By Gary Striar, CEO

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As many of you know, this week there was a large fire on Park Avenue in Albany. I only occasionally go to our fire responses, as our people know what to do, and I’d rather not get in their way. Since I hadn’t been to a fire scene in a while though, I went to this one to see how I could help.

I headed to the New Hope Assembly of God Church on Dove Street, which opened its doors for fire victims to gather. By the time I got there, our Red Cross volunteers were already hard at work meeting with families to determine what needs they had and how we could help meet them. Members of the church and other community partners provided refreshments and comfort for all.

By evening, we had cared for a total of 10 families, offering them shelter in nearby hotels and financial and mental health support to get through the tragic experience of losing their homes. We also provided hot coffee and warm meals to first responders working through the night to put out all the flames.

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Since the fire, many other community organizations and businesses have stepped up to provide additional resources to the fire victims. We are fortunate here in the Capital District to have lots of organizations that come together to help when disasters strike.

I’m proud of the work our staff and volunteers did on Park Avenue. Responding to fires is what we do – with around 500 a year in our region – so our people know just how to help, each and every time.

During this time of year, fire hazards increase due to things like space heaters, holiday decorations, candles and cooking accidents. Please be safe this holiday season. And please support the Red Cross when you make your end-of-year charitable donations.

We need you to be able to help your neighbors when they need us most.

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