Over the course of 18-year-old Sabrina Mesropian’s Red Cross career, she has led focus groups with fellow interns, organized fundraisers and blood drives, and even put on puppet shows to teach kindergardeners how to be prepared for earthquakes.
But that’s not where her Red Cross story began.
Sabrina first got involved with the Red Cross in her hometown of Santa Clarita where she joined her high school’s Red Cross club. She would later go on to become president of that club, then a member of the Youth Executive Board for the city of Santa Clarita, and eventually, a member of the Los Angeles Region Red Cross communications team.
On that first day, she had no idea the Red Cross career that lay ahead of her. But her dad may have had an inkling because as it turns out, Red Cross service runs in the family.
“Oh, I used to work for the Red Cross,” Sabrina’s father, Alain Mesropian, said matter-of-factly, when Sabrina told him she’d joined the club. She doesn’t remember him ever having spoken of this before. “Unless I ask him specifics about his past, he’s usually super vague and general,” she explained. To get the whole story, she sat down to interview him about his Red Cross service.
Here are a few excerpts from that interview:
Sabrina: When did you first join the Red Cross?
Alain: I first joined the Red Cross in 2002 and worked there for four years in the corporate office in Los Angeles.
Sabrina: And what inspired you to join?
Alain: To be part of an organization that helps the people and disasters, because as far as I knew, the Red Cross would respond to disasters, like during the time when I was an explorer and saw the shelters opening up. So to be part of that organization that helps, even in the small way that I was as maintenance behind the scenes, meant a lot.
Sabrina: What was your role there? Were you a volunteer? A staff member? And how long were you there?
Alain: I was staff, a maintenance supervisor, for four years.
Sabrina: What was your favorite part about working with the Red Cross?
Alain: One of my favorite parts of working with the Red Cross was helping out during [Hurricane] Katrina. There were a lot of people who came to Los Angeles and they had a whole facility right at the office and I helped by getting food and supplies.
Sabrina: What did you think when you heard I joined the Red Cross club at my high school? Were you proud?
Alain: I was happy that you were a part of what I experienced, and yes, I was proud. It’s a great organization and I am glad that you joined to help people like I wanted to.
[One of the things Sabrina’s dad shared during the interview was a large collection of Red Cross pins. So she asked about where they came from.]
Sabrina: What’s the story of all these pins?
Alain: Because of Katrina, there were a lot of people who came to LA and a lot of money was being spent on the victims of Katrina. So money was running short and they decided to sell a lot of properties, like the corporate building. Part of what we were doing was downsizing facilities and throwing things away.
When I looked in the trash and saw boxes of these pins, I thought, “They shouldn’t be throwing these pins away.” I took them so I could save them. I didn’t really think it was the right thing to do to throw them away, because in my eyes, they were a part of the history of the Red Cross.
The American Red Cross is one of the oldest and largest humanitarian organizations in the country, so it’s no surprise there are multi-generational Red Cross volunteers and staff.
A big thank you to Sabrina and Alain for sharing their story.
Did you know? The American Red Cross is 90 percent volunteer-run, meaning we couldn’t do the work we do without people like Sabrina.
Learn more about volunteering. If you’re in middle school, high school, or college and interested in joining the Red Cross, find a Red Cross club in your area.