Young Volunteers Help Others Prepare for Isaac

It takes all kinds of people to prepare for a situation like Hurricane Isaac—different ages, different backgrounds and different skills. It takes people like Sarah Castro and Valerie Wilkins, members of the University of South Florida American Red Cross Club in Tampa.

This week, the American Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter asked the two youth volunteers to answer phone calls about Isaac at the ABC Action News station. The phone bank was open for the public to call in and ask questions about the storm: how to be prepared; evacuation zones; how to find and fill sand bags; shelter locations; and emergency contact information.

“Truthfully,” Wilkins says, “when I was first invited I couldn’t help but think of one thing, which was that I was going to be on television. However, once I took my first phone call I came to realize I was there for one reason, and that was to help people.” Most of the questions have been about flooding, winds and where to find shelter. There have also been calls from people just needing someone to talk to.

“The joy that comes from knowing you’ve helped someone that has reached out to you is a feeling that doesn’t even compare to being on television,” Wilkins says. “It is because of this feeling that I am proud to be a part of the University of South Florida Red Cross club.”

Sarah Castro echoes the “great experience” it has been to help the Red Cross during Isaac. Even though the storm did not directly hit the Tampa Bay area, the Red Cross had to be prepared. On Monday Sarah worked the phone banks at the news station, answering questions and addressing concerns.

“I was directly helping people,” Castro says. “I told clients information about shelters, what disaster supplies to have on hand and storm projections. Even though I was just answering the phone I was helping people, which is another reason I love volunteering with the Red Cross.”

There are lots of opportunities for young volunteers to serve through the Red Cross. Contact your local Red Cross for school clubs and other programs in your community.

(r-l) University of South Florida Red Cross Club volunteer Valerie Wilkins and Red Cross volunteer specialist Amanda Cullison and help callers prepare for Hurricane Isaac.
Photo Credit: Janet McGuire

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