This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re highlighting volunteers who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. They come from different backgrounds with traditions and cultures that are native to their heritage and upbringing. This month, we recognize and honor the work of our Asian American and Pacific Islander volunteers for all they do for our lifesaving mission.
Meet Alex Pham, a Red Cross youth volunteer from the American Red Cross Central California region! Alex Pham is a junior at Adolfo Camarillo High School and is involved in multiple clubs, like the Medical Club and Red Cross Club, where he serves as co-president. On top of that, he also serves as the treasurer of his school’s service club called KIWIN’S. After high school, he plans to major in public health and attend medical school to become a physician that works in public health to better his community.
How did you get involved with the Red Cross?
I first got involved in the Red Cross during my freshman year, which was online due to the pandemic. During this time, a friend who was co-president of the Red Cross Club invited me to a service event their club was hosting. The service event involved working with the Foodshare of Ventura County to pass out boxes of food to those in need. This service event gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Red Cross, make new friends, and also create a positive impact on my community.
What is your ‘Why’ for giving back and volunteering?
My “Why” for giving back and volunteering is that I believe that it is our duty to help those in need and provide them with love and compassion through our work of service. Along with that, giving back also makes me feel happy because I know that the work I am doing is creating a positive influence that betters our community. My most memorable moment at the Red Cross is my first Red Cross event which was the Foodshare event. This still holds to be my most memorable event because it was the first time I felt the joy of doing what I loved which was simply giving back.
Why is your Asian American heritage important to you?
My Asian heritage is extremely significant to me because it represents who I am as a person. The result of who I am today and the things I value, which are compassion, kindness, and empathy, are a result of my Vietnamese culture and heritage. Being Vietnamese, I was taught the importance of always giving and not taking.
A family tradition I had and still have growing up was going to my grandparent’s house to offer food to our ancestors during our ancestor’s death anniversary. During these offerings, it gave everyone the opportunity to come together and reconnect with our roots and honor those that came before us. This is so important to me because when we offer food, this time of offering gives us the opportunity to catch up with them and tell them about all that has happened since our last offering. In Vietnamese culture, these offerings are the days when we invite our ancestors to join us so they can be with the whole family and enjoy the food we have prepared to honor them. Everyone has something new to share with our ancestors and all being together allows us to connect with one another.
What are you looking forward to this year?
This year, I am looking forward to further volunteering through the Red Cross and also teaching hands-only CPR to students and people in our community. One of the things we are currently working on is teaching people at one of our local churches the importance of hands-only CPR and how to effectively perform hands-only CPR.
Any words of wisdom or advice you would like to pass on to others?
Always do what you love. I would also like to say to not worry about what others are doing and to not compare yourself to others. You are meant to be where you are today and the only thing that matters is being better than your yesterday self.
We’re very fortunate to have so many amazing volunteers like Alex to help carry out our humanitarian mission. If you would like to join our volunteer team, visit redcross.org/VolunteerToday to learn more about open volunteer positions in your area.