by Dan Santos, Public Affairs Volunteer
Grace Bunker was looking for a way to enhance her sociology studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. A college roommate, involved with the American Red Cross, recommended the organization and she is now nearing her first year of service.
“My roommate told me how cool it was and how easy it was to start volunteering,” Bunker said. “I was interested in organizations doing social work and the Red Cross fit right in.”
Bunker said her Red Cross experience has been a real-world classroom in her chosen field of studies. “I’ve been able to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into doing a lot of good in the world.” These include recruiting potential volunteers, answering their questions and introducing them to the Red Cross.
“I’ve found that the people who apply are just awesome,” Bunker said. “They might be doctors, military members, or students like I am. They have busy lives, with so much on their plates already, and yet they want to help the Red Cross.”
Satisfaction,” according to Red Cross volunteer Kit Robbins, “comes from the connections you make with clients. You can make an impact and see your work get results.”
Robbins has been with the Red Cross since 2017 after retiring from Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. He worked there over 40 years, first as a technician and then as an administrator in radiology and cardiology.
“The Red Cross had an appeal to me,” Robbins said about his post-retirement goals. “I always respected their work and I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
He first started helping in mass care, including the 2017 Thomas Fire and 2018 Montecito mudslides. He also has been active in Sound the Alarm activities for areas of Santa Barbara and Oxnard.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked with volunteer Bob Strojek in logistics to do a top-to-bottom inventory of supplies the Red Cross had in its warehouse. “We spent months making sure we had adequate supplies,” Robbins said.
“This experience gave me a great feeling to be involved in various jobs, and to see how disasters are managed by the Red Cross,” Robbins said.
After retiring from a career in human resources in 2018, Karen Ferguson knew she wanted to stay engaged in her community.
“I wanted to give back, but I was so busy working. There was just no time,” Ferguson said. Since joining as an American Red Cross volunteer, Ferguson has been spending her time with disaster emergency services and disaster action teams.
“Working with the Red Cross has been an opportunity to meet really great people with a variety of skills, playing in a grand sandbox,” she said.
Ferguson also serves as a youth coordinator for Ventura County high school and college student groups involved with the Red Cross. As she mentors the next generation of Red Cross volunteers, Ferguson draws from her professional skills.
“I provide the students with anything they need: resources, ideas, training. We’re matching good people with good positions,” she said.
Ferguson lives in Simi Valley with her “not quite retired” husband.
Become a Volunteer
Your time and talent can make a real difference in people’s lives. Our need for volunteers is constant and continues to evolve as we navigate this health crisis. Volunteer opportunities include delivering much-needed services to your community, with a wide variety of remote (work-from-home) options available.