This post is the third in a series about American Red Cross Clubs at high schools, colleges, and universities across the country. Read the introduction to this series (“Join the Club”) here, and learn more about how to join and/or start an American Red Cross club (“Red Cross Club FAQ”) here.
A couple of months ago I sat down with Amanda Bahls, President of the American Red Cross Club at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, to learn more about the formation of and her involvement with this newly reestablished club. I knew after spending less than five minutes with Amanda that she was the kind of young adult representative the American Red Cross would proudly stand behind – she was prepared, well-spoken, friendly, enthusiastic, and perhaps most importantly, passionate about the mission of the organization.
In my experience, most American Red Cross club board members and committee chairs take on these leadership positions after years of involvement with their local American Red Cross chapter and/or their school’s club. Amanda’s path to club leadership was different than I’d expected in that when she took the reigns last fall, she did so as a freshman. She was new to college, as well as relatively new to both Red Cross clubs and the organization, so how then did she end up president of the Red Cross club at one of the largest universities in the country? Let me explain.
The ARC Club at TAMU was first founded in 2006, but throughout the last two or three years – and likely because the original club’s leadership team never established clear succession and sustainability plans (an important piece of the puzzle when developing a club) – membership dwindled and the club eventually dissolved. Despite her minimal past experience with the Red Cross and an already-hectic school and community service calendar, when Amanda learned at a volunteer fair of the club’s unfortunate state she felt called to pick up the pieces.
Amanda made contact with and received guidance and resources from the local chapter, recruited a faculty advisor, recruited friends who shared her vision for the club to serve beside her in leadership roles, wrote a new constitution, and began the process of recruiting new members by attending on-campus volunteer open houses, using social media, and the old-fashioned way…word of mouth.
Now, as second semester draws to a close, the club has grown to more than 20 members. Membership is open to undergraduates, graduate students, and community members (the constitution allows “community members” to join so that students at another local college – which does not have a Red Cross Club – can join the TAMU club), but at this point, most members are undergraduate students.
As is the case in many clubs, members are required to pay annual dues, complete volunteer paperwork, attend meetings, and volunteer for events. Members are also encouraged to attend club-sponsored social gatherings and, if they’re eligible, donate blood. Club leadership has made member participation easy by already very nearly meeting their goal of coordinating and/or participating in three community service projects, one fundraiser, one blood drive (my donation at this blood drive led to this post about explaining blood donation to my children), one on-campus speaker or presentation, and one off-campus social event every semester.
Amanda, her leadership team, and club members understand that this year is just the beginning and are excited about the future. In the years to come, the team anticipates further developing their partnership with the local chapter and establishing new partnerships with mission-related community organizations and TAMU student clubs. Their goal is to focus on quality over quantity, providing consistency to club members, and to grow the club at a slow but steady rate, creating a solid, close-knit community along the way.
Congratulations to Amanda and the American Red Cross Club at Texas A&M University on a fantastic (second) first year!
Are you a member of a high school, college, or university American Red Cross club? Would you like your club and its activities featured on the National American Red Cross blog? If so, please send an email with your name, contact information, and school to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed under: Volunteers