November_GaryStriarsquareBy Gary Striar, CEO

Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite times of the year. Having my whole family together under one roof to eat and watch football for a few days is something I look forward to all year long. A few days off from work after a busy fall is also something to be appreciated.

As I get older, I seem to spend more time at the holidays thinking about the things that I am grateful for – like family, friends and good health. This year I’m also grateful that it hasn’t snowed yet, my beloved New York Jets are no longer the laughingstock of football, my youngest son has graduated college so I have no more tuition bills to pay, and Swifty’s has opened a new restaurant less than ½ mile from my office.

On a more serious note, a Red Cross colleague of mine once said that I have the best job of anyone in my community – leading an organization that has been helping people locally for more than 100 years. I am thankful every day that I have this opportunity. But like most organizations, it takes many hands to get the job done. And I am grateful for all of them.

I’m particularly grateful to our volunteers, who work day and night to help people when they need us most. They help people when fires occur, whether they are at 2 PM or 2 AM. I remember when our team opened a shelter before dawn after last winter’s devastating fire on Jay Street in Schenectady. We respond at a moment’s notice to almost 500 fires a year in our region.

I’m also thankful that this year we have the resources to expand our preparedness efforts to include installing smoke alarms in homes throughout our region. We’ve installed over 2,500 so far, and we will continue to expand this effort that will save many lives.

We all are thankful for the many men and women who serve our country in the military. I was particularly proud last week to see our Service to the Armed Forces team organize a luncheon, facilitate workshops and provide supplies for needy veterans on Veterans Day.

None of this work could be done without our great team of volunteers, staff, and board members, the organizations who partner with us, and of course our financial and blood donors. I know that without you, we wouldn’t be able to help so many people in our community every single day.

On behalf of all of us at the Red Cross, I want to say thanks to the thousands of people that help us do our job.  Best wishes for a safe and fun holiday season.