Profoundly Heartbreaking Experience Leads to Heartfelt Volunteerism

By Cindy Huge, Red Cross Volunteer

Life seemed to come to a halt when Cody Blackford heard the news that two of his family members had perished in a house fire.

“I remember getting a call from my parents, while I was at work, informing me that my eighteen- and three-year-old nieces had passed away in a house fire,” said Blackford. “It was so hard to imagine that this could happen to my sweet and caring nieces.”

Hours later, Blackford would learn the heartbreaking details: that his 18-year-old niece was found holding the three-year-old, who was wrapped in a blanket, next to a window. They had tried unsuccessfully to escape the burning home.

This tragic event changed the course of Blackford’s life. “This gave me the motivation to hopefully be the light in the darkness for someone who may be going through the same thing.”

Research led Blackford to the American Red Cross. After learning about all the services, he decided to become a volunteer.

Blackford has taken his volunteering to a serious level. Even though he has been transferred many times throughout the United States, each time the first thing he does is find the local Red Cross office. His volunteer duties include taking calls and dispatching volunteers many nights of the week, and he does this with such care even though he has just finished working 10 hours on his job. Many times, he can be found responding to help a family that suffered a loss of their home after a fire, in the middle of the night, or setting up a shelter for those in need after a large apartment or wildfire.

Recently, he helped an elderly man who lost his mobile home in a fire. In his calm and gentle way, Blackford explained to the man the services the Red Cross offers. He did not rush to finish with the client, even though the outside temperature was 105 degrees; his main concern was helping this man get to a cool and safe place.

“This gave me the motivation to hopefully be the light in the darkness for someone who may be going through the same thing.”

Cody Blackford

During Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15), the American Red Cross Central California Region urges everyone to practice their two-minute home fire escape plan and test their smoke alarms to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent disaster. Learn more about how to prevent home fires and request free smoke alarms at

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