Why I volunteer

Author: Amy Magallanes, Public Affairs Volunteer

I am a career parent, which is to say the last 20 years, of my 40 on earth, have been spent pouring the best parts of myself into 4 wonderful humans.  As the first of the 4 developed her wings and left for college; I was realizing the magnitude of being transplanted from one thing to another. For half my life, I have given. Time. Care. Hugs. Compassion. Kindness. Patience. As one by one my children will surely fly the coop; Even surer, is my capacity to give.

As a public affairs volunteer, Red Cross allows me the opportunity to listen. In every story I tell, I find my own.  In relating the details, I find the courage and heart each individual, or volunteer possess. I add it to my own ever growing heart.

Volunteering at Red Cross ,may be holding space for a stranger, or your neighbor, but it is also holding space for yourself. Red Cross needs volunteers to pour life into humanity. Volunteers, like me, need Red Cross to pour meaning into the words I write; or significance into the photos I capture. It builds a bridge over the gap the changes in my own life have created. It allows me to witness, first hand, the best parts of humanity.  It also connects me to other people who share the same idea; that giving of yourself with time, resource or compassion fills spaces that expand on who we are.  It allows me to give to something larger than myself, while developing new friendships and bonds.

Red Cross grants me a platform in which to reflect a little bit of myself onto those who need it. Sometimes it’s your neighbor, sometimes a stranger. Or even your own family. Be a mirror. With a smile. A hug. A meal. Your time.  The Red Cross reminds me, much like parenting does, you get back far more than what you put in.

 

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ARCSA Happenings

Hey guys, just me Sophie again! I am just going to give you all a quick overview of the events we have done this semester and how we plan to finish up.

We have had quite a busy semester so far. Back in October we had our third annual haunted house; we have this event to provide a safe environment for kids of all ages to have a safe environment to go ‘trick-or-treating’ to each booth where they also get to play games. There is also a maze that is frightfully fun. Another event (well series of events, I guess) we have done is volunteer for Safe Rides at our school. Our student government provides this service for students to ensure that they receive a safe ride home. The service runs Wednesday through Saturday and from 9pm-2am. Clubs that volunteer five times a semester receive funding for their club. It is actually quite fun volunteering for this event. There is one driver and one navigator (we call them navis for short); normally we switch around being partners every night so members can get closer to each other and not just hang out with their one friend every time they volunteer together. Also, earlier in the semester we volunteered for the Alzheimer’s walk. At the walk we were placed towards the finish line to encourage walkers to finish strong. We have also volunteered for the Causeway Classic Blood Drive at our school. The blood drive is a competition that Sac State and UC Davis has every year to encourage more student participation. Unfortunately, I am unsure of who won this year.

Some upcoming events we have include our last Safe Rides of the semester on November 20. We will definitely be volunteering again next semester! Also, we will be volunteering for the Home Fire Preparedness event on December 4th and 5th. The 4th we will be precanvasing with some local high school Red Cross clubs for the actual event on Saturday the 5th. What we will be doing is installing free smoke alarms in underprivileged areas of Sacramento for free. Our goal is to install 1000 smoke alarms that day!

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Huge ‘Thank you’ to Flowers Food Bakery

The wonderful team at Flowers Food Bakery, in Modesto, has done it again, and this time we want to extend our deepest appreciation to them for all of the generous gifts and services that they have and continue to provide.

Thursday, August 6th, to help survivors of the Mad River and Fork Fire Complexes, Flowers Food made a special delivery to our shelters that were open in Trinity County. Breakfast and snack items were served to everyone!

Last year during the King, Boles and Applegate fires the wonderful team went above and beyond to bring the community together during their time of need.

They delivered product to our emergency command center in Sacramento and to our shelter in Applegate. They even went as far as to host an amazing barbecue lunch for the volunteers and staff!

These acts of kindness fall right in line with the American Red Cross values; compassionate, collaborative, creative, credible and committed! We are truly grateful!

International Youth Day: Carolyn’s Powerful Survival Story

August 12 is International Youth Day! And the American Red Cross is celebrating our young partners like Carolyn Strzalka, President of the Red Cross Club at the University of Michigan. Carolyn is a blood recipient, a donor and a Red Cross volunteer.

Here’s Carolyn’s Inspiring Story:

Carolyn-Strzalka In high school I was an active student. I volunteered regularly at a local animal shelter and organized local food donation drives in addition to working hard on my studies. As varsity soccer captain, I ate healthy and exercised, making sure to take care of my health. So when I turned 18 and started experiencing sharp abdominal pains I knew something was not right.

When my doctor told me that I needed to have my gall bladder removed two days before moving into my college dorm I was nervous I would miss out on all the welcome week activities. As a stubborn 18 year old, I adamantly told him that after my cholecystectomy I would be going off to college. He explained to me the surgery was an out-patient surgery and I should be recovered enough to partake in any non-strenuous activities. But the day after I moved into my dorm room I knew something was not right. After not being able to keep any food down and almost fainting walking back to my dorm room I called my mom and asked her to take me to the hospital.

In the emergency room, the physicians told my parents that there was a very low chance that I would survive. I had been internally bleeding into my stomach for 3 days and my red blood cell levels were at a third of what they should have been. He suggested I receive two blood transfusions, but cautioned my parents that it may already be too late. Fortunately, the blood transfusions saved my life.

I am beyond thankful for the blood donors whose donations have allowed me to be alive today. These donors have a special place in my heart because I have type O negative blood and can only receive blood from other type O negative people.

After this experience I wanted to give back to blood donors who helped save lives like mine. However, after receiving a blood transfusion you are not able to donate blood for a year. So I began volunteering at blood drives to let people know how much their donation meant to people like me. While volunteering I got to hear inspiring stories about why other people donated blood, including stories from people who donate blood every 56 days. After experiencing the need for blood donations first hand, I now am inspired to donate every 56 days as well.

How to Get Involved:

Join Carolyn by choosing to make a difference in your community this summer with the Red Cross, either through blood donation, taking a babysitting class or volunteering. You can find more ways to get involved at RedCrossYouth.org. #ChooseYourDay

A Light in the Red Cross Family that will not be Forgotten

Red Cross volunteers are unlike any other. Not only do they help individuals and families when any disaster big or small affects their communities, they also go above and beyond to help in every area of our operations. What makes our volunteers unique is the bond they form amongst other Red Cross volunteers – they become an instant family.

Today, it’s a somber day for our family of volunteers in Modesto and the entire Gold Country region as we said our final good bye’s and recollected the impact one of our own made in our communities.

Our passionately devoted volunteer Debbie Brasher passed away at home peacefully in her sleep. During her celebration of life, it was clear that she touched hundreds of people’s lives. A church full of family and friends recalled her eagerness to serve, passion for volunteering at various organizations and her desire to keep smiling and make other people grin.

Debbie volunteered for the Red Cross in our Modesto office for more than five years. Since her first time she stepped inside the office, she began training, being proactive in projects, taking a leadership role and making things happen.

“Debbie was a hard worker and a treasured volunteer,” said Debbie Calcotte, Disaster Program Manager for the Gold Country Region. “She never said no. She would take the time to do whatever assignment accurately with a smile on her face and a great attitude.”

Mrs. Brasher was involved in Red Cross event coordination for both public events as well as events organized by the chapters. She helped with documenting future shelter locations and was part of a Disaster Action Team. Debbie was deployed to Washington to assist providing food and water to clients affected by the fires a couple of years ago.

Debbie, a long-time Hughson resident began volunteering for our organization after a long career in the California court system first in Alameda County and then in Stanislaus County where she held the positions of Assistant Administrator and most recently, IT Director. She was especially honored of her volunteer work with the American Red Cross and missionary service work in India and Mississippi.

“Debbie was always compassionate towards other volunteers, everything she said was always positive,” recalls Liza Cruz, a Red Cross employee. “She is surely going to be missed.”