To many people, the American Red Cross is synonymous with blood donation or disaster relief. However, it should be synonymous with the word ‘opportunity’ - more specifically, the opportunity to make a difference. At the Red Cross, endless avenues are available for volunteers to get involved.
This summer, Mihika Mehra realized just how impactful an opportunity at the Red Cross can be. When asked about what she has learned from her about volunteering at the Red Cross, Mihika said, “Even the smallest thing that you do, errands or whatever, is going to make a big difference, even if you don’t see it, or even if you don’t realize that it’s going to help someone in some way. Every little thing can make a big difference.”
She embarked on her Red Cross journey with an email sent out in February. At the time, Mihika had been looking for organizations that would be able to provide her with summer volunteering options. As many 15-year-olds may know, finding volunteering opportunities is no easy task. However, at the Red Cross there is no shortage of them, for any age group. When Mihika decided to contact the Red Cross, she was instantly directed to apply online at redcross.org/volunteer and she set up her profile on Volunteer Connection to get started. Since she was still a few months removed from the summer programs, she dove in and began volunteering at the Red Cross’ famous “Service Saturdays” for youth volunteers.
When school ended and summer began, Mihika became a part of the youth Student Trainee American Red Cross (STARC) program. Working with the Development team, she has gained experience with the nuts and bolts of fundraising and works with people who are interested in supporting the Red Cross.
As one of the Red Cross’ youngest volunteers of the month, Mihika has proven her passion and commitment to her work at the Red Cross by eagerly taking advantage of every opportunity to devote her time and energy to a variety of tasks. She has already surpassed the expected 60 hours of volunteering for the STARC program and plans to do even more. Her colleagues state that, “The best part is that she is not trying to meet any kind of hours requirement, she's just here to work because she enjoys it!” To Mihika, volunteering is more than just a commitment of hours. She says, “To me volunteering means devoting your time to a better cause and opening the door to opportunities for someone else even if it means giving up your time.”
As a STARC volunteer, her tasks range from small but valuable office assignments, such as organizing the warehouse and office, to larger projects, such as outreach for the Real Heroes Awards Breakfast, which will be held this year on Friday, October 12.
The Real Heroes Awards Breakfast is an annual Red Cross event in which community members are recognized for noteworthy actions, including saving a life, performing an extraordinary act of compassion, or demonstrating an exceptional spirit of giving. Mihika loaned her assistance to this project by gathering the contact information for organizations and reaching out to them to encourage nominations – and her help paid off with making this the largest and most diverse collection of nominations yet!
Mihika also jumped at the chance to volunteer at a company health fair as a representative for the Red Cross. Although this fair was her first tabling event, she managed the booth on her own. This event was her most memorable moment so far. “People were coming up to me while I was handing out booklets and other stuff and some people would come up and wonder how old I was. It taught me that you don’t have to be a specific age to volunteer, no matter how old you are or how young you are, you can still get out there and support.”
Mihika’s favorite thing about volunteering at the Red Cross is knowing that even though she can’t necessarily see the immediate difference she is making in her day-to-day activities, she knows that everything she’s doing is making a difference in the bigger picture and helps the organization overall. Additionally, she’s grateful that her experience here has given her effective communication skills and shown her what it’s like to work with adults. “It’s definitely opened a door for me,” she says.
For Mihika and so many other volunteers, the Red Cross has provided a wealth of opportunities to make an impact on their community. And each day, volunteers leave the office fulfilled with the knowledge that their work is making a difference in someone’s life.
The Red Cross is always looking for more volunteers. Join Mihika and thousands of other compassionate humanitarians by visiting redcross.org/volunteer to become a volunteer or find volunteer opportunities near you.