The Berkshires are blessed with a tremendous amount of compassionate and dedicated REALTORS® who give to our community, and it is with such great, great pleasure that we announce the 2004 Good Neighbor Award winner – Mr. Tom Maloney of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. His tireless service over the years has been an inspiration and has made a difference in countless lives in our region.
Tom has been a REALTOR® for 21 years, after honorably serving in the US Air Force in Korea and Japan and then as a full time firefighter with the Pittsfield Fire Department. Upon his retirement, Tom went full time in real estate and simultaneously committed to significant volunteer work.
As a firefighter, Tom spent his lifetime battling blazes and risking his life for the immediate well-being of others – he did everything in his power to help ensure the physical safety of those in the midst of disaster. After his retirement, he saw that there was a very real and important role to be filled by helping those that survived a disaster but were left in shock, many times with nothing left of the life they knew.
From Service Man – to Fire Man – to Recovery Team Leader
Today, that is where Tom steps in, and has for the past 10 years. He is a full and active member of the Berkshire County’s Chapter of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) responding to fires, natural disasters, lost / missing persons, rescue missions and more for the entire Berkshire County region and beyond. As the Chairman of the team for over 8 years, Tom used his ties with the fire department to build stronger relationships so that they would be called immediately in crisis situations to offer victim assistance.
As Chairman of the DAT, he brought significant talents to disaster recovery operations through the recruitment of new members, training of emergency volunteers, ensuring the availability and access to adequate equipment and resources, negotiating signed commitments from vendors and disaster shelter providers and building alliances with service providers, recovery teams, the state police, the fire departments etc..
When you read in the morning paper about an overnight fire, a missing hiker, a severe storm that wrought devastation or other gut wrenching tragedy – he was there. He was offering a shoulder to those who were desperate and lost. He was coordinating anxious calls to and from family members of those affected. He was arranging emergency shelter. He was assessing if they escaped the disaster with adequate clothing to survive the night and was arranging to get them enough to make it through the next few hours, days and weeks. He was bringing them food and basic necessitates. He was coordinating follow-up assistance from area service agencies to provide longer range support to help those suddenly in need get back on their feet.
Most of all, when those affected by loss were still shaking from fear, he was offering his steady hand, his compassion, and most of all, his reassurance that “everything is going to be all right, because I will make sure of it”. Throughout his service, day or night, Tom responds to these calls, with the patient understanding of his wife of 52 years, Joanne.
The most recent blaze was next door to the Board Office. It took nearly 70 firefighters three days in freezing temperatures to fully extinguish it. The fire left 13 people homeless and displaced three businesses. Tom was there. As always.
Tom is the REALTOR® who makes us all look good, he is proud of his membership and the job he does for his clients, and is an active and positive force in our Board. Thank goodness he still has those fireman’s reflexes where his feet hit the floor before he is even fully awake in the middle of the night. Tom is the Berkshire’s consummate Good Neighbor!
Tom… Why do you volunteer for Disaster Recovery?
“As a retired firefighter, I have seen many sad situations where people have lost everything and feel powerless. I had to help them rebuild. Being on the Disaster Team as a volunteer allows me to be on the other side. That lets me help people when they’re confused and don’t know which way is up. I have strong feelings for people who are down and enjoy helping people at their greatest time of need.” – Tom Maloney