Week 1: Badges, Emails and Food

I have successfully completed my first week at an organization that is a dream come true to be working for, The American Red Cross.

The week started off with an orientation where I met everyone in the office, received an official badge and email address and learned about my tasks for the summer. Let me just say that I have never felt more professional with my official katie.keane@redcross.org email address. All I want to do is send emails to everyone I know. Nonetheless, I couldn’t jump into emailing right away because I needed to complete online seminars to learn the basics of the Red Cross. From developing and operating shelters, to understanding community dynamics, to basic emergency preparedness, I am now well versed in the Red Cross’s mission, goals and ultimate operations during an emergency. Our main disasters at the Central Coast, Ventura County Chapter here in Southern California are wild and house fires, earthquakes and the occasional mudslides.

After the official inaguration into the Red Cross lifestyle, I met with my supervisor and her supervisor to discuss some of the projects I’ll be working on. My main project this summer will be working to further develop a database of catering companies, food trucks and restaurants that are willing to partner with the Red Cross. In the event of a disaster, the Red Cross has standing agreements with hotels, restaurants and various non-profits so that relief can happen quickly and smoothly. There is a database of companies on record as official feeding and lodging vendors, with a pre-disposed agreement of capacity to feed and accommodate in time of emergency. Every year, Red Cross headquarters requires the addition of a certain number of vendors for each category to ensure there are ample outlets of aid. This year’s deadline comes on July 1st and the chapter I am interning for needs 60 new restaurants, but only has 54. My job is to secure the last 6 restuarants and get on board as many other vendors as I can along the way. Challenge accepted.

As a Yelp maven and foodie, and with previous experience ordering food for my sorority, this project was right up my alley. Having lived in the Ventura County for my whole life, I have developed a vast repertoire of catering companies, restaurants and food trucks and have even befriended some of the owners at my favorite spots. I quickly jotted down every place I could think of off the top of my head, and went to work. My first order of business was to record basic data like phone numbers, email addresses and locations. A few searches on Google led me to information about owners or general managers and whether or not companies were already savvy about giving back. My list now has 15 restaurants, caterers, or food trucks that meet the criteria we are looking for. I have all pertinent information needed and next week myself and another employee will work on setting up meetings with companies to officially get them on board with the Red Cross. Week number one went by quickly and I got to help out in a way that is interesting to me and beneficial to the organization. I’m loving this intern lifestyle!

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