They say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to raise spirits and support physical needs for an individual, a family, or a neighborhood – anyone affected by an unexpected disaster that brings a community to its knees.
While you probably know the Red Cross provides food, shelter, mental health services and many other support systems in large and small emergencies, did you know that 95 percent of that disaster work is accomplished by volunteers? 95 percent! The Red Cross clearly would not be successful without these generous contributions of time and expertise. Volunteers are your neighbors, your friends and your family – they are truly the face of the Red Cross.
In honor of National Volunteer Week, here are some of our favorite vignettes of volunteers on the ground for both disaster and blood services:
- Stephen has volunteered with the Red Cross for 81 years, starting as a toddler helping his grandmother pass out coffee and donuts. In his adult years, he has taught numerous first aid and CPR classes and volunteered for disaster deployments that included numerous floods, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes. His service experience now includes a total of 65 years driving a Red Cross emergency response vehicle, a distinction very few volunteers can match.
- Shoba’s unique approach to volunteering comes from her big picture view of helping everyone involved in a difficult situation. For example, during Hurricane Sandy she made every effort to be kind to not only those personally affected, but also others helping the recovery effort. She focused on utility workers, who are often hard pressed for a friendly face when electricity or water is out. This is one of many instances that fit Shoba’s regular philosophy on what it means to give during a time of need.
- Jasmine is a high school student in the Oregon Young Scholars Program. When the time came to complete her program’s volunteer service requirement, she chose the Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services warehouse. Jasmine spent her year of service assembling the supply kits needed for collecting blood and processing donations. Like most teens, Jasmine has a busy life with school, family activities and friends. Yet, two years after completing her program’s requirement, she is still a regular volunteer. Every week, even during school breaks, you will find this young hero busy assembling kits. In all, Jasmine has donated some 176 hours of work to help keep the blood drives running smoothly.
This is just a snapshot of volunteer stories. To read more about Stephen, Shoba, Jasmine and many more volunteers across the country, head to the National Volunteer Week coverage on redcross.org.