Friday, May 20, 2011

AmeriCorps Week Volunteer Spotlight: Monica Camacho

In honor of AmeriCorps Week 2011 we asked our own AmeriCorps members what their Red Cross experience has meant to them. 

"My role at the American Red Cross is in the Mass Care department, where I identify new locations for shelters and new vendors for emergency feeding. My most memorable AmeriCorps experience so far has been running a family assistance center for the relatives of the victims of a tragic bus accident in the Bronx.

One Saturday morning in March I received a phone call from Staffing, asking me to report to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and serve as the Mass Care Lead for the day. A bus had run off the highway and killed 15 passengers; now their relatives waited at OCME to learn the fate of their loved ones.

The Red Cross provided mental health counselors, interpreters, and food and beverages for the families and for the staff of the multiple city agencies. I was in charge of food, beverages and volunteers. I jumped head-first into the chaos of the day: I liaised with city officials, set up a canteen area with food and drinks, directed various groups of volunteers, coordinated with the rest of the Mass Care department, interacted with food vendors, and cleaned up at the end of the 12-hour shift.

More importantly, I witnessed people experiencing the worst day of their lives, but I also witnessed the compassion and professionalism with which counselors, volunteers and officials treated them. It was a terrible and beautiful thing to see. Had I stayed home and gone about my day normally, I would have likely wasted time on less meaningful activities, but I got to spend my day on something that mattered, and AmeriCorps made it happen."

–Monica Camacho, AmeriCorps State

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