By CARL MANNING, American Red Cross Volunteer
Ask Andy Grossman why he’s an American Red Cross volunteer and his answer is simple – he really enjoys helping people.
It’s a philosophy that’s been a major part of his life, not only as a Red Cross volunteer in Weed, California, but also as pastor of the Abundant Life Church of the Nazarene in nearby Mount Shasta and as chaplain for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Weed. And if that isn’t enough, he’s just had a book of poetry published.
Andy became involved with the Red Cross three years ago after contacting the organization about getting his church established as a shelter and saw that he and the Red Cross shared a common goal.
“They are in the business of helping people and their goal is to relieve the hardships of people,” Andy said. “Our hearts are in the same place for that.”
In many ways, he’s the Red Cross’ go-to person in this community at the base of Mount Shasta where he has lived for the past decade.
“Andy Grossman is a typical Red Cross volunteer in that he wears a lot of hats. He’s on a Disaster Action Team, he helps at shelters, facilitates meetings…he rarely turns an assignment down and is a valuable asset,” said Eric Kiltz, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager for Siskiyou and surrounding counties.
When the Boles Fire erupted in this small town, Andy was home. As the fire consumed nearby neighborhoods – ultimately destroying or damaging 162 homes – Andy made his way to Mount Shasta to open a Red Cross shelter at the high school for the evacuated residents.
Two days later, Andy was part of the Red Cross team assessing the extent of damage to the residences in the community.
“I felt sadness for a lot of them because of losing everything, but also was very relieved that there was no loss of life,” he said.
On a recent afternoon, Andy donned his Red Cross vest and revisited the area where he earlier had surveyed the damage. This time, however, he was checking on people rather than properties.
He stopped at the remains of Karly Gregory’s home and they quietly talked for a few minutes about how she fled her home as the fire grew closer and how she was thankful nobody in her family was injured.
Down the street, Andy visited with Tony Porter as he hauled away the debris that once was his two-story home. They talked about their common love for motorcycles and how Tony lost his in the fire but was glad that it was insured.
Asked why he was checking things out, Andy said with a smile, “Just trying to help people in need.”