By Amy Yen, Digital Communications Manager, American Red Cross
Volunteers are the heart, soul and engine of the American Red Cross. Nationally, they make up more than 90% of our work force; here in North Texas, it’s closer to 95%. But while you might know that Red Cross volunteers help serve meals in shelters, drive blood units to hospitals and teach CPR in the community, you might not realize that there are more than 70 different roles available for volunteers to fill in North Texas alone.
Some of these are the kind of opportunities you might expect—we need clerical help just like everyone else—but some are unique positions requiring specific backgrounds, interests and training. Because we look for people with specific skill sets for these roles, we’re always in need of people who might be a good fit. Who knows? You may have exactly the experience and interests that we need and not know it!
Here are five unique ways to volunteer with the Red Cross. If any of these sound like something you could do, please visit RedCross.org/DFW today and fill out an application. We need your help!
1. International Services Caseworker: Got a little detective in you? Being an International Services caseworker might be for you. Caseworkers work on our Restoring Family Links program, which helps reconnect families separated by international armed conflict or disaster. To find someone whose loved one lost contact with them, a caseworker will use every resource available—from property records to Google searches—to help reunite a family. Social work is a common background for caseworkers, but anyone with good organization skills, compassion, tolerance and a love of detective work can succeed at it. Check out this blog post for more details about what it’s like to be an IS caseworker.
2. Disaster Action Team (DAT) Member: While massive disaster relief efforts after tornadoes and hurricanes get a lot more attention, the most common service provided by the Red Cross happens multiple times a day, every day, in every city and town in the nation: the single-family house or apartment fire. Our Disaster Action Teams (DAT) respond to these and other local emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing for the immediate food, shelter and clothing needs of the affected families, as well as first responders on the scene. If you have a passion for helping others and are willing to be on-call a few days a month, being a DAT member is sure to be fulfilling. Here’s a story about one of our Dallas team members.
3. Photographer/Videographer: Photography buff? Video whiz? You can help tell the Red Cross story, so we can show the public, the media and our donors what we’re doing to help. We rely on photographers and videographers with professional-level skills and equipment to capture the moments we want to share, from a group of community supporters putting together care packages for disaster victims to our emergency response vehicles going into debris fields.
4. Disaster Mental Health Worker: Providing emotional support in the wake of an emergency remains one of the most important services we offer. Our disaster mental health counselors help children and adults cope with the emotional and environmental impact following a disaster by assessing their needs, helping them adjust and assisting in the recovery efforts. This is one of our most difficult volunteer positions to fill because disaster mental health workers must be licensed mental health professionals. If you have an active license in social work, psychiatry, counseling, psychiatric nursing, marriage and family therapy, psychology or other mental health discipline, you can truly make a difference during some of the most traumatic times in someone’s life. Here’s more from one of our counselors about what it’s like to volunteer in this role.
5. Digital Volunteer: Did you know you can volunteer in your pajamas? Our digital volunteers can do just that, working remotely to help tell the Red Cross story online via social media. Digital volunteers help run Red Cross social feeds, including Facebook and Twitter, posting severe weather information, preparedness tips and where people can get and give help. They also help monitor, respond and engage in the social space with people affected by disasters. Have a passion for social media and want to make a difference with your online presence? Being a digital volunteer may be for you.
To learn more about any of these roles or to see other volunteer opportunities with your local American Red Cross chapter, visit RedCross.org. If you have a specific role that you’re interested in, be sure to let us know during your application process.