At the American Red Cross, volunteers age 24 and younger do the same things as older volunteers.
Youth serve on disaster action teams, teach health and safety courses, hold positions in governance and leadership, organize blood drives, host events for military families, raise funds for their communities and for international initiatives, and more.
For example, Gaurav Kikani is a seventeen-year-old volunteer with the Clement High School Red Cross Club in Sugar Land, Texas, and with the Greater Houston Area Red Cross. He never gets bored with the many different service opportunities offered by the Red Cross.
“There are vast opportunities available when you work with the Red Cross,” Kikani says. “You can always find new ways to grow.”
His experiences back up his words. In the four years Kikani has been a Red Cross volunteer he has given blood, chaired the Red Cross Regional Youth Services Council, provided orientation training for 600 youth Houston-area Red Cross volunteers, helped create the chapter’s Web site and manned a call center during a disaster.
Kikani talks about working at the Red Cross call center during Hurricane Ike in 2008. His own family’s house was spared, so he was able to respond when the Red Cross called him and other youth volunteers.
“I talked to people trapped in their attics,” he remembers, “and a woman with a six-month-old baby, helpless and stranded. We hear about things like this on the news all of the time, but when you are there it is touching and something you don’t forget.”
What Kikani likes most about being a Red Cross volunteer is the many people he meets. He says Red Crossers are “good” and “nice.” And he says volunteering for the Red Cross is “fun.”
Kikani also appreciates the opportunity the Red Cross offers to get involved. “Volunteering is the best way to channel energy,” he comments. “Each of us has an obligation to give back to others.”
He goes on to observe that the Red Cross is a well organized non-profit, which has made his volunteer experience very satisfying and a terrific way to get away from the stresses of high school.
Recently the American Red Cross National Youth Council awarded Kikani the 2010 Navin Narayan Youth Scholarship recognizing his Red Cross service and his excellent academic record. “Gaurav Kikani embodies youth volunteer opportunities for leadership experience,” the award panel summarizes.
Kikani will be going to college next fall. He plans to continue as a Red Cross volunteer. One goal—to become a member of the local Red Cross disaster action team—a group of volunteers trained to provide relief to people affected by house fires, storms and other natural and man-made disasters.
The American Red Cross offers life-changing opportunities for youth and young adults through Red Cross School Clubs and local Red Cross chapters, Blood Services regions and military stations. Visit RedCross.org to learn how to get involved.