The various reasons people volunteer at the American Red Cross are as diverse and varied as they are. For Native American Service to the Armed Forces volunteer Malinda Johnston, it was the compassion, service to others and the support for the military that drew her to the Red Cross. “The Red Cross is about community and hope,” said Malinda.
A Military Spouse and Volunteer
As a military wife for 17 years, Malinda has a deep understanding of life’s changes and transitions.Malinda’s family, her husband Mike and their three daughters, lived in five different states before arriving at Fort Bliss in Texas. Mike is in the Army Sergeants Major Academy and has deployed six times over the years.
Malinda has volunteered with the Army’s Family Readiness Group (FRG) for the last 12 years.
“I had been an active volunteer with the FRG for the past 12 years,” Malinda shared. “However, the Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss doesn’t have an FRG so that’s how I ended up at the El Paso Red Cross.”
“Currently, I am volunteering for Operation Santa Claus, the USO and American Red Cross. I feel like it’s important to be involved in helping others, lending a hand when needed and it’s a rewarding experience knowing that you have had a positive impact on someone’s life.”
A Heart for Service
Volunteering and helping others runs deep in her family roots.
Originally from Nebraska, Malinda comes from a close-knit family and is a descendant of the Santee Sioux tribes.
“I remember going to the Indian Center and pow wows as a child. It’s a memory I’ve always carried with me. The sounds, the beat, the hum of our ancestors is alive at pow wows, I can close my eyes and feel like I’m there.”
Although Malinda’s grandparents grew up in hard times, they were respected members of the community and are still remembered every year. “My grandmother Pansy, was a woman who was always helping others. Her compassion has had a lasting impression on me,” said Malinda.
When asked what advice she has for new volunteers, she shared, “be open and be willing to do new things.”
It’s the diversity and passion of volunteers like Malinda that make up the heart and soul of the American Red Cross.