How Youth Can Help in Disasters

As a Houstonian, watching my city go underwater during Hurricane Harvey has been terrifying.
However, I am so so proud of all the volunteers that have come to help, both from inside and
outside the city. In many places, there were so many volunteers that local organizations had to
turn people away due to overcapacity.

This willingness to help is something I’ve always known
defined Houston, and it was amazing to see it in action.

As a youth volunteer there’s a couple ways you can get involved. Whether a disaster is happening
across the country or in your background, you can make a difference. Here’s just a couple of
examples of what you can do:

With every natural disaster, the Red Cross hosts a fundraising page that allows you to donate
directly to the people affected by the disaster. You and your Red Cross club can organize
fundraisers with this specific goal in mind. A couple of fundraising ideas include thons, field
days, garage sales, and more. Here’s an activity guide with some fleshed out examples.
Contact your local volunteer manager to help. Even if you’re from elsewhere in the country, you
can still help remotely such as on the call desk. If you’re from the local area, you could be
staffed directly in shelters. Your volunteer manager will be able to point you to which
opportunities are available given the disaster needs and your availability.
Educate your club with preparedness presentations and share them with your community, so that
next time a disaster hits, people will know how to be safe. Natural disasters are usually not
preventable, and sometimes they appear out of nowhere in the span of days, like Hurricane
Harvey. However, pre-emptive measures like drills and having an escape plan is something that
can only make your community stronger.
Check out some guides on disaster preparedness here.

– Amy Ma, National Youth Council member from Houston, Navin Narayan College Scholarship Liaison

Category: Disaster, News · Tags:

Youth Spotlight: Paolo Martinez

Youth Spotlight: Paolo Martinez, Braving the Floods

5AM mornings. 20 hour work days. Saving a man’s life. It’s all tough work – work that some may never even experience in their lifetime, but for Paolo Martinez, helping others through his work has always been such a fulfilling feeling.

Paolo joined the Red Cross as an Event Based Volunteer (EBV) during the Tax Day Floods, when schools were closed. He came in to help with staff services, aiding with call downs for shelters and Spanish translation. From that summer on, his work with the Red Cross took off. Last school year, he founded the Red Cross Club at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, where he engages other youth and urges them to respond to disasters as well. In the fall of 2016, he became a screener, working in the Greater Houston Area’s Office of Volunteer Services. He was also selected to be the Communications Chair for the Texas Gulf Coast Region’s Youth Service Council (YSC) – a board of youth that oversees and advocates for the Texas Gulf Coast’s youth volunteers. Late this summer, he put all three of his volunteer roles to good use in the face of the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

“When the Red Cross’ main efforts were to coordinate for youth to come in, I was sending out emails promoting youth volunteering as the YSC’s Communications Chair. ” Martinez said. “As president, I was getting my club to come in too, because the main goal for my club is for it to be a disaster relief service club and to respond in times like this. As a screener, I have administrative access, so I was able to quickly input volunteers [in our system], get them screened, and turn EBVs into general volunteers after they get the training they need.”

Hurricane Harvey hit South Texas hard, but through all the struggle, there is still hope in the strength of community. “Working in a shelter has opened my eyes to all walks of life. It’s been great,” Martinez said. “In fact, I got to know a few people from the Red Cross in Hawaii. Yesterday, as I was leaving George R. Brown Convention Center and right before I was going to say goodbye to them, the National Guard alerted us that there was a man down. One of the Red Cross volunteers was a paramedic, so we took care of the man and kept him stable for 40 minutes until the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) could show up.”

“I want to join the fire department in the future, so I [had] taken an Emergency Medical Technician [EMT] Basics of Emergency Medicine Training. I never thought that I would ever be able to use it, but yesterday I actually knew how to stabilize the man’s head until EMS arrived.”

“A big thing is to be there during blue skies, to be there even when we’re not in disaster.”

As a relatively-new Red Cross volunteer, only having joined in 2015, Paolo has already accomplished so much and made such a huge impact in our community. When asked for a tip that he has for other volunteers interested in disaster services, he suggested, “to be there during blue skies, to be there even when we’re not in disaster. Just come in and help out as much as you can. Get involved in your community. Meet as many people as you can.” He also strongly recommended to “take classes on EDGE. Take as many courses as you can and absorb as much information as you can because that makes you more presentable and reliable during disasters.” EDGE is the American Red Cross Learning Management System. Contact your local Red Cross chapter for information about accessing your account and taking courses.

Thank you so much for your service Paolo, and we wish you the best of luck in your Red Cross journey.

– Angela Liu, National Youth Council member, RCYO and YouthWire Editor


Category: High School, News · Tags:

Hurricane Harvey: A First-Hand Account

A First-Hand Account from Someone who Endured the Floodwaters

It was a normal Texas summer day like any other: the oddly-shaped glass buildings of Houston’s Montrose district twinkled distinctly before me, drawing me in with their wacky pastel colors. I was spending the afternoon waltzing to and from different boutiques, fully enveloped in the rich smell of our city’s diverse cuisines. With the sweltering Houston heat bearing down on my head and the thick humid air heavy against my skin, it certainly wasn’t ideal, but, nevertheless, it was home. My home. Houston. What happened next is something that I never could have ever imagined. These colorful glass buildings and the warm fragrance of Tex-Mex – all the things that I took for granted while living here – would soon be completely swept away in just a matter of hours.

In the early morning of August 25th, 2017, the National Weather Service issued an emergency weather alert for a flash flood. That flash flood quickly transformed into a tornado. Shortly after, Hurricane Harvey hit my city at full force.


“Hurricane Harvey is the first major hurricane to strike South Texas since Celia in 1970,” the report read. “This is a life-threatening situation…Take shelter now.”


According to CNN News, Hurricane Harvey is the first huge hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Charley in 2004. This Category 4 hurricane not only caused catastrophic flooding and tornadoes but also resulted in the displacement of more than 30,000 people, the inundation of hundreds of thousands of homes, and the loss of at least 50 confirmed lives (as of 9/3/2017). Over this nine day period, rainfall accumulation in South Texas cities peaked at nearly 52 inches. The nine trillion gallons of rain dispensed are enough to fill the Great Salt Lake of Utah twice, occupy nearly 34,000 Empire State Buildings, and be spread equally over each square inch of the contiguous United States with a height of 3 pennies stacked on top of each other. Hurricane Harvey was enormous both in size and in consequence.

I’ve lived in Houston for all my life, but, since I’ll be moving out of state for college soon, I only recently realized how blessed I was to grow up in such a diverse place. As the third most diverse city in the United States, our city is the epitome of the “melting pot” image that America so heavily prides itself on. Our mix of different cultures, ideologies, ethnicities, religions, and perspectives is what makes Houston so distinctly Houston. Despite the bipolar weather and, at times, almost unbearable heat, I’ve grown to love my city and am so proud to call myself a Houstonian. That’s exactly why watching my community of 18 years get torn apart in Hurricane Harvey has been utterly heartbreaking. Witnessing more and more of my community lose their loved ones and belongings slowly broke down my will- to the point where I almost lost it completely. But there’s always a light, even in times great darkness. As I curled up in the corner of my damp, pitch-black room, I was immensely encouraged by the kind words that a few of my fellow Red Cross family members had sent my way.

Photo by: Daniel Cima / American Red Cross

As a result of the selfless words and actions of Red Cross volunteers like those who had reached out to me, my community has stayed strong. In fact, after the flooding in my neighborhood had mostly subsided, I personally visited our local Greater Houston Area Red Cross Chapter headquarters to help out, and I can firsthand attest to the sheer amount of blood and sweat that was poured into aiding those hurt by Hurricane Harvey. I’ve never seen a group of volunteers and staff so intensely passionate and earnest about their work. In the past few days, I’ve met Red Crossers in Houston from all over the nation- from Wyoming to Illinois to Hawaii to Oklahoma to Washington D.C. to California and more- all who came to help out with the disaster relief service. There were even volunteers who weren’t present physically but were aiding us remotely from other states, whether it be through administrative work, data entry, communications, or more. I urge you to get involved in the Red Cross’ Hurricane Harvey relief effort today. No matter where you are or who you are, you can make an impact.

Our hearts reach out to the many hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything. Thanks to the compassion and generosity of our supporters, the Red Cross has been ever-present in communities across the Texas Gulf Coast Region, responding where and when people most need help. Together we have:

  • Provided safe refuge for 32,000 people in more than 230 Red Cross and partner shelters in Texas, including people affected in Louisiana
  • Served more than 180,000 meals and snacks
  • Activated 200 emergency response vehicles to bring meals, water, support, and damage assessment
  • Positioned six kitchens capable of producing 10,000 meals a day, with six more trailers on the way

Together we are making the difference between having nowhere to go and finding a safe, dry place to stay. For those who were without critical items, like eyeglasses, medications, and water, together we’ve provided a lifeline in their darkest hour. Learn more about our response here.

50 lives have been lost as of September 3rd. There are still many injured and hurt, both physically and mentally. With a number of people missing, we don’t know how many more there are out there, but we do know that we can prevent the number of lives lost from rising by offering as much assistance as possible.

Photo by: LM Otero / AP

You can make an impact. You can make a change. You can save lives. Help restore Houston and South Texas to the bright, sunny home it was before. Get involved today by registering as a volunteer here.

If you know anyone who may need help, they can visit, download the free Red Cross Emergency App or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767). With your ongoing help, we will continue to provide support for those who will be affected in the days and weeks to come.


Angela Liu, National Youth Council member from Houston, RCYO and YouthWire Editor

Category: Disaster, News · Tags:

Office Hours: A Resource for Red Cross Members, Club Leaders, and YOU!

Are you a Red Cross youth member who has questions about getting CPR certified or organizing a blood drive? Does your club need ideas for member retention or recruitment?  Would you like to chat with a National Youth Council member via Skype, Google Hangouts, or phone as part of our Office Hours initiative? Office hours are a one-on-one meeting for us to help you troubleshoot or bounce ideas around about your experiences with Red Cross. The National Youth Council would love to give some tips or advice if we can, since many of us have spent many years running Red Cross clubs ourselves. Some of our specialties and experiences include fundraising, blood drives, international humanitarian law, event planning, citizen CPR classes, club recruitment, and more.

In addition to signing up for office hours, you can also view our Quick Info Videos here. These videos may answer some of the questions you may have and cover topics ranging from National Youth Involvement Month to Volunteer Recognition. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, let us know during an Office Hours call what you’d like to see next!

Each Office Hours session is 15-minutes long and set up using a quick and easy signup form located at We are all available and excited to talk to you!

Youth Spotlight: Marissa Tehrani

Marissa’s Red Cross story begins in 2013 when she started school at Camas High. She signed up for the American Red Cross club eagerly and attended every event her club had to offer. She enjoyed all things medical and loved to lend a helping hand whenever she possibly could, making the Red Cross the perfect avenue. She has experience planning and hosting blood drives for her school, and running the Leadership Development Camp, a 2 day camp where youth learn about the Red Cross and are CPR certified, which raises about $1,500 for Red Cross disaster relief. In addition, she is an active participant in the Home Fire Safety Campaign.
Through the American Red Cross, Marissa has learned more about having compassion for others and states that “it truly made me feel good knowing I was able to give back and be a part of an organization that helps people in need when disasters happen to them”. Red Cross has not only helped her develop as a person, but also let her express her passion and leadership abilities. Marissa later on became the President of her high school club for two years in a row, and also served on the Youth Council for the Southwest Washington Chapter.
In the future, she plans to pursue a Bachelors of Nursing, and become a pediatric nurse. Marissa will continue her school year serving as the part of her local youth council. She hopes to even further increase her volunteer involvement, run more blood drives for her chapter, and volunteer with the American Red Cross for the rest of her life.

Category: Blog, News · Tags:

Apply for the National Youth Council!


Applications for the National Youth Council (NYC) are now open! 

The National Youth Council consists of 13 youth and young adult volunteers from around the country, primarily high school, college, and young professional volunteers, as well as 2 adult unit paid or volunteer staff members who serve as Council advisors. The Council is supported by and works closely with the Youth and Young Adults team at National Headquarters.

The National Youth Council is looking for youth volunteers between the ages of 16 – 24 to represent Red Cross youth at the national level. Candidates who have had at least two years of experience with the Red Cross and are passionate about furthering the Red Cross mission both locally and at the national level are encouraged to apply. This two-year commitment provides an extraordinary leadership experience and also allows youth to engage and grow youth involvement throughout the organization.

The National Youth Council is also looking for adult youth supporters to be advisors for the NYC. Positions are open to experienced field youth coordinators, Red Cross Unit Executives, and skilled volunteers/employees in a specific line of service delivery, with a commitment to advance youth involvement. During this two-year term, advisors facilitate leadership building for all NYC members and provide guidance and recommendations on all Council projects.

All application materials are due by 11:59 pm EDTMonday May 15, 2017.  Questions regarding this application and completed application materials should be addressed to National Youth Council Vice-Chair, Bryan Solis, at

Member Application Materials:

NYC Member Instructions 2017

NYC Application 2017

Red Cross Recommendation Form 2017

Non-Red Cross Recommendation Form 2017

Advisor Application Materials:

NYC Advisor Application 2017

NYC Advisor Instructions 2017

Members of the NYC lead national youth programs and initiatives that aim to integrate youth within the mission of the American Red Cross.

Suggested Links:

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Spotlight on Walled Lake Central High’s Red Cross Club

The students at Walled Lake Central High School are a motivated bunch – members of the Red Cross Club host blood drives, and partner with their school and community to promote the Red Cross mission.

This month, for March is Red Cross Month, WLC Red Cross Club members conducted the Totes for Hope activity. They created the kits to be distributed at the local Veteran’s center, after collecting donations and raising funds through a Candy Grams fundraiser that they held on Valentine’s Day. Students at Walled Lake Central then had the chance to sponsor a bag for $8 and the Club members assembled the kits together. To get more knowledge about business and website designs, visit

The Veteran’s Center manages around 125 homeless Veterans (permanently in some cases, temporarily in others). After speaking with one of the site managers, the Club decided, under the guidance of their teacher mentor, that they would create the kids and include a red t-shirt, a pair of socks, chocolates, cookies, and a card.

It was a successful event that gave the students a chance to interact with their local Veteran’s center and highlight the Red Cross mission!

Celebrating our New and Leaving National Youth Council Members

The National Youth Council is incredibly excited to welcome five new youth members and one new advisor to the team! The selection process was highly competitive, and it was truly inspiring to see the dedication of the American Red Cross’ amazing youth volunteers and youth leaders through the applications.

It is an absolute pleasure to introduce the new youth members and advisor of the National Youth Council.



EmmaKate Few

is a freshman at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where she is majoring in Journalism and is a Pre-Law scholar. Prior to college, she served as Co-President of the Augusta Red Cross Youth Board and was awarded the Youth Services Volunteer of the Year award for the American Red Cross of Augusta. Furthermore, EmmaKate has helped lead over 24 Leadership Development Conferences for elementary and middle school students, and hosted a “Rock the Runway for the Red Cross” Fashion Show that raised over $1,700 in one night for the Augusta Chapter 2016 Heroes Campaign.

Joanna Hu

is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania studying nursing and healthcare management. She has served as President of her high school club, as well as International Committee Coordinator, Liaison, and Co-chair of her local chapter’s Youth Executive Board. In 2014, she received the International Services award from her chapter and was named Youth of the Year. Joanna is the 2016 recipient of the Navin Narayan Scholarship.

Amy Ma

is a freshman at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois majoring in Economics with a minor in Human Rights. Prior to college, she served as President of the Clements High School Red Cross Club and Executive Chair of the Texas Gulf Coast Region Youth Service Council, in which she created the local Red Cross youth newsletter, organized blood drives, and planned two Leadership Development Conferences. As an intern with the Disaster Service Department of the Greater Houston Area Chapter, Amy has assisted with Community Partnerships in the Texas Floods Disaster Relief Operation and directed the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. Amy was awarded the Red Cross Tom Sellers Exceptional Youth Volunteer Award and recognized as the Greater Houston Service Awards’ Youth-of-the-Year.

Anna Nguyen

is a freshman at UC Berkeley, where she plans to study public health and immunology. She has served  as the President of her high school club and as International Services Coordinator, Fundraising Coordinator, and Chair of the East Bay Area Youth Executive Board (YEB). She has been a youth staff member in the Northern California Coastal Region’s Leadership Development Center. Additionally, Anna has worked as a Red Cross certified lifeguard and water safety instructor at her local parks and recreation department.

Georgia Vasilopoulos

is a senior at the Bronx High School of Science in New York who has interests ranging from Neuroscience to International Affairs. She has served as the youth representative on the Red Cross Board of Directors for the Greater New York region and helped establish the first regional Chapter Youth Council. As chair of the Chapter Youth Council for the past three years, Georgia has led region-wide events such as Missing Maps, Raid Cross, MLK Day of Service, and Night for Nepal. She has taught disaster preparedness classes and advocated for the acceptance of youth volunteers onto Home Fire Preparedness Campaign teams. Recently, she was able to volunteer with a Red Cross center in Patra, Greece that provides free first aid treatment and delivers care packages.



Anna Drenning

became a high school volunteer with her local chapter in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. From there, she founded two Red Cross Clubs in high school and college and served terms on both the National Youth Council and National Young Professionals Council. Anna is currently the Regional Youth Volunteer Specialist with the Western PA Region of the American Red Cross and advocates for youth and young adult involvement through all lines of service. In her role, she works with youth-focused community partners, volunteers, Red Cross Clubs, interns and young professionals.

Thank you to the Red Cross communities of these individuals for supporting them along their Red Cross journeys, and for helping them grow and thrive as American Red Cross volunteers.

We would also like to recognize the members who have rotated off the National Youth Council:

Eddie Zitnik
Former Positions: Chair, Creator of the Youth Diversity Pledge Facilitation Guide

Dana Frayne
Former Positions: Vice Chair, Chapter Services Support Working Group Lead, National Youth Involvement Month Liaison, Creator of the “Working with Youth” Tip Sheet

Cat Reilly
Former Positions: Youth Outreach Working Group Lead, YouthWire Editor

Josh Lovett
Former Positions: National Youth Involvement Month Liaison, Connect Tour Liaison

Shannon Vance
Former Positions: Navin Award Committee Liaison

Jackie Young
Former Positions: RedCrossYouth.Org Liaison, Facebook Liaison

Logan Ferlito
Former Positions: Beloved Advisor for three years

Thank you all for your efforts and accomplishments for the National Youth Council and for the American Red Cross. You will definitely be missed, and we know that you will all continue to do amazing things as volunteers and as individuals!

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Bolles Red Cross Club Sends Holiday Cards to US Service Members

Last November, the Bolles Red Cross Club in Jacksonville, Florida sent over 65 cards to US Service Members. Holiday Mail for Heroes was a perfect way for the club to get involved for the holidays. Over 50 people were involved and over half the club set up the tables, paper, markers, and made the amazing music playlist.


Before the successful event, the Club coordinated with the local Red Cross chapter, The Northeast Florida Red Cross Chapter, annually sends cards to veterans in the area or overseas. They agreed on a deadline to send the cards.


Maria Muzaurieta, President of the Red Cross club, explained that it was “amazing to be part of this event and see the difference the club was making as people made cards.” She explained how this event also served as a great way to recruit new volunteers to the Red Cross.


Maria suggests reaching out early to the Chapter to coordinate a shipping time for the cards. Holiday Mail for Heroes was a great way to get members and nonmembers involved in the Bolles Red Cross Club.


From Left to Right: Vice President (Grace Calavan), President (Maria Muzaurieta), and Secretary (Emily Fender)

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University of Michigan Red Cross Club Hosts Fourth Annual Run for the Red

On April 6th, the University of Michigan (UM) Red Cross hosted their fourth annual 5K fundraiser, Run for the Red.


Run for the Red has been successful in past years, and this year’s event was no exception. After a year of planning by Hani Ephor, a member, and coordinating with the Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter, the UM Red Cross Club was able to gather support and resources from local businesses and community volunteers.


“It has been amazing to see the growth of the 5K over the past three years, thanks to hard work from the planning committee, volunteers and the runners,” says Sally Yin, a member of both the UM Red Cross Club and the National Youth Council.

“The Run for the Red: its not like hospital stay. It is a platform that showcases the diverse talent, passion and humor of UM students. It is the event that I look forward to most every year.”


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Volunteer Connection

Volunteer Connection