By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer
As we come to the end of another year, many of us are thinking about what we can do to make the next year better.
Resolve to lose (or gain) weight? Resolve to spend more wisely? Resolve to be on time?
How about, resolve to volunteer?
The American Red Cross has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that pay off big time in “job satisfaction.”
“It’s a rewarding experience when you can help somebody,” said Paul Grygier.
Paul began his volunteer career as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, responding to home fires and other emergencies in Wyandot County, where he lives. In that role he brings compassion, safe accommodations and financial assistance to meet disaster-caused needs. “DAT is a good way to help people in their time of need,” he said.
Dotty Dolwick of West Park, in Cuyahoga County, finds her satisfaction as a blood donor ambassador, welcoming donors, being sure they’ve read important pre-donation materials and answering questions at a couple of blood drives a week.
“It’s a good way to get out with people,” the retired nurse said, adding that she likes the flexibility Red Cross offers its volunteers. “You get to kind of pick and choose where you go, when you go.”
Paul also leads his Red Cross chapter’s Sound The Alarm campaign, which strives to save lives by installing free smoke alarms in every home that needs one (or more). “I’m basically a mechanic,” he explained. “It’s easy for me to do. I like to help the older people who can’t get up on ladders.”
The Pillowcase Project is another of Paul’s favorites. He gives the Red Cross disaster preparedness presentations to third- through fifth-graders. “You know you’re reinforcing important lessons in an organized fashion,” he said, hoping those messages will spring to mind if the youngsters ever need them.
To explore all the volunteer roles the Red Cross has to offer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact your local chapter.
As for me, I wear a few hats with the Red Cross: Communicator, blood donor, chapter board member and financial supporter. These are all volunteer roles.
I enjoy spreading the message about what the Red Cross is doing to help people prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters large and small. Like a lot of other Red Cross activities, it’s something I can do from home; at a time of heightened COVID concern, the Red Cross has modified its activities to keep its staff, volunteers, and those we serve safe.
Serving as a board member and supporting the organization financially may be low-profile activities, but they’re vital for this organization with a big role in our society.
And don’t get me started about how rewarding it is to know that every time I donate blood, I could be saving up to three lives.
My ear, nose and throat doctor spotted my Red Cross socks and said proudly that he had just made a Power Red donation, giving two units of red blood cells at one sitting. “They even let me know where my blood is going,” Dr. Paul Biedenbach of Sandusky said. “It’s kinda cool.”
He realizes that giving the gift of life isn’t a casual act: “People need to make an effort, to register in advance. It’s not as easy as just walking into a donation site. But it’s so important.”
As someone said recently, “If I don’t do this, who’s gonna do it?”
So please, make it a happy new year and resolve to volunteer!
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer