Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Summer with the American Red Cross

Written by: Reed Mszar, intern

Over the course of the past three months, I have had the distinct pleasure to meet many hardworking and caring people, gain valuable work experience in the nonprofit and public health sectors, learn how to effectively communicate with the masses through a wide range of media sites, and, most importantly, to make a difference in the community in which I was born and raised. Over the course of the past three months, I have had the distinct pleasure to intern with the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region.

Interning with the American Red Cross has provided me with important insight on what goes on behind the scenes everyday. Beyond drawing your blood several times per year, the Red Cross is also responsible for the following:
  • responding to thousands of disasters including floods and home fires
  • providing safety courses such as CPR, First Aid, and Lifeguard training
  • serving as the largest single supplier of blood and carrying out critical biomedical research
  • serving the brave men and women of the armed forces and their families, and
  • engaging in the world’s largest humanitarian network
1st Annual Red Cross Giving Day
My first day as an intern was certainly one to remember. It was the first annual Red Cross Giving Day- twenty-four hours devoted to seeking financial support so the Red Cross can continue to do what they do best- help those in need. I recall arriving at the Fairfax, VA office and making my way down to the Regional Disaster Coordination Center (RDCC), which, in a way, reminded me of NASA’s mission control center in Houston, TX. Instead of huge screens displaying neighboring planets and pictures of orbiting satellites hung on the walls, there were monitors mapping out the Washington Metropolitan area and diagrams of different disaster response vehicles ready to be used at a moment’s notice. I will never forget walking into the RDCC for the first time that day and seeing so many energetic and welcoming people wearing the symbolic Red Cross red. It was quite a rewarding experience taking part in this annual day of giving. This year, the American Red Cross raised over $2 million from thousands of generous donors. I feel extremely fortunate to have helped make this year’s Giving Day a successful one, working alongside a group of passionate and dedicated volunteers and staff.

I also had the chance to attend the Annual Meeting at the Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington D.C. The meeting took place in one of the most exquisite rooms I have ever seen - the Board of Governors Hall (complete with some of the largest Tiffany stained glass windows). The conference included an inspirational panel of community leaders, remarks from the regional Chief Executive Officer, Linda Mathes, and the recognition of several worthy volunteers.

Part of my responsibilities as a Marketing and Community Outreach Intern included updating and helping to facilitate the different online outlets for Red Cross-related communications. Through my work, I learned the importance of being clear and concise to reach and engage with a larger audience. Although I had a general sense of what my role would be before the summer began, I never imagined having the opportunity to write Red Cross articles covering such a range of subject matters. Being a biochemistry major on the pre-med track, I already knew that I was stepping out of my comfort zone. So in order to be the most efficient volunteer intern as I could, I gladly took initiative researching matters previously foreign to me. These articles covered subjects ranging from World Refugee Day events in the Nation’s capital to the Ready 365 Giving Program, a mid-level corporate program designed to standardize the rights and benefits for regional business seeking to deepen their relationship with the Red Cross. I am extremely confident in saying that I have learned a great deal about the American Red Cross and their altruistic work in the community through writing these articles and researching each topic in detail. I have, without a doubt in my mind, gained a deeper sense of appreciation and respect for all that they do.
Annual Meeting - Board of Governors Hall

The ability to engage with people in the community alongside a team of passionate members of the Red Cross family has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had this summer. Packing community engagement resources to be sent out to the local chapters spanning D.C., Maryland, and Virginia has given me a new perspective and appreciation for all the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Red Cross. The experience I have gained and the skills I have acquired from writing press releases, researching content for blog articles, scheduling promotions through different social media outlets, summarizing volunteer testimonials, organizing community outreach resources, and covering Red Cross events will help me considerably in my future endeavors. However, it is the connections I have made, the caring people who I have met, and the heart-wrenching stories I have heard that I will cherish the most. I look forward to continue volunteering with the Red Cross family and embodying its mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering at home and abroad.

If you would like to give back to your community, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with the American Red Cross as outlined above. Find your local Red Cross chapter and lend a helping hand today. Everyone has the power to help save a life and make a difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment