Watching fireworks at home on the Fourth of July, American Red Cross volunteer Jennifer Glen received a response alert to help 100 people suddenly displaced by a fire.
Arriving at the scene, she and another volunteer found families “in distress with just the clothes on their backs and a few belongings they were able to grab before running out.” Together, they helped secure emergency lodging and transportation to a local hotel for the residents stranded outside.
“Families were relieved knowing that they had a place to sleep for the night,” said Jennifer, who also provided financial assistance for necessities like food, comfort kits with toiletries, blankets and a stuffed animal for a displaced child. “It brought me almost to tears when I left that night knowing that I had made an impact on many families who had completely lost everything in their home.”
Jennifer is among more than 300,000 people who volunteer each year with the American Red Cross, which was named the top volunteering organization of 2020 by LinkedIn, based on having the highest average number of monthly volunteers in the U.S.
Volunteers represent more than 90% of the Red Cross workforce — and many like Jennifer joined during the coronavirus pandemic. Industry-wide, the number of people in the U.S. adding volunteer experiences to their LinkedIn profile each month has more than doubled this year, compared to the monthly count in 2017.
“As an aspiring physician, I have always had the passion to help others especially during jarring and beleaguering times,” said Jennifer, who is studying for the MCAT to apply to medical school. “Especially during this pandemic where there is more dire need, I knew I had to give back somehow while practicing social distancing.”
In just nearly six months, Jennifer says she’s made a positive difference — both for her neighbors and herself.
“It brings joy and warmth to my heart to know I can make an impact within my community in both English and Spanish,” she added.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to find an opportunity near you. Any amount of time you can give makes a difference. Virtual and in-person positions following social distancing protocols are available, including these most-needed opportunities:
- Disaster Health Services Associates and Supervisors: Are you a licensed health care professional? We need volunteers who can work in emergency disaster shelters to help assess people’s health and provide hands-on care in alignment with their professional licensure (RN and LPN/LVN). We also need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters; this could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.
- Blood Donor Support: The Red Cross has a high-priority need for blood donor ambassadors, who welcome visitors to Red Cross facilities or blood drives and take their temperature before they enter. Visitors could include potential blood donors, people seeking help, course participants, and Red Cross employees and volunteers. We also have a high-priority need for transportation specialists to help deliver blood from our facilities to local hospitals.
- Shelter Service Associates and Shelter Supervisors: Due to predictions for an active hurricane and wildfire season and the complexities of COVID-19, the Red Cross needs thousands of volunteers to care for people when disasters strike in their communities. Volunteers help support emergency shelters by staffing different areas, including reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks.
You can also help people through the Red Cross by making a financial gift or donating lifesaving blood. Visit redcross.org to learn more.