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From Home Fire Survivor to Volunteer: Jesennia Rodriguez’s Story

Jessenia, Red Cross home fire volunteer, standing in front of a Red Cross emergency response vehicle.

During the Northeast Blackout in August of 2003, six-year-old Kevin struck a match to find his way in the dark. That night, Kevin passed away in a home fire, leaving his mother, Jesennia Rodriguez, devastated. Jesennia vowed to help ensure other families don’t experience the pain she endured after losing her child. Read on to learn how Jesennia honors that vow as a Red Cross home fire volunteer.

Becoming a Volunteer

Jesennia became a Red Cross volunteer in June 2017, helping to provide comfort and care to disaster survivors across New York City and across the country. Shortly after, she learned about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which was created in 2014 to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S.

From that moment on, she knew she wanted to become a home fire volunteer. In this role, she helps install smoke alarms and educate families about the importance of fire safety and prevention across New York City.

Making a Difference

Because of her personal experience with a home fire, Jesennia is able to connect with families on a deeper level. Hearing her story helps families put into perspective just how many people are affected by the country’s most common disaster. And Jesennia feels a strong sense of accomplishment with every home that she enters because she knows she’s making a difference.

“I feel accomplished just knowing that I’ve helped change how families think about home fire safety and make their homes safer,” said Rodriguez.

Her work with home fires is also beneficial because she views her time volunteering as part of her healing process. And knowing that there are young children and elderly people in homes without working smoke alarms motivates her to keep going.

A Common Goal

Jesennia has also found a support system in her fellow volunteers who have become more like family members with each passing day.

“We treat each other like family, and we take care of one another. Everyone is so positive and it’s a welcoming environment because we’re all working toward the same goal to help keep families safe,” Rodriguez said.

Join Us

To date, Jesennia has helped make hundreds of families safer across New York City. Join volunteers like Jesennia in their fight to #EndHomeFires by signing up for one of our Sound the Alarm events to install smoke alarms and help raise lifesaving funds.

One day of your life can change someone else’s forever.

A Special Thanks to Our National Partners

This work is made possible thanks to generous support from national partners: Airbnb, Delta Air Lines, Farmers Insurance and Nissan North America.