By Patty Flowers
As the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Wisconsin, I often get a chance to speak to groups about what we do and it’s one of the parts of my job that I love the most. I can talk about the Red Cross and what we do for hours! When you’re as passionate as I am about helping others and with the multitude of things we do at the Red Cross, it’s not hard to find lots of things to talk about. Recently, I was asked to speak with a group of young adults who are learning English as a second language before they enroll in college here in the United States. It was a mixed class of young men and women from China, Saudi Arabia, Japan and India.
This very ambitious group was quite interested in what was happening in Nepal after the earthquake but also wanted to learn about the American Red Cross as a whole. I brought some props along with me – a blanket, some comfort kits, water. As I told them stories about all five components of our mission: Educating through Classes, Service to Armed Forces, Disaster Relief, International Services, and Blood, they were all engaged. I had to speak slowly so they could understand me but I constantly saw nodding heads, smiles and other signs that they were very interested in the information I was giving them. Not one of them was on their phone texting and no one fell asleep – success! When I paused for questions they had wonderful, very thoughtful questions for me. As a group, they were very interested in how we keep our volunteers safe, how we manage volunteers who don’t do their job (I thought that was interesting!), and how much money we receive from the government.
They were all very surprised when I told them that most of our money comes from the American public and not from the government and that our relief services are free. After I wrapped up the presentation, one of the young women approached me and told me that her friend was in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami struck and that the American Red Cross had saved her life. She broke down in tears as she recalled the experience and thanked me several times for saving her friend. It was such an emotional end to my time with them and as we hugged goodbye she told me she was going to tell her friend that she got a change to thank someone for her.
What an incredibly fulfilling day it was for me! These young people who are trying to make a better life for themselves now all want to volunteer in some way for the Red Cross. It’s my hope that they one day do show up at one of our offices and learn how to become a volunteer.
Would you like to volunteer with us? Go to www.redcross.org and click on Volunteer Now to start learning the many different ways you can assist us and those in need.
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