Meet my friend, Joe. Let me tell you a bit about Joe.
Joe is a volunteer with the American Red Cross – which is how I met him. He’s been with the Kansas City chapter for many years, and is a walking encyclopedia of Red Cross information. The ARC has taught me a lot of things; I like to say that half of what I know I learned from training classes– and the other half I learned from Joe.
Joe taught me how to drive this big old truck – which was initially pretty scary for someone who’d never driven anything bigger than a minivan. But with Joe’s patience and persistence, I’m a pro with this thing – driving it all over the country and back on several disasters. The truck, or “ERV”, is Joe’s baby – over the years, when I’ve been out on assignment, Joe will call me…ostensibly to check on how I’m doing, but I know that he’s really checking on the ERV. I always tease him about that.
Joe is a former Marine; he tries to be all tough and gruff and drill-sergeant with me, but underneath it all, he’s a big marshmallow. Don’t tell him I said that – it would ruin his tough guy image.
Recently, Joe singlehandedly applied for – AND received – a grant on behalf of the American Red Cross that will allow our chapter to do some amazing things for Kansas City veterans in the next year. This wasn’t a little, itty-bitty grant – this was a HUGE grant. He has also given over 6,000 hours of volunteer time to the American Red Cross – helping out with local fire disasters, as well as national disasters.
I’ve told my kids that if they surround themselves with amazing people, then they will get to be a part of – or witness – amazing things themselves. I try to do this myself, surrounding myself with people who inspire me. Joe is one of those people.
Last night, Joe was recognized as one of the recipients of the 2009 Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards.
These awards recognize people who improve our community and make Kansas City better for all of us. Joe got to invite several friends to the reception at Union Station – and I was extremely honored that I was one of those invited. I gladly switched out my usual Levi’s for some fancy duds and headed down to the Station to honor Joe. I was thrilled to see him getting kudos for all of the wonderful things he has done for this community.
Joe, surrounded by friends from the American Red Cross
I hope you are surrounded by amazing people; people who teach you and inspire you. Don’t wait for a recognition ceremony to tell those people what they mean to you – do it today.
Semper Fi, Joe – I salute you.