The American Red Cross has had such a pivotal impact on my life in the past 5 years. My involvement with the Red Cross is how I discovered my talent for project management, how I met people from diverse backgrounds, and why I am currently living in Washington, DC as an intern at National Headquarters. There have been countless people from the Red Cross who have served as my mentors and friends throughout the years; however, today I would like to highlight 5 Red Crossers in particular.
- “Go Hetal!” yelled Sarah White, one of the youth executive board members, as I walked to the front of the room during my first general youth meeting at the Red Cross of the Los Angeles Region in August 2009. I will never forget her encouraging words because knowing that there was someone in that crowd cheering me on was what motivated me to come back to the next Red Cross meeting. Sarah is the reason that I try to positively uplift others to motivate them to succeed in all of my activities. Thank you, Sarah, for starting that habit of encouraging others.
2. In my mind, Mike Farrar, IHL Action Campaign Committee Member, Youth Advisor, and all-around Red Cross expert, embodies most of the characteristics that I attribute to the ideal Red Cross volunteer. He is the reason I began volunteering in the Services to the Armed Forces Department and the International Services Department 4 years ago. He radiates compassion and goodwill, and contributes 100% every day — rain or shine. Thank you, Mike for always giving me amazing volunteer opportunities and for teaching me to work hard and to look for the best in others.
3. When I became a leadership volunteer with the Red Cross in July 2011, I spent a lot of time in cubicles. Every so often, Margaret, Executive Director of the Long Beach Chapter, would come downstairs to ask how our group of volunteers was doing, help us solve professional and personal problems, and work alongside us when more hands were needed. Margaret changed my perception of good leadership. She made me realize that the best leaders connect with their co-workers and have open door policies.
Thank you, Margaret, for showing me what constitutes a good leader.
4. In my leadership positions, there were certain times when I just needed some guidance. In these moments, I always went to Ally Joy, who was Youth and Youth Adult Services Specialist at the time. Ally has a great ability to logically and neutrally handle situations in ways that result in the best outcome possible for the most people. She taught me the power of removing myself from a situation, viewing it from all sides, and then responding in a way that may not necessarily benefit me personally but will benefit the community that I am serving. Thank you, Ally, for teaching me neutrality.
5. The last person I want to thank is also the one closest to me: Janice Wong, Veteran’s History Project Director in the Los Angeles Region. Janice is the person who taught me the importance of taking risks and living without regret. She is also the one who encouraged and motivated me to start the IHL Action Campaign in the Los Angeles Region, to mentor other youth, and to even take an airplane flying lesson. Every risk that I take professionally and personally can be attributed to her. Thank you, Janice, for making sure that I live my life to the fullest.
Each of my Red Cross mentors has contributed to making me who I am today. They are a large part of the reason why the Red Cross is so dear to my heart. I hope that as I continue to develop my career with the Red Cross, I can motivate and mentor others to the same degree that these people helped me.
Author – Hetal Shah, Public Education Intern