By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
In many ways, Renee Sabol began preparing for her work with the American Red Cross almost 30 years ago. Renee, June 2021’s Volunteer of the Month from Riverside County, explains her preparation this way: “I’ve been deeply involved with volunteer work since my children began attending elementary school. Over the years I’ve started three non-profits, opened a toy library for children, and a resource library for parents. I’ve also been a town council member and volunteered with the United Service Organizations (USO).”
Renee brought her deep sense of commitment and volunteer experience to the Red Cross in 2018. Her work with Disaster Cycle Services and the Development team turned out to be a perfect fit, tapping the organizational skills she had acquired in her previous volunteer positions. As a member of Disaster Cycle Services team, Renee ensured that all facility contacts for Riverside County were up to date in the National Disaster Shelter System’s database. As a member of the Development team, Renee has contacted every chapter department to identify their in-kind donation needs. The result is a region-wide list of items that can be referenced during donor calls.
Renee attributes her success to her Red Cross teammates. “All of us are mission focused. Everyone works hard to do good things and take care of people.” She describes her fellow volunteers as “generous, collaborative, gracious, patient, and inspirational,” adding that “every one of them has a good sense of humor.” Renee also recognizes and appreciates the support and encouragement of her supervisors Diane Gonzalez, Christine Hackett, Gerald Winkel and Brian Daly. “I am definitely successful because of them. Over the years I have seen volunteers in other organizations lose their sense of purpose. With the Red Cross you are always being asked by your supervisors ‘Do you want to do this?’ If you answer ‘Yes’ and you haven’t done this kind of work before, your supervisors are committed to helping you in any way they can.” For Renee, that help often comes in the form of in-person and online training. “I can get trained in anything I want. I can take as much training as I want, as many times as I need to.”
Along with strong teams, strong leadership, and the ability to acquire new skills, Renee credits the gratitude of the people she helps as one of the greatest gifts of being a Red Cross volunteer. “When we place clients in non-congregate sheltering, we do check-in calls twice a day to make sure they have everything they need. With all that they’re going through, people still take the time to say how much they appreciate the Red Cross. More than one client has told me, ‘We don’t know how you guys do all this. But thank you!’”
After 30 years of preparation, Renee Sabol has found her true volunteer home. “Hands down, the Red Cross is my most positive volunteer experience. It is mind blowing how much the Red Cross does.” She encourages others to join her and become part of the Red Cross volunteer community she loves. “No matter what your talents or limitations are, the Red Cross needs you and has a plan for you.”