Armond Mascelli entered the Red Cross after completing his undergraduate education. After five years, he returned to graduate school and entered the Disaster Service upon completion. He is retiring from the Red Cross Friday after 42 years of service.
While working, Mascelli tended to multiple disasters. Some disasters he assisted with were the Johnstown Flood in 1977, where he met his wife, and multiple hurricanes, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Katrina. Mascelli also assisted following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Q: What got you started with the Red Cross?
A: I felt having grown up in a small town and at that time having gone to a small university, I just wanted to get out in the world a bit before going to graduate school. [My college professor] actually worked for the Red Cross when he was in graduate school and said they did a lot of things and had a worldwide mission. I applied and they accepted me and that started everything.
Q: What were your duties at the Red Cross?
A: Basically, my job was to make sure the Red Cross showed up when there was a disaster. I had resources at my disposal I could deploy at disaster sites. If a disaster was beyond the local capability ... I had a 24-hour disaster operation center that I operated and they would contact my center and I'd send whatever they needed.
Q: You met your wife through the Red Cross?
A: The first big disaster I was on was the Johnstown Flood in 1977. My wife was a school teacher that was on summer break and she was a Red Cross volunteer. It was a really bad disaster so the Red Cross had a number of aid stations. She was recruiting nurses to staff those aid stations. One thing led to another and I was there for quite a bit of time. When I finally did leave I started a long-distance romance. Eventually, about a year later, we got married.
Q: What was your most memorable experience?
A: If any single event, probably 9-11. I did, that night, go to the Pentagon and then about a day later to the World Trade Center. To be there and see both of those sites was pretty significant in my mind. They weren't the biggest disasters but on the other hand they were unique and significant.
Q: What was the best part of your job?
A: It was challenging. It was demanding. It varied and everything was different. I never knew what my day was going to be like until I got up in the morning and read the newspaper and that would tell me how my day would go... Even though it was demanding, I think the personal and professional satisfaction were pretty substantial. Many people look for that all their lives and I was lucky to find that fairly soon in my career.
Q: What was the most difficult part of your job?
A: I think the most difficult was it was pretty demanding in the sense that when something bad happens people depend on organizations like the Red Cross to be there and help... that's a pretty significant responsibility. I guess it's that sense of responsbility and making sure that when we did respond we did it in the best way possible. We set a pretty high standard for ourselves and constantly strive to achieve it.
Q: What are your plans now?
A: One, I'm going to sleep late in the morning and not watch the morning news. The job was pretty demanding and, as a result, between the job and my family that took up all my time. Over the years I developed a lot of interests and said 'Boy, if I ever had the time'... I'm going to have the luxury of time. If something strikes my fancy that I want to pursue further, then I'm going to go ahead and do it.