Firefighters’ Bucket Brigade Spotlight on Chuck Butler and Jan Traversa

When local fire departments heard the American Red Cross needed help raising funds they stepped up to support the efforts again. This year increased need has exhausted the disaster response budget so their efforts are much needed. Local firefighters and American Red Cross volunteers have partnered together to ask the community to “invest in the positive” at the Firefighter’s Bucket Brigade for the American  Red Cross on Thursday, May 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. These dedicated partners, that support their neighbors in times of disaster, are partnering up to ask their community to be Heroes during this fundraiser.

We always want to know more about our heroes and partners so this year we are spotlighting supporting firefighters and  Red Cross Disaster volunteers. You might only see these partners together during a disaster response or during the Firefighters’ Bucket Brigade for the American Red Cross so we are happy they  took the time to answer our questions.

Chuck Butler, Deputy Chief, has been with the City of Sheboygan Fire Department for 17 years and was kind enough to answer our questions.

When did you know you wanted to be a firefighter? I decided that I wanted to be a firefighter in about 1984.  I had a college friend who was a volunteer firefighter in his own community.  It seemed like something I would enjoy and would also be a way to help those in need.

What do most people not know about your job? A large part of our job as firefighters is not only reacting to emergency situations, but proactively planning for trends in the emergency business.  This involves community assessments, code development and enforcement, cooperative planning with many other community organizations and also educating the public to help them better avoid emergency situations and how to react to them should they occur.

What are you most proud of?  I am most proud of our department’s commitment to providing a quality service to the public.

Why are you volunteering to participate in the Firefighters’ Bucket Brigade? I am participating in the Bucket Brigade campaign as a way to continue to foster relations with the Red Cross to ensure a good working relationship between our organizations and to help the Red Cross raise needed funds for those impacted by world and domestic events. (editorial note: All the funds raised during this fundraiser will stay right here to support programs in Northeast Wisconsin.  It is important to know that the training and support that prepares our volunteers to help their neighbors for local disasters also trains them to be ready to help our neighbors around the world in times of need)

What have you learned about the Red Cross by working with them? I have learned a great deal about the Red Cross since I began working with the organization.  Primarily,  their commitment to providing needed services to many in need on their worst day.

Who’s your Hero? And why? I do not have any particular hero.  I have been affected and inspired by the actions of many people in many different situations throughout my life.

Jan Traversa lives in Pulaski, WI with her husband of 39 years and has been a DAT Team member with the American Red Cross for 10 years. She let us catch up with her for a few questions.

What inspired you to volunteer for the Disaster Team? When 9/11 happened I was in total shock. I just wanted to reach out to each and every one of those devastated people and do something to ease their pain. When I realized I couldn’t just pick up and go there I discovered the Red Cross. Through them I COULD go and help. I joined, took the required classes and in November through Thanksgiving I spent 22 days in New York helping to do just that, ease their pain.

What would you tell someone who’s thinking of being an American Red Cross Volunteer? If you have ever felt the need to help someone in any way at all…join the Red Cross. I have never felt so much satisfaction in my life. If you don’t feel like you can go a long way from home for an extended period of time… that’s okay, there are so many other things that you can do right here at home. The possibilities are endless. Just join.

What impact have you seen in your community because of American Red Cross Services? In my community alone, you can see how much the Red Cross has helped so many. By my living in the community, when disaster strikes I am right there to help and support the housing, clothing and feeding needs of a family who has just experienced a devastating loss. We have our own Red Cross vehicle and volunteer drivers to take our citizens to important appointments and of course the Pulaski Fire Dept who helps support our cause by helping with the Bucket Brigade.

What do most people not know about you? What people might not know about me is…I have a ‘bucket list’ of occupations I wish to do before I retire. I have accomplished many of them but I have several more to try.

What are you most proud of? What I am most proud of is my family. I have 3 beautiful daughters and 5 grand children and they are all truly a blessing. I am most proud that my 11 1/2 year old grand daughter Emily is following in my footsteps by volunteering when and where she can with the Red Cross. She has helped entertain the troops children while awaiting their return, face painted at the Flambeau Leap, passed out candy at the parade, collected money at the Bucket Brigade and this 4th of July will help set up the food tent downtown for Fire Over the Fox. She can’t wait to be 18 and a full fledged member. We all have so much; I want my grandkids to see how important it is to share and give back and to just be there for anyone and everyone who needs a hand.

Who’s your Hero? And why? My hero would have to be my husband, Jerry. I would not be able to accomplish any of my dreams without his TOTAL support. He and my children have always been there for me no matter what I wanted to do. They did say I couldn’t be gone over Thanksgiving again because the Stove Top Stuffing just didn’t do it but they all manage to pull together and get through it when “Mom’s deploying again.” No matter what, Jerry was there, There were times that I really couldn’t afford to take off a couple weeks to deploy but he always said we would find a way, I would find loving messages in my suit cases wishing me well and assuring me he would take care of everything while I was away. My children are frightened for me while I am gone but they understand how important it is for me to help.

My dream is for my husband to also join the Red Cross so we can deploy together like so many of my teammates but for now he says he will just keep the home fires burning waiting for my return. He is truly the best and I couldn’t do what I love without him.

Thank you to our heroes on the scene and behind the scenes. 

To find where to spot on of our heroes, at a Firefighter’s Bucket Brigade location, please visit www.newredcross.org.

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