She began her Red Cross career at age 14 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly 15 years later, Sandy Tesch Wilkins represents 7 million youth worldwide.
Like many youngsters, Sandy was bored over the summer. Yet she took the initiative to be productive, and sent an email to the American Red Cross hoping to volunteer. She received a reply inviting her to an orientation at the local Red Cross office in Concord (CA). Serendipitously, Sandy did not need directions to the office as her high school was located just across the street. After the orientation, she signed up for volunteer duty the next day. Her activities in the Red Cross Club were filled with preparedness and fundraising events, promoting the Measles & Rubella Initiative, and helping with blood drives.
Determined to continue her ties with the Red Cross, Sandy went on to establish the University of California Berkeley Red Cross Club. She served as Chair of the American Red Cross National Youth Council, and later, the National Young Professionals Council. As a member of the National Youth Council, one of the responsibilities Sandy took on was leading the Measles Champions team who raised thousands of dollars for the Measles & Rubella Initiative. On her first international trip to Gambia in 2003, she witnessed 90% of the children get vaccinated in one week. After Gambia, she went on to travel to 10 countries in 5 continents, including Haiti in 2012, on behalf of the American Red Cross. All that time, she met fellow youth volunteers working on similar ideals and goals of the world’s largest humanitarian organization.
In 2015, Sandy is in year 4 of a 4-year term with the IFRC Youth Commission. Its members advance youth policy and offer advice to leadership on all matters concerning youth and youth-related activities worldwide. The nine members of the Commission have professional backgrounds in law, entertainment, medicine, media, and labor. Current plans include the World Humanitarian Summit Youth Forum in September 2015 and the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.
Outside of the Red Cross, Sandy works for a non-profit organization in San Francisco dedicated to peace and ending human trafficking around the world. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and just recently earned an MBA from UCLA. “There is no shortage of things to do as a volunteer,” said Sandy. “I am fortunate to have as my mentors Harold Brooks, SVP International Operations for the American Red Cross and former CEO of the American Red Cross Gateway to the Golden State Region; and Bee Kong, Director of Youth and Young Adult Services for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.”
For involvement opportunities with the American Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org/support/volunteer/young-humanitarians or contact your local chapter.
Photo: Sandy Tesch Wilkins (center) with Bee Kong (left) and Kerry Khan, International Services and Service to the Armed Forces Coordinator for the Los Angeles Region (right).