Liliana Crespo's volunteer journey with the American Red Cross did not begin in the United States. Her story started in 1998 in her hometown Barranquilla, Colombia. At the time, Liliana was searching for a way to serve her community at home better. The people of Colombia must face frequent earthquakes, a rainy season, hurricanes, and even the threat of volcanoes. In addition to natural disasters, Cololmbian citizens endured decades of conflict.
Liliana felt called to help and be prepared to aid her community whenever there was a need. She saw the work of the Colombian Red Cross and felt called to volunteer.
More than 20 years later, Liliana's relationship with the Red Cross has continued through her volunteer work in the Carolinas. She teaches fire prevention, general safety, and disaster preparation to her local Hispanic community. Two of the programs that she supports are the ‘Pillowcase Project’ and ‘Prepare with Pedro.’ Both are preparedness education programs that teach students about personal and family preparedness, safety skills, local hazards, and basic coping skills. Liliana often takes this program to events and churches in Hispanic communities.
Liliana's commitment to her local community can be seen in numerous ways that she serves. She dedicates time to volunteer at the Youth Drug and Alcohol Prevention Alliance, the Latino Faith and Health Coalition, and with the elderly through the program ‘Put Life to Your Years.’ Liliana says the worst thing that could happen is to know that someone was in need and that you could help, but that you didn't do anything. She believes that you should go above and beyond for someone else.
People ask Liliana if her volunteer work makes her tired, and she responds, "if I don't do this, how will they know?" Liliana frequently meets people who aren't aware of the work of the American Red Cross and is eager to share with them about services in their community. She wants people to understand that there are resources available if there is a need and that help is within reach.
Liliana is also committed to celebrating Hispanic heritage and promoting Colombian culture in schools, festivals, and special events. Liliana believes that it is essential to remember your roots because your background is beautiful. No matter how far you are from home, remembering where you come from keeps you humble. Liliana is proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month because she is grateful for her heritage and the traditions that her parents shared with her. To Liliana, being Hispanic is beautiful because rooted in her culture is the essence to help people.
Wherever she goes, Liliana always encourages others to volunteer. She points out that the American Red Cross needs more Spanish-speaking volunteers and speakers of other foreign languages. She stresses that volunteering doesn't take a full-time commitment and encourages people to get involved with short-term assignments, such as making goodie bags, donate, or helping to set up for the events.