Why I Volunteer: Melanie Cole

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I initially came to the Red Cross in 2013 as an AmeriCorps member in South Puget Sound. Before then, I knew very little about the organization and how much impact it actually has on the communities it serves.

I fell in love with the idea that I could take part in helping people in need every day. I wasn’t stuck behind a desk, I was out in my community and I felt like I was truly giving back.

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During my term, I gained experience supporting victims in the aftermath of local house fires. Then in May of 2014, I was deployed to Little Rock, AR following a tornado and local flooding. I served as a client casework lead for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Operation there. It was the first time I had ever seen the Red Cross in its full capacity.

I eventually took a position as the Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Louisiana and worked out of the New Orleans office.

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My first DAT response in New Orleans… about two hours into my first day of work! The family had previously lost their home to Katrina, but as you can see, they were strong-willed and hopeful for their recovery.

 

By age 23, the Red Cross had given me a full-fledged career. My day-to-day experiences and the mission of the organization kept me going, even through overwhelming and emotionally difficult response operations. Working with volunteers, seeing their commitment to the organization and their belief in the mission continuously inspired me.

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With Red Cross and New Orleans Fire Department team. This was the kick-off to our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. Chief McConnell pledged that we would install 10,000 smoke alarms in one year. We met that goal!

 

When I returned to the Pacific Northwest, I stayed on as a volunteer with the Red Cross because I deeply believe in the work of the organization and the power of volunteering. I currently work with the Seattle Office of Emergency Management. While I’m not as active as I’d like to be, I volunteer when and where I can. On the evening Hurricane Harvey made landfall, I helped answer phone calls from Texans seeking Red Cross help.

At a time when I felt helpless and heartbroken watching my former region decimated by a hurricane, I was given the gift of the ability to help where I could from my home in Tacoma. I can’t even begin to describe how much that lifted my spirits!

I find volunteering with the Red Cross to be a great way to balance life and contribute to my community.

Join the Red Cross today. Open the door to a new world of experiences.  http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer

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