Spreading the Light through Volunteerism

"Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose." Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Message for the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 5 December 2012

"Founded on the values of solidarity and mutual trust, volunteerism transcends all cultural, linguistic and geographic boundaries. By giving their time and skills without expectation of material reward, volunteers themselves are uplifted by a singular sense of purpose." Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Message for the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 5 December 2012

Story by Nadia Kalinchuk, National Headquarters, Caseworker and Outreach Coordinator

Happy International Volunteers Day to all volunteers and the staff fortunate to work with them!  Today, and throughout the week, we have celebrated this internationally recognized day of observance designated by the United Nations by highlighting the work of our volunteers.  This day offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations, like the American Red Cross, to share the work done by international volunteers to promote social and economic development. 

On this very special International Volunteer Day, I have the honor of highlighting the work of a passionate, committed volunteer who works at the American Red Cross, Yadira Rodriguez. Having moved from Colorado, where she worked with the International Services team at the American Red Cross chapter in Denver, she had set her sights on working with the team at National Headquarters before even relocating to DC.  Joining the Restoring Family Links outreach team here a mere few months ago, Yadira has already undertaken initiatives to enhance outreach to vulnerable populations. 

As a native of Colombia, and a recent graduate of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Yadira has applied her skills and knowledge of reaching out to underserved populations by examining the family linking needs of local migrant and refugee populations.  Yadira is a natural collaborator and looks for opportunities to learn from her environment, reaching out to the community, mentors, headquarters staff and the local chapter to gather a fully grounded perspective.  With such an active and engaged volunteer working on these focused outreach efforts, we feel very fortunate and sure that more people in need will learn about the reconnecting families services of the Red Cross.

In addition to these efforts, Yadira has contributed immensely to the development of outreach materials, providing translation as needed, and going even further in this by recruiting and identifying local volunteers who can provide translation on an ongoing basis.  She leads the Spanish translation efforts in the office, managing the flow of the work, dispatching, tracking and communicating the progress of documents.  This invaluable coordination allows us to provide effective communication to beneficiaries and partners in the Americas region.

Each day, at the American Red Cross we are fortunate to be in contact with volunteers.  At the heart of each volunteer is a desire to make a difference in the world around them.  This desire to make the world a better place is something that I relate to spreading light.  Edith Wharton wrote, “There are two ways of spreading light - to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  On this International Volunteers Day, I am very thankful for the volunteers we encounter every day, the many hands that make light work and their desire to spread light to serve the most vulnerable.  Thank you, Yadira for all you do.