By Sharon Nicastro, American Red Cross Volunteer
(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays written by volunteers for the American Red Cross in the Northeast Ohio Region)
My first exposure to the Red Cross was in the 1960s when I took a first aid course in middle school. I maintained my connection to the Red Cross through the 70s and 80s by taking additional training. By 1990 I had become a member of the first aid team and blood drive recruiter at my workplace and a Red Cross volunteer instructor. I graduated from the Cleveland Red Cross EMT-Basic program in 1999. The next year I joined Disaster Services as a member of the Disaster Action Team and Disaster Health Services. I have since added Government Liaison, Disaster Assessment, and Training to my disaster activities. Last year I became an instructor for Volunteer Services and a volunteer partner of the Regional Director for Service to the Armed Forces (SAF). For SAF, I participate in outreach events to acquaint service members, veterans, and their families with Red Cross services and coordinate Red Cross volunteers who serve at Veterans Affairs medical facilities.
SAF is especially important to me because of my family’s military service. My five great-uncles served in World War II. My father was one of the pioneers of the U.S. Army Air Forces where he was a navigator on a B-17. One of my uncles served during the Korean War with the U.S. Air Force; another uncle was in the U.S. Army; my brother-in-law was in Thailand during the Vietnam War; and my nephew did a tour of duty in Saudi Arabia with the U.S. Air Force. Especially because of my father’s stories and patriotism I have some understanding of the courage and sacrifice that is required of service members and their families.
The American Red Cross has a long, distinguished history of service to military members and their families. At outreach events I meet people who were helped by the Red Cross and are grateful to this day. At the American Red Cross I can do my part by ensuring that services – sometimes life-altering services – are available to the men, women, and families of our military.
Sharon Nicastro lives in Independence, and serves residents of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. She has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1990.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, or to begin an application, visit our volunteer page or call 216-431-3328. To help the Red Cross train volunteers and provide them with the resources needed to assist people who experience disasters, big and small, visit our Giving Day page.