By Brianna Kelly, American Red Cross
The American Red Cross Southern California Region is proud to honor local veterans making a difference every day. In communities across SoCal, many veterans are serving their country a second time through their work with the American Red Cross. These hometown heroes can be found supporting the Red Cross mission as staff and volunteers across all lines of service, and as Red Cross certified instructors and trainers in the community. Read on for a Q&A to learn more about how one of these heroes, Mark George, is making an impact as a Blood Program Leader in the Red Cross Southern California Region.
When you served in the military, did you ever receive Red Cross services, or cross paths with the Red Cross?
Mark: NOT personally, however, it was ALWAYS an HONOR to see the Red Cross Mercy Ships at sea with the USS Midwaycv41, in ACTION!!
What is the biggest takeaway from your time in the military? What do you remember most?
Mark: Being home ported in Japan, living in Tokyo amongst the Japanese people, learning AND speaking Japanese (I still do). Traveling to the Philippines at least 13 times (our second home) and their GIFT of HOSPITALITY. But, the VERY BEST, is serving on the GREATEST NAVAL VESSEL EVER… USS MIDWAY MAGIC CV-41.
What drew you to your work with the Red Cross
Mark: The Red Cross is a lifesaving organization. It is called to help people around the world in times of disaster. As both a Veteran and First Responder Firefighter and Deputy Fire Marshal, I am very familiar with the heart, grit, stamina and compassion required to do life-saving work. My support of the Red Cross is personal.
Imagine my sincere joy that as Mercy Coordinator along with my wife for MERCYworldwide, the benevolent arm of my global church (International Christian Church) we have a national Red Cross Blood drive every year!
In addition, as the Founder of my own Social Enterprise H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4Life I have committed to community advocacy to ensure that no hero and his or her family should have to go through the challenges of humbling circumstances that I have experienced with my family. In my lifelong commitment to solutions for behavioral health, suicide prevention and homelessness, my organization supports homeless veterans and their families as well as Active Duty military, especially deployed families. H3 has arranged Red Cross Blood Drives in our community to raise awareness and provide opportunities to do service.
How does it feel to know that you are able to serve your country a second time through your work with the Red Cross as a Blood Program Leader?
Mark: I am grateful and humbled to continue to be a part of service to my country and those who need lifesaving blood as a Red Cross Blood Program Leader.
What is your favorite thing about being a Blood Program Leader or about the Red Cross as a whole?
Mark: My favorite thing is meeting people and building relationships around our mission of Genuine Goodwill. From the amazing directors and team members at Red Cross to the good-hearted donors who give to save lives I am humbled and honored to be part of something bigger than myself.
What would you tell someone who may be considering becoming a blood donor?
Mark: I would tell potential blood donors that the rewards are great in serving others by saving lives. In addition to helping someone in need, who could one day be YOU or someone you love, setting the example of charity and benevolence is a gift to your family and your legacy that is something the world needs much more of today.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Mark: It has been a pleasure working with the local San Diego Red Cross staff over the course of our Blood Drive programs the past few years! We look forward to many more drives together that help bring awareness to the need for blood donations in our own military community and across the country with our annual MERCYworldwide National Blood Drive campaigns.
The Red Cross Southern California Region is proud to support America’s military and veteran families, and serve those who have served our nation. Are you looking for ways to give back to our nation’s heroes and their families? You can honor those who have served by giving your time as a Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer. Sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross and start helping military families today. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more. To learn more about Red Cross programs and services available to military members, veterans and their families, visit redcross.org/military.