From Coast to Coast: Field Ambassadors’ Red Cross Stories

 

Introduction

As a Red Cross volunteer, there’s one question you’ll be asked no matter where you volunteer: Why did you join the Red Cross? In other words, what is your Red Cross Story? As part of the National Youth Council’s new Field Ambassador program, we have asked our regional field ambassadors from throughout the country to share their own unique Red Cross Stories. This group of energetic high school students represent not only a wide geographical area, but a wide variety of volunteer experiences. Read about their Red Cross Stories below:


Monica Chang, Cascades Region

I vividly remember the moment when I knew without a doubt that I was going to join the Red Cross. The summer before my freshman year, I was volunteering at a summer blood drive. As I helped people at the canteen, I naturally fell into conversation with the donors. Some told me it was their first time, others told me it was their fiftieth time. One elderly man talked about how his own near-death experience had motivated him to start donating blood. I was moved.

I left that blood drive with my mind swimming with stories! I had never before had such a meaningful volunteer experience. It was then that I decided to start seriously involving myself with the Red Cross. I joined my school club and the youth council, and actively sought to create new volunteer events and improve old ones. Whether it was teaching CPR, organizing LDC, or caroling for veterans, every volunteer experience was meaningful. From the enthusiastic community of like-minded peers to the empowerment that comes from creating our own youth initiatives, Red Cross has enriched my life in countless ways. It has been an honor to serve the Red Cross through my school club, youth council, chapter board, and now, as a field ambassador. Today, I am the Southwest Washington Red Cross Youth Council President, and I couldn’t be more grateful to do my part in preventing and alleviating suffering wherever it may be found.


Manasi Singh, Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region

We humans like to pick one thing that we are passionate about and keep doing it over and over, until we get bored of it. However, the few times that we don’t get tired of doing something continuously is the time that it sticks for good. Volunteering stuck for me. I tried it all when I was younger; art, sports, writing, etc. Though I still love most of the things that I did end up trying, volunteering was the one that had absolutely no negatives to it. I never got tired, bored or frustrated of it. I felt empowered with the idea that what I was doing was benefiting someone else’s life. When I joined the Red Cross, I also joined a family of people who have a passion of helping others. Volunteering at the American Red Cross means giving a helping hand to someone who didn’t get the privilege of being as fortunate as you might have been. It means giving up your most valuable treasure that you possess to help someone else; time. I joined the Red Cross not knowing what to expect and was blown away by the work that is done by them. Being a part of the Red Cross is so special because unlike other places that I have volunteered, I can see how my actions along with my fellow youth volunteer’s actions influence people around the world. This past year, I decided to start a Red Cross club in my high school, which now has over 70 volunteers, all dedicated to Red Cross mission. I continue to be part of the Red Cross in hopes that my actions might just improve the lives of another, even if it’s just for a few moments. I want to spread the Red Cross mission in hopes that others can see what an amazing experience it is to join an organization dedicated to improving the health, safety and security of other’s.  


Sujai Jaipalli, Michigan Region

My Red Cross story began in my freshmen year of high school, when I read a flier for a Red Cross club sloppily stuck to the wall in front of a bathroom. What had attracted me to this flier was not interest or curiosity of what a Red Cross Club was, but four words in bright red font: “There will be food!” Yes, a fateful trip to the bathroom and my love for free food were the two things that got me involved with the American Red Cross.

I attended my first Red Cross club meeting and was greeted with two developments: A supporting group of students dedicated to improving their community and a (surprising) lack of free food. All joking aside, since attending that first meeting and learning about the Red Cross mission, I pushed myself to make a difference in my community through the Red Cross. I participated and helped organize fundraisers, blood drives, and awareness campaigns throughout my school and local community, in hopes of bettering both.

Now, three years later, I serve as the president of my club, working even harder to make a difference. These first three years of my Red Cross journey have been amazing: I’ve met new people, learned new skills, and made memories that I will treasure for my lifetime. As I continue to work on my goal to make a difference in my community, I also want to help other Red Cross Youth create a Red Cross story that is as special as mine.


Namrata Rajaraman, Eastern North Carolina Region

My first experience with the Red Cross was with my high school club on the first day of freshman year, where they were the only club to hand out chocolate to prospective members at our club fair. Candy aside, when I observed the service-mindedness and dedication of the members and listened to their innovative ideas to serve the community, I wanted in. I heard about extra opportunities with my local chapter and began volunteering outside of school as well, especially at blood drives, where I learned how to communicate with people of all ages and circumstances. I encountered this same incredible mix of people at other Red Cross events and, for the first time, got a sense of how the Red Cross can bring together different people under a single mission of service. I also observed the role of the Red Cross in helping communities recover from floods caused by Hurricane Matthew, which served as a weighty reminder of the role this organization plays in helping people around the world.

I am now working to help others get involved with the Red Cross as secretary of my school club as well as helping my local chapter’s youth services branch with planning and recruitment. My experience with the Red Cross has provided me with an incredible opportunity that has taught me communication and leadership as well as shown me how to make a difference, all skills which will be invaluable towards my growth as a volunteer and a person.


Alex Pilks, Utah and Nevada Region

I started volunteering with the Red Cross a few years ago, and little did I know at the time that I would discover some of my most vibrant passions and meet some of the most incredible people. The Red Cross was the first organization I ever had volunteered with. I was not sure what to expect from the experience or if there was anything I could even do to help. Just a few days later, I found myself a part of an immensely diversified, close-knit, and passionate group of people. I started with basic volunteer work, which included administrative tasks like copying, putting packets together, and answering the phone. I then moved into Blood Services, working as a Blood Donor Ambassador and helping at blood drives. Those skills helped me acquire my current positions as a Public Information Officer and a Red Cross Field Ambassador. I will be forever grateful to the Red Cross for giving me the opportunity to grow as a person and serve my community. I can distinctly remember the first time I walked into a Red Cross volunteer event. It was for the summer Leadership Development Camp of 2015. I was terrified beyond words. After meeting everyone and getting to know the people who worked at the office, however, I felt much better and was more prepared to take on volunteer tasks. Looking back, I realize that’s what the Red Cross is all about-making people feel better when they need it most.


Vaishnavi Siripurapu, Western North Carolina Region

As an immigrant, I have grown up in a variety of different settings. I’ve never lived in one place longer than a few years. However, the one thing that has stayed constant in my life is the Red Cross. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, the Red Cross has always been a constant humanitarian influence in my life. The principles of the Red Cross have been instilled in every Red Cross office i have worked at, from large urban offices to small town centers. No matter where I am, I am able to help all sorts of people and have a real, tangible impact on the lives of others. Never once during my time with the Red Cross have I had to say “Sorry, we can’t help you”. Even if I can’t help someone, I’m always able to re-direct the person to another volunteer or staff member who can help. I love the universality and unity that I experience working with the Red Cross, and I hope to carry that with me throughout my lifetime.


Amisha Chowdhury, Los Angeles Region

My journey with the Red Cross began when I founded the Red Cross Club my freshmen year of high school. As I frantically searched the web for volunteering opportunities to fulfill my community service hours requirement, I came across the Red Cross website. My first year as a Red Cross volunteer, I attended one of the local Home Fire Prevention Campaigns, an event dedicated to reducing home fire deaths in vulnerable communities. My volunteer team and I went door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and distribute fire safety materials. As we went inside a two bedroom apartment, the family of five welcomed us in with a warm greeting. Even though the mother did not speak fluent English, at the end she held my hands and thanked us for our selfless service. I left the house that day knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life.

What started as an exploration to complete school credit has now grown to become an essential part of my identity. As my experience with the Red Cross expanded that year with my involvement with my chapter’s Executive Board, I found myself captivated by the mission of the Red Cross. Through listening to refugee guest speakers share their experience escaping war, treating patients while working at first aid stations, or responding to Brush Fires with the Disaster Action Team, my various mission moments with the Red Cross has peaked my interest in humanitarian service. From my first volunteering event at the Home Fire Campaign to serving as the President of the Executive Board of my chapter, staffing at the summer Leadership Development Camp, and now representing Los Angeles region as the Field Ambassador, Red Cross has played a critical role in developing my character as a youth leader. My three years service with the Red Cross so far has provided me with invaluable skills and unforgettable memories to continue lifelong service with the American Red Cross!


Megan Zachariah, Texas Gulf Coast Region

Growing up in New Jersey, I was an originally shy and introverted child. In an attempt to assimilate with my peer group, I joined Girl Scouts where I remained for over 8 years. During my experience not only did I forge valuable friendships, but I was also able to kindle my passion for service. When I moved to Houston my sophomore year of high school, I sought to join a similar community where service and friendships were fostered. After joining Red Cross, I have been an officer for my school’s club as well as a member of the Youth Service Council. As I increase my involvement with the Red Cross, I have created relationships with volunteers from other schools and districts. Being a Red Cross youth volunteer has allowed me to connect with my community and other volunteers in a way that inspires me to continue my journey with the Red Cross. I have the privilege of working alongside selfless individuals and creating an impact in my community and abroad. I began volunteering with the Red Cross to serve my community and create lifelong friendships, and I will continue volunteering to perpetuate the Red Cross legacy of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.


Gabriella (Gabi) Moussa, Desert to the Sea Region

If you had told me in my freshman year of high school that in 2018, I would be Vice Chair of the American Red Cross Orange County Chapter’s Youth Advisory Council, with three Leadership Development Camps under my belt as well as an unbelievable four years of amazing experiences and great friends, I probably would have gone to a few more of my school’s club meetings that year. Don’t get me wrong, back then I had a lot of pride in myself for being involved in many extracurriculars that year, but until that summer, I never really saw the American Red Cross in all its true, limitless potential. At the end of my freshman year, I decided to expand my horizons and apply to attend the Desert to Sea Region’s Leadership Development Camp (LDC) 2015 and to be secretary of my school’s Red Cross Club. From there, I earned myself that position and attended the camp that summer. The rest is history.

Now, as a senior, seeing how I am the OCRC Chapter’s Vice Chair and my school club’s President, I couldn’t imagine my high school career going any other way. I have reached new heights in the most beautiful way; going from being a young freshman who needed to learn a thing or two about leadership and personal development at my first LDC to having staffed LDC 2016, organized and run LDC 2017, and become the person that all my friends use “Red Cross volunteer” to primarily describe me as. These past few years I have had the privilege to work with the most selfless, caring individuals who have helped me grow and leave a legacy within this organization that I have grown to appreciate highly. The American Red Cross has helped me find my fire, and hopefully I will continue to add onto my Red Cross Story and make a difference as I graduate this year and continue to ignite its flames.


Shannon Ding, Northern California Coastal Region

After spontaneously joining my school’s Red Cross club, I wouldn’t have expected a year later, I would place so much joy and pride in calling myself a Red Cross volunteer. Early in my freshman year, I heard about joining “committees” at my local chapter for volunteer hours. My view of Red Cross’ youth division didn’t extend above individual school clubs, so I wasn’t aware of the significance of youth groups in the chapter or that each one fit in with national Red Cross’ five lines of service. Despite my general confusion, my interest in community outreach led me to Safekids Committee. The purpose of Safekids is to teach disaster preparedness and basic first aid to elementary school aged children. Safekids Committee was unique in how we taught local versions (more earthquake oriented) of classes but also supported national initiatives like the Pillowcase Project. I gained an appreciation of youth supporting the national Red Cross mission and wanted to introduce more youth volunteers to our chapter. Furthermore, volunteering within the chapter offered me extraordinary opportunities to volunteer with the dedicated adult volunteers of Silicon Valley. My favorite event has been Sound the Alarm, because I got to work with longtime chapter volunteers and members of the fire department to install fire alarms and directly benefit the community. I have so much respect for the core Silicon Valley volunteer team who consistently give their best effort and tirelessly offer to do more during Sound the Alarm. For the past two years, I’ve been serving as the Silicon Valley Red Cross youth PR (along with my partner, Vivian), hoping to introduce more youth to volunteer for the Red Cross so we can do more amazing work with lovely people.


Conclusion

No matter where we all come from, one thing is for certain: the American Red Cross has provided opportunities to make a difference all across the nation. Our different Red Cross Stories make us each unique; proving that despite our different experiences, the American Red Cross is able to unite a diverse group to serve a united mission. We hope that our Red Cross Stories will motivate you to reflect on your own story, and remember why you chose the American Red Cross.

 

2017-2018 Field Ambassadors, American Red Cross National Youth Network

 

Category: Blog, News · Tags:

Leave A Comment

Volunteer Connection

Volunteer Connection