(I was recently asked to share ‘Why I Help’ at the American Red Cross of Northeast Alabama 2012 Volunteer Recognition Event. I was delighted to have the opportunity to express the deep regard I have in my heart for International Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent.)
Why I Help
Webster defines the volunteer as ‘One who offers himself for a service of his own free will.’ And Webster says service is ’Help given to others.’ Thus, one could say to volunteer is to determine to help others. But how and why did I come to a place of determining to help others through the American Red Cross? Serving others through the American Red Cross helps answer the inner question, ‘Is it okay to have been me.?”
Eric Erickson’s stages of Psychosocial Development discuss ‘eight stages through which a healthy developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood.’ I first encountered Erickson’s model in my teacher education methods courses at Jacksonville State University many years ago. And I became very familiar with the first five stages since they applied to the school-age special needs students under my instructional care. The first five stages were helpful in identifying and managing developmental psychosocial behaviors of students during the eighteen years I served as an instructor of my county’s wonderful special needs student population. Yet, I never looked ahead to the last stage called Wisdom (65 years to death). Wisdom stage of Erickson’s model insists that near the end of one’s life, he or she begins to ask ‘Is it okay to have been me.’
I began asking my heart the question more than seven years ago. I retired early because I knew in my heart there was a work not one, a goal not reached, and a question not answered. Even after a wonderful childhood with loving parents, after 40+ years of marriage to my continuing wonderful husband and best friend, after raising three precious children, after losing a little son to a birth defect in 1983, after three beautiful granddaughters, and after eighteen years of an extremely fulfilling career I found myself asking my heart, ‘Is it okay to have been me?” The answer? No! Not yet!
Though volunteerism and giving finds many paths through personal endeavors, through faith-based endeavors, through civic endeavors, and through the many other worthwhile humanitarian agencies…….my heart needed to find those people in immediate peril such as is found in disaster related situations. Thus, my needy volunteer heart has found its home in the American Red Cross.
Red Cross Integrated Service Delivery says, ‘Right assistance at the right time by the right method’. The statement speaks volumes about the heart and intent of the American Red Cross as it meets the needs of people affected by disasters….around the globe. And the intense Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement give expression to the deep desire in my heart to serve my fellow man.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield endeavors, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.
In my endeavor to make sure it is okay to have been me, it is the global humanitarian aspect of Red cross that deeply touches my heart. And though my contribution as a volunteer is so very small, the collective contributions of all volunteers are the International Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent. DeKalb’s volunteers are one grain of sand that makes up the beach of International Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent. I matter! You matter! We matter!
Whether the DeKalb volunteer serves through the quality hospital Red Cross Volunteer Services program, through administrative duties in the local Red Cross office, through DAT response, or through the many other volunteer opportunities within Red Cross….we collectively are the heart, hands, and feet of the International Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent.
Whether it is Carolyn Fields doing small things in DeKalb County, whether it is twenty-five-year-old Brian Kanaahe M. Belial doing big things with Red Cross Mbarara (Uganda) from age fourteen, or whether it is British Red Cross health program manager, Khalil Rasjed Dale, who was recently abducted then murdered in southwestern Pakistan when demanded ransom was not paid……we are one body. Red Cross is one body whose humanitarian heart is making a difference for victims of disaster. So when Floyd spoke these words years ago in his Mayberry barber shop, he surely referred to the global Red Cross when he said, ‘It’s big, Andy! It’s Big!!’ END
Christian Connection and Servitude / ‘Helping’
1 Cor 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
1 Cor 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
Matt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ro 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Ro 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law
Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Matt: 25:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: