This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re highlighting men and women who play an important role in helping the American Red Cross fulfill its humanitarian mission every day. This week, we’d like to feature Hannah Wirz, a dedicated volunteer who serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for our Pacific Coast Chapter. Here is a conversation we had with her about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and the importance of giving back alongside her daughter, Kate.
How and why did you get involved with the Red Cross?
I have been a volunteer with the Red Cross starting in St Louis, Missouri in the early 2000s and on the Central California Board of Directors since 2012 when I moved to California. The Red Cross has always symbolized hope and safety for as long as I can remember. Growing up outside the US, whether it was the Red Cross or the Red Crescent, the mission was always clear to me. When the previous Regional Executive asked me if I would be interested in joining the Board, I was truly honored and jumped at the opportunity.
What does it mean for you to give back? And to bring your daughter alongside you?
Giving back is something I was taught to do from a young age. My mother and grandmother always said if you earned some money, part of that should go to the Church or to charity. My grandmother had a ledger with all her finances and the first page of the ledger was for charitable contributions, I think that says a lot about how she lived her life even though she was not wealthy. I think the other important value that I was raised with is the importance of humility. You should never grow without understanding how it happened or who helped you get there, and you should certainly never assume that you will stay where you are. Bad things can happen to anyone anytime and it is organizations like the Red Cross that help you to stay humble by helping those who need it most.
My daughter, Kate has been interested in volunteering from early on. We travel to India every year to see my parents where my mother is involved with a local orphanage. Kate loved interacting with the kids and handing out cookies or some small treats. From there she started to get involved with the Red Cross and FoodShare. She has joined me for several Red Cross events and it means a great deal to see her spirit for volunteering grow.
Why is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month important to you?
AAPI month is about valuing our uniqueness while strengthening our community as a whole. Diversity brings richness to life and Inclusion harnesses the power of difference for the greater good. It is wonderful to see us celebrate diversity in an inclusive way.
How does your heritage influence your work with the Red Cross and your career?
I had a very international upbringing and grew up with people from multiple cultures and ethnicities from an early age. I was raised to believe that you may not be the same but you are just as capable of succeeding through hard work and humility. My parents used to say that you should be able to talk to a King but just as easily talk to a pauper, I feel this helped me see people’s humanity first before their differences which is a core value of the Red Cross too. In my work, this is so important. I work in teams on a daily basis and finding common ground makes all the difference to the performance of a team.
How would you encourage others to get involved with the Red Cross or in their communities?
The Red Cross is a place where your unique skills are needed and you can contribute right away. The mission is so clear and so simple. Whether it is donating blood, helping in a disaster shelter, installing smoke alarms in someone’s home or helping veterans stay in touch with their families, there is a way for you to engage and contribute. If you have an hour or months to spare, please reach out anytime to see how you can help us help others.
Become a Volunteer
Thank you, Hannah and Kate, for your hard work and dedication, and all you do to help the community as a Red Crossers! Visit redcross.org/volunteer to join them as a Red Cross volunteer.