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.  

One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time – Resolve to volunteer today

Jack Higley has been volunteering for more than 60 years

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Still looking for a last-minute gift in honor of that hard-to-please person? Or thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution that will really mean something?

How about something only you can give? How about the gift of your time?

American Red Cross volunteers give their precious time every time they help a family displaced by a home fire, donate blood or take a Red Cross first aid/CPR/AED course so they can save a life in an emergency.

Jack Higley, American Red Cross volunteer

Jack Higley of Aurora, Ohio, has racked up an uncountable number of hours over the span of 60-some years of volunteering with the Red Cross. He first stepped up when a fraternity brother was in a serious accident and urgently needed blood. “Back then, it was direct donation,” he recalled. “They took it out of my arm and right into him.” The experience inspired his fraternity to start scheduling regular blood drives.

Four years later, he started teaching Red Cross life guarding classes at a YMCA. Then, he went to donate blood in Madison, where he taught high school government. W; when the staff learned he had experience organizing blood drives, they asked for his help. He’s been at it ever since: he’s credited with donating just shy of 40 gallons of life-saving blood and for organizing countless drives.

“It makes me feel good,” he said, adding, “There’s always a need. My dad had 17 heart attacks and he used a lot of blood for the surgeries he had – stents, by-passes.

“People live because somebody donated.”

Although Jack can no longer donate because of health conditions, he enjoys staffing blood drives as a blood donor ambassador. “I like to be around the canteen (the refreshment area where blood donors are invited to enjoy juice, water and cookies immediately following their donation). I can relate to the people, talk to them. Some of them donate faithfully every two months. They’re my people.

“Jack’s Red Cross experience is an example of the generosity of spirit our volunteers show every day,” said Susan Gordos, who coordinates volunteers in support of blood drives and blood services across Ohio. “We have so many opportunities for people to give the gift of their time, to be sure life-saving blood is there when it’s needed.”

So, how about giving the gift of your time? The Red Cross of northern Ohio is always looking for blood donor ambassadors and blood transportation specialists.

As an ambassador, you’re the friendly face that greets donors, helps them sign in , and answers questions. You might even staff the canteen, like Jack, to chat with donors after they give blood.

Watch this video to hear from others about why they’ve volunteered in this role. Training is free, but the hospitality you provide is priceless.

Or you might find that being a blood transportation specialist is a good fit. These folks are a critical link, driving blood products to hospitals.

If you have a valid state driver’s license and at least three years of licensed driving experience, you are eligible to volunteer as a blood transportation specialist. You can choose regular routes, stand-by emergency deliveries or both. It’s a great opportunity for couples, friends or family members.

As Jack said, “Many of us are going to need blood, unfortunately. If you need it, the Red Cross has it, but everybody has to work together to make it happen.”

To take the first step of giving the gift of time, visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season. And may you have a rewarding 2023 – perhaps as a new Red Cross volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Resolve to volunteer: a testimonial

By Richard E. Whitehead Jr, DMC, Regional Government Operations Chief and Emergency Management Program Lead

I thought I would share how the American Red Cross has assisted me and my family through the years. Giving back is just one of the many reasons I have been volunteering since 2005.  

The Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program provided aid to my family when my uncle was killed in action during the Vietnam Conflict. Another family member was deployed in theater and SAF assisted in him receiving emergency notification and subsequent emergency leave.

The Red Cross was there again for me when I was a patient at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. The hospital ward was a mix of military personnel (several with combat injuries) and military dependents age 10 and over. It was one large open space with several beds, unlike hospital rooms today. I was 10 years old and there were only a handful of kids.

A Red Cross volunteer would come through the ward with a cart. The cart contained items to help occupy the time of the patients (newspapers, magazines, books, games, etc.). I was provided coloring books, comic books, puzzles, cards, toys, and even craft projects. She even gave me pads for my crutches, which a volunteer crocheted.  

When I wanted to find a way to help during Hurricane Katrina, the Red Cross provided that opportunity.

In more recent times, I continue to benefit from the services of the Red Cross. From the support of first responders to the collection and distribution of life sustaining blood, the Red Cross has been there for me. I will continue to be there for the Red Cross. It is paying back for the assistance and opportunities the Red Cross has given me. 

Resolve to Make a Difference

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

January 11, 2020- Have you made your New Year resolutions yet for 2021? It’s never too early to check off a goal on your resolution list or to start making the most of this new year.

 In 2021, resolve to volunteer with the American Red Cross and help make a difference in your community! The vital work of the Red Cross supports communities across the country every day and throughout Northern Ohio – it’s at the heart of what we do.  Volunteers make up 90% of the Red Cross workforce and help deliver the vital services that the Red Cross provides.

The Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross needs volunteers in the following positions:

Blood Donor Ambassador

  • Age 16+
  • Help save lives in your community by supporting blood collection at a local blood drive.
  • Commitment: 1 shift (4-6 hours) per month

Blood Transportation Specialist

  • Deliver life-saving blood products from collection sites to processing a lab and/or hospital
  • Commitment: 2 shifts (4-6 hour shifts) per month

Disaster Action Team Member

  • Virtual Opportunity
  • Assist individuals and families who have been impacted by a home fire or other local disaster.
  • Commitment: monthly on call shift

SAF Hero Care Regional Caseworker

  • Ensure military families’ needs are met when faced with an emergency
  • Commitment: 2-4 hours per week

To learn more about these opportunities and to apply, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or 330.204.6615.