Written by: Dongjun (Rick) Yoo, volunteer
I am Yoo Dongjun, or Rick, and I want to share how the American Red Cross changed my academic career and my life. I primarily joined the Red Cross because one of my friends happened to enjoy volunteering for charity organizations. I started off as a Blood Donor Ambassador in Boston, MA, for one shift every month, then I worked as the food pantry volunteer. In March 2017, I worked in Arlington, VA as the Home Fire Campaign Volunteer. Many of these positions require working with people, carrying emergency response supplies to specific locations, or greeting others in blood drives. Experiences such as these can certainly help in building a better profile, but the Red Cross has helped me more than just bolstering my resume.
The Red Cross has helped me overcome personal obstacles, and I think it’s significant to share my story with others. The Red Cross gives volunteers numerous rewards and perks for hard work, and community service hours as credit. This makes volunteers feel that they are a significant part of the workplace in helping out those in need. This has left me re-interpreting who I am and what I am truly capable of. I feel in control over my schedules and daily routine, and volunteering has made me able to overcome the obstacles I have had to face as a college student: from depression from challenging academic courses to spending much time with spending time alone. Red Cross Volunteering supports hundreds of thousands of lives and they include anybody, no matter who they are or what age.
Coming into my twenties, I have struggled with depression and isolation. I may have been studious and diligent, but I felt that I had to do something beyond academics. Playing video-games and drinking soda in my dormitory was not the healthiest option or very fulfilling. One of my peers chose to apply for some Red Cross volunteer positions, so I decided to apply for it also. Not only it helped me build my resume, but it provided excellent opportunities to do field work and actively go out and change the community without expectation of reciprocity. Volunteering not only helped me set up much better goals and schedules, but also gave me a better sense of what I am capable of and provided me with less “alone-time.”
I like the fact that working with the Red Cross can be scheduled to my liking, whether weekly or monthly. I have taken at least 2 shifts as the Home Fire Campaign Volunteer in South East, DC. Normally, the shift starts at 8 AM in the morning and ends in the afternoon. Our team then has to walk outside the streets to inspect the neighborhood and identify clients to support. Primarily, we check their smoke detectors and make sure that they work properly, or install new ones. The entire activity makes me feel much healthier, not because I’m walking around but because I socialize with others I have never met and I work as part of a group to make a contribution to the community. The fact that I undertake a field work to help others without return has helped me grow physically and emotionally more than I could have ever anticipated.
Overall, there are three things I have been given by working with the Red Cross. I have gained a sense of what I should do in my life with the Red Cross, great friends and rewards for my volunteerism, and assistance with my professional career. This has helped me be more focused as a student and moving forward into a career path. I highly recommend volunteering for the Red Cross and working for charity organizations because you get so much more than fulfilling community service hours by helping out those in need.