This is almost my third week at the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter. Every day here is different because the organization’s work is heavily influenced by what happens in the world. Right now, we have been sending volunteers to Orlando to help at the Mental Health Department of the Red Cross. Since 23 of the victims were Puerto Ricans, we are also establishing support services in the island. The fact that I’m working with such an active organization is a privilege. We have also been sending volunteers to Texas, where there are heavy floods and people have been moved to refuges. Although I don’t go on these trips, I have the opportunity to see how these activities are planned and interact with the volunteers that are sent.
I mostly work under Disaster Relief Department but some days I help out with other departments such as the Volunteer Services. In the disaster department, I am in charge of managing a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which means that I am in charge of planning and implementing the program. Through this, I have also begun training to become a “Pillowcase Presenter”. The Pillowcase Project is a “preparedness education program for children in grades 3 – 5, which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards, and basic coping skills” (Red Cross website). I have had the opportunity to attend these talks and I’m excited to be given the opportunity of presenting a talk soon.
The first day of my internship, I had the opportunity to attend a symposium on volunteering in Puerto Rico. They talked about making volunteers feel useful and important. I think this applies to internships as well, and I have felt very useful and important at the Red Cross so far. Moreover, I have gained a new perspective on running an organization like the Red Cross. They are an amazing and well-respected organization, but this is because of the work and dedication of the employees. The employees get here at 8 am and try to leave by 4:30pm, although most of them stay way past that. The “work environment” is also very friendly, from people constantly offering me coffee in the mornings to everyone knowing my name since my first day, and every day we all have lunch together.
Needless to say, I’m learning a lot from a business perspective, but also gaining tons of administrative and logistical skills that I didn’t have before. I’m also learning a lot about disaster management, which is very unique but important. I’m excited to see how the following weeks unfold, and I’m excited to have such an unpredictable but amazing internship opportunity thanks to the WOW fellowship.
Claudia Roldan Rivera ’18