Grateful to Serve

The American Red Cross depends on volunteers donating their time and efforts to ensure the organization runs smoothly. With more than three hundred thousand volunteers, the Red Cross relies on these volunteers to keep their organization running.

Many find their work with the organization so rewarding that they find a way to make it their career. The was the case with Chris Marrero, the Disaster Program Manager for the Central Ohio chapter.

Chris began his relationship with the Red Cross in 2011 when he was a disaster volunteer at the Central Ohio chapter in Columbus. His work began simply, with him answering phone calls and helping others with their case work.

“A lot of people who work in disaster relief say they are adrenaline junkies. I’m not that,” said Marrero, “I’m a people junkie. I like interacting with others.”

Chris enjoyed his work and sought another opportunity, becoming an Americorps representative to the Central Ohio office. He duties included following up with people on their case work following a disaster. During his time in the position, he worked on about 610 cases.

“I fell in love with case work,” said Marrero, “To be on front line of the recovery process for our clients, you know. Getting to be the best part of someone’s worst day.”

When his time with the position finished, Chris made the leap from a volunteer to a staff member. With his experience in case work and humanitarianism, Chris was a natural fit for disaster relief. Marrero said that his decision to continue on with the organization was ‘easy’.

“I want to be inspired,” said Chris, “I wanted to be satisfied with the work I did, which I wasn’t at my then job. I became a volunteer as an outlet, and I’ll stay until I’m not longer inspired.”

Chris became the Disaster Program Manager for the Southeast Ohio area in the Red Cross’ Ohio Buckeye region. Over time his duties expanded, with him also in charge of the East and South Central Ohio chapter.

Working in the Ohio area, most of the disaster response is for severe weather like tornadoes and flooding. The most consistent response is for home fires. During his time in the region, Chris has been in charge of responding and providing relief to people over 20 counties.

Chris’s work would eventually take him back to where he started. He returned to Columbus to become the office’s Disaster Program Manager, proudly taking over the position at exactly 5:01 p.m. after the previous manager retired at 5:00. Chris’s current position has him overseeing three counties in the Central Ohio chapter. While it covers less area than his previous region, he now oversees a larger population.

Throughout his years of service, the same ‘inspiration’ has continued to drive him-working with other people.

“Working at the Red Cross, 90 percent of the work force are volunteers,” said Chris, “These are people who want to be here. People who come in because they want to, not because they have to.

To join our disaster services team and provide hope like Chris, visit redcross.org/volunteer!

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