Within a few weeks of starting his new job as the chief development officer for the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania, Terry Koontz got to see what the organization does best -- assist those faced with a disaster.
Mr. Koontz, 41, of Franklin Park started June 12, and heavy rains caused flooding June 27 in the DuBois area. More than 260 homes were destroyed or had major damage.
"I was so impressed with the way our volunteers and staff immediately came together to assist those hit with the floods," he said. "It was so motivating and inspiring."
Mr. Koontz is no stranger to nonprofit work. After he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business management from Saint Vincent College, he started his career with the Boy Scouts of America. The former scout -- he earned Eagle Scout status when he planted over 200 trees for a natural barrier for a church in Mount Pleasant -- said he learned about careers with the organization at a job fair.
"I had some wonderful volunteer leaders when I was a scout, but I never really thought that there would be careers with the scouts until I saw them there," he said of the job fair.
Mr. Koontz worked with the scouts for nine years before he went to the American Heart Association. Once again, he had a personal connection.
"In 2001, my mother passed away from a heart attack, and in 2003 I went to work for them. I was very close to my mother and I wanted to make a difference in a way that may help save others' lives," he said. Mr. Koontz served as the vice president and senior regional director with the American Heart Association.
In his new role with the Red Cross, Mr. Koontz will oversee the fundraising efforts for the organization.
"I'll work to ensure that we can continue doing the good work that we do by raising the funds to carry out this work," Mr. Koontz said.
One of his key responsibilities will be in developing major gifts from both corporations and individuals and overseeing special events. Mr. Koontz said some work carried out by the Red Cross takes place in the Pittsburgh area.
"In Pittsburgh, there is one fire a day that will displace a family. We work to provide them shelter and comfort while helping them get back on their feet," he said.
The organization provides similar services for disaster relief, including providing shelter, food and other necessities, and help to clean up and rebuild. The Red Cross also works with families who have a member serving in the military, providing health education programming. It also assists in blood donation drives.
"Just a quick look at our website shows how we are touching the lives of so many," Mr. Koontz said.
While he has only been with the Red Cross for a few weeks, Mr. Koontz said he is impressed with the volunteers.
"We couldn't do what we do without the volunteers. It is truly moving," he said.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: email@example.com.