By Red Cross Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios

Today, after completing my 500-mile pilgrimage across Northern Spain’s Camino de Santiago, I am excited to be back in the office at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region Headquarters. With memories of the places I visited and the people I had the pleasure to meet still swirling around in the back of my mind; and, as I begin to tackle the challenges of work and everyday life, I cannot help but think of how similar the work we do at the American Red Cross is to making it across the Camino.

As the saying goes, it takes a village. So true, right? Everyone I met, everything I saw and every place I visited, together, made my Camino— my Camino. Similarly, as I resume my role as the leader of a dedicated team of over 80 employees and 5,000 volunteers, it is now, more than ever, clear to me how every individual part of the Red Cross, working together, is what makes us the American Red Cross.

Sitting at my desk typing this blog, I’m reminded of one of the thoughts I recorded toward the end of my journey— as I neared Santiago.

“… Key among all my thoughts and a common thread among all my concerns was having a purpose-driven life. How could I dedicate more of my life to meaning and use intention to guide, more predictively, my journey’s path…”

Life at the American Red Cross, as on the Camino, thrives because of having a purpose driven mission.  It is because of our focus on alleviating human suffering and, because of the village of volunteers and donors who make it all possible, that our work can reach so many people. In fact, I believe that it is our mission which places us on a pedestal above other non-profits and other service organizations throughout the world. We, each-and-every one of us together, we are the American Red Cross!

The next question then is, how can we use this mission to give our work, our life here at the Red Cross, more meaning? This is a complicated question to answer— especially in the context of one blog. However, in just a few months, with the help of our staff and amazing volunteers nation-wide, we will be installing our one millionth free smoke alarm. This is a direct result of what can be accomplished when all the parts of the American Red Cross work together toward a common goal. And, just like every day along the Camino brought me one step closer to Santiago, this is another step along our path toward reducing deaths and injuries related to home fires by 25% by the year 2020. 

As part of our focused effort to reach the one million smoke alarm installation mark, we will be taking our Home Fire Campaign to a whole new level. This fall, we will Sound the Alarm, Save a Life and install more than 100,000 free smoke alarms nation-wide. Stay tuned for more information about how you can help us reach this exciting milestone and, join us on June 30th for our Annual Meeting to learn all the exciting details.

In the meantime, I hope you will join me to celebrate our purpose driven mission, remember the people we have helped along the way and, be proud, right along with me, to be a part of such a meaningful organization! And, although I think it goes without saying, I would like to let every one of you know that today, and every day, I look forward to continuing our Red Cross journey, together.

Click here to read more about Jarrett Barrios and his pilgrimage across the Camino de Santiago.


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