Story by Harriet Vanderbilt / Red Cross Cascades Region
He just keeps “going and going and going!”
In 1989, this Energizer Bunny slogan created a brand that is still recognized today. In 1999, the slogan was updated to “Still going”. According to Advertising Age, this is “the ultimate symbol of longevity, perseverance, and determination.”
This is Tom Murotake for the American Red Cross.
Tom is a personification of that Energizer Bunny. His dedication to what he does, what he loves, is cemented in a life of giving back to others. Tom gives back prized possessions and memories. He also gives back dignity and self-respect.
He quips that “I can’t do a little ’cause I can’t do enough”.
His Red Cross co-workers would agree.
Tom’s military experience spans 30 years between the Army and the California National Guard. While he was stationed at Camp Roberts in California, Tom was charged with finding the owners of 25 wallets retrieved during demolition of old barracks. These wallets were stuffed into heating ducts after presumed thieves had removed the money.
The old, leathery wallets held belongings dating from WW II and the Korean War. Inside these beaten-up heirlooms were personal artifacts of the young men who were encamped for basic training before being sent on to tours of duty. Tom was able to reunite all but two wallets with their owners or family members. With dogged, unrelenting determination, Tom reunited wallets and past experiences. He worked tirelessly to uncover details of these men’s lives.
Tom is passionately devoted to Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) and was a Red Cross SAF Pacific Division Volunteer of the Quarter in 2020. His signature Retired Army Veterans hat serves to help veterans who seek help from Red Cross to feel relaxed and safe. It is an instant talking point that leads to more open conversation.
“Stress levels always fall away” according to Tom.
In addition to training new volunteers, Tom is constantly involved with Disaster Response as a Duty Officer. He has deployed to numerous disaster sites, both near and far. He has done every kind of task that needs doing. Like that bunny, Tom jumps in and works.
“I was there after Hurricane Harvey, I did sheltering in Texas after the floods, and I was a responder at the Paradise fire.”
Disaster assessment is a major essential after an incident.
“You’re in the field on your own,” says Tom. Currently, some of this work is done remotely. “It’s a bit difficult to give the client support remotely. Working out the details takes time and patience. I do see Red Cross doing hybrid work in the future”.
All disaster responses are unique. One of the most memorable was a house fire at Christmas time.
“The house was a total loss. Everything burned, including all the Christmas gifts. There were two little kids. I still remember how excited they were to get Red Cross teddy bears.”
“We really need Disaster Duty Officers! It’s easy to do, even virtually at home” states Tom.
He will show you, how to “keep going and going and going”!