By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
When asked why she chose to become an American Red Cross volunteer, May 2021 San Bernardino County Volunteer of the Month Norma Alvarez is quick to respond. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid.” When she was 12 years old, storms and floods devasted Norma’s hometown in Alviso, California. She remembers the arrival of Red Cross disaster responders and the work they did to support her family and their neighbors. Norma knew, then and there, she and the Red Cross would be a good match. “I told myself, 'Someday I want to be one of those people.’”
Since 2014, Norma has volunteered in a variety of roles at the Red Cross. A dedicated Mass Care Feeding Team Member, Norma took on the role of Feeding Care Lead in the September 2020 El Dorado wildfire. Since then, she has operated as Feeding Team Lead on four additional disaster responses. Norma explains the responsibilities – and the great satisfaction – that comes from her work with the Feeding Team. “It is our job to make sure that everyone is fed with the proper diet. We feed people with food allergies, vegetarians, pescatarians. We make sure each baby gets the formula they need.” She pauses. “And every night, when we’re ready to pack up and go home, when we know that people have been fed, that’s the best moment of all.”
Equally important to Norma is her role as Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Lead, thanking each volunteer involved in a disaster response and recognizing disaster volunteers’ birthdays. “Celebrating others is something I love to do. It makes my heart full,” Norma laughs, before adding, “and I like shopping!”
Norma expresses deep respect and appreciation for her fellow Red Cross volunteers. “Everyone is a hard worker. They are all devoted to the work of the Red Cross,” she says. Norma believes that it is this shared mission and sense of devotion that draws people to the Red Cross. “I would tell anyone who is thinking about joining the Red Cross: If you want to make a difference, if you want to help, and if it is in your heart to do great things, the Red Cross is for you."
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.