By Laura Harwood

The Boston Medical Reserve Corps is a group of volunteers who are ready to respond to a public health emergency in Boston. In an emergency, volunteers perform a wide range of tasks to help keep the city safe and healthy.

So who volunteers for the Boston MRC? Our volunteers are everyday people like Eric, Sophie, Erin, and Luis who live, work, or go to school in the city of Boston. And you don’t need to have a medical background to volunteer with the Boston MRC.

The Boston MRC Volunteer of the Month for March is Luis Ottonelli! You may recognize him from his recent starring role in the Boston MRC recruitment video: he’s the at the end of the relay and hands the giant bandage to the nurse. He missed out on an Oscar, but we hope being Volunteer of the Month is a terrific consolation prize.

Luis is originally from Argentina (Pampas, to be precise, in the middle of the country). His birthplace was small (about 400 people!), where he saw the importance of meeting the real needs of people, including medical, economical, educational, and housing. Luis worked in Buenos Aires for many years in the banking industry as a private banker. It was a rewarding career, and some of his clients later in life became his friends… not surprising given Luis’s friendly personality.

Luis moved to Boston in 2000 to learn English. After a couple of months, he decided to continue his studies, attending Bunker Hill Community College and earned his Associate Degree in Business. There he learned about different people and cultures. Luis currently works for the Boston Public Health Commission as an Executive Assistant for the Boston Healthy Start Initiative which is a federally funded program that helps eliminate perinatal health disparities.

Luis is a valuable member of our team because he speaks Spanish and English, and understands some Portuguese. He is very involved in his community – he’s a board member at Oiste, an organization that has a program called Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership that prepares people to be a community and political leaders.

In his first year in Boston, he volunteered at Community Serving, peeling vegetables, cleaning, wrapping food. He’s also volunteered at ABCD, at Red Cross blood drives, and participates in community meetings in current hometown, Jamaica Plain. We’re glad he found time for the Boston MRC.

Luis joined the Boston MRC because of his passion for helping people. He tells us he got that passion from his parents: “My Mom and Dad were the examples for me to become a volunteer. Both of them used to volunteer for many different causes in my town.” Luis has taken nearly all of the Boston MRC classes and has volunteered at flu clinics, where he is a hard worker with a great attitude.

His favorite MRC memory was his first time as a volunteer at a flu clinic. He tells us, “I was in shock to see the organization of EMS and all the materials, technology, logistics that they put on place to run the flu clinics. I still see on my memory all of us working, participating, organizing, directing like worker bees in the beehive.”

As one of our best workers, we say, “Thanks Luis!” You’re a very deserving Boston MRC Volunteer of the Month!

Sophie was our December volunteer of the month, Eric was our January volunteer of the month, and Erin was recognized in February. Check back next month to meet another Boston MRC volunteer.

Laura Harwood is a program manager for the Boston Medical Reserve Corps, a program of the Boston Public Health Commission.

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