Volunteering at the American Red Cross

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I have chosen to volunteer at the American Red Cross in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast area. There are a number of reasons why I chose the American Red Cross. It has a very good reputation as being a leading non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping others. Additionally, the Haiti earthquake has made me more aware of disasters that can affect people and the opportunities we have to help. Finally, one of my friends is a volunteer at the local American Red Cross and the work they do sounds really interesting and useful. This friend volunteers around two hours a week, although they are on standby for disasters that require more help, which sounds like a good amount of time to volunteer with an organization. The American Red Cross mission statement is “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors” (American Red Cross, 2012).

I woke up on Monday not knowing how I would volunteer for the American Red Cross, so I went to the building to find out more about how to volunteer. The receptionist there was really friendly and helpful and gave me instructions on how to volunteer. Firstly, she told me that all initial applications are done online. The application is then followed by a background check and a final interview with Paula Henderson (the volunteer manager). I went home and filled in the online application which created me a volunteer connection account. On this account, I had to register for an orientation meeting, update my profile, read and agree to Red Cross policies, start the background check and indicate my interest as a volunteer. I am scheduled to attend the orientation on October 16th. After this, I could be in many different roles: Front Desk volunteer, Government Operations, Special Event Volunteer, Preparedness & Health and Safety Services. The role I do have will depend on the amount and type of help that the American Red Cross requires at the time. It will be for a maximum of 3 hours a week and 6 hours a month is required at a minimum which sounds like a good commitment to make to the organization.

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There are a number of ways volunteering at the American Red Cross will be interesting sociologically. Firstly, there are many different types of people who choose to volunteer (all from different social groups and backgrounds), and there are many different people who require the help of the Red Cross. This will introduce me to a wide range of people. There may be differences in races, religions, beliefs, class structure, home life and many other things that are important in sociology. Additionally, if there is a natural disaster or other event which requires help, it will be interesting to see where different people live and the things that are available to them in their home area. It may also be a place where we can see groupthink and how this affects an organization like the Red Cross. This is definitely something which would affect an organization, as people would be likely to think in similar ways (they are all the type of people that would volunteer to help others, for example). Volunteers may be likely to try and avoid conflict and therefore come to decisions which are not necessarily the best or most moral. I have already seen how important the internet is for this organization, so it might be interesting to see the sociology of the internet as part of a large organization.

  • American Red Cross. (2012). What We Do. www.redcross.org. Retrieved October 11, 2013, from http://www.redcross.org

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