Earlier this summer, First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off United We Serve, the national call to volunteer service. Initiated on June 22, the program runs for 81 days and culminates with a National Day of Remembrance on September 11.
American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern recognized United We Serve as an opportunity for the Red Cross to provide meaningful experiences to new volunteers wanting to serve in their communities.
The program is midway to completion and for the Red Cross, United We Serve is doing just what it is designed to do-involving more people in service.
Ohio. The Muskingum Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is headquartered in Zanesville, Ohio, a small town of 27,000. The chapter needs more blood donors and disaster action team volunteers.
"If we could jump on the United We Serve bandwagon and get more blood donors and local disaster volunteers, how exciting would that be?" says executive director Dan Hartman.
Recently, Hartman appealed for new volunteers during an interview on local television and was rewarded when new people called in to sign up.
Nebraska. In Omaha, the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross has also been recruiting new volunteers through United We Serve. Suzanne Winkler, director of Human Resources, has seen a surge in volunteers that has allowed the chapter to expand some of their services.
Many of the new volunteers have been youth, recruited through the Internet. Winkler tells about a group of middle school girls who made tray servers for the local Veterans Administration hospital. In three hours of calling, another group of 12 new youth volunteers made 70 blood donor appointments.
Youth volunteers' parents are also becoming involved. Two mothers of the girls working on the VA project want to become registered Red Cross volunteers. Winkler also received a call from one of the mothers wanting to donate historical Red Cross uniforms once worn by her mother.
California. Located in one of the most disaster-prone counties in the country, the Ventura County Chapter of the American Red Cross in Camarillo relies on volunteers to respond to 70 single-family house fires every year.
With 15 employees and 1,200 volunteers, the Red Cross mission could not be fulfilled without these selfless individuals.
Maria Sanchez, director of development and communications, says United We Serve has given the chapter a boost in volunteer recruitment. "We've found that some of the folks who have jumped up have extraordinary talents and a diverse set of skills."
Contact your local chapter to find out what volunteer opportunities they have available.
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.