Why I Volunteer: Son Michael Pham

Joining the American Red Cross as volunteer is my way of paying it forward.  

Son Michael Pham

I grew up and lived in South Vietnam and left on the last day before the end of the war. More than 2,000 people were packed on a container ship searching for safety and freedom. Whenever a plane was spotted, a small group gathered in a small area of the ship, each person held a red piece of material or clothing forming the Red Cross sign, our S.O.S. signal.   

After surviving two weeks in the Pacific with little or no food and water, we were saved by the U.S. Navy and brought to the refugee camp in Guam.  

In the camp (Orote Camp in Guam, known as Tent City) of more than 50,000 refugees, near the entrance was a large tent with the Red Cross symbol. A large board was there for people to post notes searching for family members.  

Throughout the day, announcements were made on loudspeakers by the Red Cross people for those who were searching for family members. Outside of the tent, people lined up to receive hygiene and dental supplies and used clothes and shoes. 

Every day, people flee their homes to escape conflict, war or persecution. Their journeys can be dangerous, long and take several years as they find a safer place to live. The Red Cross helps through aid, shelter and even reconnecting loved ones who have been separated. Learn more about this important work: http://rdcrss.org/refugees 

I joined the American Red Cross in Seattle back in 1999. I served as a volunteer in the Language Bank and International Services and was on the board for 9 years. Currently, I am a Disaster Relief volunteer involved with Mass Care, Sheltering, and training to join the Reunification team. 

Being able to help others unconditionally in a selfless way gives me joy. 

To learn more about becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross, visit us at RedCross.org. Opportunities to serve in local and national roles are available and needed now.
American Red Cross Northwest Region

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