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Youth Volunteers Reinvigorate Houston’s Red Cross Club School Program
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Rachel J Chima and David Richardson
November 16, 2006

Several high school American Red Cross Clubs in Houston have renewed energy and strength this school year because of the leadership skills of nine youth volunteers.

These Red Cross volunteers comprise the Youth Services Committee Board of the Greater Houston Area Chapter. Board members are being recognized with a National Youth Involvement Month award, and a $500 prize for the chapter’s youth programs.

Houston is home to several Red Cross High School Clubs, organizations in which the Red Cross and youth work together to make their communities and the world “a better place,” and where young people develop leadership skills. Over the years, personnel changes at the schools and at the local chapter that resulted in a break down in communication and fewer community volunteer opportunities for many student club members.

A group of remarkable students have reversed the situation, taking the initiative and responsibility to rebuild the relationship between high school clubs and the Red Cross chapter, and to heighten club visibility on school campuses. The group originated a 2006-2007 school year kick-off party to recruit new members and reestablish the relationship between student members and local Red Cross offices. The party drew more than 200 participants and local television stations.

“It was an amazing event,” said Youth Program Coordinator Rachel Chima. “The Youth Services Committee Board made ground breaking event history at the Greater Houston Area Chapter.”

Volunteers have always been the heart of the American Red Cross, and young people have always been among those volunteers. In fact, more than a quarter-of-a-million Red Cross volunteers are 24 years old or younger.

As a Red Cross volunteer, youth and young adults have opportunities to learn new skills and reach out to their local communities and across the globe. Volunteers can organize other teens and young adults by forming a Red Cross club to support national and international Red Cross programs, coordinate a blood drive program, or become part of the Red Cross local disaster response team.

To learn more about Red Cross or for information about becoming a volunteer, visit RedCross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through 775 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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