PHOENIX (July 22, 2013) – At first glance, the four AmeriCorps members at the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter don’t seem to have all that much in common. But if you talk to them for a few minutes, a binding thread emerges: For each of them, it’s the learning experience of a lifetime.
“The most surprising part of my experience has been the level of involvement and importance here,” said Holly Salas, who is from Grand Rapids, Mich. “We’ve been included in just about every department meeting, event and training process at the Red Cross. And we are getting a really good sense of the organization as a whole, not just focusing in one area of development.”
Salas came to Phoenix with a good sense of what the Red Cross is about, having volunteered for about a year with a Red Cross club at Western Michigan University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary health services, with a minor in nonprofit leadership. “I really enjoyed working with the Red Cross volunteers, assisting at blood drives and getting knowledge to students about Red Cross services and the importance of donating blood,” Salas said.
Jenna Hulke, who has worked in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru, holds a bachelor’s in biology from the University of Wisconsin. She’s taking a year off before going to graduate school. “Disaster relief has been a passion of mine since I was 14. In fact, my goal at that time was to someday work for the Red Cross,” Hulke said. “Growing up in the Midwest, we have had our fair share of tornadoes and more than our fair share of snowstorms, however, nothing as comparable or as devastating as a hurricane. How is it fair that people lose everything just because they live in a certain area?”
Likewise, Phoenix resident Crystal Robeson, who graduated from Arizona State University with bachelor’s degrees in global health and geography, learned about helping others while serving as co-president of the Destino Movement to reach Latino students at ASU. “I’m from a large family, and I’m very passionate about culture and how human beings react with one another,” Robeson said.
The AmeriCorps volunteers have been educating Arizonans about the importance of preparing for emergencies, and they’ve been responding to disasters, conducting surveys for shelter operations and mass care and participating in special events to promote the Grand Canyon Chapter’s services. “I had a lot of friends in the AmeriCorps at Portland State University, and that really sparked my interest,” said Gilbert native Dani Winhold, who holds a bachelor’s degree in African/international studies. “This fits in perfectly with my dream job – of working with people and helping them.”
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. It’s a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. The Grand Canyon Chapter, established in 1916, re-chartered in 1999 and expanded in 2003, ranks as the fifth-largest chapter nationally, serving the more than 5.1 million people in Apache, Coconino, Gila, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties. For more information on the Grand Canyon Chapter, please visit www.redcross.org/gcc, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcrossgcc or follow us on Twitter under the handle @RedCrossGCC.