Commandeering an office at Dave & Busters for the Red Cross

It started out a lovely night. The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts was having its volunteer recognition banquet, where volunteers get to vote on the most deserving among their own ranks and celebrate him/her.

And then the cell phones went off in unison. We were being asked for our availability to staff a shelter. The large fire in Lowell meant 28 people had lost their homes and would be guests of the Red Cross tonight. Spouses accepted awards on behalf of missing volunteers, who had gone off to find a quiet place for a conference call, figuring out the best way to help the families in Lowell who lost so much in today’s fire.

Assistant Manager Merrill Becht at Dave & Buster’s gave up his own office space, let us use his speakerphone for the conference call. There were case workers, logistics professionals, shelter managers, staff and volunteers, all crowded into an office to hear from Julianne Peacetree at the scene. She won an award but was actually on scene instead of getting applause in person.

Some of these volunteers and staff left the banquet, dressed up, hoping to go right to the shelter with communications equipment, expertise and information. That’s what they do, and didn’t think for a moment how they had lost their own moment of applause by being holed up in an office while others enjoyed the banquet. OK, perhaps they joked about the spouses accepting the awards in their honor and wondered how those spouses could be further pressed into service at the shelter. But tonight, those regular volunteers are making sure 28 people of the city of Lowell have a place to sleep tonight. And that will be reward enough.

Coverage of today’s fire in Lowell:

  • Lowell Sun: Fire started at vacant building
  • NECN: Willow Street only had black smoke visible.
  • WHDH: Winds aided fire
  • Fox: Fire contained by 5 p.m.
  • WCVB: Kids playing may have sparked blaze
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2 Responses

  1. Very proud of my big sister and all she does for the community. Congrats Julianne!

  2. We are proud of her too! Red Cross volunteers pulled together BIG time this weekend.

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