By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer
January 1, 2021- I first stepped into the American Red Cross’ Cleveland office three years ago on a frigid, vibrant January morning. A few weeks earlier, I had resolved to do more to help others, to take part in making the world a bit better. Since then, I have taken on various volunteer roles, each of which has been challenging and exceptionally rewarding. I have gotten to see the relief and hope on people’s faces when assisting after a disaster, had the honor of sharing extraordinary life stories on this blog, assisted first responders during major events, and have seen communities pull together to donate blood or begin to move on after a disaster. I have also seen the incredible levels of dedication and caring from Red Cross staff and fellow volunteers. Through it all, I have learned a great deal about myself, our community and humanity.
As you consider your New Year’s resolutions, please consider volunteering with the Red Cross. While there are several opportunities, depending on your skills and interest, below are brief overviews of needed roles in the Northern Ohio region:
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Disaster Action Team (DAT), several positions are available. To give a sense of DAT’s vital importance, in 2020, members responded to nearly 1,200 events in Northern Ohio, most of them home fires, and provided more than $1 million dollars in financial assistance. Several DAT members also deployed nationally following major disasters. Several safeguards are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, including responding virtually when possible. For more information, click here.
There are several roles for those interested in helping the Red Cross collect and transport blood. In fiscal year 2020, the Northern Ohio Red Cross created 506,000 life-supporting blood products to help patients in 80 hospitals across Northern Ohio, all with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Open volunteer roles include:
- Blood Donor Ambassadors (must be at least 16 years of age) to assist during blood drives
- Blood Transportation Specialists to deliver blood products to processing labs and hospitals
- Blood Donor Transporters in Holmes and Wayne counties to drive donors to appointments
For details on Biomedical Services, visit redcrossblood.org.
Services to the Armed Forces (SAF)
If you would like to help support those in the U.S. military, veterans, and their families, there are several opportunities. These include facilitator roles for mental health professionals as well as caseworker and other roles. In 2020, the SAF group completed 5,500 case services for military families and delivered “Get to Know Us” briefings to nearly 5,400 military members and their families before deploying from Northern Ohio. Many positions are currently operating virtually during the pandemic but will return to in person when possible. More information on how the Red Cross serves the military community is available here.
If you are interested in these or other volunteer positions, visit this web page. More information on assistance provided in 2020 is available here. To read the national Red Cross “Resolve to Volunteer” press release, click here.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer