Jessica’s Red Cross story

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Following my sophomore year as a marketing major at University of Dayton, I became involved with the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross through the Leadership Lorain County Internship Program. As the Communications Specialist Intern, I was responsible for increasing Red Cross awareness and donations through effective communications, public relations and the use of social media tools.

Previous to my assignment, I knew very little about the American Red Cross, but I was quickly amazed by this incredible organization. The American Red Cross is a non-profit organization and not a federal agency. As such, it receives no regular federal funding. The Red Cross also does a lot more than host blood drives. Each region is well equipped with a Disaster Action Team, Disaster Mental Health Team, and an array of other volunteers. They also offer services to the Armed Forces—from preparing soldiers and their families for deployment to getting those same soldiers emergency contact with their families while overseas.

Based on my experience, I do not think the public is well aware of the extent to which the Red Cross helps our local, as well as national, communities.

While attending a Friday Forum at the Cleveland City Club to hear President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, speak I met a volunteer who truly changed my life. The woman, who dedicates 100% of her time to volunteering, and I discussed her career in the medical field and a trip she took to India to treat patients in a poor village. I commended her on her voluntarism and expressed how I wished my future profession in the business world would allow me to help people the same way hers does. I commented that those in the medical field have the ability to go the extra mile and help people in a more profound way than any other profession. She informed me it is not an extra mile, but a different mile.

During my time at the Lorain County Chapter I helped prepare for the annual 5K Run for the Red, and have witnessed the chapter go through a merger with the Firelands Chapter. I also created several campaigns for different chapter events including Christmas in July which supported the annual Holiday Mail for Heroes and the Pillowcase Project sponsored by Disney. I contributed blogs on chapter events and also created a Social Media and Marketing timeline for the annual 5K. I also canvased for our 5K, made phone calls in hopes of obtaining donations, and spread Red Cross awareness whenever and wherever I could. As a marketing major, I believe I learned so much about my future profession as well as what it is like to work for a non-profit organization. I had the opportunity to become CPR Certified as well as take Disaster Overview and Fundamental courses.

Whether it was hearing a volunteer’s Red Cross Story, or learning something new about my major (or even myself), I was inspired every single day when I stepped over the threshold of that history Lorain County building. I could not agree more with President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, when she says, “the depth and breadth of all the Red Cross does still amaze me, and it’s an incredible privilege to play a part in it.” I plan on continuing my involvement with the American Red Cross as I complete the last two years of school and well into my future.


Cleveland State Intern, Mary Malone shares her Red Cross story

As a senior at Cleveland State University pursuing a bachelors of Social Work, I began an internship with the American Red Cross, in the Emergency Services department.

After a fire, the Red Cross assists the family in immediate and urgent needs. As a student intern I am learning how to participate in a social services agency setting by working directly with clients, other caseworkers, volunteers, and various other staff positions. I look to each person at the Red Cross as a “teacher” and someone from whom I can learn valuable lessons and techniques.

A typical day for me at the Red Cross includes following up with clients after they have experienced a disaster. The most prevalent of emergency situations that I have encountered, during my time, are single-family house fires. The caseworkers at the Red Cross and I ensure that the client’s direct needs are being met. If the Red Cross cannot provide it directly, there are countless referrals to other community organizations. I spend a lot of time on the phone talking with clients, sometimes it is a short call and sometimes the client wants to have someone to talk to and express their fears, worries, and sometimes even joys. I use my ability to communicate with others when they have just experienced a crisis, by validating their words and listening to what it is that they are saying. Other times I meet with clients when they need to come in to the Red Cross for a meeting with a caseworker. Being able to help people in such a dire time of need, knowing that I have many tools in my toolbox to assist them and let them know that they are not alone, is so rewarding.

As part of my internship, I have been able to go out and witness the scene of a disaster. I went to a house that had been burnt very badly and the emotions of clients as they were standing outside, were very raw. Having never been in a situation quite like this I was not sure how I would feel, or how I should act. I learned a lot by watching my Red Cross supervisor communicate with empathy, understanding, and patience. Even though her home was very badly damaged, the client was most concerned for her cat’s well-being. As we left various neighbors, family members and friends came to her and lavish her with hugs, and envelopes of money to help financially. Even in a situation that is inconceivably horrible, the strengths within this one client’s community gives me hope of a full recovery and resiliency.

After semesters of studying books and articles, participating in mock interventions, and writing papers in preparation for my future as a Social Work practitioner, my work with the Red Cross has reaffirmed my passion for social work.