Volunteer Spotlight November 2012 | Christina Unger

Volunteer Spotlight

Christina Unger

volunteer pittsburgh

This month, the Volunteer Spotlight shines on Pittsburgh volunteer, Christina Unger, for her extensive work with the local veteran community.

Volunteer Position: Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services volunteer

Current Position: Program Officer with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Christina works mainly in community outreach, organizing internationally-based educational events for high school students.

Hometown: Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Current Town: Regent Square, Pittsburgh

Favorite Thanksgiving Food: “Anything with pumpkin in it!”

How Christina spends Thanksgiving: In Greensburg, surrounded by family

So why does the spotlight shine on Christina Unger this month?

In honor of this year’s Veterans Day, the American Red Cross sheds the spotlight on Christina Unger, a veterans affairs services volunteer. Although Christina is a recent addition to the Red Cross family, she has already made a significant impact in the Pittsburgh veteran community.

“I always knew I wanted to work with veterans. Many members of my family were in the armed forces and I also spent time in South Korea, where I met service members of military conflict. I realized how much they go through and I wanted to give back and show my support.”

Although Christina now lives in Regent Square, she spent two years living abroad in South Korea. There, she taught the English language to South Korean elementary students in the public school system.

So as an international educator and current international affairs enthusiast, Christina was always familiar with the Red Cross and its global, humanitarian disaster relief work. However, when she ventured onto the local Red Cross website, Christina learned even more,

“The Red Cross does so much more than people are aware of. It doesn’t just work in global scale disaster crisis like Hurricane Katrina, but also in local emergencies, community outreach, military service and veterans affairs. The organization does a lot.”

And after she perused through the numerous Red Cross services, Christina made a quick decision.

“When I read that the local Red Cross worked in veteran services, I was sold.”

As a Red Cross volunteer, Christina works in conjunction with the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, specifically with its launch of the VA Healthcare System’s Fisher House. The Fisher House, located steps away from the VA hospital in Oakland, serves as a residence for relatives visiting veterans who are undergoing VA surgery or extensive VA treatment. The ten room house is a volunteer-led and volunteer-run project. It will officially open its doors this November. It is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.

As part of the Fisher House team, Christina will manage guest services. Her position entails coordinating volunteers, welcoming guests and giving tours to the interested public. Christina believes her new position in the Fisher House is a perfect match. She came to this realization after a brief encounter with a disabled veteran in the VA hospital,

“It was one of my first times in the VA hospital, I was walking in to submit some paperwork and I held the elevator open for a veteran in a wheelchair. He then asked if I worked at the hospital as a volunteer, I responded to him with ‘yes’ and he seemed so touched and thanked me for my service. I was so honored because in reality, I should be thanking him for his service. It was a touching moment that I will never forget.”

Christina’s passion for volunteerism and her dedication to the Red Cross veteran services has earned her this month’s spotlight. The Red Cross appreciates and welcomes, with open arms, new-comer Christina.