Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrating You

Part V: National Volunteer Week

By Teri McCormick Hinton, Volunteer Engagement Director

It turns out that April is a very celebrated month. Besides National Volunteer Month, it is also the month of humor, keeping America beautiful, lawns and gardens, poetry, pecans, welding, and records and information! It's even a month to be aware of stress!

I digress - we're here to talk about volunteers and how much we love them. Following on the heels of March when we celebrated Red Cross Month, April gives us the opportunity (and responsibility) to honestly and respectfully acknowledge all of our volunteers in the national capital region. Perhaps you have received a thank you note in the mail from our team, or gotten a goody bag at a recent meeting, or were thanks personally by someone for the time and talent you bring to the work of the Red Cross. I certainly hope so. Clearly you are a necessary part of the network of people who represent the Red Cross to our community. You deserve to be thanked and acknowledged. Please let me add my thanks here as well and invite your feedback and support to improve and refine our volunteer programs. 

Because of the work of our volunteers, we have a community that is remarkably well-served by the American Red Cross. Maybe these numbers will astound you as much as they have surprised me. 

  • Today, we have 2,425 volunteers doing the work of the Red Cross in our region.
  • In the first 10 days of April, 125 new volunteers submitted an application.
  • 733 people are in our region are disaster responders, trained to respond to single family fires and much larger events as needed.
  • An additional 253 corporate volunteers stand ready to respond to shelter needs should a large disaster strike. 
  • 490 volunteers speak a second language, including Afrikaans, Albanian, American Sign Language, Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Creole, Croatian, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malayalam, Mandarin, Nigerian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Sinhalese, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Yoruba. 
  • 111 volunteers in our region work at blood drives that occur 7 days a week. 
  • Nearly 30,000 people a year receive preparedness materials through outreach volunteers. Red Cross volunteers respond to about 400 family fires around our region every year. 
Red Cross volunteers respond to about 400 family fires around our region every year. Red Cross volunteers teach children how to swim. They serve meals to those affected by a disaster and shelter families after their homes are damaged or destroyed. Our volunteers were at Hurricane Sandy and support the collection and storage of safe blood that saves lives every day. They teach CPR so that when we are home with our loved ones, where most heart attacks occur, we can respond quickly. 

It's impossible to assess the real impact that each volunteer has in the work of the Red Cross. But we know one thing very well - the Red Cross does what it does because of volunteers. Period. What you are doing is visible in the community every day and this month we stop long enough to say thanks. 

April is a month to celebrate a lot of things. But mostly, it's a month to celebrate you. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts! 

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