By Noreen Walton, American Red Cross volunteer
As the mother of four children, ages five to 13, and the wife of an active-duty Infantry Officer at Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County, May 2022 Volunteer of the Month Sissi Aguilar-Knotts understands the importance of having American Red Cross offices on military bases. “Every base we’ve ever been on, including overseas, has a Red Cross office. It’s located right on base.” When Sissi and her family were stationed at Ft. Irwin, she began looking for volunteer opportunities for herself and her 13-year-old son, Ethan. The Red Cross was the natural choice.
In the three months that Sissi has volunteered at Ft. Irwin, she has “hit the ground running,” setting up a Red Cross Teen Club for students and ensuring the students she serves are engaged and successful. “Like a lot of military parents who move around quite a bit, my husband and I decided to homeschool our children,” Sissi explained. “Our Red Cross Teen Club is a mix of home-school and traditional-school students and the Club is a great opportunity for kids who don’t have a chance to meet at school to get to know and work with each other.” Members of the Teen Club acquire important social skills that include creating a welcoming environment for new members, practicing public speaking skills and becoming committed members of society. As Sissi reminds them, “When you wear your Red Cross T-shirt, you represent more than yourself. When people see you, they see the Red Cross.” Sissi is proud of the students she works with, including her son Ethan who serves as Vice President of the Teen Club.
Sissi brings a wide range of skills to her work with the Red Cross. Born in Brazil, she is fluent in four languages and has supported Disaster Cycle Services at Ft. Irwin by providing translations for clients who had lost their home in a fire. Currently studying online at BYU-Idaho to become a teacher, Sissi is also certificated in Child and Family Advocacy. This summer she will attend the International Humanities Law (IHL) seminar, a program designed to train youth in the rules governing conflicts and wars. “This is especially important for the children of service men and women who may be directly involved in these kind of conflicts,” Sissi said.
When asked to describe a memorable moment as a Red Cross volunteer, Sissi said “There is no one moment. Every time I am with the youth – seeing them working together to help others – I feel a sense of happiness and contentment.” Her message to current and future Red Cross volunteers is simple and convincing. “It’s the Red Cross. It’s a great space for doing good for others. Whatever you do, put your heart into it. Everything else then falls into place.”
To learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.