Monday, March 11, 2013

Why AmeriCorps. Why Red Cross.

It’s funny how in life things always seem to work out. I didn’t set out with the goal to work for Red Cross when I moved home to help my mother after my father’s death. With a Master’s in Human Rights and several years experience working for international non-profits and NGOs I found myself waiting tables at a small café. Work was hard to find upon my return to California, and I was lucky to even get that job when some restaurants were requiring 2 years experience for dishwashers!

One lucky day, a volunteer with the Red Cross came into my little restaurant. This volunteer spoke highly of the organization and how fitting it would be for someone with my background to work there. An application and an interview later, I filled one of two AmeriCorps NPRC spots at the American Red Cross Central Valley Region. I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve come since accepting this position!

I’ve learned more in past 7 months with the Red Cross than I learned in 4 years of college (not discouraging people from going to college). I’ve received certifications in FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS) courses, taught almost 2,000 local people how to prepare for emergencies, brought in and trained 16 new volunteers, encouraged our schools to get more involved, increased awareness of Red Cross by attending events outreaching to roughly 8500 people, became the only active International Tracing/Restoring Family Links caseworker in the Central Valley Region, also became a caseworker for our Disaster Action Team, spent a month in New Jersey helping residents get back on their feet after Hurricane Sandy, organized numerous events including a Zombie Crawl, and made some incredible connections along the way.

I could never have anticipated how much I would learn and grow by becoming an AmeriCorps member. Eventually, I would like to work in the international human rights field, and with this experience I will be much more capable to do so.

-Cayce Baierski, NPRC AmeriCorps Member

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