AJ Suero of the American Red Cross of Greater PA is the son of Dominican immigrants with a passion for making a difference. He grew up in New York City surrounded by the warmth and vibrancy of its diverse Hispanic culture.
Like many others, in 2017 he was deeply moved by the devastation Hurricane Maria caused in the Caribbean. It was one of the reasons why he joined the Red Cross as Regional Communications Manager when the opportunity arose in 2018. His position is based out of Allentown, but covers the northern half of PA and helps support outreach initiatives for Latino communities here, including Spanish-speaking media.
“I’ll never forget my first day,” said AJ. “Instead of participating in an orientation, I was sent right away to respond to flooding in the region. I hit the ground running and have been serving people ever since.”
Suero shares that during the pandemic in Allegheny County alone, Red Cross volunteers have packed up more than 200,000 meals, and their response vehicles have delivered more than 12,000 meals to food distribution sites. In the state they have also provided mental health services to more than 80 people, including 5 families who lost a loved one due to COVID-19.
When asked why he likes his job, AJ mentions two things that give him complete fulfillment in working for the organization: helping others in need and serving as a voice for the Latino community.
Suero feels profoundly grateful to have grown up in a Hispanic household. “My earliest memories are a mashup of two distinct cultures which make me a Hispanic-American. On Saturday nights for example, we would watch the Golden Girls and then flip over to Univision to watch Sábado Gigante.” He grew up understanding how to connect with people who had come from different walks of life, a vital skill to humanitarianism.
AJ has seen firsthand how important the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross is to local communities. Many people recognize the organization because of their visibility in major disasters, but they are present in the community 365 days a year. From responding to home fires, to collecting blood and serving our military – he shares that their mission is carried out everyday.
“My desire is to see more Latinos become involved in our mission. [Latinos] love to lend a helping hand when someone is in trouble and the principles of the Red Cross do exactly that.”
PRESENTE thanks AJ for his amazing contributions as a Red Cross employee and as a role model for Latinos in our community.
To learn more about the Red Cross mission, and to become a volunteer, visit RedCross.org.