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Why I have fallen in love with the American Red Cross

Updated on June 28, 2012

I decided to start a Red Cross Club at my high school in 2010 in order to get more students involved with fundraising and educate them on all the remarkable programs the Red Cross offers. Most of all, I wanted to generate a group of students who will remain with the Red Cross for the rest of their lives. The Red Cross changed my life by teaching me that the world can operate as one. Whether its half a million disaster victims or one sick child who needs blood, the Red Cross is there. They are the first to arrive and the last to depart. What amazes me about the organization is its ability to be an international source of peace. The Red Cross is always neutral with only the goal of saving lives. They are everywhere at once, saving lives in Uganda, while helping flood victims in upstate New York.

The Red Cross is an organization that encourages individuals to continue their education, whether it’s through training in CPR, or becoming part of a group that inspires people to better their lives, realizing that they can accomplish whatever they desire as they serve others in need in their communities. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a part of something that has been around since the 1800s, and will undoubtedly still be around far into the future. I want to continue serving my community by bringing the Red Cross to each life that I touch. Volunteering and learning go hand in hand. Each new experience with the Red Cross teaches me something new, but at the same time reminds me of an ideal deep-rooted in my heart; the American Red Cross is unbiased, devoted, reliable, resilient and forever.

In part, the goal of my education is to come away with a better understanding of the world I live in and wish to contribute to. New York University allows me to experience this world up close, in the limitless Manhattan. Although I knew some facts about the American Red Cross, I wasn’t completely educated on what tasks they carried out on a daily basis. However, what I did know was that the Red Cross was there, and aiding, on the day of one of America’s greatest tragedies. September eleventh, 2001 was a day that I remember, even as a mere second grader. I remember an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and helplessness watching my family members speak on the phone with people whom they believed might have been in one of the towers. I also remember red vests. Red vests handing out water bottles, and masks, and most importantly hope, as they connected family members to one another. The American Red Cross has been ever-present in New York City, and after seeing how they brought optimism and order to a situation filled with fear and crisis, creates a hunger in me to continue what I’ve started here in Albany, just on a larger, more incredulous scale in the great city of New York. I hope to become a successful and influential writer, whether that’s through the medium of film, television or magazine publication. I will spread the message of the American Red Cross through my writing to preserve the ideals that are exercised by the Red Cross every day, regardless of what country or community they lend their help. I desire for every citizen of the world to cherish and recognize these ideals. I wasn’t expecting to be so moved, by each individual family, each Hurricane Irene flood victim, each family member sitting on the street curb watching their house burn down. To see in their eyes how thankful they are as we approach and give them hope, something to hold onto when it seems as if they’ve lost everything, is an imprint that never leaves your heart. There is no greater balm for the soul than seeing how much your aid and support can impact someone else. It’s important to tell their stories, both of the individual and the collective, through my writing and filmmaking. As I continue my education at New York University, in the thriving Greenwich Village, I will make it my mission to accomplish just this.

As an aspiring writer, I’d like to tell you the story of my Red Cross moment. Often our most memorable and moving experiences are those that happen to others. On May 13th 2009, while waiting to board my flight, I had one of those moments.

Standing in the airport is a mother with a secret and two unsuspecting, young boys. In just a few short moments, a memory will unfold, remaining engraved in their minds, forever. No doubt they wonder, “An airport, why are we here?”

“Daddy is on his way home.” Their eyes light up.

As the three anxious family members stand waiting at the gate, an announcement plays overhead. “Arriving today in a few moments is Captain Mark Tempel. He hasn’t seen his family in nine months.” His family stands huddled, their faces filled with optimism. Curious onlookers walk by, glancing at the tearing mother and restless boys. The bystanders tilt their heads and for a moment just stand and look. They don’t want to miss this. Their faces can’t help but form an encouraging smile.

The gate opens. Sharp intakes of breath. Everyone is still. Everyone is waiting. As passengers appear, entering the airport from the plane, they have tears in their eyes. “He’s coming! He’s coming!” they say.

The anticipation is unbearable. Finally he emerges, handsome, sun drenched and draped in full military dress. He takes two strong steps towards his family with open arms. They all unite in hysterics, hugging and kissing and living. Eyes squeezed shut, but their tears are so strong, they burst through. Everyone in the airport is still, with a hand to their heart, as they begin to cry themselves.

It is the happiest moment to witness. The reunification of a family that has been missing such an important piece for so long. People stand as if in a trance. No one wants to walk away. It is too special. Two sons, with uncontrollable tears, will not let go of their dad. All the boys can hear, see, feel is their father. Nothing else exists. No words are spoken; there is no time for that. All they want to do is soak up that feeling of togetherness that had been absent for so long. After being 6,000 miles from his family, Captain Tempel can once again hold his most precious treasures.

On that day a family’s breath-taking love for each other radiated across a room, and moved us all. There was a binding energy that connected everyone, proof that people are not completely separate individuals. It seems so simple reflecting back, but it’s this interconnectedness and the ability of humankind to share love in an unexpected circumstance that is the core of what moves our world. I realized that each day offers the opportunity to prove extraordinary. In the end, ironically, the witnessing of another’s powerful experience served as one of my most profound experiences.

That moment left me with a new awareness that all of my actions, deeds, and thoughts ultimately impact us all.

The Red Cross connected this family throughout Mark’s term overseas, and notified them of when he’d be coming home.

The American Red Cross has always connected troops with their families back home. In a time when families are most vulnerable, missing their loved ones as they fight overseas for the welfare of our country, the Red Cross is always there to support and encourage. After all I’ve seen that the Red Cross does, including donating blood, taking care of people when tragedy strikes (whether that’s on a local or international scale) and educating people on how to stay safe, I am still spellbound and amazed with their unwavering skill of connecting one human being with another, especially concerning our brave soldiers. This was the moment that inspired me to seek out the Red Cross, and begin my journey to make a difference. Staying involved with the Red Cross, I do not doubt, will lead me to many more of these rewarding, awe-inspiring moments.

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