by Lexi Myrie, West L.A. E-Board president and University High School Red Cross Club president
[pullquote]“We may not be able to travel and be physically present at the worst conflicts and disasters, but we can make a difference from home. We can prepare communities for fires and earthquakes, provide much needed blood for those in need, take care of our country’s bravest, and most importantly, spread the much needed empathy and information that so often seems to be missing. It may be hard to see preventative measures as life-saving, but they are.” [/pullquote]
In the 9th grade, I decided to follow my brother into the Red Cross club at our school. My reason? His sweatshirt was nice and I needed community service.
I spent my first year mainly attending District General Meetings (DGMs). I was shy, and these interactive meetings really put me out of my comfort zone. I looked up to the Executive Board members (E-board-ers) and marveled at their genuine excitement for the Red Cross. Surely, they already had enough hours to graduate I thought. Then, during elections in April, our then youth coordinator encouraged me to run for the empty position of fundraising officer.
Looking back, I see my sophomore year as the start of my long term commitment to the Red Cross. Still largely inexperienced, I awkwardly made it through my first year as an E-Board officer for West LA. My peers on the board were extremely supportive, and helped me to learn and love what the Red Cross stands for. Though being a fundraising officer did not turn out to be my forte, being a board member did expose me to puppet shows, community, and training events.
Eager to share my newfound enthusiasm, as a junior, I decided to run for Red Cross Club Liaison. This was also the year I became president of the Red Cross Club at University High School. I wanted everyone to know just what the Red Cross does, and thus made distribution of information my main goal as Liaison. Seeing people respond in kind to my efforts and become committed volunteers is still one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. I learned about International Humanitarian Law for the first time. The stories of refugees, war, and suffering were suddenly made real and closer than ever. Of all the branches, International Services has made the largest impact on me, and has convinced me to remain a Red Cross volunteer for the rest of my life.
Now as an E-Board president about to graduate, I can say with confidence that joining the Red Cross is one of the best decisions I have ever made. There is a general belief that youth can’t make much of an impact in the world. We may not be able to travel and be physically present at the worst conflicts and disasters, but we can make a difference from home. We can prepare communities for fires and earthquakes, provide much needed blood for those in need, take care of our country’s bravest, and most importantly spread the much needed empathy and information that so often seems to be missing. It may be hard to see preventative measures as life-saving, but they are. It may seem impossible for youth to do anything truly worthwhile, but we do. And at times it may seem that when things turn for the worst, there won’t be anyone around to help you; but there will.