Kind gesture builds lifetime of loyalty

By MATT OCHSNER

GREAT FALLS, MT — One elderly gentleman’s simple act of kindness 48 years ago started Patrick Terry down a path of generosity that continues to this day.

The year was 1969 and Terry was stationed in Germany with the Air Force when he learned his father had passed away. Terry was headed home to attend his father’s funeral when he became stranded at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, still almost 3,000 miles from his final destination in San Jose, Calif. He had no money and there were no immediate Air Force flights available. Terry was sleeping in the airport terminal when an elderly Red Cross volunteer woke him and offered him enough money to get him back in time for the funeral. It was a small loan that Terry paid back as soon as he made it home.

“I will never forget that elderly gentleman who got up in the middle of the night to help me out,” Terry said. “That one act of kindness was my incentive to get involved in Red Cross.”

Some 48 years later, Terry continues to give back, both as a volunteer blood courier and a frequent blood donor. He estimates he’s made 660 donations through the years, much of them platelets.

During a media interview following his 400th donation, Terry commented that he had never actually met anyone who had received the blood he had donated. Shortly afterward he got an email from someone on the Hi-Line who had benefited, thanking him for taking the time to donate and volunteer.

“There used to be a slogan for blood donations that all you feel is good,” he said. “I’ve gotten great satisfaction out of it.”

To volunteer or become a blood or platelet donor visit www.redcross.org/local/montana.

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Red Cross brings smoke alarms, peace of mind to Missoula family

By BRIANNA McCLANE GRIFF

MISSOULA, MT — Lexie Hickey opened her front door in Missoula to find American Red Cross volunteers on a mission to ensure her family was safe from a home fire.

“I almost never answer the door for people I don’t know because I’m home alone with my three children,” Lexie says. “I was so glad I did because three of our four smoke detectors weren’t functioning.”

Lexie is one of several homeowners across the nation who have benefited from the American Red Cross’ Home Fire Safety Campaign. Through the campaign, Red Cross volunteers are sent door-to-door in their local community to ensure that people are prepared in case disaster strikes. Every day, seven people die from a home fire, and the Red Cross aims to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25 percent by 2020.

Not only do volunteers install fire alarms and check batteries, the Home Fire Safety Campaign is an educational experience. Fire safety information is provided, such as how to create an evacuation plan, often with the help of local firefighters.

This was Lexie’s first experience with the American Red Cross, and it left a lasting impression.

“I was so delighted that it was a service that the Red Cross was providing,” she says. ”People going door to door and offering something that could be lifesaving doesn’t happen every day.”

The volunteers replaced three fire alarms for free, leaving behind information pamphlets about the new alarms that come equipped with a lifetime battery. She says that they often checked the batteries on the fire alarms, but didn’t know they weren’t functioning. Lexie didn’t realize that fire alarms needed to be replaced every five years and the family has been living in their home for eight years.

“Our own home wasn’t as safe as it could be,” she says. “I feel very relieved. It was huge help that we really, really appreciated.”

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Stories from the Field

greghinojosa During the course of our work, we come across many stories about our volunteers and the people we serve that illustrate the American Red Cross’s important role in our local communities. Here is one Montana story we’d like to share with you.

Bringing a Service Member Home

Bozeman, MT— National Guard Specialist Greg Hinojosa had always looked up to his grandfather, Alton Windsor. When Greg was a kid, Windsor taught him “all the cool things” like hunting and fishing. He inspired Greg to make something of himself.

Windsor lived life on his own terms, becoming a scientist, earning a teaching degree, building his own cabin off the grid and becoming one of Montana’s first smokejumpers. A Korean War veteran, he was awarded a silver star for saving the lives of several platoon members while severely injured himself. Windsor was a hard act to follow.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to do something with my life that he’d be proud of,” says Greg, who is pursuing a business degree at MSU. “I joined the National Guard to carry the torch that my granddad passed down to me.”

When Windsor died in July 2014, Greg was in the Idaho desert, training with his Scout Platoon. He was devastated. Greg learned that the Red Cross would fly him back to Montana to attend the funeral. “It was important to me to be with my family and to honor my granddad’s passing,” Greg explains.

Greg remembers getting on the plane and being met with applause from the passengers and crew. “I felt they were clapping for my granddad,” he says. “It was a moving moment.”    

Greg is grateful for the Red Cross for helping him at a difficult time. “This is one of many services that the Red Cross provides to active service members. I am very thankful for that support.”  

To learn more, visit redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families

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