Northshore Magazine

Northshore April 2020

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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NORTHSHOREMAG.COM 32 APRIL 2020 PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUG LEVY Cross. In this role he oversees the operations of an organization serving 1.2 million people in Middlesex and Essex counties. The mission, he says, is to alleviate human suffering in times of emergency by providing a wide range of services, from offering emergency financial assistance to families who have lost their home in a fire to training citizens in first aid and water safety. It is this close connection the Red Cross has to the people it helps that appealed to McWilliam- Lopez from his very earliest involvement. "You don't find that ability to make a direct impact in just any organization," McWilliam- Lopez says. McWilliam-Lopez grew up in California with parents who instilled in him a strong belief in public service. He attended college at the University of California in Davis and, between his sophomore and junior years, took a year off to volunteer with the AmeriCorps program. During this time, he was part of a team of 10 volunteers who built a home with Habitat for Humanity, taught reading skills to urban students, participated in a habitat restoration project, and helped a veterans Kyle McWilliam-Lopez is the director of the Northeast Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross. Perhaps Kyle McWilliam-Lopez first developed his passion for service when he was young, watching his military family serve the country. Or maybe it was during college, when he tutored fifth-graders in the Bronx. Or in the Bolivian village where he taught locals how to use beekeeping to supplement their incomes. "Pretty much my whole life, all I wanted was to do good work," the Gloucester resident says. "There's a lot of need out there." In December, McWilliam-Lopez took on a new kind of service when he was named executive director of the Northeast Massachusetts chapter of the American Red A visit with the new director of the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of the American Red Cross. BY SARAH SHEMKUS LOCAL IMPACT association in Vermont digitize their records. After he finished college, where he studied sociology and history, he again immersed himself in volunteer work, this time in the Peace Corps. For two years he lived in rural Bolivia, teaching both English and advanced beekeeping skills to the local residents. Upon his return, he pursued his interest in international affairs by attending graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. He expected he would return overseas after he finished his studies, but then he met the woman who would become his wife and realized he would rather stick closer to home. "My life plans changed pretty dramatically at that point," McWilliam-Lopez says. "I am happy to do good work domestically now." It was when Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017 that he found the next service opportunity that would engage his passions. In 2018, McWilliam-Lopez joined the American Red Cross in Florida as a community recovery specialist. That first job with the Red Cross got him hooked on the organization: its capacity to make an immediate impact, its empathy for those it served, its wide reach. It also proved useful in achieving both professional and personal goals. His wife is a Gloucester native and their goal had always been to move back to the Northeast. The opportunity came later that year when McWilliam-Lopez got another job with the Red Cross, this time in Massachusetts. After a year as a recovery and emergency management agency specialist, he won his current position at the head of the Northeast Massachusetts chapter. Between the demands of his new position and of parenting a four-year-old, McWilliam-Lopez has little spare time, but he still manages to be civically involved as a member of the Cape Ann Climate Crisis Action group. And still he notes the vital connections between the work of fighting climate change and the work of the Red Cross, as a warming world will likely cause more storms and more flooding that will require the response of the organization. And McWilliam-Lopez will be proud to be among those providing aid. "It is such an amazing privilege to serve the Red Cross mission," he says. CONTACT redcross.org L I V E + P L AY

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