My Red Cross Story: Monica Chang

My name is Monica Chang, and I am the 2018-19 Youth Engagement Working Group Lead for the National Youth Council. As I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to write about for my first blog post, and what the Red Cross has meant to me, I thought – why not tell my own Red Cross story?

I vividly remember the moment 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.

The Red Cross took on a new dimension for me in the fall of my junior year. On September 2, 2017, ash started falling from the sky. My home, the Columbia Gorge, was being burned to a crisp. Forest fires extended 33,000 acres and families were forced to evacuate from their homes. Treasured landscapes and hiking trails were destroyed. It didn’t take long for the entire community to discover that a group of teenagers, setting off fireworks on a hiking trail, had triggered a massive wildfire. The air in my hometown was heavy with smoke, soot, and an overwhelming sense of loss.

Without hesitation, the Red Cross stepped up to help by offering food, shelter, and aid to these displaced families. Within a few days, our local Southwest Washington Red Cross Youth Council would have its first meeting of the year. While this September meeting was typically a lighthearted get-to-know-each-other potluck, everyone entered the room with an incredible sense of resolve. As this year’s council president, I knew that I would need to lead the region’s youth and hit the ground running. Although we were just a group of teenagers, the Columbia Gorge was our home, the hiking trails were our childhood, and we were going to be a part of the solution.

During the meeting, the entire team brainstormed, strategized, and considered different plans of action. Through a combination of seeking personal donations, conducting miracle minute fundraisers at school, and holding an ice skating “Skate to Donate” fundraiser, we raised thousands in three short weeks. Although this was certainly a stressful way to start out the year, it was also incredibly empowering to see our council bond as we worked to make a tangible impact in our community.


From the very first blood drive I volunteered at, to this unexpected fundraiser, to the Field Ambassador program, and now the National Youth Council, I have seen firsthand the impact that youth can make. As last year’s regional council president, I led highly motivated students from three school districts to organize regional fundraisers and volunteer events. As the Cascades Region Field Ambassador, my eyes were opened to the national scale of the Red Cross and the inspiring volunteerism of youth across the country.




This year, as a Council member, I have had the honor of learning from and working with incredibly brilliant and passionate Red Crossers. In the last several months, I have devoted myself to spearheading our Crash Course Call initiative – tripling call attendance and engagement. I will never forget the pure, unadulterated excitement of hearing my own Field Ambassadors (shout out to Blake and Portia!) tell me how these calls helped them, and knowing that I had made a difference, however small, in the lives of my fellow Red Cross volunteers!

The 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, as a Field Ambassador, and now, as a National Youth Council member. Working closely with my fellow Council members this past year has been truly inspiring. Through this Council, I have realized the importance of spreading the Red Cross mission on a larger scale. I am committed to preventing and alleviating suffering wherever it may be found, and I am excited to continue my journey as a lifetime Red Cross volunteer with the National Youth Council.

National Youth Council applications open every Spring. You can access the page for more information and application materials here.

Monica Chang, National Youth Council Member, Youth Working Group Lead

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