March is Red Cross Month, and to celebrate, we are honoring the volunteers and services that keep our organization moving forward each day. Throughout the month, we’ll bring you inspirational stories of help and hope, highlighting the people who graciously devote their time to further the Red Cross mission. Today, you’ll meet Pilar Cantor, a Disaster Action Team volunteer who helps families recover after disasters in our Greater New York Region.
Helping Families Recover from Disasters
Pilar Cantor is a resident of Mamaroneck, New York, who has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2018. She initially became acquainted with the Red Cross through our Home Fire Campaign, created to help reduce the number of home fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S. Red Cross volunteers help us by sharing fire safety information and installing free smoke alarms in at-risk communities.
Today, Pilar serves the community in a different way by helping families recover from disasters.
“I never really thought about this until I started volunteering with the Red Cross, but we are so vulnerable to lose everything in just a matter of seconds, and for the Red Cross to be there and to be able to provide that assistance, it’s just amazing,” Pilar said.
Reaching the Community
Pilar joined the Red Cross as a member of MIRA USA, a non-profit community organization that promotes the social integration of immigrants in the United States. MIRA volunteers team up with the Red Cross on a number of different programs that help promote fire safety and assist with disaster response efforts.
As a Disaster Action Team volunteer, Pilar travels across the five New York City boroughs after local emergencies to help provide affected residents with water, food, shelter and other emergency relief items. One of her more memorable interactions in the field was with a Spanish-speaking single mother. Being bilingual allowed Pilar to communicate with the woman on a much more personal level and inform her of the different ways the Red Cross could help.
“Being able to connect with her in her own language was a great experience, and she was so thankful and so shocked when we were able to provide her with financial assistance, especially because she had just lost everything,” Pilar said.
Personal Growth Through Volunteering
Through her volunteer work, Pilar has been able to achieve a high level of personal growth, and she attributes much of that to the strong character and compassion shared by her fellow volunteers and workers.
“Something I’ve seen from all the volunteers is that everyone seems to genuinely care about people and helping those in need,” Pilar said. “Having that supportive community from all the volunteers who are more tenured, it’s really amazing.”
Become a Volunteer
Volunteers like Pilar make it possible for the Red Cross to respond to an average of 60,000 disasters each year. You too can make a difference. Visit redcross.org to learn how to become a volunteer in your area.