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Conference Brings School Club Members Together

Bishoy Saleeb finds the endless possibilities one of the most appealing things about being a Red Cross volunteer.

Saleeb, vice president of the American Red Cross Club at Canisius College, says that the Red Cross is a place where volunteers can apply their talents, no matter what those talents may be. The Red Cross is also a place where volunteers can grow—learning more about themselves while developing new skills.

Planning a Conference

Recently Saleeb and officers from other Red Cross Campus Clubs in upstate New York got a hands-on lesson in leadership. The students planned a Youth Conference for members of area Red Cross Campus Clubs.

With mentoring from Mary Walls, volunteer coordinator for the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross, the planning committee organized an American Red Cross College Club Conference for more than a hundred college students and adult leaders.

Walls says teaching these energetic Millennials is like pouring water into a sponge. “A large percentage of Millennials are asking for volunteer opportunities,” she comments. “They want to be in their community. They want to touch someone. They want to affect change in a positive way.”

All Walls really had to do was give Red Cross Club leaders the general concept, and then get out of the way. Laughing, she says the question planners asked the most during the several Skype meetings was “what’s next?”

A Meaningful Experience

Young Red Cross volunteers were treated to a weekend of significant training and networking, hosted by the American Red Cross Northeast New York Region in Albany.

For one exercise, each of several small groups of students set up replicas of refugee camps. Students learned the complexity of field logistics as they built stations that could communicate with camp residents, feed and shelter, engage children, provide health care and more. The activity is part of the Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum.

Kayla Lasota, a member of the Canisius Campus Club, “loved” the refugee camp building workshop. “It was really fun to work with my group,” she says, “and see how we all pulled together as a team to create our camp.” Lasota also talks about how the workshop allowed her to meet some new people at the conference.

Participants were also trained in the new Citizen CPR, the hands-only CPR that can make the lifesaving difference when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Campus Club volunteers attending the conference committed to working with their local Red Cross chapters to become qualified presenters for the Citizen CPR curriculum when they got back to their colleges and universities, and to then train members of their Red Cross Campus Clubs and the wider campus communities.

Another workshop provided details on how to teach the Be Red Cross Ready program that prepares people for possible disasters and other emergencies. The workshop on ways to train people to prepare for disasters spoke directly to services many campus club volunteers provide—some volunteer as preparedness instructors; others serve as members of local Red Cross disaster action teams that respond to community fires, floods and other life-threatening events.

Conference goers also had opportunities to meet subject-matter experts who helped hone their skills in club management, fundraising and planning events.

Join a Red Cross Campus Club

Gary Striar, chief executive officer of the hosting Red Cross chapter, came away from the conference saying, “These young people love the Red Cross, a sentiment that was deepened through their collective experience.”

Before Lasota arrived at the conference, for example, she was already training to teach community preparedness. After the weekend in Albany, she also plans to get trained to be a citizen CPR trainer, and to help out with fundraising and event planning.

Take the first step in making a difference in your life and the lives of others by being a part of a Red Cross Campus Club. Join the nearly 50,000 young adults ages 19-24 who make a difference as American Red Cross volunteers.

For information on existing clubs, and easy guidelines for starting a new club on your campus, visit the school clubs pages of the Red Cross public Web site. For additional assistance, contact at American Red Cross national headquarters.