What I’ve Learned While Volunteering with the Red Cross

Story by Bhavna Derma / Red Cross Cascades Region

The American Red Cross is an organization that is 90 percent led by its volunteers.

Across the globe, the American Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross together, have more than 97 million volunteers.

In fact, Nadine McCrindle, the Executive Director of the Central and Eastern Oregon chapter of the Cascades Region recently said, “We would not be able to do a lot of the care we do, if it wasn’t for our volunteers.”

Nadine McCrindle (in vest) works at a Red Cross emergency shelter during the Kincade Fire in California in October 2019.

So, who are these volunteers?

I have found them to be ordinary individuals, making an extraordinary difference to help people in times of suffering. Whether by saving someone’s life after receiving their first aid/CPR certification or comforting a family overwhelmed during a disaster, they are the real people who answer the call for service in the community.

Recently, I had the chance to ask a couple of volunteers in the Cascades Region to share their thoughts on how volunteering with the Red Cross has actually helped them and one quote stuck out to me.

“Volunteering provides me with an opportunity to work with people from all over the place, and those people who are so dedicated – that they have offered to help even during their vacations.” – Red Cross Cascades Region volunteer

One of the volunteers from the recent volunteer meeting event went so far to say that the Red Cross, for him, has been a maturing process by helping others and himself in the process.

The easiest thing to do in the face of disaster is to close your eyes to everything that is happening around you. But that is exactly what volunteering with the Red Cross has taught us all, that when a disaster strikes, it is the people who matter, be it any race, customs, belief or nationality.

A Red Cross Cascades Region volunteer assists residents of Umatilla County, Oregon at a Multi Agency Resource Center following devastating flooding in February 2020.

Moreover, volunteering does not just make an impact on the larger community; it directly impacts personal circles of friends and family as well. I believe it is like a teaching experience, that giving back is not only the right thing to do but is also a step of investing in the future for a brighter tomorrow.

On an individual basis, I have found volunteering helps one to be more dynamic in community engagement and also interested in social affairs. Many volunteers shared that volunteering has helped them build their self-esteem and improve a variety of skills and capabilities.

In my time speaking with volunteers, they shared with me both inherent and gained advantages of taking the time to support others. And showed that volunteering certainly can leave a positive effect on both the volunteer and those they come in contact with.

In my experience, volunteering, beyond everything else, makes you a greater person and provides the purest joy and satisfaction of helping others in need. That is what I’ve learned while volunteering with the Red Cross and how it has helped so many others.

Red Cross Cascades Region volunteers conduct a briefing before heading out to do damage assessment on homes following devastating flooding in Umatilla County, Oregon in February 2020.

One thought on “What I’ve Learned While Volunteering with the Red Cross

  • In May of 2012 I found myself unexpectedly retired. I was fortunate both financially and blessed with good health and 62 years old. I had never volunteered for anything in my life and strongly believed I needed to give back. In June of 2012 I joined the Red Cross Cascades Region, did a few logistics things and took a bunch of classes. Then in December of 2012 I deployed to New York City for Superstorm Sandy for 2 weeks. I ended up staying 3 months. I came home for a week and deployed back to New York for another 6 weeks. Since then I have deployed many More times, lead a Logistics Group, volunteered as a Government Liaison, etc. In hindsight I was so very fortunate to retire early. I gave the Red Cross 6 solid years of support. As one of my favorite volunteers said….Julie Burger a 50 year ARC Volunteer so aptly said….”I got back more than I ever give” The resilience of clients I met and volunteers I worked with was nothing less than astounding. So fortunate to be able to help.

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