By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
When February 2021 Volunteer of the Month Senara Subasinghe is asked to take on a new role or responsibility with the American Red Cross, her answer is always: “Yes!” As a result, her first year of volunteering has been packed with challenges, successes and skill-building. A junior at Elsinore High School in Wildomar, Senara credits her mother for her “can do” attitude. “My mom works for the United Nations,” says Senara. “Whenever I explain my work with the Red Cross, and what I’m being asked to do, my mom gets it. She is very supportive.”
Senara began volunteering for the Red Cross at age 15, as a Summer Youth Corps Blood Donor Ambassador (BDA). Wanting to continue her work supporting Blood Services during the school year, Senara took on the role of Volunteer Engagement Lead, contacting Biomed volunteers. “I was really nervous at first to call volunteers. I’d practice what I was going to say,” she recalls. “But everyone I talked to was so nice. It built up my confidence.”
She was then offered – and accepted - another new position, onboarding and training incoming Biomed volunteers and training new volunteers leads. As a student who one day hopes to work in the medical field, Senara speaks with pride about her work teaching volunteers what they need to know and do at local blood drives and signing up these volunteers for shifts. Her team’s most recent success? “Our shift fill rate for the three counties is in the high 90’s this month.”
“Senara is a great example of how youth volunteers can take on volunteer lead positions that normally would be done by adult volunteers,” says one of Senara’s supervisors. “She has been an amazing addition to the Biomed team.”
Senara credits the Red Cross with giving her a view into the professional world. “I’ve gotten a better look at what it’s actually like to be a professional. I am a more effective communicator, more patient, more empathetic, because of my work with the Red Cross.”
To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.