Ahava Martin is not a volunteer but she coordinates and works directly with American Red Cross volunteers on countless occasions. Martin is the West Region Manager for the Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program for the Red Cross. She has worked with the Red Cross for 35 years; for 13 of those years, Martin has overseen Red Cross employees and volunteers who share her commitment to serve.
Since her start, Martin has traveled across the globe to Korea, Bosnia, Italy, Germany, and many other places to help support the troops. She exclaimed, "It is wonderful to travel around to so many different military bases, and see the same positive attitudes from Red Cross volunteers or employees!"
Station management teams usually help assist military families who are experiencing financial hardship or help relay some urgent family news to military members (even if they are stationed overseas). Martin's team(s) also organizes family days for service members and their loved ones, as well as sponsor reintegration events. And, of course, her team(s) helps manage the volunteer programs in military hospitals.
Martin started her career by organizing community activities at a naval hospital. She recalled, "When I had just started out, I was working with a patient who just had his hand amputated. [At first,] he didn’t want to leave his hospital room." Martin was determined to get him out of his room, so he could recover quickly on a social level by participating in group recreation activities.
She said that "eventually he started playing some of the board games in the lounge; he even won a few rounds." This built up his confidence and the social interaction "helped prepare him to move out of the hospital," she concluded.
Now, Martin oversees 11 stations involved in the emergency communications process for U.S. military personnel. Weekly meetings ensure that the management stations receive updates on the important needs of the troops. In fact, several teams have organized pet therapy programs to boost troop morale. Martin remarked, "It feels very rewarding to see the responses from the patients in military hospitals and [to know] that our programs are making an important difference."
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.