2017 San Jose Flooding | A Youth Volunteer Perspective


In February of 2017, San Jose, California experienced a flood that became the city’s worst in over 100 years. Over 14,000 residents were evacuated, and thousands of homes were destroyed. Hundreds sought refuge from the flooding by staying at Red Cross shelters set up across the city.

One of the seven evacuation centers included Evergreen Valley High School (EVHS). When the Red Cross chapter was in need of volunteers, the Evergreen Valley High School Club stepped up to the plate. In June of 2017, the EVHS Red Cross Club received the Teamwork Award from the Silicon Valley Red Cross Chapter for their amazing work during the San Jose floods.

Johanna Anup, a student at Evergreen Valley High School who serves as a Red Cross volunteer, describes her experience volunteering at the shelter.

What were your specific responsibilities?

To help set up for the shelter, the other youth volunteers and I took on the roles of setting up and taking down cots and laying out the food. When people started arriving, we assisted them to whatever they needed so that they could feel as comfortable as possible. For example, if someone wanted socks or blankets, we would retrieve it for them.

I enjoyed helping out at the shelter so much the first day that I ended up coming whenever there was a shortage of volunteers.

Can you describe your most memorable moment from volunteering at the shelter?

One of the people that I interacted with at the shelter was an older lady in a wheelchair. When she first came to the shelter she seemed agitated but I did the best I could to help her, wheeling her to the restroom and replacing her wet socks with a new pair.

Later on that day, the lady reached out to me and said, “I’m sorry for acting that way earlier, but I hope you can understand the situation I’m in.” It made me realize the impact of what I was doing and how important my role as a volunteer was. I had the opportunity to be there for someone in one of their most vulnerable moments and make it easier for them to cope with the situation.

Volunteering at this flood was the highlight of my sophomore year and given another chance to volunteer after a disaster, I would be willing to help out.

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

I just realized the importance of being there for other people in their times of need. You don’t know what they’re going through so just be patient and kind.

Was there anything that surprised you about this experience?

Usually my parents are pretty reluctant to let me go out too late at night. However, my parents were extremely supportive of me volunteering at the shelter, even when I stayed at the shelter until midnight one time.

What did you learn about the Red Cross?

I knew that the Red Cross helped out with disasters but I didn’t think that I could be such a huge part in it. It’s not something that only adult volunteers can help out with, especially since the disaster was so close to home.

Do you have any recommendations for other youth?

If you have the opportunity to help out and volunteer, definitely go for it. It not only benefits the people you are helping but also yourself. It makes you stronger and helps you grow as a person.

To learn more about how you can join Johanna and other Red Crossers in serving our communities, check out redcrossyouth.org!


Joanna Hu, National Youth Council Member, Chapter Working Group Lead

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Red Cross Club Leadership Transitions

As we prepare to head into a new calendar year, Red Cross Club youth leaders may also be thinking about how to prepare their club for a new cohort of officers. If you are part of your club’s leadership team, you may wonder whether your club will know what to do in the future after you leave – for example, whether they will be able to coordinate effectively with the local chapter and operate within the bounds of the the school’s regulations. In other words, while the leaders of the club may change from year to year, the structure, administration, and productivity of the club should remain continuous.

As the President Emeritus of the Harvard Red Cross Club and as a club officer for three years, I have been fortunate enough to serve through several leadership transitions. The formal handing off of our officer positions takes place at the beginning of our spring semester, although new officers are selected by the end of fall semester. Currently, Hanson Tam is the outgoing president of the Harvard Red Cross Club, having served for the entirety of 2017; Erin Kim is the incoming president and will be assuming her role in February.

Harvard Red Cross Club: Outgoing President Hanson Tam ’19 (left) and incoming President Erin Kim ’19 (right)

Based on the time that we have spent here in various leadership roles, Hanson and I would like to share our club’s tips and best practices for club leadership transitions:

1. Selecting New Leadership

The key to a successful leadership transition is being confident in the individuals who have been selected to replace the current officer board. This confidence manifests itself in two forms: a short-term confidence that these leaders are dedicated to and capable of performing their new responsibilities, as well as a long-term confidence that they will help to maintain the future productivity and energy of the club. To this end, there are several factors which should be considered when selecting incoming club officers.

The outgoing officers, having led by example for the previous year, should serve as models for the tasks their position entails. Because current club members and officers are well-positioned to acknowledge and understand the extent of these responsibilities, we suggest that key leadership positions (i.e. President and Vice President) are filled by volunteers who have been with the club for at least one year, whenever possible. Additional guidelines for the age and structure of leadership members might also include ensuring that there is an appropriate ratio between underclassmen and upperclassmen officers. While upperclassmen can help to provide guidance to those who are new to their role, underclassmen members can generate the excitement and new ideas which are important to maintain the long-term productivity of the club. For example, the Harvard Red Cross Club invites up to four freshman and sophomore representatives to join the leadership team each fall, so that these members can learn more about how the club operates and gain valuable experience before tackling more challenging projects.

2. Setting New Leaders Up for Success

However inherently talented and motivated the selected successors might be, outgoing officers should set them up for success within the school, chapter, and community. We suggest that outgoing officers establish or update a shared document which contains logistical and administrative information about the workings of the club. At a minimum, this document should contain contact information for school advisors and chapter youth supporters, log-in information for shared emails and bank accounts, ways to promote on-campus events, trouble-shooting tips for Volunteer Connection, and an example calendar template with mission-related events. If applicable, this document should also contain information on how to update school registration annually and how to apply for grants. Moreover, each officer should create their own document or subsection describing the responsibilities and transition process necessary for their own specific role. By creating a shared repository of knowledge that future generations of leadership can draw upon (also known as institutional memory), current club officers can preserve the ways in which future club officers manage daily operations and larger projects.

The outgoing President should ensure that the incoming President is not only aware of these resources, but also comfortable navigating through them. For example, the outgoing President should send an email to their school and chapter contacts introducing the incoming board members in their new roles so as to ensure that club supporters are on the same page. The President and Vice President should have access to all documents and be comfortable referencing them on a regular basis, so that they can help to enforce accountability among their board members and leadership team.

3. Empowering New Leaders

The importance of leaving time, space, and flexibility to share personal advice cannot be understated. Each cohort of club officers will certainly learn a lot from their successes as well as from their failures. For example, if communicating with officers via email proves to be problematic, then the leadership team might find it helpful to collect members’ phone numbers at the beginning of the year, to ensure that responses to communication occur in a timely manner.

While preparedness is essential, there is no way for future officers to anticipate every possible conflict or scenario. Although traditions should be appreciated (such as the infamous Harvard-Yale Blood Drive and the Ohio State-University of Michigan Blood Battle), the next generation of leaders should feel empowered to pursue and organize whatever events they think are most relevant and timely. One of the most helpful things that outgoing club officers can do is to set aside a meeting to discuss the transition documents described above, as well as to brainstorm new directions for the following year.

We acknowledge that, depending on the size, structure, and nature of the club, certain pieces of advice may be more relevant to some clubs than others. However, we hope that these suggestions can provide you with some ideas to bring to your own transition process. If there are any tips that have worked particularly well for your club during this time, we would love to hear your thoughts at waverley.he3@redcross.org. Similarly, if you would like to hear more about any of the topics mentioned above, please feel free to reach out and let us know!

This article is an expansion to the 2014 article written by National Youth Council member Jeffrey Su. Contributions by Harvard Red Cross Club President Hanson Tam.

– Waverley He, National Youth Council, Chair; Harvard Red Cross Club, President Emeritus

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Strategic Planning Around the Special Days

Holiday season is quite the excitement: rushing to outlets for those Black Friday deals at 2am, cautiously hanging up the Christmas decorations only to trip on the wire moments thereafter, and packing an incredible, busy itinerary within these few rare times of break. After all, shouldn’t we all be trying to maximize the amount of fun over our winter breaks? It’s definitely such an exciting, yet busy time of the year with family gathering after family gathering  and vacations after vacations — but if you’re anything like me, I still want to get work done! Maybe it’s the workaholic in me, but I find the holiday season to be a good opportunity to take a breather and organize.

But while everyone else is on break during this time, how can we as Red Cross leaders and volunteers keep members engaged during this time of the year? Especially when our target audience is typically busy with finals at this time and planning for long trips during break, it can be difficult to plan any volunteering events during the month of December.

As Red Cross youth leaders, we should acknowledge and be aware of time-specific events that affect club participation. On our club in a box tips page, which offers guidance on how to start and maintain a strong club, we recommend creating a calendar and blocking out some key dates that your club should not plan events on; this may include Holidays, major school or district wide events, and academic standardized testing days. Nonetheless, ultimately planning comes down to the best time for your club since scheduling is not a one-size-fits-all model — after all, sometimes events must fit a certain deadline and others may be time-sensitive.

But be sure to have fun with it as well! Since holidays  are so variable in nature, your club has a great opportunity to cater to the month’s theme and design activities to reflect something special, making each club meeting unique. There’s only so much time within the club year,  and we hope you make the most of it both for your members and for yourselves.

Hoyt Gong, National Youth Council member, Youth WG Lead

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CRASH COURSE CALL | NYIM & Outstanding Youth





Meet other Red Cross youth. Learn about youth-specific resources. Found your own club.

On Novemember 30th, 9pm EST, join us in our nationwide Crash Course NYIM Call!

Why join? You will have the amazing opportunity to:

  • Meet other outstanding youth volunteers from all across the nation
  • Get inspired by Red Cross youth who have started their own volunteer projects and initiative
  • Find out about youth-specific resources and opportunities provided by the NYC
  • Learn more about the impact of National Youth Involvement Month.
  • Gain personal insight from youth speakers from across the nation on their past projects and programs- see which your club may be interested in participating in!

Sign up here if you are interested:

***Note: you will receive a confirmation email the day before the call with information on how to access the conference call line.***

Staying Thankful This Thanksgiving

Mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, marshmallow with yams, and of course, the turkey. Ah yes, it’s Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the holiday weekend, I’ve come to re-center and slow down after the rush of my first semester at college. What makes me happy? What makes all of us happy? Want to know what it is? It’s gratitude. It’s only fitting that Thanksgiving gives Americans the chance to celebrate their blessings and cherish the special moments that come from being together.

Plus, we can’t forget that National Youth Involvement Month is almost at an end. NYIM is a month for the American Red Cross to recognize and appreciate the achievements of its youth volunteers. We at the National Youth Council strive to help support you. This month and this Thanksgiving, we thank all of our youth volunteers for your dedication to the American Red Cross mission. As Youth Consortium Liaison, I work with several chapter staff that work with youth volunteers closely. I am inspired by the stories they share on our calls.

NYIM and Thanksgiving also gives us the opportunity to understand how some of us are blessed with food, water, shelter, and the opportunity to move on in the world. When hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, and Maria hit or strong wildfires in California rage on, millions of fellow Americans lose some or all of these basic needs. With the American Red Cross, you can have a strong impact on those in need.

Be there at your high school, asking for donations that will go to life-saving supplies.

Be there this holiday season, asking for letters and envelopes to help make our soldiers overseas feel surrounded by fellow Americans

Be there in a training, so that when the time comes you can drive the Emergency Response Vehicle and being the helping hand in people’s worst times.

Moving forward, I’ll try to take time to take a step back and appreciate all that I have.

I’m grateful for my wonderful family and friends.

I’m grateful for my amazing fellow NYC members.

I’m grateful to be volunteering for an organization like the American Red Cross.

And I’m grateful for you, the youth volunteer! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend.

Remember to check out our activity guides on RCYO for ideas on how you can give back this holiday season!

– Ian Lee, National Youth Council, Youth Consortium Liaison

Category: News · Tags:

Being a Youth Representative on Central NJ Board of Directors

The Red Cross has so many opportunities for its volunteer whether they are youth or adults. For youth there are regional youth council boards. For adults there are executive board of directors. I got the opportunity to serve on an executive board of directors as the youth representative. I was able to bring the youth perspective on an all adult volunteer board. I specifically was a part of the Central New Jersey Board of Directors. It was an amazing experience for me to be able to grow and network with adult volunteers.

My job was to give updates on surrounding youth clubs activities. I was to engage the board and keep them up to date on all things youth. Though I only gave the youth update on what clubs were doing in the area, I got to stay and listen to the rest of the board meeting which I found very interesting. The board focused on keeping  the red cross budget and hosting philanthropic events to raise money. It was interesting to see another side of the red cross I am not always exposed to as a volunteer in blood, disaster and youth roles. During the discussions not relating to youth,I got to contribute on ideas. The board was very receptive and loved incorporating me into the conversations and made me feel included and welcomed. I served on the board for a year and was able to mentor the incoming youth representative who after being on the board for three months stated, “ From my experiences as a youth rep, the role is a great way to get more involved and better be able to use my skills to help accomplish the ARC mission statement in helping better the lives of my community and humans worldwide.”

I have had a great time volunteering as a youth representative for the Central New Jersey Board of Directors, and I find it to be a wonderful and valuable experience in my life and I would recommend this role to everyone. If that not enough some meetings there is free food.

Michelle Glauberzon, National Youth Council member, NYIM Liaison

Category: Blog, News · Tags:

Social Engagement: Supporting the Red Cross Online and Offline

If your morning routine is anything like mine, one of the first things you do upon waking up is to check your phone for new notifications. In fact, although you might not realize how much time you spend on social media websites throughout the day, statistics show that the average user spends 50 minutes each day on Facebook alone. These numbers are even higher for young people.

However, time alone does not present a complete picture of the influence that social engagement can have on an individual. The content that you consume and curate for yourself is an important factor in whether you consider your time to be well spent (and for the amount of time that we invest in this content, we should certainly hope that our time is well spent). For example, if you are a cooking aficionado or a devotee to dogs, it is reasonable that you might want to receive updates from the popular Facebook pages Buzzfeed Tasty or Dogspotting, respectively. I, for one, follow both of these pages.

But your newsfeed can – and should – be something that reflects your values as well as your interests. Being conscious of the content in your social media newsfeed can help to remind you of the things that drive and move you (even as you are reading Tweets and liking Instagram photos when you should be studying for an exam). As students, we may not always able to get out of the door and help those in our communities as often as we would like to. Social engagement is an easy and effective alternative for us to carry out and live by the Red Cross mission every day. Online, our impact can range from supporting and encouraging exemplary volunteers, spreading awareness of the services that the Red Cross provides, learning and educating others about the events around us, fundraising in times of disaster, and more.

To start shaping your newsfeed with more content that matters to you, connect with the Red Cross on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. By doing so, you can make sure that regardless of what you are currently working on, the Red Cross and the people it serves will always be there with you.

To learn more about how you can celebrate National Youth Involvement Month online
and offline with thousands of other youth volunteers, please visit this page on redcrossyouth.org.

Waverley He, National Youth Council, Chair

Category: Blog, News · Tags:

Youth in Colorado Raise Over $1000 for Hurricane Harvey Relief

For Valerie Warkins, Millie Zhang, Yulim Kim, and Amy Gola, they strived for more to help those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. As the officer team for their local Red Cross youth high school club, they pushed for the above and beyond, making it their club’s mission to fundraise to help with recovery from the devastating winds and floods in Texas.

“It’s such a well known organization that when people see you’re a part of the Red Cross and trying to help, they’re more willing to help you out,” Warkins writes. “We were pleasantly surprised by the success and willingness of Monarch’s student body to help with hurricane relief.”

Housed in Louisville, Colorado, the Monarch High School Red Cross Club and it’s 30 members facilitated three major fundraising efforts:

1. Football Game Fundraisers: club members wearing Red Cross gear asked the crowd for donations

“The most successful event by far were the football games. I think, because a lot of parents were there. We got to talk to each individual that donated to let them know exactly where their money was going. We attended just three games and raised over $500.”

2. Pep Rally Million Dollar Minute: partnering with their Student Council, during their Homecoming assembly, club officers facilitated a game where a bucket is passed around the bleachers for one minute.

“It’s really fun, high energy competition to see how much money we raise in just one minute.”

3. Battle of the Grades: which grade could raise the most money with the help of http://dedebt.com/payday-loan-consolidation/. One week was set and they were off. Two buckets, one representing freshmen and sophomores, another for juniors and seniors. Announcements were given every morning for a status update as to which grades were winning. At the end, the winning grades were announced.

“They’ve made our chapter and region proud.” writes Inaliel Hernandez, President of the American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming Youth Advisory Board which oversees, advocates for, and supports youth volunteers across Colorado and Wyoming.

“They’re prime examples of how youth can make a true impact in their community.”

These events weren’t pulled off without strong communication and engagement from their club members.

“We often look to club members for ideas during our weekly meetings,” Warkins writes. “That’s where they brainstorm and staff their events. Members can be out in the field, raising funds for a noble cause.”

Daily school announcements reached all students and staff, promoting the cause and the Red Cross name across the building.

And so, in the end? Over $1,000 was sent to the hurricane relief from the club. It prompts one to ask what are the two lessons they’ve learned while fundraising?

1. Be direct when fundraising. Tell the donor who you’re fundraising for and why it’s important. Be thankful for any donation, no matter how small.

2. Use the Red Cross name. The American Red Cross name has a rich history of giving. Use that to your advantage. People are more willing to help when they see the name attached.

The club is already beginning to brainstorm new ideas for their spring semester to help even more of those affected by other hurricanes such as Maria and Irma. After this experience, the club earned an appreciation for the joy of volunteering with the American Red Cross.

“It was truly inspiring to see our whole school come together for this cause,” Warkins writes. “With every person contributing however they could, we hope we were able to make a positive effort with the American Red Cross to those affected by the hurricanes.”

–  Ian Lee, National Youth Council member, Youth Consortium Liaison

More than 160 local Colorado & Wyoming Red Cross volunteers had deployed out to Texas near the end of September. You can help regardless of your region. Get involved today by registering as a volunteer here.

Author’s Note: I am immensely proud of the Monarch’s RCC. I had no worries leaving the presidency to Valerie and the other officers as I went on towards college. This is a prime example of the impact youth volunteers can accomplish during their time in high school. Please look at our resources in RCYO and utilize the National Youth Council’s Office Hours program if you’re interested in founding your own Red Cross Youth Club.

Category: Blog, Disaster, Fundraiser, High School, News · Tags:

Meet your 2017-2018 National Youth Council Members!

National Youth Council (NYC) members are appointed 2-year terms every July. In July, we
welcomed new members Angela Liu, Evan Batov, Hoyt Gong, Ian Lee,  and Michelle Glauberzon. 

Learn more about our members’ below:

Within the National Youth Council, all members work collaboratively together to serve the
Red Cross mission and 5 lines of service. In addition, each member has their own specialized
position. These roles range from National Youth Involvement Month to Navin Narayan scholarship liaison to field relations specialists.

National Youth Council members’ detailed biographies can be found here. All NYC members are also available for office hours appointments to talk about any and everything Red Cross related.


Leadership Opportunities within the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is an organization that offers wonderful opportunities for all
volunteers to get involved in serving the 5 lines of service, including:

1. Service to the Armed Forces
2. Health and Safety
3. Disaster
4. Biomedical
5. International


The American Red Cross also offers an abundance of opportunities for youth to grow and
develop as leaders during their volunteer journey. Leadership positions are available at the
school, chapter and national level:








1. School Leadership

If you are part of a Red Cross Club at school, apply to become part of your school leadership!
Opportunities include positions from President, Vice-President, all the way to Marketing
Liaison, Secretary, and more.

2. Chapter Leadership

Many chapters offer a Youth Executive Board or “E-board”, where a team of youth in the
Chapter help to create and implement youth events and fundraisers across the chapter.

3. National Leadership
If you are looking to go above and beyond, and help to lead American Red Cross youth on a
national scale, look into applying to the National Youth Council. The application cycle is open every spring, and a term is a two year time commitment. The NYC also have a new Field Ambassador program, which you can learn more about here!

– Miki Rai, National Youth Council member, Communications Working Group Lead

Category: College, High School, Leadership, News · Tags:

Volunteer Connection

Volunteer Connection