Friday, April 16, 2010

"Working with a focus on health and safety attracted me to the Red Cross."

AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Kaitlin Tyler arrived at the NY Red Cross in September 2009 after graduating from Dickinson College with a BA in political science. After interning at Planned Parenthood and later, with a congresswoman from Wisconsin, she realized she wanted to work for change, and the idea of working with a focus on health and safety attracted her to the Red Cross.

So, when she first arrived at the Red Cross, Kaitlin, who is charged with working on programs that target low income and high-incidence areas of Greater New York, began traveling to Far Rockaway and Harlem to do community outreach through the Chapter’s Ready NY preparedness program. “It’s been nice to get a whole new perspective and to learn about preparedness,” she said, adding that in addition to teaching preparedness to New Yorkers, she has also spread the word to family and friends.

Kaitlin also trains volunteers to give outreach presentations to both adults and children. Additionally, she evaluates and oversees new volunteers, and works to promote volunteer recruitment, engagement and retention. Kaitlin recently worked with Alicia Learmont from the People Resources department to devise a system using data from the organization’s My Red Cross Web site to identify volunteers by their activity level with the hope of targeting those who are most active to enlist new volunteers.

“So far, my favorite thing has been my ability to work with children,” Kaitlin said. As a result of her outreach experience with Scrubby Bear and BAT (Basic Aid Training)—two health and safety outreach programs especially designed for children—she is looking for a job in children’s education when her AmeriCorps year at the Red Cross is over in September.

Kaitlin said she feels lucky to have had this experience with the Red Cross. “I’ve never been involved with an organization that depends so much on volunteer service. “The Red Cross attracts people who are very dedicated to what they do, and they’re doing it for free. I think that makes for a stronger organization—one that has a lot diversity and dedication."

Kaitlin Tyler, Manhattan

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