"You kind of get used to the routine of what to pack," says Dave, "And you've got things pretty well located so you can pack pretty quickly."
The miles Dave has logged in his red vest could rival the hours he's donated to the Red Cross. "I think he's at 4,130 miles," says Jenny Legaspi from the western Wisconsin chapter of the Red Cross.
But Dave's journey with the non-profit began close to home. His first encounters with disasters were local ones. He recalls arriving at a house fire and talking to a woman who had just lost everything. "It was an awful fire," remembers Dave. "I told her why we were there and that we were going to try and provide some lodging and allowance for food and clothing because everything they had, except for what they were wearing, was in the house and was either destroyed or had major smoke damage. Then I headed back to the car to start getting some paperwork and she immediately said to me, 'Are you leaving?' and I said 'Oh, no. I'm not leaving until we've got this all provided to you'. She had a big sigh of relief, because the Red Cross was there and she had some help. And that's the kind of good feeling you get."
Jenny adds that Dave has become a volunteer that the Red Cross can rely on. "Dave has a very welcoming personality," she says. "He has stepped up as a leader." Jenny adds that Dave has also taken on the role of teacher, he trains new Red Cross volunteers.
Dave's friends say they can hardly keep track of his movements. "We never know if he's going to be here because he also has the responsibility of responding to disasters in western Wisconsin," says Jack Stromwall who helped to nominate Dave for the Jefferson Award.
Jack is speaking of the ROMEOS, a group of men who gather for lunch, but they don't spend meal time reciting sonnets. "ROMEOS is an acronym for Retired Old Men Eating Out," explains Jack. "There are no dues, no duties, no requirements, other than be prepared to discuss the events of the day and the problems of the world. And by gosh, if they're are not any problems we'll create them," he says with a smile on his face.
The ROMEOS sat down together to craft Dave's nomination so it was only natural that WQOW News 18 surprise Dave with the Jefferson Award for public service while the group was seated around the lunch table.
Lastly, says Jack, "I think that if everyone could emulate Dave, what a wonderful world we'd have."
If you know someone you'd like to nominate for a Jefferson Award click here.