Working America Organizers Turn Into Neighborhood Heroes

Michael Taeu, a Working America organizer, was out talking to people in Oregon City, Oregon last night when he saw something he doesn’t usually see: smoke pouring out of the windows of one of the houses in the neighborhood.

Michael could have turned around, but he didn’t. Instead, he went into the house, helped rescue a woman trapped inside, and put out the fire.

Here’s the story as reported by the Oregonian:

Taeu said the door was open, so he called out to see if anyone was home and heard a woman yell for help. He went into the smoke-filled home and discovered the woman on the second floor.

“I couldn’t see her when I got upstairs because of all the smoke,” said Taeu, who works with the Oregon branch of Working America. “So I asked her to call out to me a few times and was able to find her.”

He escorted her to the stairs and she left the home. Taeu then grabbed the hose, stayed on the balcony so he could see into the home and put out the flames.

Brandon Paxton, a spokesman for the Clackamas County fire department, praised Michael for his quick thinking.

“I know that woman is grateful for what he did,” said Paxton. “It was definitely a courageous and selfless act.”

Earlier this month, Working America organizers in Center Township, Pennsylvania, also came to the assistance of their neighbors. They spotted a man trying to rob a home—and Working America’s John Tillar called the police, leading to the suspect’s capture. Barry Kramer, the local police chief, “said the description they gave was so accurate that police had a suspect in custody just a short time later,” according to the Beaver County Times.

We couldn’t be prouder of Michael and John, who really exemplify what Working America is all about: people helping each other by building a relationship face-to-face. Working America organizers were able to lend a helping hand in these dangerous situations because they’re out in communities every day, meeting people and listening to what they have to say.

We talk to thousands of people every week, and while we’re not always fighting crime or putting out fires, we are committed to getting people more engaged so that they can make a difference in their own lives. Whether it’s helping in an emergency or the long-term work of building a better economy, we’re stronger together.