The Arc Rockland’s Red Cross Volunteers

Four Young Men Combine Joy, Laughter and Essential Service

A group of four volunteers from The Arc Rockland, working at the American Red Cross in Middletown, New York, have learned that helping people in crisis is serious business. But it can also be a fulfilling experience. In fact, their upbeat approach to the work has had quite an impact on their co-workers.

“They are always working, but they also have fun—they listen to music while they work and have created a true family atmosphere up here,” says Cedric Davoren, District Support Program Manager at the Middletown Red Cross facility. “They are a pleasure to have around.”
The young men are part of a pre-vocational program at The Arc Rockland that provides community-based experiences to people with developmental disabilities, enabling them to develop the skills necessary for future employment. 

Their work at the American Red Cross varies. “We put items in boxes and bags, label them and stack them,” explains Logan Freeman, one of the volunteers. The bags and boxes contain essential goods for people who have lost their homes, as well as clothing and basic necessities for use by people in crises. The men also wrap emergency supplies, clean the warehouse and load supplies on trucks.
The latter is one of their favorite jobs. “We work as a team: one person passes the boxes to the others and one guy is on the truck so we can hand the boxes to him,” explains Francesco Vittiello, another volunteer.

“It’s a great experience for the men,” comments Guy Saintel, a Community Specialist with The Arc. Mr. Saintel accompanies the group throughout their daily activities and helps them navigate the work environment. “They learn responsibility, hard work and teamwork. They’re learning to be punctual, reliable and dependable.
“The men set monthly goals to improve their social, independence, communication and work skills,” Mr. Saintel continues. “By providing them with volunteer work opportunities, the American Red Cross is helping them to reach those goals and ensuring their growth and progress in each of these areas.”

Both Mr. Saintel and Mr. Davoren marvel at the speed with which the men have learned new tasks. “They improve weekly,” says Mr. Saintel. “Mr. Davoren has their jobs lined up in advance, so as soon as we arrive the men know what to do. They take charge, dive in and do their work. They initiate jobs themselves, asking what they can do next as soon as a task is completed.”

“These guys keep things moving. The work they do is essential,” says Mr. Davoren.

That fact is not lost on the volunteers. “The Red Cross helps people who need a lot of help, like the people in Haiti after the flood, or when a building burns down and people lose their homes,” says Mr. Vittiello.

“They also have ambulances and fire trucks that they send to people in trouble,” adds volunteer Solomon Lee. “It is a big responsibility to work here.”

Pictured from left: Volunteers Logan Freeman. Solomon Lee, Francesco Vittiello and Jacob Feinstein

Thank You to The Arc Rockland’s 2020 Corporate Sponsors: