By Jayme Quick, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas
National Volunteer Week, April 18-24, recognizes “the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges” (Points of Light, 2021). The week is an opportunity for special volunteer projects and events, while highlighting the impact of volunteers.
Former President Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
As a young college student in the early 2000’s, I was majoring in public relations and hoped to someday work for a non-profit organization. In anticipation of such a job, I began volunteering for my local chapter of the American Red Cross in East Texas. I mostly helped with low-key projects–like posters for community events. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit. The phones rang nonstop with people needing help and others eager to help.
So, I sat in an office cubicle and answered call after call. More than once, I was on the verge of tears as people reported stranded family or offered anything they could to help. I watched as people donated gift cards for meals and fuel and listened to survivors tell their stories of evacuation.
Less than a week later, I married and moved away from that chapter office. Life got busy, but, over the years as a military spouse and then as a high school teacher, I continued to see disasters strike and hardships ensue.
Finally in 2017, with life more settled, I felt the pull to volunteer again. With small kids at home and at least one full-time job, I’m still not usually available in the middle of the night for fires, or at a moment’s notice to rush to the site of a tornado. But, through the American Red Cross, I’m able to offer what I do have—journalism, public relations and digital media skills and empathy for everyone affected by life’s unexpected challenges. So, to be the change I hope to see in the world, I do what I can in my spare time as a blogger and digital volunteer.
There is never a perfect time, and certainly not a perfect person, to volunteer. But any time that you can give, in any way, is a drop in the greater ocean of changing the world.
Find local volunteer opportunities by visiting RedCross.org/volunteer and enter your zip code to find opportunities near you.