Team Firestopper – Reaching the whole family!

Megan McCarthy is an AmeriCorps Safe Families member and is a regular volunteer for the Team Firestopper program! She is part of the team that is working to stop fires before they spark! Our Firestopper programs work to educate adults and children. Sometimes we even get both at once! Here is Megan’s story…“As AmeriCorps members in the Safe Families program, we are nomadic; our goal is to reach as many people as possible in one short year with our preparedness programs. On any given day, we can meet hundreds of children in a school, a handful of seniors in a church, or dozens of teenagers at a safety fair. We change the lives of people every day, which is incredibly rewarding.

However, on rare occasions, we are given the opportunity to see the impact of our work. I had the privilege of teaching a young boy named Andre at his school, Lynn Thigpen Elementary, last week. I remember Andre was really excited about learning how to stop, drop, and roll during our fire safety class. He was full of energy and had an answer for every question I asked. He was simply one of those kids that a program instructor remembers.

That weekend, while volunteering with Team Firestopper, I was surprised to see Andre again! My team was doing in-home fire safety visits in Joliet, IL and I walked right into Andre’s house. He stood up, walked toward me and smiled. “I know you,” he said happily. Now, one of the many things we teach our students is how to identify fire safety hazards in their own home. Andre wanted to show me just how hard he’d worked on his “Hazard Hunt.” He walked me through every room in his house, telling me about the candles that he had his parents move away from the curtains and the lint trap in the dryer that he cleans out (just in case). Andre was so proud of how hard he worked and I was proud of him, too. As I went to leave, Andre handed me a copy of his class picture. He only had a few left… one for his grandma, and one for me.

Sometimes as program instructors we begin to wonder if what we teach really sticks with any of our students. Well, Andre was proof to me that the American Red Cross’ Safe Families Program is making a difference. So, thank you Andre, and thank you to all of the students, schools, and communities that are helping us save lives!” – Megan McCarthy

Fire safety tip of the week: Check the batteries in your smoke alarm! Almost 2/3 of home fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms.
AmeriCorps members teaching Kid Firestopper! photo by Gerry Holmes

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