Some people are motivated to volunteer for the Red Cross because of their own personal experience receiving Red Cross services, while others find motivation through the help the Red Cross has given to a family member or a friend. During the past 50 years, Dan Peitso has found his motivation through the personal connections he’s made while helping others.
A vivid example was when Dan was called to help a family that had survived a house fire. One family member was in shock from what happened. Dan realized that the man was a Vietnam veteran who was traumatized because the fire reminded him of his experience in Vietnam. Dan, also a Vietnam veteran, recognized the common background and established a connection with the man, helping him through the trauma of the fire.
“It’s moments like these, making personal connections during difficult times, that are my favorite part and greatest reward of serving with the Red Cross,” says Dan.
A half century ago, Dan started working with the Red Cross as a lifeguard and a water safety instructor. He worked his way through college by teaching water safety, and even continued this work while overseas in the military. Once he returned to the states, he became a board member at the former Red Cross chapter in Anoka, Minnesota, and also became involved in volunteering for disaster services and deploying to national disasters, such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Dan has also worked in mass care services and damage assessment, and has been instrumental in assisting with the Response Technology Team in times of humanitarian crisis.
Long-time Red Cross volunteer, Dave Schoeneck, knows Dan well after years of receiving calls in the middle of the night when the Red Cross is often responding to fire disasters. “At first glance, Dan can come across as a gruff, grizzled veteran of the Red Cross, but beneath that exterior is a warm, compassionate and dedicated volunteer.”
Dan’s dedication to the Red Cross continued even as he survived treatment for cancer. “I’m grateful for the continued support and understanding I received from the Red Cross throughout my illness,” says Dan.
Dan’s looking forward to celebrating another half-century mark: 50 years of marriage. Throughout that entire time, Dan has been a valued member of the Red Cross, assisting in a wide range of disaster situations. His decades worth of devotion and commitment to the Red Cross and its mission to alleviate human suffering is greatly appreciated.
Click here to learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Story by Lia Capaldini, Communications Intern, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region.