Volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations across the U.S., and that is particularly true at the American Red Cross.
During National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, the Red Cross is recognizing its more than half a million volunteers who provide care and comfort during disasters, support blood drives, teach lifesaving skills such as first aid and CPR, and more.
Volunteers make up 94 percent of the Red Cross workforce. According to the Independent Sector, the 2012 value of volunteer time is $22.14/hour, another indication of how valuable these individuals are to the groups they serve.
Many Red Cross volunteers help in their communities as well as get trained to respond when other parts of the country are hit by a major disaster.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, more than 17,000 trained workers so far have rotated through to help affected residents. About 90 percent of them are volunteers.
Mitch Henry is one of them. Henry spent last Thanksgiving helping to prepare and serve thousands of meals to people affected by Sandy in Deer Park, Long Island, N.Y.
The Red Cross is “American people helping American people,” said Henry, when asked why he continued to volunteer for such a demanding task. “After a large operation, I often feel I’ll never do it again, but after I’ve had some time to reflect, I’m ready to go again.”
Volunteering for the Red Cross is easier than ever now thanks to a new system called Volunteer Connection. Made possible by a generous grant from W.W. Grainger, Inc., this online system easily allows new volunteers to match their skills and interests to needs across the organization.
If you want to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, go to www.redcross.org/support/volunteer to search and apply for opportunities in your community.