Monday, March 8, 2010

“I fulfill a small but crucial role as a face of the Red Cross.”

I started working as an AmeriCorps New York State volunteer doing community development at the New York Chapter’s Queens office in November 2009. There I work with the Community Outreach team, preparing and training individuals and groups—from five-year olds to the elderly—about how to deal with emergencies. I also interact with local businesses, civic leaders and other members of the community to spread awareness of the humanitarian services offered by the Red Cross and to help create fundraising networks. When I am not running all around Queens by car, I help manage the office.

At Duke University—from which I graduated in 2008—I majored in international comparative studies (focusing on East Asia) and Chinese. I’ve always wanted to live life meaningfully, and for me, that desire involves using my personal skill-set to engage with and offer concrete aid to diverse groups of people. Because my interests range from social justice to humanitarian aid (both internationally and locally), I was drawn to the Red Cross after a brief experience fighting for immigrant rights at a labor union. In the future, I hope to continue working with the underprivileged populations I feel drawn to and to explore the different, most effective ways I can serve them.

During the past few months, I have seen and heard a lot about the Red Cross in action, both locally and internationally. What has been so impressive to me is that whether it’s the folks whose home has been devastated by a fire right here in my neighborhood or the three million affected by the Haiti earthquake, the Red Cross is there. And we are not only delivering much-needed items, but providing the care and concern so essential for someone to get through a crisis.

The Red Cross is a wonderful equalizer, uniting people from all walks and places both to help and be helped. While my daily interactions with the diversity of ethnicity, language, age and interests of my Queens neighbors can be a challenge, it is a welcome learning experience. While, at first, the Red Cross seemed overwhelmingly large because of its global nature, I now realize that I fulfill a small but crucial role as a face of the Red Cross in Queens. To many, I am the only face or voice they may hear. And so it is an honor for me to assist the ongoing efforts of the Red Cross—aiding those in need and continuing the cycle of unconditional giving.

–Eunice Ok, Little Neck, Queens

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