By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
June 2020 Volunteer of the Month Elizabeth Arredondo is constantly on the move. The mother of an eight-year-old son, Elizabeth holds two jobs: working as a Behavioral Therapist for children with autism and providing services and support for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her work with the American Red Cross includes Volunteer Engagement and Retention, Outreach Coordinator and being involved with the local Disaster Action Team (DAT) and canteen. Red Cross canteens provide food and hydration to those affected by disasters, and are also used to support first responders during Search and Rescue operations, extended law enforcement operations and disaster relief operations.
Always hard at work, it came as no surprise that Elizabeth conducted her Volunteer of the Month interview while shopping for supplies for Red Cross volunteers. She explained the reason behind her shopping trip: “Because of COVID-19, many of our Red Cross volunteers cannot be active right now. It is important to keep in touch with our volunteers and let them know they matter to us. That we appreciate them!”
The COVID virus has presented other challenges for Elizabeth and her local volunteer team as well. “We miss the personal touch. Now, when we deliver food and supplies to clients and first responders, we can’t stay and help them unpack the delivery. We can’t stay and talk. We can only drop off and go.”
A Red Cross volunteer since 2014, Elizabeth recalls her standout Red Cross moment. “A call came on Mother’s Day. The client sounded angry and frustrated. She needed help and she was an hour away, at Salton Sea.” Elizabeth and another volunteer left their Mother’s Day celebrations and drove out to meet the woman. “When we got there, we found out she had lost her home in a fire. She and her disabled son were able to escape, but everything they had was gone. As soon as she saw us, and we talked, her anger turned to gratitude. That moment definitely touched me.”
That feeling of doing something good, something special, gives Elizabeth her motivation and energy. “When friends ask me if they should volunteer with Red Cross, I always give them the same answer. I tell them, ‘Don’t do it to look good on a resume. Do it to make a difference,’” says Elizabeth.
Volunteer of the Month Elizabeth Arredondo is definitely making a difference!
For more information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.