Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Inside the Mind of a Volunteer

Inside the mind of a Red Cross Volunteer

By: Stephanie Petersen

For four and a half years Chris Briggs has been volunteering with the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the Utah Red Cross and describes his experience as full of generosity and comfort.

Although he claims being a volunteer for just short of five years, his journey with the American Red Cross began long before that. He grew up the son of a Red Cross First Aider responding to traffic emergencies and his interest led him to become involved as a youth volunteer during his senior year of high school. He said the experiences he had as a youth volunteer gave him a sense of unity among peers and explained how that feeling has grown with his years of service.

“People assume we are the ones who are giving so much, but really, the volunteers are receiving the best service of all,” Briggs said. “Being a volunteer allows me to meet new people, see generosity in the community and share experiences that connect me to people.”

Although specialized as an Emergency Response Vehicle driver, Briggs was present at five of the seven Red Cross shelters opened for evacuees of this summer’s fire season. 

“People really do find a sense of comfort, shelter and security when they see Red Cross insignia,” Briggs said.

According to the Red Cross veteran, volunteering is not always action-packed like some people believe. He explained how sometimes it comes down to the simplest of tasks like cleaning and serving food.

“No matter what your job is, you need to embrace it and love it,” he said. Briggs said he believes as long as volunteers feel welcomed and appreciated, they will be committed to the Red Cross mission of helping others.

As a shelter manager at the Timberline Middle School shelter opened for evacuees from July’s Quail Fire, Briggs said he was impressed by the generosity found through community partnerships. He explained that from large organizations to individuals, the public was more than willing to do their part during the disaster.  Large companies like Wal-Mart and Little Caesar’s Pizza were eager to provide food and water, while the staff at Timberline Middle School entertained evacuees with their production of “Annie.”

Briggs said he feels lucky to live in a place where the community is so willing to reach out during tragedies. He welcomes anyone who might be interested in volunteering with the Red Cross. For volunteer opportunities, visit www.utahredcross.org.


Benjamin Blake said...

Volunteeering can be a very demanding job. It can drain you physically as well as emotionally. Since you're a volunteer, people consider you to be a demi-God, and expect so much from you, which may be beyond human capabilities.

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Teresa Zundel said...

You are right, it can be very demanding. But it is important to remind yourself the reason you are volunteering in the first place - to help people and to make a difference. Without the help of volunteers, the American Red Cross would not be able to function as it does so we are always appreciative of our volunteers and their efforts to help.