By Samantha Hwang, LA region volunteer
Once a month, every month in the school year, a group of fresh faces comes enthusiastically into their local Red Cross office for the monthly district general meeting. They sit comfortably in their seats and snack on pizza, waiting eagerly for the meeting to start. The members look to the executive board to update them on upcoming events and to spotlight something different about the Red Cross every month. Since it is the middle of school year, it is apparent that they are well acquainted with each other and you can hear small talk fill the room. Soon the E-board president grabs their attention and their monthly meeting commences. It is not a typical general meeting. They play icebreakers, prepare presentations, and update each other on what has happened since they last met. These volunteers are our youth volunteers and they are always eager to hear what opportunities they will participate in next.
The LA Region American Red Cross Youth Program consists of two types of leadership and groups. At one level, there are High School Red Cross Clubs. Each club has a cabinet that leads their volunteers to participate in three different kinds of events: fundraising, blood drives, and preparedness education. Red Cross Club volunteers are welcome to contribute to a Youth Corps closest to their area. Currently, there are eleven Youth Corps that make up the other group of youth volunteers in the Los Angeles region. They meet once a month for their district general meetings. Seven outstanding youth volunteers make up the Youth Corps Executive Board. Every year, these volunteers apply and interview for their positions and are responsible fore creating more opportunities in their area. This includes a position for each of the Red Cross’ five lines of service.
My role as a California Safe Corps Youth Coordinator is to guide these high school students to have successful events and mentor them throughout the year. Many of our youth not only fulfill their three goals, but also participate in the large scale volunteering opportunities such as Home Fire Campaigns, puppet shows, and various preparedness fairs and drills. And they do all this in addition to countless tests, college applications and other stressors that influence their everyday lives. They may be young, but by the end of their four years with the Red Cross, they are seasoned, knowledgeable volunteers that understand what the Red Cross has to offer to the general public. They develop a passion for the mission and continue to push their boundaries to help others.
The sky is the limit on what they are going to plan next and I have the honor of helping them prevent and alleviate human suffering.