Giving Back – “Reading” My Way to Red Cross Aid
Supporting our clients’ national mission is rewarding, but at the end of the day homeland security begins at home in our neighborhoods and communities. My roots in local emergency management and public safety keep my perspective grounded when I work in the Washington DC Metro area.
When disaster strikes, we need everyone in our communities to pull together. In a small community, though, typically only a few people know and practice emergency management.
As a Red Cross volunteer in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, I put my old emergency management skills to work during a disaster. Raising awareness and fundraising for our chapter keeps supplies stocked and people prepared to respond.
Once a year, my Red Cross chapter leverages our university town’s love of reading and life-long learning by hosting an annual book fair. Volunteering with the Red Cross in this way marries my homeland security vocation with my bibliophile avocation. The Monroe County Chapter of the American Red Cross Book Fair has been held since 1983. “Book Fair” is an understatement—for six days our county fairgrounds are converted into a 100,000+ volume celebration.
You may wonder, with Amazon and Barnes and Noble offering blockbuster prices, why people pay more for a crusty old paperback or gently used tome. Every bookworm who thumbs through a well-loved old book knows their purchase supports survivors of floods, tornados, and other disasters. The Book Fair raises about $90,000 a year to support disaster assistance, military families, and CPR courses.
The Red Cross Book Fair is also very personal for me, as my wife’s grandmother was a founder of the event. Grandma Kingsbury passed away last year, but her book fair is a lasting legacy and an institution in my town. I am fortunate that I can pay tribute to my grandma-in-law’s vision by being a fellow bookworm, a Red Cross volunteer, and an active partner in keeping my community safe and prepared for disasters.