Resolve to volunteer in the New Year with the American Red Cross

By Ryan Lang, Red Cross volunteer and board member

Bernett L. Williams, H. Peter Burg Award recipient with Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer and Board Member (Photo credit: Debbie Chitester, Red Cross)

I’ve been a board member with the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley chapter for three and a half years now. Initially, I figured I would show up to a meeting once a quarter, give a little blood, and call it a day. Little did I know how quickly I would find myself immersed in the Red Cross mission. The more I was exposed to the work the Red Cross was doing, the more I wanted to help. 

But what did I have to offer the Red Cross?  

For one, my time! And while I don’t have much of it, I had enough that I could carve out a bit for the Red Cross. It helped that the Red Cross was flexible and worked around my schedule. I told them what time I had and they told me where and when I could help.   

The Red Cross also worked with my particular skillset, finding the best way for me to help. Given my background in multimedia and the news, the Red Cross placed me with their Communications team – writing for and posting to the Northern Ohio Red Cross blog site, recording interviews for our region’s podcast, emceeing events, and more. To say it’s been rewarding is an understatement.  

Through my work with the board, I’ve found countless other opportunities to help. I’ve stuffed goodie bags for blood donors, canvased Akron neighborhoods hanging door hangers for smoke detector installation info, and so much more. I’ve felt needed and I’ve felt that my small contribution is a part of something greater – the Red Cross mission.  

While I would recommend volunteering for the Red Cross to anyone, it’s probably better to defer to the people who commit their lives to the mission. Gail Wernick, Regional Volunteer Services Officer says, “Volunteers are an essential piece of the Red Cross lifesaving mission and help people when they need it most. As we start a new year, many people begin to think about new year’s resolutions. This is a great time to remind people that volunteering is a wonderful option. Please join us in Northern Ohio and Resolve to Volunteer in 2023!” 

To find out more how you can volunteer for the Red Cross, click here.  

Bring IT On: Disaster Services Technology

When a disaster strikes, who is it that gets the basic IT services that we’ve come to depend upon back up and running? The Disaster Services Technology team – a unique group of volunteers who deploy to a disaster response to set up communications technology!

The team provides the necessary infrastructure that a response may require, from internet capabilities (think: Safe And Well Services) to telecommunications (like an antenna based radio if cellular services are down).

“We can service everyone from a single user connection up to a whole site,” said Ed Finley, National Field Communications Engineer.

This week the team held a rare hands-on training at our Akron office. The three-day course is only offered once a year in each division. The training staff has already taught the course in Mobile, Ala.; Oakland, Calif.; and Austin, Texas. After Akron, they will head out to Tinton Falls, N.J.; Columbia, S.C.; and Minneapolis, Minn.

The course gives volunteers the opportunity to train on equipment that will deploy to a disaster response; such as laptops, cell phones, routers and satellites.

“Not only will students learn how to set-up and use the equipment, but also that there is a support system behind them that will help them get through the process and be successful,” said Ed.

Students at the Akron class hail from all over Ohio and the rest of the country – California, New York, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

If you are interested in joining the Disaster Services Technology team, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer and sign-up to be a volunteer. You’ll go through a couple of basic Red Cross courses, including Disaster Services Technology Overview, and from there you’ll be able to train with some of the IT leaders who we are lucky enough to have living in Northeast Ohio before deploying.

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