Why I Help: John Meinke, Madison, Wisconsin

By Andrea Coan, Red Cross Volunteer Journalist

1418832675579 John M - MadisonA talented new addition to our American Red Cross volunteer corps, John Meinke works on media and communications efforts with the Red Cross of Badger Chapter, as well as the South Central Wisconsin Region. Here, he makes his own unique contribution to the organization.

Meinke photographs volunteers and employees at blood drives, programs supporting the Armed Forces, disaster training events, and so much more. Awed by each person who gives back, Meinke feels lucky to have an opportunity to capture the strong individuals who work for the Red Cross.

“When I see Red Cross teams in action, I feel proud to be a part of something much larger than any individual involved,” said Meinke. “I know that my assignments, which are very important to me, are just a small part of what happens every day in the Red Cross.”

After retiring from a career in visual arts education, which included darkroom and digital photography, Meinke made the choice to join the Red Cross in 2013. He was determined to stay active and engaged in meaningful endeavors during his retirement, and felt volunteerism would be the ideal way to achieve this personal goal.

When he isn’t behind the camera, Meinke works on the Red Cross photo archive where he preserves the value and quality of photos representing the history of the organization. He works closely with Katie Gaynor, external communications manager of Red Cross Blood Services.

Meinke will never forget an encounter with a family at a blood drive in Portage, Wisconsin where he met two parents who took turns donating blood, while holding their newborn son. They wanted their young son to experience the “giving spirit” as soon as possible. Meinke felt a deep respect for this family, which put the value of giving at the center of their lives.

In his short time with the Red Cross, Meinke has already photographed some powerful images.

“In my work, I help others become aware of and understand the services provided by the Red Cross, but those who build and share shelter, nourishment, comfort or life-saving blood are true heroes,” said Meinke.

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