I often get asked, “What do you love about your job the most?” This can be a difficult question to answer. Of course I love the organization and volunteers, but my answer is always the same, “I get to experience and be a part of every key service the Red Cross has to offer.” Not many employees of the Red Cross can say that. As the Volunteer Coordinator, I have been on a fire call, helped plan and attended major fundraisers, taken First Aid/CPR/AED, plan on attending this year’s Veterans Stand Down, participated in Team Firestopper activities, and given Be Red Cross Ready - disaster preparedness presentations. I have many moments when I think, “This is the best thing I have experienced since working with the Red Cross.” This last moment came a couple weeks ago when I went with a group of youth volunteers to a children’s day center here in Bakersfield to give a Masters of Disasters presentation to a group special needs children 2-8 years old.
I was quite nervous going into this presentation as I did not know what to expect as far as the behaviors of the children who ranged in disabilities from Autism, to Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I quickly learned this was going to be a presentation I would never forget. The group was small with about 8 in attendance. Within a 15 minute presentation, we had everyone practicing stop, drop, and roll and crawl low and go (basic fire safety skills). We were later told by one of the teachers that she was amazed at the level of participation. One student in particular “never participates in anything,” she said, and yet, he was doing the drills right along our volunteers. At the end, we received a gift that I will admit made me a little verklempt: a thank you card with all of the children’s hand prints in the shape of a cross in red. I have this card hanging in my office and every time I look at it I will think of those amazing children. I hope to see them again soon!
Amy Mayer, Volunteer Coordinator
American Red Cross Kern Chapter