By Communications and Marketing Intern, Katie Han
Regional Preparedness & Resilience Coordinator, and Americorps Member, Amanda Hidalgo, recently sat down with LA TALKS to discuss her motivations for participating with the Americorps program, and how working with the Disney Pillowcase Project has inspired her to become a better person.
LA TALKS: How long have you been serving with the Americorps, and what do you enjoy most about serving as a member/working with the preparedness team?
AMANDA HIDALGO: It’s only been one year here with the Red Cross Los Angeles Region as an Americorps Member. Since starting my term, I found out I really like public speaking, and also really like doing the Disney Pillowcase Project presentations because you get to talk about disaster preparedness with kids! Right when you walk into the auditorium or the classroom, all their faces are already smiling and lit up. It’s great! It’s also a really good moment, for me as an Americorps Member and as a Red Cross volunteer, to see how excited the students get talking about earthquake safety and emergency preparedness. Another thing I love is that everyone in the Americorps is like a good family. It’s nice to be able to be there for each other and support each other, even during preparedness presentations.
LA TALKS: What inspired you to take part in the Disney Pillowcase Project; what makes you motivated to continue working with children?
AMANDA HIDALGO: With the Pillowcase Project events, I know that every kid is going to go back home to their family and tell them what they learned about at school. They may say, “Oh! I got a pillowcase today from the Red Cross and we talked about emergency preparedness! It’s like a thread of a thread: once we share these life-saving preparedness skills with a student, that student will then share the skills they learned with their family, and then maybe mom and dad will realize that being prepared for emergencies and disasters is a really good idea! Then mom and dad may even share our Red Cross emergency preparedness message with another family member or neighbor. The potential reach is endless, and, thanks to the Disney Pillowcase Project, it all starts with the kids!
LA TALKS: By working with children, people always learn something new. Is there anything new you have come to learn through teaching the Disney Pillowcase Project?
AMANDA HIDALGO: I’ve been learning to adapt to different situations and environments. Each time that I take part in this project, there are different kids, so it’s an opportunity for me to grow as a speaker and a teacher and also, of course, an opportunity to share our preparedness messages with brand new students! And, just seeing new students at each presentation inspires me to be a better person.
LA TALKS: Here at the Red Cross, we love making people smile. By teaching younger kids preparedness education, you are doing exactly that! How does it feel after teaching a presentation, when student flashes a big grin and calls you a “Red Cross Celebrity”?
AMANDA HIDALGO: This bubbly personality that I have allows me to feel like a kid again, especially when I do these presentations! Maybe that’s why I feel like an inspiration to the kids, too. Once they do the little pledge during our presentation, they get excited and they want me to sign their pillowcase—like an autograph! I guess it’s their way of saying, “Hey! I want to be just like our Red Cross instructor and help save lives, too!”
LA TALKS: Preparedness is extremely important, and in reality, more people need to take action to become better prepared for emergencies and disasters. What advice can you give to those who want to become better prepared?
AMANDA HIDALGO: The best thing to do is to talk about preparedness with you friends and family. Then get a kit, make a plan and be informed! The Red Cross has amazing resources available for everyone to learn more about how to become better prepared for emergencies and disasters. You can find it all online, at preparesocal.org. It’s also important to practice your emergency plan with your family— and making a commitment to continue to practice your plan is extremely important, too.
Katie Han will be a senior at Diamond Bar High School. She enjoys making YouTube videos about places she visits, and plays the French Horn in her school’s band! This is Katie’s first year interning with the American Red Cross.