By Sharon J. Alfred, Red Cross Volunteer

When you are homeless, the Red Cross shelters you. When you are cold, the Red Cross gives you a warm blanket. When you are hungry, the Red Cross feeds you. But most importantly, when disaster strikes, the Red Cross personnel comfort you with a smile and restore your belief in the kindness of your fellow human beings. These are the facts that keep astonishing and validating the work of so many, just like Red Cross volunteer Giustina Cipriani.

A Regional Feeding Lead, Cipriani volunteers in the Los Angeles Region. She recalls that the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the community. During an LA feeding operation, she remarked that 1,200 volunteers responded to the call, and more than 40 million meals were distributed in the area.

“Two things struck me powerfully each and every day of the 10 straight weeks of my deployment,” Cipriani said. “One was that volunteers kept coming in large numbers during the stay-at-home order (they obviously thought rendering aid fit the emergency exception of the order) because the determination to serve was bigger than the fear of getting sick, and two, the volunteers in the emergency operations center worked 14 hour days to make sure the operation ran smoothly.”

Cipriani’s supervisor is LA Region Manager Ana Morais. Cipriani said that she volunteered because “people needed food!” And people who never thought they would ask for food drove through the Grab & Go points with low-income families and the homeless. “This operation visually represented how in front of a disaster, we are all the same, we are all vulnerable and we will stand together during a disaster,” said Cipriani.

Cipriani has been volunteering on Red Cross humanitarian projects since she came to America in 2017.  She volunteers because she believes that “we are each a brick, [a part of a big community building].  Each one needs to be there to keep their community tight and strong.”

This story originally appeared on the Red Cross Exchange and can be viewed there.


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