Volunteer helps Washington wildfire relief effort

Red Cross relief efforts have sent MV's Marcel Pajuelo-Schwartz around the world

Mountain View resident Marcel Pajuelo-Schwartz was in good spirits the day after he returned from the Red Cross shelter at Chelan High School in Washington state after more than a week. One could forgive him if he were far less amiable.

Pajuelo-Schwartz worked 20-hour days while he was in Chelan helping the Red Cross effort to provide aid to residents affected by the largest wildfire in state history. He was sent along with three other members of the American Red Cross Silicon Valley Chapter, and arrived on July 19.

Pajuelo-Schwartz said he worked primarily as a facilities coordinator, ensuring that the staff and the shelter's kitchen had everything they needed. Red Cross emergency response vehicles delivered breakfast, lunch and dinner from the shelter to city residents who evacuated or lost their homes.

The shelter also housed many of these residents.

"We were sheltering clients," Pajuelo-Schwartz said. "We don't like to call them victims."

According to Pajuelo-Schwartz, his average day began between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. and ended around midnight. Pajuelo-Schwartz said the long number of hours he spent working at the Red Cross were necessary because the shelter was initially understaffed.

"You do what is needed because always at the beginning of a job, you're short of staff," Pajuelo-Schwartz said.

According to Pajuelo-Schwartz, the relief effort at the shelter eventually grew to house 75 Red Cross members and 22 volunteers.

Pajuelo-Schwartz said he began volunteering for the Red Cross in 1967 and has been sent on relief effort missions across the nation and even the globe around 400 times.

"I was raised to help whoever was in need and I've done it most of my life," Pajuelo-Schwartz said.

He said that his extensive level of experience allowed him to better handle the long hours and heavy rigor of his workload.

"You learn how to cope," he said.

Pajuelo-Schwartz said that he spent most of his stay inside the shelter, which provided him with few opportunities to survey the fire's damage. Around the time he departed from Washington, firefighters had contained the fire and residents began to return to their homes.

Pajuelo-Schwartz noted that on the night he returned to Mountain View, he got eight hours rest.

"Your adrenalin goes down and you crash and burn," Pajuelo-Schwartz said.

Despite the long hours, he had no complaints about working for the Red Cross.

"Red Cross takes good care of us," he said.


Like this comment
Posted by Leslie Lambert
a resident of Gemello
on Aug 5, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Mr. Pajuelo-Schwartz. It is uplifting to learn of your service to others.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Coming soon: Fire Oak & Barley in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 2,852 views

Meditation Before Medication for Better Mental Health
By Chandrama Anderson | 11 comments | 1,760 views

The Saddle Room – A True Friend of Kids
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,683 views

July 27th: Colleges That Change Lives are Coming
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 4 comments | 1,508 views

Radical Acceptance
By Caroline Fleck | 0 comments | 178 views