When Rita Schulte moved from Germany to Seattle with her family in 1999, she began looking for ways to get involved in the community and put her knowledge of human resources to good use. Though she had worked as an HR professional in Germany, she wasn’t yet able to work in the U.S., so she started to volunteer in schools. Later she looked for a larger organization and chose the Red Cross because it was familiar and had a clear-cut goal of providing compassionate care for those in need.
“I liked what the Red Cross stood for, and liked the idea of helping people in dire need after a disaster,” Rita said.
Rita started volunteering two hours a week in the mail room of the Seattle chapter. Eight years later, she is a volunteer leader providing vital assistance in Staff Services—staffing shelters after house fires, deploying volunteers to regional disasters, and ensuring that volunteers get necessary training. When Rita’s supervisor flew to New York for Hurricane Sandy, Rita covered the work at the office to ensure that nothing fell through the cracks.
When asked what she likes best about her experience with the Red Cross, Rita doesn’t hesitate. She is amazed by volunteers’ willingness, time and again, to react quickly and help people in need without any time to prepare.
“It fascinates me how, when something happens, people will drop their lives and say, ‘I’m ready to go. What do you need from me?’” Rita said. “I think that’s very special. Every time it happens, it warms my heart.”
Over the years Rita has grown to appreciate the people working and volunteering at the Red Cross, and she feels at home. “I feel supported, and people really care. I’m fortunate to get along really well with the staff I work with. It’s not just a working relationship, it’s a friendship.”