By Jenna Siffringer, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
When Rohan Jupelly first signed up to be a Red Cross volunteer at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in May of 2020, he had no idea how much it would become a part of his life.
The sophomore UT Dallas student had some free time and was looking for a way to give back. That’s when he remembered his previous volunteer activities with the Red Cross in high school.
“I saw a lot of youth volunteers doing stuff and I realized early on the potential of some of our youth and what they can contribute,” says Rohan.
Almost a year later, he now serves as the North Texas team’s Regional Youth Engagement Lead, managing everything from new volunteer orientation to position placement.
Overseeing an entire youth team for one of the biggest Texas chapters during a global pandemic is no easy task – the program saw a record number of volunteers faced with the challenges of social distancing – but it gave him a chance to think outside the box and build a program that can handle anything.
“We had to be really creative about how we were going to engage all of these youth volunteers, and we had to put our heads together and get a great team of people to create opportunities that didn’t really exist before or adjust opportunities that were there to be more appropriate in a virtual setting,” said Rohan.
The youth program’s goals for this coming year include working on growing their base, improving their community outreach and focusing on diversity and inclusion across the chapter.
Starting in July, Rohan will take on the role of president of the new Youth Services Executive Board he has been helping to create, while working on his neuroscience degree and pre-med track.
He encourages anyone interested in volunteering to explore the many opportunities available to figure out what fits best them best.
“Find what you want to do and stick with it. Meet as many people as you can, get as involved as you can, and then the time commitment really fades to the back of your head because you love what you do,” said Rohan.