National Volunteer Week profile: Jake Reynolds

Topics: National, Ontario, Volunteer
April 09, 2014

This week, the Canadian Red Cross celebrates all volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014.

On December 25 and 26, 2013, while many families were relaxing at home with loved ones for the holidays, 24-year-old Jake Reynolds was at a community centre in Toronto, helping people whose holiday season hadn’t turned out the way they had hoped.

Jake is a Halton resident and a Disaster Management volunteer with the Canadian Red Cross. When the call came for volunteers to help run warming centres following the ice storm in late December, Jake answered.

He spent his Christmas Day and Boxing Day helping those who were staying at the community centre, while Hydro crews worked around the clock to restore power. He distributed hygiene kits and blankets, ensured everyone had plenty of food and registered new clients coming into the centre.

For Jake, the most important task of all was offering moral support. “For many people, it had been a tough few days since they had to miss Christmas in their homes with their families,” he said. As is often the case in difficult times, people rallied together. “By the end of the afternoon, all the dads and kids were in the gym playing floor hockey together. People from the community came in all day bringing toys and gifts for the kids who had spent their Christmas at the centre.”

Since becoming a volunteer in 2012, Jake has also responded to emergencies closer to home. He specifically remembers a volunteer experience with the Canadian Red Cross when he responded to a house fire in Georgetown.

A mother and her baby managed to escape unharmed, but weren’t able to salvage anything. They left with just the clothes they were wearing, and since it happened on a long weekend, their insurance company wasn’t able to assist until the Tuesday morning. Jake and his fellow Red Cross volunteers arranged hotel accommodations and provided clothing and food.  “I’ll never forget how grateful the woman was for our assistance,” said Jake. “Being able to have such an impact on another person’s life at a time that is so traumatic for them, was a really powerful experience for me.”

Jake is an aspiring firefighter whose goal is to spend his career helping people who find themselves in difficult situations. “My volunteer work with the Canadian Red Cross has certainly helped me to become a more compassionate responder,” said Jake. “I’m constantly inspired by the other Red Cross volunteers who are willing to do whatever it takes to help others.” 

It is because of volunteers like Jake, that the Canadian Red Cross is able to deliver services to the most vulnerable communities from coast to coast across Canada.

The Canadian Red Cross is looking for volunteers in the Halton Region to join the disaster management team, drive for their transportation program or to help deliver Meals on Wheels. If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit www.redcross.ca/volunteer.