Ten years ago on Sept. 11, Chris DiFilippo of Woodbury found himself in the building across the street from the twin towers, running down 60 flights of stairs and feeling helpless.
“It really changed my life,” he said. “I started asking myself, ‘How can I somehow help and make a difference in the world'?”
Today, with his emergency on-call beeper in hand, DiFilippo, 57, recalls how he found the answer in volunteering as an EMT for the Syosset Fire Department.
“There’s a lot of sacrifice. There are a whole bunch of unfinished movies and half-eaten pizzas,” he said. “But, I could always eat later. Someone needs help now.”
DiFilippo, who balances volunteering with being a single parent of two teenagers and a full-time employee for the Department of Social Services, first began with baby steps.
He started off volunteering with his son’s basketball team and boy scouts, and then moved on to volunteering for St. Edwards Church, where he taught religion on Sundays.
“I wanted to volunteer in other areas that I have not done before. I always want to continue to grow,” he said. “I decided that I wanted to join the fire department because it was a big step up. It was something I always wanted to do.”
This month marks DiFilippo’s second year with the fire department.
“Life is short,” he said. “I don’t take life for granted as much as I would have before.”