Friday, September 30, 2011

My Life in Disaster: Transitions

I am a mother of three, two girls and one boy. My girls are both in college, and my son is a sophomore in high school. Like many moms who chose to stay at home with their kids, I found myself left in their dust, as they charged out of the house as fast as they possibly could, thinking “What next?” My daughters wouldn't even consider colleges within a 75-mile radius of home.

Was living at home that bad? The answer comes to me in my younger daughter's phone calls home. We talk now more than ever. She and I look forward to parents’ weekend. My older daughter is home again; three years away was enough for her. She now attends school in New York. The distance made my kids closer. They actually miss each other and talk more than they did when they were living under one roof.

While I was and am so happy for them as they forge ahead, when the girls left I felt abandoned. Now what was I supposed to do? Yes, my son is home, but he is a very independent young man, who doesn't need his mom that much anymore. That's a good thing, I know.

I decided to apply to the Red Cross to become a volunteer. It's the best decision I could have made. While I was raising my kids, I became interested in writing and photography. As a volunteer for the Communications Department at the New York City chapter, I am able to use those skills, and even improve them.

Coming into the office feels like old times. It's good to have a reason not to walk around in sweats all day, It's good to get out of the house, and we all need a change of scenery. But more than that, I love putting my skills to good use. It's very satisfying to know that I am helping to make a difference. Giving my time to the Red Cross allows me give back. Now when I see the Red Cross responding to disasters, I'm not only impressed, I'm know that I am part of the team.

There are so many volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross, and each one fits a different personality or skill set. Opportunities range from responding to disasters to instructing people in emergency preparedness or lifesaving skills to helping someone locate a relative separated from family members by armed conflict or natural disaster. No matter what your personality or skill you will find a match, and you will feel the satisfaction that only helping others brings.

My Life in Disaster is a series of blog posts by Maha Awad, who is volunteering with the Red Cross and finding out first-hand what it means to be prepared for life’s many disasters.

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