Christoph Dennenmoser gets stuff done. Without further ado:
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
My pleasure! You are doing a great job with the interviews!
First, tell us about yourself, and what you do day-to-day at HR.
As Team Lead for Urgent Needs, my day-to-day activities are preparation and monitoring tasks. Like nearly every volunteer, I am keeping my eyes open for possible disasters. When a disaster occurs, I am concentrating on finding and resolving urgent needs posted in social media. This can be a link or a hint for the disaster victim, pointing them to shelters or other aid resources, or sending information e.g. to rescue services.
So, how did you get started with Humanity Road?
In “real life”, I am an EMS paramedic and disaster manager with the German Red Cross. I also do some public work. When I found out about social media, I first started to check out how I could use them for PR. Then I found out about a summit in August 2010 about the use of social media in disasters, organized by the American Red Cross in DC. I followed the livestream and was amazed. Some days later, a Twitter friend invited me to join Humanity Road. After some days of consideration, I joined the team.
The position of Urgent Needs Team Lead was vacant. Because of my professional background and experience in resolving needs, I took it when I was offered it.
What’s the biggest disaster response or other project you’ve tackled while at HR? How did you personally contribute?
There were several interesting responses. My first activities started with the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. Among other actions, we were able to organize a power generator for a tuberculosis clinic, and a helicopter transport for a severely sick boy who needed oxygen during the flight.
When Hurricane Sandy approached the US, we got a call from a village at the Dominican Republic that the water was rising to dangerous heights. We were able to refer them to the Search and Rescue there.
The next weeks were very action-filled with the aftermath of Sandy in NY/NJ.
Another awesome experience was after an earthquake struck the city of Van in Turkey. We got some hints from two locations where people were sending messages from under the debris that they couldn’t hear the machines anymore. They asked the authorities to continue their excavation efforts. Through some English-speaking students in Ankara, we reached the local authorities.
These were some very touching moments in the team work efforts.
Awesome work. And you’re rather matter-of-fact about it.
What do you mean?
Describing all this. Just being to-the-point and straightforward about it.
OK, yes. I love facts. 🙂
Just that Germanic efficiency?
Maybe it’s that. 😀
Anyhow, what’s your humanitarian philosophy? What keeps you going?
This sounds a bit weird, but I would like to save the world.
I know this is not realistic, but digital volunteerism is one good way to support it. And as I am not Superman, I am grateful for the awesome team and leadership of Humanity Road.
My grandfather had a quote hanging in his room; it influenced my life too, and can be called a motto. It is from a Catholic priest, Don Bosco. It says: “Being happy, doing good things and letting the birds whistle”. This is somehow my attitude.
Lovely. You’re still idealistic and want to try to help people, despite the devastation you deal with on a regular basis.
I don’t look at it this way. Every emergency is an opportunity to help someone. I am grateful for my job as paramedic. Before that I worked in the sales business. No achieved sales goal could ever make me happy like doing good to others, or looking in the eyes of someone whose life I made a bit better by bringing them to the hospital.
Anything else you’d like to mention about your work with HR that we haven’t already covered?
Yes – through my work with Humanity Road I met a lot of interesting and fascinating people. Many of them in person. So it is not “only digital”. In August, I had my five years anniversary, and I am looking forward to the next five (and more years). 🙂
What would you say to anyone who’s considering volunteering for HR?
Just do it! Even if you don’t know how you can contribute. You will find your area of responsibility – or it will find you.
Alright, unless you have anything else to add, that should be all.
hm, can’t think of anything else right now…
Awesome. Have a good day!
Thank YOU! Enjoy setting it together and thank you for what YOU are contributing!
Until next time, and our next volunteer’s story!