UNION, NJ — It takes a special kind of someone to spend his life giving to others. And Robert Britt is just that kind of person. Recently, the Union native and resident was recognized by Union Mayor Manuel Figueiredo and the Township Committee, who presented him with the Mayor’s Award for his work with the American Red Cross and Team Rubicon.
Britt, an EMT, graduated from Union High School in 2011 and earned an associate’s degree from Union County College, and earned his EMT certification in 2013.
He began volunteering for Union’s Emergency Medical Unit and started volunteering with the Salvation Army soon after Hurricane Sandy.
“I enjoyed supporting their mission in any way possible,” Britt told the Union Leader in a recent interview. “Then, I gradually started volunteering with other organizations, such as the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, and Team Rubicon. It has been hard juggling school and work and volunteering, but I have found that working with these types of organizations is what brings me the most joy.”
Britt is currently working toward becoming a Certified Emergency Manager and has volunteered as an EMT to provide first aid coverage at the Special Olympic Games. He has also helped out with Habitat for Humanity and been involved with American Red Cross Disaster Services.
“While volunteering with the Red Cross, I’ve worked in shelters providing health services such as wound care, helping those with access and functional needs, and monitored the health and well-being of other volunteers,” Britt said. “I have also aided in the delivery of disaster-preparedness training seminars under the Red Cross.”
With Team Rubicon, Britt has helped rebuild homes affected by disasters, and supported the veteran population in continuing its mission in service of that community. Most recently, Britt has taken part in wildland firefighter trainings through Team Rubicon and the Bureau of Land Management, and is now a certified wildland firefighter.
“I find myself obtaining a level of fulfillment by being there for those when they need it most,” he said, adding “I know that I am doing my part to help others when they are at a point when life seems difficult. Knowing that my work and my efforts are making someone’s life easier and safer is the best form of payment.”
And there have been many rewarding moments as a result of Britt’s volunteer work.
“In West Virginia, there was a family I met in one of our shelters, a single mother of two daughters, about 9 and 16 years old,” said Britt. “They would spend all day cleaning out their home that was damaged by the flood, then head back to the shelter at night to eat, shower and head to bed. After finding out that both of the girls enjoyed singing, I had a local community member loan his guitar to me to keep in the shelter. The next day, I gathered the family and some other volunteers to sing while I played songs. For a moment, it seemed as though the girls were able to forget about the unfortunate circumstances the flood had put them in and be able to smile and laugh. Being able to alleviate human suffering in times like that gives me a higher sense of purpose.”
Volunteering has enabled Britt to receive hands-on training and work experience, he said, and to network with other like-minded professionals.
“I get to travel and meet people from different walks of life, and to have a deeper appreciation for the life I have and the people I care about,” Britt said. “I have lost and left paying jobs due to my dedication to my volunteering, and it was worth every individual I was able to be of service to.”
Britt expressed the need for volunteers at the Union Emergency Medical Unit where training is provided. The minimum age requirement is 16 and applications can be picked up at 2493 Vauxhall Road, Union, or online at the website, Unionemu.org. Questions about volunteering can be referred to Britt by sending an email to Robert.Britt.firstname.lastname@example.org.