By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
When Dhanu Desai, Riverside County Volunteer of the Month, began volunteering with the American Red Cross in 2018, he envisioned working as a Blood Donor Ambassador, an assignment he describes as “right up my alley.” As a student at UCLA who planned to attend medical school after graduation, Dhanu saw the Red Cross as an excellent place to develop the skills needed for successfully working in a team environment - skills that would support his work in medical school and beyond.
The Red Cross soon recognized Dhanu’s team-building expertise and asked if he would consider becoming a Youth Engagement Lead for Riverside and San Bernardino Counties’ Youth Advisory Council. “At first, I wasn’t sure. I had never worked with kids before,” said Dhanu. “But I soon discovered we share many of the same experiences.”
Dhanu and the 700 youth volunteers he works with are committed to serving others. “The Red Cross keeps the boat afloat for people, caring for them in their time of need and making people whole after they have experienced personal trauma. The Red Cross also works on prevention, with events like Sound the Alarm.” Dhanu describes the students he works with as high performing and ambitious, noting that working with these students has brought him a new sense of confidence and uncovered some hidden skills. “The Red Cross is an environment where everyone wants to learn,” said Dhanu. “When you work in a positive environment, it becomes easier to approach other people and to learn from them.”
Dhanu’s involvement with the Youth Advisory Council has made a profound difference in his life. “The Red Cross makes you want to be a better, more effective person,” said Dhanu. When he enters medical school next year, Dhanu will focus on a career in pediatric medicine. “Working with these students has restructured my whole career path,” said Dhanu. “The same nature and personality that moved me toward medicine, moved me toward the Red Cross. I want to serve and to alleviate the situations that cause people pain.”
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.