VOLUNTEER VIEW: Red Cross volunteers provide humanitarian aid near and far

American Red Cross serving Northwest Washington was established in 1917 and had about 425 volunteers in 2014.

Purpose: The American Red Cross is dedicated to alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters in our local communities as well as across the country; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills such as first aid and CPR/AED that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families through emergency communications and outreach/support programs. We are also working to make our communities more resilient in the face of disasters through preparedness education programs and home fire safety activities. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers to perform our mission.

Volunteer highlights: For the past 12 years, Judy Holz has been a Red Cross volunteer. In that time, she has served as a health and safety instructor, deputy director for Disaster Cycle Services of Northwest Washington, and most recently as a Mass Care lead, organizing and directing volunteers teams tasked with opening emergency shelters when needed. Judy has traveled to 14 national-level disasters, which offered the chance to serve disaster victims across the country and bring home valuable experience. She also gains satisfaction from helping those in her community. “There’s nothing like being there right at the time when people need you after an event like a single-family fire,” she says. After over a decade of service, Judy’s motivation has remained the same: “The Red Cross allows me to help people who need help right at the time that they need it.”

Signature fundraiser: Real Heroes, December 2015, Lakeway Best Western in Bellingham.

Wish List: Financial donations to support critical local programs including 24/7 disaster assistance; volunteers for a variety of programs and activities; community members committed to being prepared for emergency and disaster; businesses, agencies, organizations interested in partnering to build community resiliency.

Volunteer needs: On-call local disaster response volunteers; community preparedness educators, medical professionals; project managers.

For more information, go online to redcross.org.