Hello, my name is Rachel and I am a senior at West Anchorage High School. I am an administrative assistant and office aide at the local Red Cross.
The first volunteer organization that I became a part of was the American Red Cross of Alaska back in 2013, when I was in 8th grade. I assisted the caseworkers and preparedness specialists in the office, as well as the other volunteers who came by to help. There, I shredded paper, put together pamphlets, organized files, and other small office tasks.
My favorite job was refilling the fish tank. Although the tasks I was asked to do were minimal, I never felt like what I was doing was not worth my time. I realized that if no one filed those papers, inputted information into the system, or put together the relief kits, then the older volunteers and adults who had more important tasks to take care of would have to do them. I wanted to do more for the Red Cross because I knew that as long as these small jobs were taken care of, then the other volunteers would be able to allocate their time and attention to the more important tasks. Volunteering in the Red Cross office showed me that every bit of help counts and goes a long way in the long run.
The moment when I realized just how much volunteering with this organization meant to me, I was in the backseat of the company car driving to Anchorage from Eagle River after installing smoke detectors with two Red Cross employees.
They shared stories about themselves and the people they’ve helped in the face of a disaster, and I couldn’t help but try to imagine myself in their shoes. I knew that what I did for the community–– volunteering in soup kitchens, putting together fundraisers for charities, etc.–– was appreciated and valued by the people I help out and serves as an inspiration to fellow youth, but after that moment I felt like I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
The people at the local Red Cross office not only opened my eyes to the type of work that I felt like was my calling, but they also encouraged me in a way that no one in my life has before. Though everyone at the office voiced their gratitude for the tasks that I complete for them, one gesture by one of the caseworkers sparked my motivation and inspiration to go the route that I am now planning to take.
He was one of the volunteers in the car with me that day, and his story about how he started volunteering and what he planned on doing with his skills was something that I wanted to strive for in my future. He introduced me to the Navin Narayan Red Cross scholarship, and by doing so, he showed support for my goals for the future. I am now more motivated and determined to study and work hard in school than I have ever been before because I know that I have a strong leader, as well as a network of supportive and encouraging people from the Red Cross, rooting me on.
Serving others and becoming someone who people turn to for aid has shaped me into the person I am now. The summer before I leave to college, I plan on continuing my internship with the local Red Cross in Anchorage where I hope to get as much experience and volunteer work done before I have to leave for university. However, my involvement with the Red Cross will not end there. I still plan on volunteering with the Red Cross, even when I am taking classes over at UAF. My love for helping out others and being an active member of my community influenced my decision to go into the medical field, where I hope to learn new skills to help me better aid those in need.
With these skills in hand and the undying support of my Red Cross family, I hope to make an impact in the community and to become an inspiration to future generations, just like the heroes we have here today.