Making a Difference by Building a Team
Although she didn’t initially realize the impact the recruitment event would have on her, Maria Muzaurieta left a small meeting with more than she could have asked for. Maria received a small 3’x5’ card with information on how to join her local Red Cross. Why Red Cross? What could she do to be a part of this international organization that piqued her interest so much? She took a chance, something that all Red Cross youth volunteers do when they take the first step to simply “get involved.”
Maria decided to start a Red Cross club at her high school, Bolles High School in Jacksonville, FL. With a simple idea to hold a fundraiser at her school, Maria, equipped with her passion and a group of dedicated friends, set out to work with local youth volunteer coordinator Megan Hotchkiss to hit the ground running. “I remember one fundraiser we did that was really successful,” she mentioned. “We tied a piñata to a tree on campus and offered people a chance to hit the piñata for a small donation…combined with candy and bake sales, we raised close to $1,000.”
The club later donated the funds to the ARC campaign to help Nepal after the devastating earthquake that hit the Lamjung district, Kathmandu Valley, and Bharatpur among many other villages and towns. Maria commented, “That made a lot of difference, to have the confirmation that ‘this really matters.”
Youth volunteers contribute so much to the national and global Red Cross movement, perhaps a lot more than we see on a daily basis. Our spirit and enthusiasm to make a change, in conjunction with our proximity to social media and new technology, allow us to take Red Cross efforts to a new level. Clubs are a great way to get started because you are able to involve like-minded peers who can bring a variety of perspectives to the drawing board. If you’re unsure of starting a fundraiser or project, consider surveying your friends to see how they would respond.
Maria also has some tips for club sustainability: look out for underclassmen (especially those with a lot of drive), try mentoring programs, and delegate tasks. If you are a senior, and you are looking for potential officers for the next school year, you might have some candidates shadow you for a few weeks to get a better idea of the work that a presidency entails. Reach out directly to those club members who you think will have the energy to organize the club for a whole school year. “Most importantly, make sure your members are team players…they have to be willing to learn and take advice,” says Maria.
And what about standing out? There are over 80 high schools on the Bolles campus, so Maria’s club strives to be as unique as possible to attract students to fundraisers, community events, etc. Sometimes, sharing Red Cross stories might help, especially concerning the impact that the Red Cross has overseas. Find your focus, get informed, and spread the word. If campus events aren’t feasible for your club, consider holding events off-campus at local business offices, community centers, parks, etc. You’ll be surprised at how many people you will impact by holding an event like a “weekend park cookout.”
Maria’s work captures the true essence of being a youth volunteer, and most of you can probably relate to her experiences. Take the time to network with other local club officers to share ideas and tips; Red Cross youth are all about building meaningful volunteer relationships! If you’re interested in starting a Red Cross club, visit http://redcrossyouth.org/high-school/how-to-start-a-red-cross-club/.