Growing up under one roof with her extended family, Elizabeth Quintana remembers watching her grandparents and great aunt participate in church activities that served the Hispanic community and marveling that they had the energy to care for others while also working to support themselves. Today, the Virginia teenager credits them with instilling the values that guide her own commitment to community service.
Elizabeth Quintana, proud volunteer and energetic member of the American Red Cross National Youth Council.
"To this day, my grandparents and great aunt still lend their time to activities at their local parish," she says. "That helped teach me the importance of a great work ethic and to never give up when faced with obstacles."
A resident of Arlington, Virginia, Elizabeth has been volunteering with the Red Cross since she was 13 years old. Because she speaks Spanish, Elizabeth was able to translate the Arlington County Chapter's emergency preparedness video from English to Spanish. She grew very interested in youth programs that helped develop professional and leadership skills.
One summer, while visiting youth camps to teach disaster preparedness classes, Elizabeth noticed that several youngsters were easily distracted and lost interest in a video associated with the curriculum. She used the information contained in the video to develop a trivia game that engaged the youngsters and helped them learn and retain the important steps to take before and after a disaster strikes.
Still Going Strong
Elizabeth is now 19 and still going strong. She became the first youth to serve on the Arlington County Chapter's board and now serves on the American Red Cross National Youth Council, a group that promotes youth involvement and interests within the organization. As a member of the Youth Council, she lobbied successfully for the passage of a bill that designates the first week of June as National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Week." She is currently the lead for the Curriculum Committee for the 2008 American Red Cross National Youth Institute.
These and other achievements have not gone unnoticed. Elizabeth has received the President's Volunteer Service Award three times and the regional Gold Medallion Youth Award in Community Service from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. The Arlington County Chapter of the Red Cross has awarded her the Gabrielle DeThomas Outstanding Youth Award, and the chapter's community foundation honored her with the James B. Hunter III Community Hero-in-the-Making Award.
Although she has already accomplished more in the past six years than many people accomplish in a lifetime, Elizabeth continues to volunteer and seek new opportunities to serve her community. "It is our responsibility as human beings to help others," she says, echoing the lessons she learned from her family. With so many good role models in her life, it's no wonder Elizabeth is becoming one herself.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.