Anthony Williams Sr. serves as a disaster services volunteer for the American Red Cross of Lackawanna County.shelby fisk / the times leader
SCRANTON – After family and friends became sick, Anthony Williams Sr., left work to take care of them and that’s when he said he found his true calling in life.
Williams serves as a disaster services volunteer for the American Red Cross of Lackawanna County, a position he believes has helped him find himself.
It began when his mother became ill, Williams said. Then a neighbor was coping with an illness and his cousin suffered two aneurysms and a stroke. Soon he was taking care of family and friends with all types of conditions and special needs, he said.
“I knew that my calling was to help others,” Williams said. “I did a lot of cooking. I did a lot of cleaning. I did a lot of worrying. And that’s what made me thankful for helping because everybody, including those who don’t think they need help, really do.
“We all need help,” Williams continued. “Somewhere down the line, we all need a little help. You could have all the money in the world but when something fails you in life, you break down.”
Williams, originally from Baltimore, Md., now resides in Tobyhanna. He said the family decided to move when his wife Gwendolyn was offered a job opportunity in the region.
It has not been easy for him.
Williams lacks a high school diploma and he said finding work in the area with limited education has been difficult. He is currently pursuing his diploma and working odd jobs in Maryland while caring for his family and friends.
While looking for work in the area, Williams said, “the American Red Cross gives me something to do.”
And he says helping the organization was almost cosmic.
He explained that he and his wife arrived in Dickson City in April when they were looking for a place to live in the area. There he opened a phone book. He said that the page he opened had information about the Red Cross of Lackawanna County. He immediately called for directions and soon after, made it to the Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, office to apply as a volunteer.
He said he knew that “it was the perfect place for me to help.”
Only volunteering a few weeks, Williams said he found himself assisting firefighters responding to a major multiple-home fire on Monroe Avenue that displaced 30 people in April.
“It was sad to see something burn down like that,” Williams recalled. “You have to be there and not be there (mentally) that’s how you get through it.
“It’s heartbreaking, but it gave me a wonderful feeling to be able to help,” he continued.
He since has helped at many disaster scenes.
And he said it has helped make him ready for just about anything.
Recently, Williams has become certified to administer CPR. He is working to obtain additional training and certification which will, as he puts it, “help me to help others.”
“I still have a lot to learn,” he said, adding that he is eager to learn.
Once he attains his high school diploma, Williams plans to pursue a job in which he can help people in need, especially in emergency situations.
“You’re scared, but you know it’s something you’ve got to try to do,” Williams said of the uncertainty of the future .
“It’s amazing to help out,” he added. “At the end of it all, you still have bad feelings about what happened, but you feel good that you were able to help.”
Anthony Williams Sr.
Town of residence: Tobyhanna
Occupation: Unemployed, previously employed in construction and as a tractor-trailer operator in Baltimore, Md., for 12 years.
Charities, volunteer work: Disaster services volunteer, the American Red Cross of Lackawanna County
Family: Wife, Gwendolyn
Education: Pursuing his high school diploma
Hobbies, interests: Plays pool, ping pong, basketball, dominos and chess