by Carmela Burke, L.A. Region Volunteer
(Sandy Tesch Wilkins spoke recently to volunteers and employees at the Red Cross L.A. Region about her journey as a Red Cross youth member, youth advocate and international Red Cross representative.)
Sandy Tesch Wilkins began her Red Cross career at age 14 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly 15 years later, Sandy represents 7 million youth worldwide.
Like many youngsters, Sandy was bored during summer vacation. Yet she took the initiative to be productive, and sent an email to the American Red Cross hoping to volunteer. She received a reply inviting her to an orientation at the local Red Cross office in Concord (CA). After the orientation, she signed up for volunteer duty the next day. Her activities in the Red Cross Club were filled with preparedness and fundraising events, promoting the Measles & Rubella Initiative, and helping with blood drives.
Determined to continue her ties with the Red Cross, Sandy went on to establish the University of California Berkeley Red Cross Club. She served as Chair of the American Red Cross National Youth Council, and later, the National Young Professionals Council.
As a member of the Red Cross National Youth Council, one of the responsibilities Sandy took on was leading the Measles Champions team, which raised thousands of dollars for the Measles & Rubella Initiative. On her first international trip to Gambia in 2003, she witnessed 90% of the children get vaccinated in one week. After Gambia, she went on to travel to 10 countries in five continents, including Haiti in 2012, on behalf of the American Red Cross. During that time, she met fellow youth volunteers working on similar ideals and goals of the world’s largest humanitarian organization.
In 2015, Sandy is in year 4 of a 4-year term with the International Federation of the Red Cross Youth Commission. Its members advance youth policy and offer advice to leadership on all matters concerning youth and youth-related activities worldwide. The nine members of the Commission have professional backgrounds in law, entertainment, medicine, media, and labor. Current plans include the World Humanitarian Summit Youth Forum in September 2015 and the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.
Sandy, who recently earned an MBA from UCLA, now works for a non-profit organization in San Francisco dedicated to peace and ending human trafficking around the world.
“There is no shortage of things to do as a volunteer,” said Sandy. “I am fortunate to have as my mentors Harold Brooks, SVP International Operations for the American Red Cross and former CEO of the American Red Cross Bay Area Region; and Bee Kong, Director of Youth and Young Adult Services for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region.”
For involvement opportunities with the American Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org/support/volunteer/young-humanitarians.
Sandy Tesch Wilkins (center) with Bee Kong (left), Director of Youth and Young Adult Services,American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, and Kerry Khan, International Services and Service to the Armed Forces Coordinator, Los Angeles Region.
Photo by Carmela Burke