Lee and Peg Gramas spent their 35th anniversary on June 24, 2013 together—just not in the way they planned. Yet, on the day they celebrated their commitment to each other, they also showed their commitment to the American Red Cross and the people of Chicago.
That day, the Glen Ellyn couple, who are both volunteers for the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, received a call to respond to a multi-unit apartment fire in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
What was supposed to be a quiet, romantic evening turned into a long night. They planned to cook fresh salmon and vegetables, but dinner had to wait when Peg received the call from the Red Cross. Together, they agreed to say yes, saying “I’ll go if you go.” They put their anniversary plans and dinner on the back burner and set out to the fire.
Lee and Peg have been volunteers with the Red Cross since 2010. They are involved in their community separately, but wanted to find something they could do together. Joining the Red Cross as disaster responders allowed them to do that. They’ve each been to dozens of fires with other volunteers but because of their different schedules, they rarely respond to disasters together. This made the call that night even more unique.
Peg and Lee did get their dinner after all. When they returned home that night, the couple got out all the food they put away and began again, eating their salmon well after midnight.
“It definitely wasn’t the quiet night we had planned,” Peg said with a laugh. “But we got our dinner eventually.”
Why not turn down the call and celebrate privately? Lee says it’s the caliber of people at the Red Cross who keep them coming back.
“We’ll be volunteering at fires until we can’t do it anymore.”
Written by Lauren Lindstrom