Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Red Cross : Ship :: Volunteers : Sea

This is National Volunteer Week, and I’m around a lot of incredible volunteers every day here at the Greater Chicago Red Cross. So, I was trying to think about volunteering as an analogy. And here’s how it went.

Imagine that the entire America Red Cross is like one great big ship.

That’s right, a ship.

Then what are the Red Cross volunteers like?

Not the cargo.
They’re not the crew.
They’re certainly not lounging on the pool deck.

Nope, if the Red Cross is a ship, the volunteers are the sea.

Red Cross : Ship :: Volunteers : Sea.

I like it. It seems pretty darn true.

Without volunteers, we’d have no direction, nothing to keep us afloat. We’d just be a bunch of planks and goodies parked on some shore.

Our volunteers are also like a great big powerful body of water because they can put out fires. Not literal ones, we let the fire fighters do that. But they quench the smoldering embers of despair that follow home fires.

Almost EVERY day in Chicago, a Red Cross volunteer comforts a victim on a home fire. The kind that start in people’s homes—in toasters, furnaces, cigarettes—and then take everything away. This happens here in Chicago more than 1,000 times EVERY YEAR.

Our volunteers wake up in the middle of the night to help disaster victims figure out what to. It’s emotional, dirty, important work.

They are also CPR instructors. File-cabinet czars. Tech-experts. Feeding-truck drivers. Greeters at fundraisers. Phone-answerers.

Our volunteers do everything. They are leaders, and there’s lots of work to be done here. Thanks to all of our volunteers, and thanks to you for caring about us. I hope you’ll join in soon.

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