Thursday, September 11, 2008
Red Cross office seeks caring, compassionate individuals
By Hospitalman Dustin Perry Journal staff writer
People have turned to the American Red Cross for assistance in times of crisis since 1881. Today, Red Cross employees and volunteers help people across the country prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
Bethesda’s Red Cross office is currently in search of more volunteers to help with new programs and initiatives in and around the National Naval Medical Center. The need for more volunteers comes from a recently passed bill in Congress granting the American Red Cross $20 million in funds to assist and create additional programs for service members and their families. Bethesda’s American Red Cross Station Manager Ingrid Torres said due to the recent initiative from the Defense Appropriations Bill the need for volunteers will increase. The funding from the bill is providing an opportunity for more programs to be created, she said, creating the need for more volunteers in order to compensate for the additional workload.
‘‘The volunteer program [at NNMC] is thriving ... as the assistance we are able to provide continues to grow, we are going to need more volunteers,” Torres said. ‘‘There are a lot of
opportunities coming up to work with those coming to [the Red Cross] for assistance for [various reasons].”
Torres said the volunteer program at Bethesda currently has approximately 200 members, both youth and adult. Some have been volunteering for 30 years or more at NNMC, she said. Volunteers are placed throughout the hospital in clinics and on the wards, Torres said. There are volunteers in the Red Cross office, helping to manage the day to day activities. There are also professional volunteers, such as doctors and nurses, donating their time to the Red Cross, she said.
‘‘For those that are professional volunteers, their process is a little longer because of the credentialing issue,” Torres said.
Bill Spillane, assistant to the youth coordinator and volunteer in Bethesda’s Red Cross office, said he volunteers because he feels it honors the service members of today.
‘‘I’ve been a volunteer for about eight years, and I first came here because I am ex-military ...
this is worthwhile ... it gives you a sense of satisfaction and makes you feel like you’re still part of the military,” Spillane said.
‘‘I had two parents that probably lived 15 more years of their lives because of this hospital, so in my case it’s kind of a personal payback,” said Tom McIsaac, youth coordinator and volunteer in Bethesda’s Red Cross office.
Torres said if someone is interested in volunteering, they need to contact Bethesda’s Red Cross office to schedule an interview. The process is smooth and takes little time, as long as the volunteer meets the needs of the Red Cross, she said.
‘‘We want the volunteer experience to be positive and mean something to those coming to volunteer,” Torres said. ‘‘Knowing why they are here helps us to determine that, and place them
in a position that will be fulfilling for them, while at the same time help us to get the job done.”
The American Red Cross is part of an international humanitarian movement that started in 19th-century, war-torn Europe by Henry Dunant, a young Swiss businessman. Clara Barton and a group of her acquaintances founded the American Association of the Red Cross on May 21, 1881. Barton made a unique contribution to the worldwide Red Cross Movement when she expanded relief beyond the battlefield to include victims of natural disasters.
Editor’s note: Individuals wishing to volunteers can contact the Bethesda Red Cross office at 301-295-1538.
In a typical year, the American Red Cross ...
; Responds to 70,000 disasters, ranging from individual house fires to devastating floods and tornadoes, providing shelter, food and support.
; Teaches more than 15 million Americans lifesaving skills, such as first aid, water safety, CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
; Collects more than 6 million blood donations from volunteer donors to meet the needs of patients in 3,000 hospitals across the country.
; Helps victims of international disasters and armed conflicts around the world, in cooperation with the worldwide network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the Magen David Adom of Israel.
; Provides assistance to thousands of U.S. service members, including providing the means for communication during family emergencies.
Editor’s note: Information courtesy of American Red Cross.