Every 8 minutes the American Red Cross responds to someone experiencing a crisis. On a monthly average the Red Cross responds to more than 5,000 disasters, provides support to more than 7,000 military families, gives assistance to more than 700,000 individuals and conducts thousands of blood drives. And it’s done primarily with volunteers who comprise more than 90% of its workforce.
According to Amber Reeves, executive director of the American Red Cross, Tri-State Chapter, there has never been a greater need for volunteers.
“The Red Cross volunteer program has something for anyone for any amount of time you wish to provide,” Reeves said. “Volunteers come from every economic class, practically all age levels and backgrounds. If you’re retired, or just have a desire to be a part of something that allows new friendships while helping your community, then we have something for you.”
Help is needed with local blood drives by keeping the donor area constantly sanitized. Volunteers greet donors as they come in and provide assistance with completing necessary forms. Reeves also mentioned if you’d like to sponsor a blood drive at your place of business, church or organization, you can call her at 304-400-1758.
Senior Volunteer Recruitment Specialist Katie Thompson suggests that a New Year’s resolution of helping others in 2021 could be realized by volunteering at the Red Cross.
“Our critical need in the Tri-State is helping with blood drives by being a Blood Donor Ambassador and becoming a member of the Disaster Action Team,” Thompson said.
As a member of a Disaster Preparedness Team, you would be trained to provide help during a crisis. Here you will become part of a team that provides necessities of life for families affected by disasters like flood, hurricanes and fires.
Volunteers are also needed and trained to conduct seminars by educating families on how to become better prepared should a disaster occur.
Volunteers are trained to conduct community classes on CPR techniques, drinking water safety and first aid. The Red Cross is also looking for trained nurses and nurses in training.
The Red Cross also conducts classes on safety procedures of babysitting.
There are opportunities in fundraising, becoming a case worker, teaching communication skills and working with veterans in area hospitals.
Susan and Paul Helo, a retired couple, have been donating 25 to 30 hours a week giving back to the community they love for more than five years now.
“Susan and I have been blessed,” said Paul Helo. “God has been good to us both, and we are just trying to repay Him by doing what we can for the Red Cross. We got involved when we saw first-hand the Red Cross involvement with my son and daughter-in-law when their home was destroyed by fire. We were so impressed with the support provided by the Red Cross that we wanted to volunteer here.”
Paul Helo is a retired prison counselor who interviewed new inmates, developed profiles and helped them become accumulated to prison life by providing assistance with educational programs in the prison. His wife, Susan, is a retired schoolteacher. Together, they conduct workshops for staff and volunteers at the Red Cross. They do follow-up visits with those who have experienced disasters, complete reports on assistance provided on house fires, provide educational classes on smoke detectors and install free ones where needed. They also help during blood drives.
Another volunteer who enjoys his position with the Red Cross is 61-year-old retired CSX employee Reed Washington, who was in Oregon for two weeks last September helping people who lost everything in the wildfires.
“Ever hear the expression, ‘The toughest job you’ll ever love?’ “asked Washington. “Helping victims who have lost everything fill out FEMA applications, reassuring them, finding temporary shelter, supplying food and hope provides satisfaction that money can’t provide.”
So far we’ve only talked about what you as a volunteer can do to help the American Red Cross. Have you ever thought what volunteering does for you? It’s a great way to meet people, increases self-confidence, helps stay fit while learning new skills, you can make a difference and, finally, you can even volunteer at home in your PJs.