By Judith Radcliffe, Red Cross volunteer, member of Red Cross Faith Based Affiliate Crenshaw Christian Center
Volunteer is defined as “one who enters into or offer oneself up for services of his own free will.”
My volunteering services started not of my own free will, but of my mother’s. I must have been seven or eight years old when we moved into an apartment in Harlem in New York City. At the time, Harlem was going through an upheaval, and city services were suddenly being cut back.
My mother was not going to have us live with this slight, so she gave me my first volunteer job: pick up trash off the sidewalks; sweep the streets; and pick up horse manure after the horse–drawn vegetable wagon had passed.
After that, every other volunteering job was easy, including putting out Bibles and offering envelopes in the pews at our church and taking care of the class pet, a salamander, at my elementary school.
As I got older, I choose a profession in which I would not just get a salary, but I could also be of service to people, from feeding the homeless to serving low-income seniors through the Title V program, a 40+-year-old federal program that provides subsidized community service and employment training to low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55 and older.
I knew the American Red Cross would be a great place for me to put my customer service skills and lifetime commitment to volunteerism to work. So, I became a Blood Donor Ambassador.
I am the first contact with blood donors when they arrive at a blood drive. I set the tone for a positive experience, and I take responsibility seriously. The most rewarding part is when donors ask where I will be volunteering next so they can come to that location to donate and bring other family members to do the same.
After four years of supporting three to five blood drives a week, I truly understand what the Bible means when it said, “It is better to give than to receive.” To give of oneself to others is the most rewarding experience one could have.
About Crenshaw Christian Center
Jennifer Johnson, Director of Red Cross Faith-Based Affiliates, describes Crenshaw Christian Center (CCC) as a “crown jewel” of faith-based partners, bringing Red Cross services to their congregants, their community and beyond.
“With close to 7,000 members, Crenshaw Christian Center is one of our largest and most active Faith Based Affiliates,” Johnson said. “CCC President and CEO Ms. Angela Marie Evans sits on the Red Cross Los Angeles Regional Board. The church regularly hosts blood drives, just last year, they hosted the Red Cross Faith Breakfast. They also hosted a Sound the Alarm campaign event to help install free smoke alarms and teach home fire safety.
“They are a pleasure to work with and, as evidenced by Ms. Radcliffe’s story above, embody the values of generosity, service and compassion.”
Are you a member of a faith-based community that would like to partner with the American Red Cross? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.