People say that volunteers are love in motion. That description certainly fits Ross Ogden, a Red Cross volunteer for more than 50 years.
Recently Ogden talked about some of the gifts that have come into his life because of his volunteer service:
“I’ve had the opportunity to serve others at a time in their lives when they’ve needed it the most.
“I’ve sat by the bedside of a cancer patient receiving a life-giving transfusion, knowing that my blood and the blood of those I’ve recruited and helped through the donation process would make him stronger and more alert, almost miraculously.
“I’ve given CPR to a heart attack victim and I’ve used a defibrillator to try to save a life.
“I’ve sat in a small hospital room through the night with a sailor whose young wife had just committed suicide, trying to comfort him, but mostly just letting him know I cared.
“I’ve fed, clothed, and sheltered the victims of tornados, floods, earthquakes, and fires after they had lost all they had.”
Ogden expressed gratitude for the business training he has received during his half century as a Red Crosser—he has learned about governance, communications, the media and crisis response.
The Red Cross sent him to Harvard to study leadership. Such varied locations as the bayous of Louisiana, the mountains of West Virginia, the streets of New York and strife-torn villages in Macedonia provided on-the-job cultural sensitivity training.
Finally, Ogden gave thanks for the Red Cross friends he has made over the past decades. Ogden has made a lot of Red Cross friends.
A member of the Board of Governors for the maximum six years allowed, Ogden now holds the distinguished post of National Chair of American Red Cross Disaster Services. He has held virtually every volunteer position available and has rolled up his sleeves and helped with large jobs and with small jobs wherever he is needed.
The American Red Cross gave Ogden the Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service, the highest recognition the organization can give to a volunteer. Love filled the room as colleagues rose to their feet to honor Ogden’s extraordinary accomplishments.
From the stage, Ogden returned that love. “It’s not the award for which I am most grateful,” he told the audience. “Instead, it’s the volunteer experience the Red Cross has given me that I truly appreciate.”
Ogden has learned that the power of voluntary service is virtually limitless. In this New Year, join Ross Ogden and thousands of Red Cross volunteers who make a difference in their communities. Contact your local Red Cross; 2011 is a great year to serve, to learn and to make new friends.