About five years ago, Adrian Molina, a volunteer from the American Red Cross South Florida Region, came to the realization that one of the things that brought him joy was helping others, others less fortunate and others who might have gone through the same challenges he’s gone through in life.
“Nobody is born with a manual on how to be a human,” he says. “There is a lot of isolation; people trying to figure it out and I thought that out of my challenges I could do something positive which is helping. I decided to volunteer. I joined different non-profits, but I always admired the work of the Red Cross.”
Living in Miami, Adrian is no stranger to disasters. A friend suggested he check the Red Cross website for volunteer opportunities, he did and that was the beginning of his volunteer career. Within the first few months of becoming a volunteer, he raised his hand to deploy to the Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Ida.
Adrian deployed prior to Ida making landfall, starting in Alabama, quickly was moved to a shelter in Mississippi where he stayed until Ida passed. Shortly after, he left for Louisiana where most of the damage and help were needed. “It was humbling to be surrounded by so many Red Cross volunteers from around the country,” he says.
Because this was his first deployment, he didn’t quite know what to expect. “I’ve never before experienced the devastation disasters can cause first-hand,” he says. “I was amazed at the level of organization that the Red Cross has in order to provide the much-needed support to entire communities who were devastated. From the logistic teams, sheltering, damage assessment, I was impressed and so grateful to be able to be part of it.”
Adrian shares the highlight of his deployment was being able to provide food and water to the many clients who had no power, no food and no water. “Every time they would see me coming out of the Red Cross car, their faces lit up.” Some of them didn’t have water and were experiencing severe dehydration. Others refused the food or water Adrian was offering and kindly asked him to give it to their neighbors. He says, “The sense of community I witnessed was heartwarming and inspired me to come back and continue learning from the Red Cross and help whenever I can.”
Adrian has realized that when he gives himself to others, he feels happier; when the happiness of others is as important as his own, he feels full. He has found his true purpose in this life. “We can always help each other. We must. Red Cross makes this process so easy. There are so many ways that you can contribute to the Red Cross and help others,” says Adrian.
Oftentimes you hear Red Crossers talk about “touching the mission.” This means seeing the Red Cross mission first-hand and seeing it at work. Deploying to a disaster relief operation is an incredible way to touch the mission. Seeing those in need and being the person that provides them with the relief and assistance they need is one of the most gratifying feelings and one that stays with you forever. To join our lifesaving mission, visit redcross.org/volunteer.
By Siara Campbell, American Red Cross Public Affairs