Michael Ha has been volunteering with the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund for two years, but he’s not your average charity volunteer. Sure, he throws his heart and soul into helping protect the families of those who give their heart and soul to protect our community. But there’s a little more to Michael’s story.
You see when Michael wasn’t supporting the spouses and children of firefighters harmed in the line of duty; he was training to become a professional firefighter for the LAFD. His eagerness to work beside the men and women he’s admired for years is easy to recognize in his voice. “I’ve been pursuing firefighting for the last 4 or 5 years, but I’ve always had a passion for being a firefighter. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be one,” he shares earnestly.
Although Michael may have 6 months until he’s completed his probationary period, that hasn’t stopped him from devoting as much time as he can to his fire family. “I just wanted to get involved and help,” he continues. “I talked to Widows & Orphans and they were friendly and supportive and flexible with my schedule.”
During the two years he’s worked with the charity, Michael has been volunteering behind the scenes for the Hope for Firefighters event and the LAFD Invitational golf tournament. “I’ve also helped around the office on my days off for about 3-4 hours. Emailing, putting gift bags together, and basically helping with anything they needed organizing in the office,” Michael explains.
Assisting from behind a desk may not seem like the most exciting way to help the charity for someone who used to be an ambulance operator before earning a spot with the LAFD. But Michael recognizes that everything he does for the charity only helps to serve people in need. Plus, he enjoys working with the charity’s employees: “Interacting with the staff and the people who work behind the scenes is always fun! And I like to see all the hard work they put into it.”
But, rest assured, Michael knows that all work and no play will leave even the most earnest man deflated. When he’s not giving his days and nights to training and volunteering, Michael relaxes with his family and friends. And anytime not spent at the beach, Dodger Stadium or the Staples Center is spent traveling to different countries. Before returning to LA to pursue firefighting, he spent 9 months traveling around Argentina.
“Growing up, I was always doing volunteer work with my church and school,” he reveals. “I liked what they always did for firefighters and their families.” So perhaps it’s really no surprise that Michael is bound for the fire station. When he completes his probationary period, Michael will be assigned to Fire Station No. 3 in the Downtown LA area. He’s more than excited to start this new chapter of his life after years of dedication and hard work. But he still plans to make time for the charity. “My current schedule makes it hard to volunteer at the same time, but I definitely plan to volunteer again in the future when I’m off probation.”
By Candace Nicholson