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Helping to rescue the Red Cross

McEnroe named one of Chesapeake Region's top volunteers

September 02, 2013|By JANET HEIM | janeth@herald-mail.com
  • Robert "Bob" McEnroe was recently presented with the American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region's Clara Tucker Award.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

Robert “Bob” McEnroe of Hagerstown has been volunteering with the American Red Cross in Washington County for almost 17 years.

“It’s just my way of giving back to the community. There is such a good feeling when you’ve helped somebody in desperate need of assistance, and they say ‘Thank you.’ I think that’s what keeps me and every other volunteer coming back,” said McEnroe, 62.

McEnroe’s effort was recognized  in July when he was awarded the American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region’s Clara Tucker Award.

The award is presented annually to recognize a volunteer who goes out of his or her way to share knowledge of Red Cross services with the community and takes every opportunity to receive additional training, according to a news release.

McEnroe also received the Exceptional Volunteer Award in 2004. And in 2005, he received the Beulah T. Meyers Award, which is the county chapter’s highest honor.

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“He’s a really humble man. He’s one of those volunteers who goes beyond the call of duty,” said Julie Barr-Strasburg, executive director of the county chapter of the American Red Cross, in a telephone interview.

Besides being a disaster responder, McEnroe, as chairman of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, or DAT, is “constantly keeping his volunteers engaged. He’s an encourager and cheerleader, and also has a good rapport with the community and business partners,” Barr-Strasburg said.

“He’s the glue that keeps things moving.... I can’t say enough about him. He’s just got a kind spirit about him.”

McEnroe’s involvement with the Red Cross started through his job with the Department of Social Services in the county, where he is a state employee.

He has worked there 23 years and travels throughout the Western Maryland.

“We always supported the Red Cross. I started there. I always like the Red Cross and felt this was my way of giving back,” McEnroe said.

McEnroe, who has worked with DAT since 1996 as a disaster responder, has chaired the team since 2001.

In the role of chairman, McEnroe is the first to receive the phone call when a disaster occurs in the county, usually a house or apartment fire and often in the middle of the night.

“I get the first call to dispatch a disaster crew,” McEnroe said.

He then calls the lead for the team that is on the schedule for that day to mobilize those volunteers.

McEnroe said volunteering for disaster response is different from other kinds of volunteering, because volunteers are on call for a 24-hour period, but might not get a call for several weeks.

He recently was called just before midnight after a fire at a home in Halfway.

“We provided (the homeowner) with lodging, clothing and meals,” McEnroe said.

The DAT crew is usually made up of two to three volunteers, depending on the size of the fire. There is a lead person, who is experienced with disaster work, a mental health volunteer and possibly another disaster volunteer.

A 1969 North Hagerstown High School graduate, McEnroe took classes part time at Shepherd College toward a business degree while working at what was then Mack Trucks.

McEnroe and his wife, Kristin, have been married for 16 years.

The Red Cross is always in need of volunteers for a variety of programs, including disaster response. For more information, call 301-739-0717. 

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