Volunteer’s heartfelt note inspires us this holiday season

During this time of year, when we remember the special people in our lives, it’s impossible to overlook the amazing work of the many volunteers who are at the heart of everything we do in the American Red Cross.

Dwayne Taaffe is one such volunteer, supporting our Central Coast Chapter’s Disaster Action Team. Following an early-morning response this week in which Dwayne and other members of our team provided “canteening” services to firefighters responding to an industrial fire in Salinas, Dwayne sent me the following email in response to a quick thank-you note.

He gave me permission to share his note with you all. I hope you find it to be as inspirational as I did this holiday season.



The Central Coast Chapter’s DAT team provided “canteening” support for the emergency responders at a fire in the industrial area of Salinas early Monday morning. In addition to Dwayne Taaffe, team members Dan Kemper, Tom Wiley, Jamshid Kiani, and Christine Brown responded to the 2 a.m. call to the Red Cross for hydration and feeding support. (Photo: Dan Kemper)

As many know, I am older, and one of the things I really enjoy is watching Hallmark Christmas stories (movies, if you will). Today I watched one that really caused me to think: Where can I serve during Christmas to give something back? Soup kitchen (Dorothy’s, the Rescue Mission, etc.) or someplace else that would fit into my schedule with my traveling and all to visit family. I realized I am already helping with that in volunteering with the Red Cross! It is not much, but I have found that every little bit we do helps.

The greatest joy of last night was the gratitude and thanks from each of the firefighters that had responded to the fire. They all, every one of them, came up to us and thanked us for what we do. That was nice. It wasn’t just the words, but the real feeling of thanks that they really meant it. From the two Battalion chiefs present to the newest firefighter. It truly was a pleasure to serve these folks that had already been there for hours.

On a side note, one of the firefighters present was retiring. Last night was his last night on the job.

I don’t know if it is said, and probably not often enough, but a huge thank you goes out to Patsy [Gasca, Disaster Program Manager for the Central Coast Chapter] and also to you for all of your generous support, assistance and general kindness. I have never felt so much like “family” (excepting when I am with my adult children and their families) as I have when I am with my Red Cross family. Everyone has always made me feel welcome, useful and a real part of an amazing group of people.


The kindness and caring shown by volunteers like Dwayne Taaffe, pictured here at this month’s Central Coast Chapter holiday party for volunteers, would make Santa proud. (Photo: Virginia and Albert Becker)

Thank you, and thank you all again.

I also want to take the time to wish you, your family and all of my friends and co-servers at the Red Cross a wonderful and Merry Christmas (or whichever Holiday you celebrate), and may peace and great joy be yours throughout the new year. 2020 will be great!

With great gratitude,

Dwayne G. Taaffe,