By Debra R. Cox, American Red Cross volunteer
Despite the multitude of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, our community members have been fortunate to stand witness to people stepping forward to meet the needs of others. People who overcame their own fears to bring lifesaving services to those most impacted, most vulnerable, most fearful, and most in need of comfort. The American Red Cross plays a valuable role in these moments, rallying resources, including volunteers, to alleviate the suffering brought on by any one or more of an exacerbation of events, such as a home fire, a wildfire, an earthquake, or flooding.
Among a plethora of activities during 2020, the Red Cross Southern California Region responded to hundreds of local disasters, including home fires, wildfires, and flooding, providing help to thousands of people impacted by these emergencies, as well as working hard to garner desperately needed blood donations, including donations of convalescent plasma to help with treatment of the most seriously ill COVID-19 patients. These responses would not have been possible without the kindness and compassion of Red Cross volunteers.
These well-trained Red Crossers stand resolute, ready to respond at a moment’s notice, determined to be one of the many hands that reach out to aid a suffering fellow human being, to be the heart that beats to the rhythm of hope in helping others overcome adversity. While the acts of compassion speak for themselves, there is an underlying theme that is crucial to our social evolution: human kindness.
There are countless children around the globe who have become the physicians, social workers, collaborators, problem-solvers, and other humanitarians who reach out to others in their most vulnerable moments, citing their own experiences as children themselves, as they watched people come to their aid and to the aid of others. Those of us who have raised children know especially well the power of example - that even when we were not thinking of our children paying attention to our deeds, they repeated them, sometimes months or years later. Therefore, it is especially salient for us to be conscious of the power of example in influencing what others decide to do.
This power of example is seemingly even more crucial in an age of social media influencers and platforms. Once made aware, often people will join a cause and contribute to a resolution for an individual, a family, or a community confronted with disasters beyond their control.
Kindness shapes lives and hearts. Kindness can beget even more kindness. Clearly, it is up to us. It is one of the many reasons we volunteer, and it matters. Our children are watching.
To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer. To make a financial donation, please visit redcross.org/donate.