Story and Photo by Jay Bonafede
Cape Cod resident Marilyn Bucheri has volunteering with the Red Cross since 9/11, but not everyone is familiar with the type of work she does for the organization.
“It’s like we’re this little hidden thing that nobody’s talking about, they’re afraid to talk about,” the board certified Chaplain says of the Disaster Spiritual Care team. “We really are interfaith. We just offer support, spiritual support. We are a presence, we listen to people. We don’t say a lot sometimes, we are just there.”
This week, Bucheri has been there for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. She’s worked at the FamilyAssistanceCenter, and was with the victims and their families the night they were allowed to return to the crime scene on Boylston. “That was very powerful,” Bucheri says. “I was able to connect with people that had really been hurt. People say to me, ‘How can you do this?’ It’s a privilege to be with people at a sacred time like that. And that’s why I do it.”
Bucheri also got a little taste of home while working at one of the staging areas for police officers arriving for a memorial service for slain MIT Officer Sean Collier. “They told us you can ride on one of the buses with the police,” she said. “So I get on the third bus, the police come on and they’re all from Cape Cod. I said, ‘I’m from Cape Cod, too!’ I even high-fived one of them!”
Events such as the Marathon bombing and the Newtown, CT school shooting, which Bucheri also responded to, are difficult for entire communities. “There’s so many people affected by a disaster like this that we really just branch out and go into the crowd,” Bucheri says. “At Newtown, when the President came, we just sat in the bleachers with people. You don’t have to say anything. They see the badge, the Red Cross, and then you just talk to people. It’s just so wonderful.”
Many people are not even aware that the Red Cross provides interfaith Disaster Spiritual Care, but Bucheri says little things add up to assure her it’s a valuable piece of the relief efforts. “There was an author speaking at the hotel last night, and he said we could go in and listen,” she said. “We did, and when he announced the Red Cross people are here, they all clapped for us.”