By Michelle Palansky

When disaster strikes in Canada, the Canadian Red Cross has approximately 12,500 volunteers across the country available to help organize relief efforts. Kyle Pascuzzi is one of those volunteers.

Kyle Pascuzzi, Canadian Red Cross disaster management volunteerKyle has been with the Canadian Red Cross for about a year and a half. He usually volunteers as a member of the Emergency Response Team in his hometown, Lethbridge, Alberta, but he came to Winnipeg for a couple of days to lend a hand at the reception centre for Manitoba wildfire evacuees.

Bringing a wealth of experience and education to his volunteer work, Kyle has a diploma in disaster management and he works as a 911 operator. It might seem a little unusual to spend your free time assisting in disasters when your day job is assisting in disasters, but Kyle said that for him, there is a world of difference.

“911 operators connect the most appropriate resources to the appropriate situations. As a Red Cross volunteer, I get to help people.”

Tired and ready to head home after several long days volunteering in the reception centre, Kyle still had a laugh to share from his time in Winnipeg.

“I was doing verification and a middle-aged woman told me about an error in her registration. Her first name was Peggy but the registrar wrote her name as Pappy. Pappy! It had been a long day,” Kyle said. “We had seen hundreds of people by that time, and the room was still very crowded. I started to laugh out loud. I wondered if I was being inappropriate and then she started to laugh and then her neighbour started to laugh and pretty soon 100 people in the room were all laughing. I was almost crying I was laughing so hard. And it was so good to be able to laugh together, find a point of light, even a small one.”

If you want to make a difference, use your skills and meet new people, apply today to become a Disaster Management Volunteer with Canada’s largest humanitarian organization.