The biggest reward that comes from being a SAR member is knowing you helped find someone before the search became a recovery, John Giaconia says.
He joined the team three years ago (with his wife, Karen Synowiec) as a way of giving back to the community. But for him, it was also a way of meeting new and interesting people. It was a winning choice on both counts. The camaraderie, friendships, and knowledge he has gained in the resources and trainings have meant a lot to him, he says, and he has enjoyed the “genuine” people he has gotten to know on the team.
“I found the more you put in, the more you get out of the organization,” he says. “With the constant desire to look for areas of improvement, SAR is always trying to make this experience rewarding for all who care to take the challenge.”
John was born and raised in New Jersey in a large Italian family. His first career was in the newspaper industry, which lasted 28 years. He moved to California in 1983 to work for USA Today, and later for the New York Times. Soon thereafter he got tired of the “rat race,” and decided to take a whole new tack. He activated his New Jersey teaching credential and became a teacher at a continuation high school—first in Martinez, then in Pittsburg. He also earned a master's degree in Teaching Leadership at St. Mary's College. He teaches Art and Microsoft Office … (though not in the same class).
Art is also something he enjoys as a hobby, dabbling in oils when he gets the chance. He's using his artistic talents for SAR, as well, setting up moulage for medical training scenarios.
John also likes to hike and shoot firearms, and most of all, play with his cattle dog, Buster Brown. In his immediate family, besides wife Karen and Buster Brown, John has a 33-year-old son who is a senior software engineer.
When it comes to doling out SAR advice, John offers a tip from his experience: “Take the bumps in the road with the smooth parts and find your comfort zone,” he says. “The rest will take care of itself.”