When Mohammad Ghandehari got the call from the Red Cross asking to see if he would help manage a hurricane evacuation center, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. Within hours the retired 68-year-old chemist and grandfather of three, left his San Jose, California home and flew over 2,000 miles to volunteer and help the people of South Florida weather TS Isaac.
“That is what the Red Cross is all about – helping others,” said the shelter manager at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School in Miami, FL. As shelter manager, Mo, as he likes to be called, oversees the operations at the shelter. Prior to opening the doors, Mo and his team inspect the facility, then makes sure that registration is smooth, confirms that everything is set for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and tends to the needs of his shelter residents. That includes the medical needs of the elderly and fun distractions for the children and in the case of Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, a pet-friendly shelter, the needs of his four-legged residents as well.
It is a team effort to make a shelter run smoothly. “We all work together; the nurses, mental health workers, logistics, registration and our Human Society partners.” With Mo’s warm demeanor and inviting smile, it’s no wonder he is liked by so many.
Prior to volunteering with the Red Cross, Mo worked in research and development for a major oil company. Shortly after retirement, Mo reached out to his local Red Cross in Las Vegas. “The Red Cross is such prominent organization so I picked up the phone and told them that I wanted to volunteer,” explained Mo.
His first out-of-state deployment was for Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. “I learned a lot from that experience,” recalls Mo. Since 2005, he has been deployed to other relief operations in Oklahoma, Arizona, New England and now Florida.
When Mo isn’t tending to others in a shelter setting, he serves as captain of a disaster action team or trains fellow volunteers of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Red Cross.
“If you have the time to volunteer, I encourage you to do it,” said Mo. “It is very satisfying to help others.”
For more information on how to volunteer with the American Red Cross, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit www.redcross.org or contact your local chapter. We are so thankful for Mo and his shelter team for taking such good care of the residents of South Florida!
Mohammad H. Ghandehari, PhD, is a resident of Morgan Hill, CA and volunteers with the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Cynthia Gutierrez-White works in the Communications Department at the American Red Cross and is a volunteer spokesperson based in South Florida.