A devastating fire brought Dionisio Quadros to the Red Cross in 2007. His apartment, along with those of three other families, burned on a cool November night in the Highlands section of Lowell, Mass.
“I remember being woken by the smoke alarms on the floor above me,” said Quadros. “I thought maybe someone had burned something in their kitchen, it didn’t cross my mind that it was an actual fire.”
When Quadros fully woke up he could hear more than one smoke alarm sounding in the three-story house. The upper portion of the 60-year old wooden structure was fully ablaze when Quadros made it safely to the sidewalk.
“I remember grabbing my keys and nothing else.”
Quardros and the three other families spent the next few hours with Red Cross volunteers at a near-by restaurant, the manager keeping the lights on late so that Red Cross case workers could assist those affected by the fire.
“I found a new apartment about 10 days later. Between the money from the Red Cross, friends and family, I was luckier than some in the house.”
Flash forward to May 5, 2018. The American Red Cross Sound the Alarm event drew more than 50 volunteers in Lowell to make homes safer. Volunteers were wrapping up a training session and rally at the Lowell Senior Center that morning before hitting the streets for STA appointments when Quardros walked into the recreation area at the center.
“Dionisio was noticed when he walked in, he wasn’t your average senior citizen with his leather vest and bandanna,” said Deb Duxbury, disaster program manager for the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of the Red Cross. Duxbury said Red Cross volunteers asked him if he’d like a home safety check and for volunteers to test his smoke alarms. He gave his address and phone number to a group of volunteers and was added to the afternoon appointments.
Volunteers replaced and installed seven smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the three-unit home where Dionisio lives, making an apartment safer where three young children lived with their mother and grandmother.
Dionisio went on to say how glad he was to stumble onto the program that morning at the senior center on his morning coffee run.
“The Red Cross helped me in my hour of need many years ago. I’m glad they’re with me now. I feel safer with the carbon monoxide detector in the basement,” said Quardros.
Lowell volunteers went on to install 703 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the 12-day Sound the Alarm event in Massachusetts’ third largest city.