Friday, April 23, 2010

“The American Red Cross has been the most rewarding volunteer experience."

Amy Fratkin travels from Philadelphia to New York City twice, and sometimes three times a week, to volunteer with the American Red Cross in Greater New York. You read it right—Amy lives in Philadelphia and volunteers in New York.

She is a New York City labor and employment attorney who has a long history of service to the community. She chose to include the American Red Cross in her consulting projects to combine her human resources management experience with workplace law to help ensure the Chapter’s People Resources Unit’s ongoing commitment to diversity. Her recruitment of paid staff and volunteers often includes working remotely and attending Reserve Institutes (one-day volunteer trainings) to interview volunteers. In addition, she has assisted with the American Red Cross pilot for National Organization on Disability’s Start on Success high school-to-work mentoring program.

For another recruiting project, Amy interviewed Creole-speaking volunteer candidates who wanted to serve as translators on the USNS Comfort. She and the other interviewers were told to be careful about selecting any volunteers who had lost family members. Sadly, it turned out that almost every prospective volunteer had lost a loved one. Someone had even lost his dad. “Yet, they all said they still wanted to volunteer,” said Amy. “It was inspiring to watch the Haitian community come together in the face of such adversity and find the strength to help others.”

During the Haiti relief effort, Amy also answered phone calls from people worried about their relatives. “That was heart wrenching,” she said. “We instructed callers to use the ICRC Web site to locate lost family members. In some instances we created profiles for them, and when one woman needed to find to her daughter but did not have an email address to use, I used my personal email address as a contact.” Amy also took credit card donations and told people what process to follow if they wanted to hold fundraising events for Haiti relief. And she trained spontaneous volunteers to take family tracing calls, accept donations and speak to people who wanted to become NY Red Cross volunteers.

“The American Red Cross,” she said, “has been the most rewarding volunteer experience since it is an opportunity to work side by side with professionals whom I admire and to play a meaningful role in providing important services to the community.”

Amy Fratkin, Philadelphia, PA

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