Mira Yang of Westfield is a valued American Red Cross New Jersey Region youth volunteer. The 16-year-old Union County Magnet High School Junior donates her free time to helping fulfill the Red Cross mission by participating in a number of Red Cross programs.
An avid supporter in the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, Mira has participated in more than five campaign canvassing events where she and her fellow volunteers teamed up with local fire departments and went door-to-door in high fire risk areas offering free smoke alarm installations in homes that needed them and teaching families about fire safety.
She finds it rewarding being able to give people access to crucial protection from possible home fires. She also enjoys how the program brings volunteers together and allows her to meet people from different backgrounds. She was able to meet interesting youth and adult volunteers from all over the state.
Mira also volunteers as a Youth for Disaster responder. Red Cross Youth for Disaster is a newly developed program in New Jersey that trains high school students to be able to respond during times of disaster to assist with sheltering, feeding and distribution of relief supplies.
She believes that this program is very influential because it “breaks boundaries” between the youth and adult volunteers as the Youth for Disaster volunteers work alongside the Disaster Cycle Services volunteers. To date, nearly 70 New Jersey high school students have been trained through the Youth for Disaster program.
“The program is important because it trains youth to become shelter workers, preparedness presenters, and hopefully in the future Disaster Action Team volunteers,” said Mira.
Mira’s best memory while volunteering for the Red Cross is planning the Youth for Disaster Program. She enjoyed writing the script and doing the voiceover for a video that helped to recruit as many as 50 people into the program.
Similar to the Home Fire Campaign, she likes that the Disaster Program allows youth members meet different volunteers from around the state.
With any time left free in her busy schedule, Mira strives to participate in local blood drives where she serves as a blood drive ambassador who registers blood donors and helps keep them comfortable during their visit.
More than 1.68 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. As an aspiring medical oncologist, Mira is happy to be able to help bring blood product to patients in need.
When asked about what to say to teens who are considering joining Red Cross, Mira replied, “I'd say that the Red Cross is a volunteering experience that has something for everyone, whether you are into fundraising, public speaking, blood drives, disaster response, or just simply meeting new people. You receive volunteer hours and also really rewarding experiences helping the community and making a difference in the lives of other people.”
BECOME A VOLUNTEER Every single day, the American Red Cross helps people in emergencies. It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things. The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. For more information or find a volunteer orientation near you, visit redcross.org/NJ.
By Matthew Iwaniura, American Red Cross Youth volunteer