CHATEAUGAY — A former Army medic and civilian nurse who has chosen to spend his retirement helping people in the north country rather than soaking up the Texas sun has received a New Volunteer Achievement award from the North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Chateaugay resident Tony Pierino, who has been volunteering for the Red Cross for just over a year, was one of several north country volunteers honored at the chapter’s annual recognition event Tuesday in Plattsburgh.
Mr. Pierino is a Disaster Action Team coordinator — the person people turn to when a crisis such as a fire or flood has totally wreaked havoc. He makes sure people in emergency situations get food, clothing and shelter as soon as possible.
“I really enjoy it. I like helping people. It’s the Christian thing to do; you’re supposed to help your neighbor,” Mr. Pierino said.
“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to recognize Tony for his dedication to the North County Chapter of the American Red Cross. This award is given to a Red Cross volunteer of less than two years who exemplifies true dedication to the mission of the American Red Cross,” said Lynn Gilbert, North Country Chapter executive director. “As a member of our Franklin County Disaster Action Team, Tony has been responding to house fires, floods and even an ice storm since he joined our Red Cross family and we are so grateful for his tireless efforts and compassionate support of our north country neighbors during their greatest time of need.”
It is the north country’s good luck that Mr. Pierino is here to assist. He’s a recent transplant from Austin, Texas, who opted to trade in cowboy hats and sweltering heat for long winters and scenic woods and rivers.
He said he is an avid outdoorsman who was familiar with the area from past trips, and fell in love with the wild and beautiful wilderness near his new home not far from Brainardsville.
“I love hunting and fishing and snowmobiling,” he said. “I really like it up here. The people are really nice.”
Mr. Pierino spent 21 years in the military as an Army medic and then went into nursing at Seton Hospital, Austin, so helping people is second nature to him. He said he feels particularly useful as a member of the Disaster Action Team assisting people just after a house fire.
“They’re really lost when it first happens, and they need guidance. I’m grateful that I can help out a little until they get their heads together,” he said.
He plans to continue volunteering as a Disaster Action Team member, and he reminds everyone that the Red Cross always needs volunteers, who are the lifeblood of the organization.