By: Jay Lawrence
A last-minute decision catapulted Greg Geihsler into a whirlwind year volunteering with the Red Cross Young Professionals, changing his life and introducing him to what he hopes to do for a long time. Not coincidentally, Geihsler got involved at the start of the group’s breakout year in Atlanta.
“I always thought the Red Cross was about blood donations and about going to major disasters, but I had no idea about the day-in, day-out help they give people,” he says. “It’s something I want to do for the foreseeable future.”
Geihsler, a 35-year-old electrical design engineer for Procter & Gamble, has been a spark plug for the Young Professionals, said its chair, Sarah Kate Pospisil, also a board member of the Metro Atlanta Red Cross.
“If Greg hears about something he’s there,” she said. “He’s always one of the first to jump at any opportunity to give back and he’s there with a smile.”
In the past year the group, just three years old, has adopted a constitution, set requirements for membership, met every six weeks, and volunteered together regularly. It initiated its biggest fundraiser – raising $3,900 to pay for a blood drive, which it has almost completed.
Geihsler, a blood donor for years, got involved after seeing a spot for the Red Cross one night on CNN. He went to redcross.org, found a smoke alarm installation event the next day, and signed up.
“Greg more than showed up,” recalled Luke Lindsey, Red Cross Young Professionals staff liaison. “He worked hard from the moment he arrived, repeatedly going back into the neighborhood to install as many smoke alarms as he could.”
That caught the eye of two existing group members, who recruited Geihsler. Then he learned how often the Red Cross responds to home fires. He wanted to be a part of that, even after his one-year commitment to the Young Professionals ended.
“When you’re out helping someone person-to-person, and you think of that being scaled up to the thousands, it’s so impressive how much the Red Cross gives,” he said. “And it’s all by volunteers – and all funded by donations.”
Pospisil helped by the Red Cross on the day she was born
Pospisil’s own involvement with the Red Cross started with the day she was born.
On that day in July 1994, a major flood hit Macon. The Red Cross helped her family by providing fresh water and helping to restore power. “The organization that helped me when I was born is the same one that I’m giving back to,” said the 25-year-old, who is a human potential consultant for Accenture.
Now entering her second year as chair, Pospisil and her group have just begun. The board of 10 has expanded to 15, adding a general membership category.
“We’re excited to expand our reach,” she said. “We want to create an agile network of young professionals who act and share information quickly, to benefit those helped by the Red Cross.”
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Red Cross visit redcross.org. To join the Red Cross Young Professionals group, email Luke Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.