Yesterday, September 15, 2012 marked 95 years since President Woodrow Wilson called on youth to join the newly formed Junior Red Cross.
Click here to learn about the beginnings of Youth Volunteers in the American Red Cross.
We have dramatically transformed the organization, and in turn, the world, since then. We thank you for your dedicated service and passion for helping others.
Last fall, I had the exciting opportunity to interview Jackie Speier, a longtime public servant and current congressional candidate. Ms. Speier is also a Red Cross volunteer – and she started her career as a youth.
I was inspired by this interview since I share many of the same experiences with Ms. Speier. It is remarkable to see how volunteering for the Red Cross literally changes lives.
How did you get started as a Red Cross youth?
I started out stuffing monkeys at my youth club at Mercy High School in Burlingame. I later became president of the club. Then I was on the regional board for the Bay Area Chapter, and I became president of that, too. I also attended the Bay Area’s Leadership Development Center (LDC) as a delegate and then as a counselor. Attending LDC had a profound effect on me; it is the reason I decided to go into public service and seek public office. The Bay Area Chapter sent me to another camp and I was a delegate and then a counselor there, too. I also took my first airplane trip with the Red Cross; when I was 17 I went to National Convention in Denver.
What skills did you gain? How do you use these skills today?
Leadership development training created confidence in me and showed me that I had leadership skills. That is how it works – someone takes notice of your innate skills and helps you build on them.
What message do you have for a young person just starting as a Red Cross volunteer?
I would tell him or her to take full advantage of the opportunities the Red Cross has because they are experiences you will use for the rest of your life. Your personal and professional development will be greatly enhanced. Plus, the American Red Cross is the greatest non-profit in the history of the world.
Sandy Tesch, California
To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Junior Red Cross, Julie Ayers, Jacqueline Joyner and Lauryn Resotka, members of the American Red Cross Youth Council of Northwest New Jersey, met with and interviewed Muriel North, age 105, at her home in Hackettstown, N.J. Muriel was a founding member of the Junior Red Cross which was started by President Wilson in 1917. The Youth Council, a part of the American Red Cross of Northwest New Jersey (Morristown), is in its ninth year of creating and maintaining Red Cross Clubs and Red Cross Service projects in area schools.
Friday, October 12, 2007 — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined American Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and President and CEO Mark W. Everson at the organization’s historic national headquarters building in Washington, D.C., to discuss the importance of partnerships in alleviating human suffering internationally.
For the secretary-general, the meeting was also an opportunity to reconnect with memories of his first visit to the United States as a Korean Red Cross youth volunteer. Ban participated in Operation VISTA’s Junior Red Cross international volunteer program as a high school student in 1962. Ban often cites this American Red Cross-sponsored exchange visit as the inspiration for his diplomatic career.
During his exchange visit, Ban struck up what would become a lifelong friendship with Florence Tupper, a Red Crosser who served as a mentor to him and other foreign youth volunteers studying Red Cross programs and the American community.
During his visit to American Red Cross headquarters, the secretary-general was presented with his Red Cross photo from 1962 and a recent story highlighting his ties to Ms. Tupper. Meeting participants departed with renewed enthusiasm for the important role that governments, non-governmental organizations, and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement play in meeting humanitarian needs worldwide.
How are you going to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Junior Red Cross at your chapter? Will you have a party? A battle of the bands? A blood drive? Will you tell people about the mission of the American Red Cross? Tell us about your awesome plans!
This November is National Youth Involvement Month and the American Red Cross National Youth Council is getting ready to help you celebrate extraordinary achievements in youth volunteering. This year marks an important event on youth involvement history.
As a result, the National Youth Council is launching the 90th Anniversary Commemoration Award looking for exciting, service oriented, and youth empowering projects. The project plans will be aimed to host local events that will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Junior Red Cross.
There will be four winning projects chosen from nominations received by the National Youth Council. Each project will be awarded with $500 and the story will be shared with the entire organization via Cross Net, redcross.org and the Messenger e-newsletter!
Submissions must be received no later than close of business on October 1, 2007. Winning units will be notified after the first of November.
For more information, please contact Darren Foster, Manager, Youth and Young Adult Programs and Services at (202) 303-8442, FosterDa@usa.redcross.org; or Sandy Tesch, chair, National Youth Council at TeschS@usa.redcross.org.
Karuna Dewan, Missouri
On September 8th, I celebrated my ninth year with the American Red Cross. I spent the morning in a Disaster Action Team orientation in San Francisco, further expanding my volunteer career into the world of Disaster Services. I am still amazed at all the new ways I can serve, even after nine years of experience.
The variety of volunteer opportunities at the American Red Cross is unique. Just yesterday I spent some time on the phone with former California State Senator Jackie Speier (prounounced “spear”), a prominent community leader, discussing her experiences as a Red Cross youth volunteer. Ms. Speier started volunteer with her high school Red Cross Club in 1965 and continued her Red Cross career as club president, Leadership Development Center (LDC) delegate and counselor and a National Convention participant. She credits LDC with giving her the confidence to lead and inspiring her to choose a career in public service and public office. She went on to serve as a policy maker and public servant for over 25 years, authoring groundbreaking legislation in health care, privacy, consumer protection, child welfare, education, and prison reform.
As I was interviewing Ms. Speier for our 90th anniversary celebration, I realized how similar our Red Cross volunteer career paths are. I was also transformed by LDC when I attended as a delegate and later served as a counselor for several years and by my first trip to National Convention in 2000. Both experiences gave me a new confidence and considerable knowledge about the expansive work of the American Red Cross. I am inspired by Ms. Speier’s example and I will think of her as I continue my lifelong career in public service.
The celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Junior Red Cross is a chance for us to step back and marvel at all we have accomplished. Together, we have created and taken advantage of excellent service delivery and leadership opportunities for young people in this organization, ensuring that the humanitarian work of the Red Cross Movement will continue. Here’s to the next 90 years!
Sandy Tesch, California
Skills Learned as a Youth Volunteer Builds the Foundation for Life – Neal Denton’s Testimonial
At age 8, Neal Denton responded to his first American Red Cross disaster, a fire in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Neal’s father worked for the local chapter and was called in the middle of the night to provide assistance to the firefighters. Neal went along for the ride.
“There was water spraying and lots of smoke in the air and firefighters running around everywhere. And the chief stopped what he was doing to talk to my dad,” Neal said. “I remember thinking my dad must be pretty important.”
There were plenty of hungry and exhausted firefighters on the scene, so the father and son team drove to an all-night diner to buy burgers and sandwiches to hand out to the grateful responders. It was Neal’s first mission for the Red Cross, but far from his last. His relationship with the humanitarian organization would span nearly 40 years into the future, taking him down a variety of paths and leading him to the important positions of Vice President of Government Relations and Chief of Staff for the American Red Cross, which he holds today.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 — Gracious. Upbeat. Witty.
Spend an hour with retired Red Cross employee and volunteer Florence Tupper, and you’ll want to spend two. She’s a consummate story-teller whose Red Cross experiences keep you smiling long after you leave her presence.
Her 97-year-old eyes twinkle with memories of supporting the Red Cross mission around the world for nearly three decades, serving veterans in military hospitals and involving volunteers, especially youth, in the work of the organization. Her affinity for mentoring youth is a well-deserved source of pride and satisfaction.
Florence began working with youth on her first job, as a teacher, following graduate school. She liked teaching but was drawn away by the U.S. government, which recruited her in the early 1940s to be a cryptographer. Like many Americans at that time, she wanted to make a contribution to the war effort.
While working for the military in the nation’s capital, Florence became friends with a young woman employed by the American Red Cross. She decided that she, too, wanted to be a Red Crosser. But it wasn’t easy getting released from her top-secret assignment so she could accept a Red Cross position—she had to appeal to the War Manpower Commission, whose members, after a hearing, granted her request.
In 1947, Florence began the first of what would become 27 years with the American Red Cross. Her initial assignment was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with Hospital Service, a department that provided social services and recreational programs for patients in military hospitals at home and abroad. By the time she retired in 1974, she had risen to director of Services to Military Hospitals and had traveled to the Far East twice, to Europe once, and to several of the organization’s area offices. Read More