Steve Wise spent his career helping others and keeping people safe in the rail industry. After 37 years at TTX, he retired in 2016, when he began his volunteering journey with the American Red Cross. He brings his passion for safety and wealth of experience to several roles within the Illinois Valley Region and beyond.
“Being a Red Cross volunteer and having the opportunity to help people, often on the worst day of their life, has been such a blessing.”
“Being a Red Cross volunteer and having the opportunity to help people, often on the worst day of their life, has been such a blessing,” said Wise. There are several synergies between his past and present. At TTX, there was no better feeling than keeping people safe and making sure they went home each night injury free. With the Red Cross, he is able to bring comfort to people in their time of need. The work is not just rewarding, it is heartwarming, and a way for Steve to payback for the many blessings in his life.
Wise covers a broad range of roles from DAT (Disaster Action Team) Captain and Lead Responder to Case Work Supervisor and External Relations, mostly as part of the Romeoville Red Cross office. He works extensively with Jeremiah LaPlante and credits him with being an extraordinary teacher. Jeremiah is a great example of the many wonderful people Steve has met along the way.
Steve enjoys operating as part of the DCS team, working with those in need. “With the Red Cross you learn disasters can strike anyone, at anytime, often when they least expect it,” he said. Steve finds his work with DCS incredibly gratifying. He also enjoys serving in multiple roles and works with new volunteers to help them get up to speed on disaster response efforts. Steve also works with external relations helping people, organizations and municipalities prepare and respond to emergencies. And in his spare time, he does some recruiting too.
One particular experience that really stands out for Steve took place last year during the Louisiana floods. He was working as a virtual case representative, helping people who were displaced. A call came in from a woman who was having technical trouble. While working through the verification process it was clear that the address on file did not match. Steve asked if there was another address it could be listed under. The woman’s response was something akin to,”you mean my home that was destroyed?” The starkness of that response really hit home.
Recently, Steve spent much of his time helping those impacted by flash flooding closer to home. He was one of many volunteers that dropped everything to do what he could to assist afflicted residents. The Red Cross’s continuing response covers everything from lodging, food and emotional support and currently includes multiple shelter locations. Volunteers have distributed over 1,000 clean up kits and continue to support people across the flooded areas.
It’s moments like those when you realize how desperately the Red Cross is needed and can see the direct impacts it has on the lives of others. Ninety percent of the Red Cross workforce made up of volunteers. Thankfully there are many people like Steve that are there to help, just when they need it the most.
Steve has been blessed in many ways which drives his passion for giving back. He loves spending time with his family. He lives in New Lennox with his wife Bridget, who he credits as an inspiration and is incredibly supportive of his efforts. They have three wonderful sons, Brad, Mark and Chris, all living out of state, two in California and one in Minnesota, so they do a fair amount of traveling. Steve imagined he would write and teach in his retirement. In many ways, his work with the Red Cross fulfills his desire to teach and he has already written three e-books and plans to do more.
His advice to prospective volunteers? “Open your heart. There are so many in need waiting for your help and so many ways to serve with the Red Cross”. You too can make a difference.
Join Steve and the 4,000 plus volunteers serving northeastern Illinois.