Finding Your Voice?!

Guest Blog Post by Dawn Miller, Red Cross Communications Volunteer:

Days after Jody’s (Jody is the Volunteer and Communications Director for the chapter) return from the National Volunteer Conference this past June, we met for coffee to discuss her trip and what she had learned. I was really excited to hear her ideas and plans. When she said she wanted more transparency, I said, “Yes!” When she said she wanted more involvement from volunteers, sponsor, donors, board and Red Cross employees, I said, “Yes!” When she said we were going to move the communications in new directions, I said, “Yes!” We were pumped when we got up to go and when she said, “You know …you can write something for the blog in your own voice too,” iced-mocha-latte sprayed out of my mouth and onto the table.

No, that’s not how it really happened. We were pumped and all but when she told me I could write something in my own voice I probably just stared at her. She might have thought I was disinterested or annoyed for all I know. What was really going through my head was shock mixed with a little confusion. My voice?

 Since becoming a volunteer a little over a year ago, I have spent my time trying to find the voice of the Red Cross. I researched past articles and communications and got some guidance there. Some of them were kind of dry and clinical and some of them were warm and a little fun. I tried to take a bit from each hoping to get the perfect mix.

With each story I wrote, I asked Jody for clues on what the voice of the Red Cross was. I wanted to make sure everything was fitting to represent who the Lakeland Chapter was.  

I also spent a lot of time asking questions and talking to all kinds of people involved in many different capacities at the Red Cross. There are some amazing people and I consider myself so lucky that Jody was able to find a way for me to be a part of all of this. Everyone was great in trusting and sharing their stories to teach me about the accomplishments and work of the chapter. When I started I thought my volunteer work was nice but it was an added bonus that wasn’t really necessary.

 As time went on and I learned all the great things the chapter does, I realized how important our communications are. I learned so much from so many different people and I never imagined all the things the Red Cross does for our community. And I saw how the Red Cross was a part of our community so when there was need they stepped in to help fill that need. I also unfortunately learned sometimes those in the Red Cross can’t always keep up with what each other are doing. And if we don’t know what we are doing how can we expect the community to know and be interested?

 Time and time again I have heard those involved with the Red Cross say, “A lot of people say they had no idea all that we do.” By sharing our story of what we are doing and why we do it we give the community the knowledge and opportunity to be a part of that story. By sharing the stories of the great people behind the Red Cross we not only learn about them but we also learn a little bit about ourselves. By learning about the Lakeland Chapter, and ourselves, we might find it in ourselves to be there when we can and in whatever capacity we can.

 So, I know Jody has invited those involved with the Red Cross to share their stories and I think of it as a challenge to our chapter. It’s a challenge for us to share our story of one chapter’s Red Cross experience. If someone can blog their experience of cooking their way through Julia Child’s cookbook and another can document the lives of the rich and the why-are-they-famous, then why can’t we document our story? A community of sponsors, supporters, donors, staff, and over 450 volunteers can share that important story of the many events that take place here at our chapter through words, pictures and video.

 I wonder if she knew all along where the voice could be found while I was trying to find so hard to find it. Jody’s lucky she didn’t get a latte shower pointing it out to me. That voice of the Lakeland Chapter is me and that voice is you.

About Dawn:

Dawn Miller graduated Cum Laude from University of Wisconsin- Green Bay in spring of 2008. While there, as nonfiction editor of The Sheepshead Review, she was able to secure an interview with nationally acclaimed author, Aimee Bender for a profile piece. She was also honored with the “Rising Phoenix Award” for her nonfiction piece, “Heel Story” and had the opportunity to read at the 32nd Annual UW-System Women’s Conference. In the fall of 2008, Dawn and her husband, Gary, celebrated the addition of their daughter, Paige, to their family. During the first year of motherhood, Dawn explored topics considering moms who are active in social media through some freelance assignments and also put her writing to work as a volunteer for the Red Cross. She’s currently a full-time mom and also a part-time development assistant at the Arthritis Foundation.

As a volunteer with the Lakeland Chapter since spring of 2009, Dawn has learned a lot about the Red Cross and the people behind it. “I feel lucky to consider myself a part of this amazing group of people,” says Dawn. “I hope that by working with the others to share the stories of our chapter we can learn more about ourselves, educate the community on services and inspire others to be as amazing as the people I have met here.”