By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
September 2022 San Bernardino County Volunteer of the Month Elena Rodriguez describes her decision to volunteer with the American Red Cross in 2019 as coming from her heart. “The mission of the Red Cross is very personal to me,” said Elena. “My mother is a cancer survivor and has relied on the Red Cross for the blood products she needed to fight her cancer. I also have a friend from high school who used plasma products as she battled cancer.”
A student at San Bernardino Valley College majoring in Biology, Elena’s Red Cross volunteer hours are focused on community outreach for Disaster Cycle Services, Service to the Armed Forces and Volunteer Services. She credits the Red Cross with strengthening her communication skills and equipping her with the people skills that are so important when reaching out to community members in need. “I was always an introvert until my aunt convinced me to volunteer with the Red Cross,” Elena said. “Working with the Red Cross staff and volunteers, I gained confidence, I made friends, and I became an extrovert!”
Elena credits the Red Cross staff and her fellow volunteers for making the work she does with the Red Cross rewarding and joyful. “Volunteers. Staff members. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Everyone has such a strong sense of compassion and a sense of joy.” For Elena, that sense of joy comes from assisting Disaster Cycle Services with their Sound the Alarm events and recruiting members from her church youth group to volunteer with the Red Cross. “I tell them volunteering with the Red Cross is good for you, whether you are a teenager, a college student, a professional or a retiree,” said Elena.
When asked to describe a Red Cross moment, a time when she knew volunteering with the Red Cross was the right decision, Elena pauses. “That moment actually came this morning. I just found out that my friend from high school, the one who had cancer, had passed. I’ve been thinking about how important plasma products were for my friend. How important the Red Cross was to her.”
Elena Rodriguez is proud of the work she does with the Red Cross. It is work that brings her a sense of accomplishment and a deep sense of joy. She encourages others to join her and discover for themselves the ways the Red Cross can change their lives.
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.