Post by Kelly Vetter/American Red Cross
If you were lucky enough to have known my grandmother Eileen, warmly referred to by her eight grandchildren as Nana, you would know that volunteering at the American Red Cross was a perfect role for her. She was a “people-person,” and I think of the Red Cross as the ultimate “people-organization.”
My Nana made you feel like you were the most important person in the room. That must explain why each of us grandchildren can proudly proclaim, “I was her favorite.” I envision the people she sat with, perhaps after donating blood or after learning the steps they would need to take to recover from a home fire, left the building knowing without question that they mattered to her and that they mattered to the Red Cross. She could sit, listen and empathize better than anyone else I know.
And isn’t it surprising how a few simple words or actions can lighten one’s suffering? One of the many lessons I learned from my Nana is that small gestures can be as powerful and meaningful as grand gestures. The finer details, which my Nana never overlooked and which the Red Cross is so good at (being available day or night, offering an assuring smile and hug, treating every person’s experience like the lead story of the day), can produce such great comfort.
I began working for the Red Cross just a few short months ago. I am impressed daily by the dedicated staff and volunteers I meet here and now know why my kind-hearted Nana fit in so well with this organization. I keep my Nana’s 10 Years pin displayed on the bulletin board next to me. I wish I could ask her more about her Red Cross story, but she lost her battle with cancer 10 years ago. So instead, I will build my own Red Cross story and know that she would be proud to see that I, too, am contributing to the mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering, a mission that she carried out every day through small gestures.