By: Mike Maloney
The Red Cross is made up of charitable individuals who offer their time and talents to better their communities. On this occasion of celebrating National Volunteer Week, we wanted to highlight a local volunteer who has graciously supported our mission through his involvement in a number of our programs.
Kraig Emmert is about to celebrate his two-year anniversary with the Texas Gulf Coast Region Red Cross. Kraig has served as a Photographer, ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) Driver, and CPE (Community Preparedness Education) Presenter – to name a few roles.
Kraig says, “I’ve had some wonderful experiences. Most particularly helping people. I started out in the DAT (Disaster Action Team)…I’ve trained with some really great people and have made many friends.” Kraig has averaged about four disaster action team calls a month. He also became a lead for the Red team in his area. After working with the disaster team he took a training and became an emergency response vehicle driver. Last year Kraig was awarded with a Rising Star award and DAT member of the month. But in his words he says “neither can compare with the emotional satisfaction and darn good feeling I get when I’ve helped someone work through their personal disaster.”
Beyond just his roles in the Red Cross, we’d like to draw attention to the other aspects of the life of the man who proudly slips on the red vest.
We all come from varying backgrounds and situations. Some volunteers are able to offer a substantial amount of their time, while others contribute with valuable resources. But what can sometimes be overlooked are the personalities of those who choose to help. There isn’t an age requirement to assist others in need. Nor does everyone become a volunteer at the same time in his or her life. Kraig’s story exhibits how we all have a special ability and this skill can provide a great benefit to society.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kraig moved to Houston when he was 5yrs old, and has been here ever since. In his youthful years Kraig would explore the bayous, fields, and woods of southwest Houston and watched them transform into areas that are now covered in concrete. He worked at Baylor College of Medicine 33 years, starting out as a General Illustrator, and eventually becoming Assistant Director of Creative Services.
When he’s not busy being an artistic genius, Kraig can be found on a large body of water. Sailing and canoeing are his favorite hobbies, and he has even competed in offshore races. However, when Kraig is landlocked he settles for woodworking. He has built some of the furniture in his own home. Kraig has eight grandchildren. And while he admits they can be exhausting, he is quick to point out, “it is a satisfying exhaustion.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Kraig. Speaking of his early life he said, “I was knocked off my feet by polio. I have only limited memories of those times. I was segregated from my parents for over two weeks as people were scared by the polio epidemic at that time.” He managed over fifty years without a brace, but in his own words, “arthritis and post-polio syndrome finally dragged me into one seven years ago.” Kraig hasn’t been a fan, but it does free him up to continue life as he likes – “Well, as near as I like.”
When we informed Kraig of this spotlight, he was certain there’d be someone more interesting or deserving. Yet no one can me more deserving than someone who gives up his time in service to his community. We’d like to thank Kraig for his time and commitment to the Red Cross. Happy National Volunteer Week!