Thursday, August 25, 2016

Profile of a Red Cross Volunteer

Colin Blair, a Red Cross Volunteer from Scotland
By Stan Frank, American Red Cross

On his way back home to Scotland after working in Australia, Colin Blair made a detour to visit his fiancé in New York City. While in New York, he researched volunteer opportunities where he could put his accounting and organizational skills to good use. The Red Cross turned out to be the ideal place.

“I was immediately struck by the broad scope of things the Red Cross did and how open-minded they were to new ideas,” said Colin.

In Australia, Colin had worked for three years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global accounting firm known for its expertise in managing large corporate projects and also at a fast-growing entrepreneurial logistics business for two years.

When he learned that the New York Red Cross Chapter’s goal for the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign was to install 100,000 smoke alarms in the five boroughs over the next 2 years, he knew he could use his experience to help plan, execute and control the ambitious program.

Over several months, Colin developed the infrastructure to dramatically scale up the program. To accommodate and effectively manage the 15,000 appointment requests received, Colin focused on how to improve the volunteer and resident experience and automate key processes. He did this by adapting an existing communications platform to schedule and manage smoke alarm installation appointments more effectively. As a result, Red Cross volunteers are able to spend more time out in the field than in the office.

Thanks to Colin, Red Cross leadership and the large number of Red Cross volunteers who responded to the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign’s call for help, the plan has proven to be very successful. To date, nearly 30,000 smoke alarms have been installed and the NY Chapter is well on its way to meeting its overall objective!

“I believe it is important for everyone to include volunteering in some way as part of their life," he said. "Working on the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign and helping prevent possible deaths and injuries has been the most satisfying thing I have ever done.”

Colin and his fiancé returned to Scotland this summer before getting married in September.

Good luck, Colin, and thanks from the New York Red Cross!

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