Red Cross: A Lasting Impact

My involvement with the Red Cross has evolved and strengthened greatly with each passing year.

While attending Newark Memorial High School, I was part of the Make a Difference Club. I would collect supplies and send them to American soldiers in Afghanistan, through the local Red Cross Chapter. The part that touched me the most were the letters loved ones would send to their serving family members. I remember one of my classmates would send countless letters to his cousin, Pat Tillman with every shipment. Sadly, this hero passed away due to the hazards of war. It made me realize how vulnerable each of our lives can be. I was blessed to be part of a humanitarian cause for the small, yet significant role I played in others’ lives during a time of need. As said by Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

When I switched schools and began attending Mountain View High School, I realized the need for having a forum that allowed students to take actions and impact others locally and internationally. My first instinct was to contact the American Red Cross. Anna Gail Caunca, the Youth Services Director at the Palo Alto Area Chapter, inspired me to start a Red Cross Club on campus. At that time my high school was the only one under our chapter boundaries without an active Red Cross Club on campus.

Within the next 2 month I founded the Red Cross Club while continuing to hold the “new kid” title. Not knowing many students, it was challenging to garner interest and potential members. Eventually I began breaking away from my unwanted classification and interacting with people of various social cliques. I realized that while these groups created superficial barriers amongst themselves, many of us shared a common goal of acting locally and impacting globally. By the end of the year we had collected over a thousand dollars in funds towards eradicating Measles in African nations.

As my involvement with the Red Cross heightened, I began to take on more leadership roles at the chapter and took the initiative to chair an event called Knock out Measles which was truly a learning opportunity for me. With the help of many youth volunteers from local high schools and Stanford University, we were able to truly knock out Measles by collecting funds and furthermore future volunteers.

After this event I became further committed to youth programs at the Red Cross, while continuing to lead the MVHS Red Cross Club. I applied to be part of the first Youth Executive Board at the Palo Alto Chapter of the American Red Cross. After being interviewed and evaluated I received a position on the board and am currently coming to the close of my second year as the Volunteer Recruitment Committee Chair of the Youth Executive Board.

My work with the Red Cross has had a profound impact on me. Besides the leadership experience I continue to gain, I have also come to appreciate my strengths and limitations. I have gained confidence in my abilities to identify needs of communities around me and perhaps of those across the globe, ways to inspire my peers towards a common cause, and collectively deliver results that can touch people’s lives near and far.

As youth, we are the difference in the world. We need to get involved in programs such as Youth Power, Safe Kids, Safe Ride, and the other countless opportunities which lead us to endless knowledge. Regardless of whom you are and what you stand for, you are a leader and you have the ability to change the world. One thing I will always remember is something I have heard so many times from Patricia Bubenik, “You aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, you are here in the present and you are leaders of today.” I would like for each one of you to look at yourself and look at all you have done for the community and remember this simple sentence because each one of you are leaders and accomplished individuals. With so much keeping us all busy, it is important for each one of us to remember how much we have accomplished and done for those who need the extra helping hand.

Manpreet Kalra

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One Response

  1. Go Mountain View High School Red Cross Club! My MVHS is in Vancouver, Washington (Southwest Washington Chapter), but anyways. Keep up the great work!

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