was assigned to the Red Cross Safe and Well program, which means he is looking for missing people. “We are trying to reconnect missing people with their family and friends. It can happen in a number of ways. Sometimes people are reported missing, and they actually go back home and forget to tell people; so I start by calling their home phone and often they answer!”

When calling their home doesn’t work then, “I also call shelters and employers … anybody I can find, really. It’s amateur sleuthing; good old detective work I picked up from watching CSI and Sherlock.”

Simon also visited shelters to talk to the clients hoping to find connections with missing people, and he is very grateful when the Sheriff’s department updates and shares their lists of reported missing people. “That’s a big help,” he said.

When he’s not sitting by the phone or visiting shelters, Simon Timony pitches in wherever he is needed. Today he left his desk to help pack food bags to be distributed at the Local Assistance Center set up by Napa County that includes Red Cross and other agencies. Then he did a quick interview with a television station before going to back to his detective work.


Lori Wilson, Beth Eurotas, and Jim Burns provided editorial support to this story.