By Heream Yang, American Red Cross Volunteer
Although the American Red Cross is a venerable organization with roots reaching back to its founding in 1881, it still remains a thriving beacon of hope for our nation. The secret to its continual vitality lies in part with the passionate young people who have embraced the importance of serving those in need.
Today, youth—who make up about 20 percent of the volunteer force in America—are empowered through local Red Cross School Clubs to continue the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross. “Today’s youth aren’t just the volunteers of the future,” said Kimberly Patel, Volunteer Services Specialist, American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast. “These young people are making a difference right now in their local communities while also preparing to become leaders who make a difference in the years to come.”
The Texas Gulf Coast Region’s 35 Red Cross Clubs (four collegiate and 29 high school) provide opportunities for members to serve their communities in creative ways. Anushka Gupta, founder of the Cypress Ranch High School Red Cross Club, recently joined club members to create a fire safety video to help prevent home fire damage and participate in the Service to Armed Forces “Totes of Hope” veteran program. The club also hosted a “Zombie Apocalypse” party in late October to raise awareness about service projects and disaster preparedness as well as raise funds. “I make sure that the members complete their training and are engaged and excited about the upcoming projects that help us further Red Cross goals as young volunteers,” said Gupta.
Red Cross Clubs also provide members with valuable opportunities to support like-minded youth. For example, Gupta and fellow Youth Service Council member and Bellaire High School Chapter president Angela Liu recently trained Red Cross youth officers in the Coastal Bend and South Texas regions. “Seeing their passion and dedication has filled me with greater motivation to help young folks volunteer and participate in service projects as part of various Red Cross Clubs,” said Liu. Reflecting on her own experiences, she said “The Red Cross is so much bigger and more diverse than the Houston area bubble that I’m constantly surrounded by.”
Although Red Cross Clubs are designed for the high school and collegiate levels, their impact does not stop there. The leadership development and exposure to excellent community service will equip each member to continue serving his or her world throughout adulthood. Liu may best sum up the lasting impact of Red Cross Clubs: “I realized that I’m really a part of something huge and, no matter where I go in the future, I will always have a Red Cross family to rely on.”
Patel says the American Red Cross encourages young people to join its clubs. “We are looking for rising stars to become leaders in their school by starting a Red Cross Club,” she commented. “To get started, you will need to find a school faculty member (teacher, nurse, coach) to be your club sponsor and at least three friends to launch the club with you. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.