Imagine getting a call at 3 AM from a person who very calmly and coolly tells you that a large number of apartment dwellers have been displaced by smoke and fire. Then imagine stumbling out of bed, jumping into your car and travelling to the scene of the disaster, where you are met by several of the displaced who are frantically seeking assistance. Now imagine that you see a car pull up with a driver who, like you, is wearing a Red Cross vest. That person is then followed by a procession of others, all wearing that familiar Red symbol of hope and all committed to helping the newly homeless. Now imagine your relief as what was once a chaotic and seemingly hopeless situation now transitions into a scene of serenity. And though you don’t utter a word, the slight smile on your face proclaims that “Red Cross volunteers have arrived and that everything will be alright.” Later that day, imagine sitting in front of your TV set and seeing the story of the fire that you responded to earlier. Then imagine that after the reporter recounts the tragic loss of property and piece of mind, she ends her report with an obvious air of hope and optimism when she says that “all of the displaced residents are being assisted by the American Red Cross.”
This real-life drama is played out an average of 3-4 times a day here in Atlanta and the plot and actors are invariably the same— disaster strikes, our friends and neighbors are displaced and Red Cross volunteers save the day. While we all know that Red Crossers are special and that their committment to mission is exceptional it never hurts to remember that as volunteerism is at the core of a thriving community so are Red Cross volunteers the foundation of the greatest humanitarian force on the planet, whether they are responding to disasters, teaching CPR, providing emotional support to disaster-stricken families coordinating blood drives or providing administrative support in Red Cross offices.
While Webster defines a volunteer as one who enters into or offers himself for a service of his own free will, this writer defines a volunteer as the quintessential Red Crosser, ignoring his or her own needs and comfort, while bringing hope and reassurance to his fellow-man.
So in celebration of National Volunteer Week (April 15-21) we’re sending heartfelt thanks to all Red Cross Atlanta Red Cross volunteers, and indeed to Red Cross volunteers throughout Georgia, this great country and around the world–
Thank you for being unselfish.
Thank you for being compassionate.
Thank you for being committed.
Thank you for providing care to the least of us.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
Thank you for being a Red Cross volunteer.
To find out how you can volunteer go to atlantaredcross.org or call the Atlanta Red Cross volunteer hotline at (404) 870-4425.