By Anika Kurkut, Red Cross Communications Team Intern
Debbie Yee, a dedicated Red Crosser for 23 years, turned her passion for helping others into a fulfilling career as a Senior Disaster Program Manager where she leads disaster response efforts for the Northern California Coastal Region.
Debbie first started volunteering with the Red Cross in the summer before she began eighth grade, as a requirement for volunteer service. Little did she know, this initial step would lead to a lifelong career dedicated to helping others. Her early days as a Red Cross volunteer in the Bay Area were marked by her involvement at the Leadership Development Camp (LDC), where she was able to find inspiration among fellow passionate youth volunteers. Debbie recalls, “I was organizing events at school, helping with blood drives, and fundraising.”
Debbie’s volunteer experience with the Red Cross led her to choose international relations as her college major. During her senior year, she was chosen to represent her university at an international symposium hosted in San Francisco. It was there that she had a fateful encounter with the CEO of her Red Cross region in Northern California, who met with her and offered her a position as an AmeriCorps member at the Red Cross.
“I had the background that was needed to work in the Asian Youth Program, so I decided that was a great opportunity,” she said. With her AmeriCorps position, Debbie was able to discover her passion for disaster services.
Following her AmeriCorps term, Debbie was hired on as a full-time employee with the Red Cross as a Disaster Program Manager first in Marin County followed by Solano County and others over the years. She currently serves as a Senior Disaster Program Manager, supporting 8 counties, 5 Disaster Program Managers and is responsible for planning and coordinating operations and facilitating communication with Red Cross responders during large disasters.
What Debbie cherishes most about working for the Red Cross are the people she encounters, the adventures she embarks on, and the sense of family among her colleagues. “There’s so many amazing volunteers and employees – the sheer number of people in the organization and communities that I’ve been able to meet has been incredible,” she remarked.
After experiencing this journey with the Red Cross, Debbie offers valuable advice for youth volunteers at humanitarian organizations. “It’s important to believe in what you are doing, but also keep people in the forefront.” She encourages everyone to believe in their purpose, and remember that anyone can make a difference, even in the face of adversity.
Debbie’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of passion and dedication. She reflects on her Red Cross journey as a pivotal “full-circle moment,” transitioning from her days as a compassionate youth volunteer to a seasoned professional within the Red Cross. She has embraced a life committed to making the world a better place, one community at a time.