Story By: Nastia Karpoukhina
Just a couple of months ago Red Crossers were excited by the prospect of getting together and celebrating our volunteers and those humanitarians nominated for the American Red Cross Clara Barton Volunteer Award for the Red Cross in Connecticut and Rhode Island. April is traditionally volunteer appreciation month and we normally plan lots of festivities in and around the month to celebrate and say thank you to the amazing volunteers. While COVID-19 has effectively stopped larger gatherings around U.S., what the virus has not stopped is volunteers fulfilling the Red Cross mission by delivering services to our communities with kindness, compassion and humanity and of course, our appreciation for their efforts.
Our volunteers are involved in every aspect of the organization, support of the mission, and deliver the services to those in need. Rebecca Johnson, our Regional Volunteer Services Officer, aptly summarizes the myriad of ways that volunteers help: “They give back to their communities and the region at-large when they volunteer, whether it is a blood drive, a home fire response, installing a smoke alarm or working with our military and their families – our volunteers spend the time, energy and purpose to further the mission and they do it with care, concern and kindness.”
In Disaster Cycle Services, Red Crossers are still responding to home fires daily, thereby lending a helping hand and an empathetic ear to those affected on what may be the worst day of their lives. In partnership with other community and government organizations, the volunteer teams are supporting feeding programs and food pantries in both Connecticut and Rhode Island, they help unload and pack up food boxes for those hardest-hit families in the communities. Our volunteers are also helping to support our virtual Family Assistance Center, providing emotional support to those who have lost a loved one due to COVID-19. As Neil Brockway, the regional Disaster Officer, best sums it up: “The mission is very simple…Are you a person and are you in need? …Then we are going to help” and “without volunteers our mission would not be possible and we would not be able to help.”
Volunteers continue to be the lifeblood of the Red Cross and our volunteer temperature screeners and blood donor ambassadors are ensuring a safe and welcoming environment to all who come to donate lifesaving blood.
In Operations, volunteers are an integral part of the department and according to Richard Branigan, the Chief Operating Officer, “They do everything from managing budgets, paying invoices, depositing checks, screening visitors and everything and anything you can think of.”
As Susan Roberts, the Executive Director of Rhode Island, aptly summarizes, “whatever the skill, or interest we have a place for each volunteer within the organization.”
Thank you, Connecticut and Rhode Island volunteers, for your dedication to the mission, your time and the big heart. Mario Bruno, CEO, American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region, echoes the sentiments: “Our organization was founded by volunteers and I’m so proud to be able to support thousands of volunteers in delivering the mission.”
Ready to make a difference in your community? Join us and sign up to volunteer at www.redcross.org/volunteer.