“Wherever disaster calls there I shall go.” That’s the creed of the American Red Cross nurse.
Red Cross nurses have been bringing comfort and alleviating suffering for more than 125 years, since Clara Barton founded the organization in 1881.
Generations of Red Cross nurses pioneered a public health service that provides care to communities without health care access, responded as a reserve nurse corps in two world wars and influenced aspects of care received in our Veterans Affairs system.
To ensure future generations of nursing staff, the Red Cross runs several programs that prepare and engage nursing students in volunteerism.
One of these is the Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship program, named after Jane Delano who formalized Red Cross nursing in 1909. The scholarship is established to advance nursing as a career option and to involve new nurses in the Red Cross.
Three student nurse volunteers are the most recent recipients of the Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship. All three hold promise as future Red Cross nurses who will serve their communities during disasters, assist with blood drives, function as nurse volunteers in the Veterans Administration and military health care system, develop and teach lifesaving health and safety courses, and more.
Baksh-Griffin is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Tennessee, College of Nursing, and a volunteer at the Greater Chattanooga (Tenn.) Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. Her specialty is disaster and homeland security nursing. When she completes her studies, Baksh-Griffin plans to participate in disaster nursing through employment and volunteer work, and to conduct research in the field of disaster nursing.
At the Red Cross Baksh-Griffin is on call 24/7 to help people replace medications lost during disasters. She also helps the Chattanooga Red Cross by making health services presentations, recruiting new health service volunteers, fundraising and coordinating services with other community disaster-responding agencies.
As a new nursing graduate living in New York City in 1999, Baksh-Griffin began volunteering with the Red Cross as a way to learn more about “relief” work. Then on September 11, 2001, her older brother, Michael, perished in Tower One of the World Trade Center.
“Ironically, though the Red Cross exposed me to disaster services, I could never have imagined that one day I would be a recipient of disaster services myself,” Baksh-Griffin says. She goes on to say that the experience tempered her soul for her chosen field of study.
Morgan Bickerstaff became a Red Cross volunteer just days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005. At the Southern Maine Chapter (Portland) she became a disaster volunteer and started teaching First Aid and CPR. Within a year, Bickerstaff was hired to the full-time position of Emergency Services Director.
While a Red Cross employee, she recruited and trained a strong volunteer network that continues to respond to more than 145 house fires every year. The team also provides shelter services during floods, ice storms and other natural disasters.
Four years later, Bickerstaff resigned her Red Cross position to pursue an accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at the University of Southern Maine. Even though she is attending school full-time, Bickerstaff has continued her volunteer service as a lead Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer and the chair of the Maine State Consortium for Disaster Readiness.
When she graduates, Bickerstaff plans go into emergency medicine or field work. She also hopes to have the opportunity to work with veterans.
Volunteering with the American Red Cross is also in her future. “I choose to be highly involved with the Red Cross because I know that our work makes a difference,” she says.
A B.S. candidate at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, Becker says she is “dedicated to serving others”.
Becker is employed at the Siouxland Area Chapter of the American Red Cross through the work/study program. However, she has gone beyond her paid position, giving countless hours of volunteer service.
A member of the Club Red Youth Program, Becker helps recruit other young adult Red Cross volunteers. Following the earthquake in Haiti, she volunteered her time to raise funds on the Briar Cliff University campus.
She became an American Red Cross CPR instructor, and teaches Basic Aid Training to 4th grade students in Sioux City public schools. Becker also participates in classes that teach kindergarten students how to prevent germs by properly washing their hands—often donning the Scrubby Bear costume and playing the part of the program mascot.
Before attending college, Becker volunteered at Red Cross blood drives in her hometown of Creighton, Nebraska. She is also a Certified Nursing Assistant.
“Her kind personality and dedication fits well with the American Red Cross,” says former volunteer coordinator Kim Coon. This spring the Red Cross surprised Becker with a Hero Award.