Saturday, April 27, 2013
Lift Yourself Up: Become a Volunteer
by Cindy Shank, Executive Director, Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
Following that advice from Booker T. Washington has helped lift up countless people and create more resilient communities around the world. This National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, the Southwest Colorado chapter of the American Red Cross is celebrating its dedicated volunteers and partners. These volunteers power the Red Cross, making it possible for the organization to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
Each year, local Red Cross volunteers bring food, shelter, comfort and hope to many local families faced with evacuating because of wildfires or rebuilding after house fires or flooding.
We provide assistance and comfort during national disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. We sent six volunteers to serve the residents of New York and New Jersey affected by the superstorm.
Volunteers are vital to the work of the Red Cross in Southwest Colorado and in communities across the country, making up 94 percent of the Red Cross workforce. In our area, we have one paid employee and 40 dedicated volunteers that work every day of the year to take care of our residents and emergency responders. According to the Independent Sector, the 2012 value of volunteer time was $22.14 per hour, further evidence of the tremendous value and impact volunteers hold for nonprofits such as the Red Cross.
Volunteering with the Red Cross now is easier than ever because of a new system called Volunteer Connection. This online system is easy to use and better allows new volunteers to match their skills and interests to needs across the organization. People interested in volunteering can visit www.redcross.org/support/volunteer to search and apply for opportunities in our community. The Volunteer Connection System was made possible by a grant from W.W. Grainger Inc.
Currently, our chapter needs people who are interested in responding to local house fires, providing personal emergency-preparedness presentations, assisting in shelter residents after an evacuation, serving as a disaster health or disaster mental-health service worker or working with local emergency-management agencies during a disaster.
Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives also are changed.