American Red Cross offers volunteer opportunities year-round
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Indo-Asia Pacific Region is an area that offers as much danger as beauty as it often falls victim to natural disasters. The region holds one third of the world's population and hosts a variety of countries, ranging from third-world to some of the highest economies. An area with such a large population at risk requires a sizeable volunteer force to take care of people during emergencies. For Yokota Air Base, that is where the American Red Cross comes into play.
The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in need, according to the organization's website. They provide this care through five key service areas: disaster relief, supporting America's military families, lifesaving blood, health and safety services, and international services.
According to Michael Wolfe, American Red Cross Regional Program manager, things are done uniquely at Yokota, being an overseas location.
Disaster relief is meant to provide comfort to victims and bridge the gap between losing something in a natural disaster to the recovery process. The Red Cross provides disaster response teams, who coordinate with base agencies to provide food, clothing and shelter to those in need.
Supporting America's military families is a large focus at the Yokota American Red Cross. According to Wolfe, this service is the organization's foundation. The organization also offers a wealth of information to the military community through volunteer and training opportunities. There are a variety of classes and workshops that offer life skills for those interested.
Lifesaving blood is a major role in the United States, but one that is not led by the American Red Cross in their overseas location. According to Wolfe, the Armed Services Blood Program conducts the blood donations here, although the Red Cross does provide volunteers and snacks during blood drives. They also assist local Japanese Red Cross societies in conducting blood drives on base.
Health and safety services offers life-saving skills and techniques to volunteers and community members. Certifications are also offered through classes for CPR, automated external defibrillator and first aid. Baby sitter training is available for 11 to 15-year-old children. Life guard and water safety classes are also available.
International services are also supported by the American Red Cross, such as refugee and prisoner(s) of war camp support and assisting other international Red Cross societies. More information about the American Red Cross and their roles can be found at their website.
The Yokota American Red Cross has 150 to 200 people actively volunteering for the organization, but there is always a need for more volunteers, according to Wolfe.
"Every day you get a sense of gratification knowing that you helped someone," Wolfe added. "You can see from the time a person comes in and talks to a volunteer to the time they leave, they change. They are upset but they realize, 'It's going to be ok. Someone is helping me. It's all going to work out.'"
Wolfe said he takes prides in helping those in need and that is what he enjoys most about his job.
Annabelle Moore, American Red Cross station chairman and volunteer, has been at Yokota six months and recently started at the Red Cross. Moore said what really stood out when applying for the Red Cross was who she would directly help--the Yokota community and its military members.
"That's my husband; that's my best friend's husband; that's my best friend; that's my brother," Moore said reflecting on her affected community. "You are directly helping your AF family which is a neat experience."
Moore said volunteering at the Red Cross offers great learning experiences and chances to not only acquire new skills, but build upon already known skills. There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that can be a good fit for anyone, according to Moore.
"We try to marry skills sets to job opening as best as possible so our volunteers have an enjoyable experience and get to learn and progress in their endeavors," Moore added.
Those interest in volunteering with the Yokota American Red Cross can call 225-7552 or apply online at www.redcross.org.