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Joe Foster: What the Red Cross Means to Me

Writers for the Red Cross

By Joe Foster

Joe FosterThrough high school and much of my college career I worked as a lifeguard in a small coal mining community in rural Northwestern Colorado. While lifeguarding was a great job, what I truly enjoyed was my side job at the pool. I was a WSI (Water Safety Instructor) and I taught people how to swim. WSI is a Red Cross certification which ensures that people are being taught swim lessons by qualified individuals. My specialty ended up being the little kids, three and four year olds. I loved it.

I remember one kid in particular. He was one of those little guys with orange hair and white eyebrows; the kind of kid that the sun burns just for fun. He was absolutely terrified of the water. While I took his classmates out into the pool to learn to float and blow bubbles he would sit on the side holding his mom’s hand. After a few classes I was able to splash water on his feet without him whimpering in barely contained terror. I would watch him as the kids were all getting ready for class, gathering his courage for the ordeal his mom was about to put him through. By the end of the class, and again, his mom was there the whole time, as supportive a mother as I’ve ever seen, he joyfully jumped off the low diving board and swam to the side all on his own as I swam next to him. I’ve done some pretty cool things in my life since, but that moment, and his joy, may still be my one crowning achievement.

Joe Foster was a Red Cross Certified Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor from the time he was 16 though the age of 22. He’s been working in the publishing industry for the last 8 years. He worked as the buyer for Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, CO and is now a consultant for Above the Treeline, helping booksellers, bloggers, librarians and publishers do better business.

This guest post was contributed by the author to Writers for the Red Cross. Writers for the Red Cross is a month-long celebration that brings writers, readers, editors, literary agents and independent bookstores together to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross during Red Cross Month.

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