3 minute readVolunteers

National Volunteer Week: Honoring Our Red Cross Volunteers

This National Volunteer Week, the Red Cross is grateful for the work and support of our volunteers. Nationally, the Red Cross has more than 300,000 volunteers, over 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people like our volunteers that we can do extraordinary things. Below we’ve highlighted some of the volunteers who help us carry out our humanitarian mission every day.

Samantha in her Red Cross gear.

Samantha Harrison, a recent graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, is a volunteer with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. She uses the skills she learned in college as a geosciences major to help the Red Cross turn large amounts of data into maps which help determine where smoke alarms are needed in her community. Samantha uses a computer-based mapping technology called GIS (Geographic Information System). “Working with GIS at the Red Cross enables me to give back to the community using the skills that I possess,” Samantha said. She believes the experience she is gaining as a volunteer coordinator of the Home Fire Campaign will help her grow her career. “I am learning how to organize and manage a project from start to finish,” she said. “That should prove very valuable in my career.”’ You can learn more about why Samantha volunteers here.

Warren (left) stands next to a Red Cross volunteer.

Warren Lavery (right) is serving his community as a Red Cross Home Fire Campaign volunteer. Warren has participated in many fire safety events, visiting communities across the Eastern New York region. He’s been involved with the campaign since the beginning, and estimates he’s installed hundreds of smoke alarms. Three of those alarms were installed in a home in Gansevoort, NY in January 2017. A fire broke out at that home a few months later, and thanks to the efforts of Warren and his team, seven lives were saved. This inspired Warren to install even more smoke alarms, and he’ll be running Albany’s largest installation event to date for their Sound the Alarm event this spring, which will involve more than 100 volunteers.

Bill at the American Red Cross National headquarters

Dr. Bill Ramos is a member of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, a volunteer panel of nationally-recognized medical, scientific, and academic experts. He is currently leading a research study about the effectiveness of the water safety content in the Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Program and the Aquatics Centennial Campaign. The results of this work will help guide the Red Cross as we update our Learn-to-Swim Program in the near future. Bill also made the case to bring the Aquatics Centennial Campaign to his childhood hometown of Gary, IN – a community where the need is very great. Over the last decade or so, swim lessons and other aquatics programming have essentially dried up in this community. He is working with other community activists to help revitalize the aquatics program, and will play a very hands on role in this effort.

Portrait of Debby

Debby MacSwain has served with the Red Cross in a variety of capacities over the last 51 years. She began her volunteer service as a lifeguard and water safety instructor after she graduated from college. Then Debby went to Vietnam with the Red Cross to work as a Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas staff member, affectionately known as a “Donut Dollie.” Since then she has been deployed to Service to the Armed Forces stations around the world. Today, she serves as a Red Cross water safety instructor and instructor trainer at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. There she teaches military children with special needs how to swim as part of the Exceptional Family Military Program.

Red Cross Club in Lakenheath England promotes cervical cancer awareness.

Red Cross Youth Club volunteers stationed with their military parents in Lakenheath, a village in Suffolk, England, participate in a community service project regarding cervical cancer awareness.

Ameerah in her Yemen Red Crescent Society gear.

“I want peace and dignity for my country. I dream of a bright, peaceful future for all Yemenis,” says Ameerah—a volunteer with the Yemen Red Crescent. Ameerah was studying to be a nurse when the war forced her to put her degree on hold. But she didn’t let that stop her. She volunteers in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, to help her neighbors stay healthy. It’s an especially important role in Yemen, where more than 80% of the population lacks food, fuel, drinking water and access to health care services.

About two years ago, Robert Ray was at the Long Beach Red Cross Chapter when he saw a flyer noting that drivers were needed to deliver blood. He decided to volunteer and became a blood transportation specialist. Blood transportation specialists are volunteers that deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals. Robert says he loves his role at the Red Cross and has seen the importance of volunteerism first hand. While he was delivering blood products, he met the son of a man whose life would be saved with help from his delivery. Robert has also learned about other opportunities with the Red Cross by attending monthly volunteer meetings. In addition to his role as a blood transportation specialist, he does casework and community outreach.

Become a Volunteer 
To find out about Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

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