For Pasadena resident Carmen Cortez, helping her family and neighborhood are her highest priorities.
The bilingual mother of two has lived in Pasadena for more than 20 years. She has volunteered countless hours as a room mother, Girl Scout leader, soccer mom, and religious school teacher.
When she moved into her current neighborhood 14 years ago, it didn’t take long for her to organize her neighbors to form a Neighborhood Watch group, which has helped reduce crime.
Always looking for ways to make her tight-knit neighborhood safer, Carmen was naturally curious when she saw a Pasadena Fire Dept. truck, Red Cross vehicles and numerous volunteers congregating at Jackie Robinson Park on Jan. 10.
As it turns out, she inadvertently walked into the launch of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in Pasadena, an initiative aimed at reducing the number of deaths and injuries by 25% in the next five years. Carmen’s neighborhood was selected because home fires in that area have increased in the last five years – 486 incidents and 7 deaths.
After hearing that volunteers from the Red Cross and its community partners would go door-to-door to distribute information about evacuation plans, check smoke alarms, and if necessary, install new ones, Carmen signed up to help on the spot.
“After I learned about the campaign, I started making phone calls to neighbors on my block,” said Carmen. “I’m happy to bring this to my neighborhood because it’s very important to teach others how to be safe.”
After receiving American Red Cross volunteer training, Carmen joined a team of volunteers on Sat., Jan. 24, visiting four homes on her block – including one with a large family.
Proudly wearing her Red Cross vest, Carmen said “I’m happy to help bring this to my neighborhood, and I want to thank the Red Cross for keeping us safe.”
Carmen’s neighborhood is safer today as a result of her community involvement, and the Red Cross is lucky to have a new volunteer with her enthusiasm and commitment.