Author Archives: Katie

“Together, we can save a life”


My time at the Red Cross has been more insightful and enriching than I could have hoped. This organization is filled with individuals dedicated to improving the lives of others, uniting communities, and ensuring that people who are in need, are treated equally, fairly, and justly. The organization’s fundamental principles—humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality—are incorporated so perfectly into every aspect of operation, from the welcoming front desk when you first walk in the office to the prompt care everyone receives in leiu of a disaster. The volunteers, employees, and everyone who I encountered during my time with the Red Cross restored my faith in humanity. I was amazd at the self-lessness people and the dedication that everyone exhibited.


Moving forward, I believe the Red Cross set the ultimate example for the smooth operation of a non-profit. The office was organized, everyone dressed professionally, every team member was treated with respect, and the overall functioning has set forth a standard for what I can expect from a career in the future. I was treated as a full time team member, and this completely helped me realize my importance as an intern. This experience has allowed me to realize the importance of each individual in a professional setting. All of us have a role that must be followed, for the organization depends on us to operate. At times, the mundane acts of entering data or making copies would have me questioning my importance, but when I saw how useful those charts of data were, and where the copies were going to, I realize that I too was contributing to help alleviate the suffering of someone somewhere (even if not instantly, it was helping). My advice to my supervisor would be keep running things how you are; the instructions I received, feedback and encouragement were very educational in an internship setting, and her welcoming and professional presence inspired me to work to my fullest potential. I would advise future interns to have faith in themselves, know the doubts are normal and that you are important! Even if you have to make 750 copies for 3 days in a row.


The critical thinking skills I developed and sharpened in the classroom helped me in completing my daily tasks, and contributed greatly in meetings when I was asked to collaborate on projects or asked of my opinion on implementing programs. I helped with the groundwork for a new Faith-Based Initiative that our Red Cross chapter was granted money to begin. The Red Cross has no current religious affiliation, and our chapter is going to team up with various organizations in the areas to offer a religious or spiritual component in the aftermath of disasters. One of my main tasks this summer was compiling a database of all religious establishments in the three divisions of the Red Cross Central Coast chapter. The territory I examined was Santa Barbara, San Louis Obispo, and Ventura County, totaling around 150 cities. Finding the organizations took a majority of the time, but I was able to complete the database in less time than was anticipated and I was able to locate very specific details for the project manager. Come September, the Faith Based Initiative will go into full effect, and I will have been the one to create this essential groundwork, which will provide all team members with a database of information to allow easy contact in the event of an emergency. My tasks were more substantial than I could have even hoped for, and I am very proud of my accomplishment and happy that I was able to be a part of this new program!


One size doesn’t fit all

Hello fellow interns! I thought for this post I would give a little insight into this fabulous organization I’m working for this summer!

The Central Coast Region Camarillo Office where I'm reporting to. This building houses all the major supplies for disasters spanning the Southern coast of California.

The Central Coast Region Camarillo Office where I’m reporting to. This building houses all the major supplies for disasters spanning the Southern coast of California.

We all know the iconic logo of the American Red Cross, an organization synonymous with blood drives, blankets and Clara Barton. Most elementary school kids in the US are taught the historical story of this organization’s founding, which began in Washington DC in 1881 when one passionate nurse was determined to aid a war-stricken United States, whose population at the time consisted of more injured soldiers than abled-bodied ones. Clara’s humanitarian girl-power efforts and 23 years of service led to the development of one of the nation’s premier humanitarian organizations. Their mission statement is as follows:

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.”


One of the many inspirational posters around the office.

Their motto is turn compassion into action, and through the strong network of volunteers, donors and partners they are able to provide support in times of need. As a non-profit organization, the Red Cross relies soley on private donations and grants for its daily funding and functioning. The fundamental principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality, all of which are incorporated into every aspect of their work. With over 100 million volunteers and employees nationwide, the Red Cross is part of the world’s largest volunteer network and found in 187 countries. And I’m now one of 100 million!

My haphazard organization of my desk. Have no fear, all those papers are now safely filed away and ready for a disaster! (Fingers crossed we don't have one soon...)

My haphazard organization of my desk. Have no fear, all those papers are now safely filed away and ready for a disaster! (Fingers crossed we don’t have one soon!)

Today, the supporters, volunteers and employees of the Red Cross provide compassionate care in five critical areas:

  1. People affected by disasters in America
  2. Support for members of the military and their families
  3. Blood collection, processing and distribution
  4. Health and safety education and training
  5. International relief and development

My internship primarily falls under the first critical area, and I am working in the Department of Disaster Programs in the Ventura County Chapter of the Central Coast Region of the Southern California Division. There are a lot of divisions. Anyways, I’m working on preparing databases in preparation for large-scale disasters, and the information I’m gathering and compiling will directly aid communities in the event of a disaster. For example, I am working on a database of restaurants the Red Cross has a partnership with in each chapter of the Central Coast region, and this list will allow people to know where they can go for a fixed price and affordable meal during a disaster. While my collection of restaurants doesn’t initially aid anyone, the availability of this resource is essential to providing support. Further, I have sharpened my interpersonal communication skills, for in order to create these agreements I need to communicate with managers and organize an agreement that they will hold to in the event of a disaster.

Well, are you?

Well, are you?

While interviewing for my position, my now supervisor and I discussed the role of nonprofits in society, and how diverse they must be in their outreach. There is no “one size fits all” solution, and it is impermeable that response are adapted to suit the needs of the community. My supervisor emphasized the point that yes, the Red Cross is a national and global organization that sets ideals and guidelines for each individual chapter, but not every case will be solvable in the same way. She made sure I understood that “you can’t please everyone” and particularly during an emergency. Decisions are made quickly to ensure the majority of the population is covered, and this can lead to variations in performance and results. By keeping in mind their fundamental principles and understanding the basis of their mission, the Red Cross and its volunteers may not respond the same way every time, or the same way every chapter can respond, yet by remembering the sole purpose of helping someone in need, each individual chapter, employee and volunteer can and will provide help and comfort in the face of tragedy.

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 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!