More Than a Half-Century of Red Cross Service

By Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer


Photo credit: Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

When Jay Rosenthal was in his youth he witnessed an event so provoking, he would later decide to spend over fifty years of his life to prevent a recurrence.

It was the 1950’s, and Jay was roughly twelve years old, enjoying a beautiful Fourth of July at a the cool waters of a local pool along with hundreds of other people from his area. A sudden downpour prompted a mass exit from the pool.

As the crowd emptied, Jay would recall an “announcement on the PA system about a lost three year-old boy.” The body of the boy was found in the pool. He could not swim. Jay watched as the lifeguards attempted without success to resuscitate the boy.

Jay remembers with sadness and says, “in the fifties CPR and AEDs were only something of the future.”

It was from that moment, Jay would devote his life to preventing the loss of life by learning how to save lives and by training others to be safe in and prepare for emergencies. Jay continues to help the people in his community by his fifty-three years of service to the American Red Cross.

Jay now helps staff the Lake to River Chapter headquarters in Youngstown and teaches CPR and first aid classes.

Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter, is one of Jay’s biggest fans. “Jay comes here every day to volunteer. He is so valuable. If we can’t find something we ask him. He is a fabulous First Aid /CPR instructor but his passion is teaching kids to swim. Ask him if he has any idea how many children and adults he has taught. He might have 53 years in, but thousands can swim because of him.”

When he’s not volunteering for the Red Cross, Jay coordinating a “Learn-to-Swim” program in community schools.

When we asked Jay the secret to his commitment, his response was “it’s in the blood.”

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