By: Maria Marabito and Sophie Kluthe
When COVID-19 put a halt on in-person meetings, volunteer recruiters at the Red Cross had to adapt and find new ways to connect with people who might have otherwise walked into an open house. They knew there were still people out there who wanted to volunteer and learn more about the process, so they turned to the internet to connect with those people online instead of in-person, but still in real time; and it’s been a huge success!
In April recruiters came up with Lunch and Learn presentations using Microsoft Teams, which allows anyone with a link to join. During these virtual sessions, the team shares information with the community, and even responds to individual questions. The best part? Attendance skyrocketed, with up to 80 attendees per session, because it’s so easy for people to join from the comfort of their own homes.
Red Cross volunteer recruiters held the first Lunch and Learn on May 7, and the next meeting is set for June 25. That session will specifically talk about Blood Drives and the volunteer opportunities they present. Some available volunteer positions include, Blood Donor Screener, Blood Donor Ambassador and Blood Donor Transportation Specialist. These volunteer positions are very flexible, requiring just one shift per month. (The current volunteer opportunity postings can be found here: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html with a variety of remote opportunities available as well.)
RSVP for the June 25 Lunch and Learn at this link : https://volunteerconnection.redcross.org/?nd=vms_public_form&form_id=8113
Recruitment Specialist Lynn Cohen is one of the people involved in setting up these virtual meetings and said they offer an in-depth explanation of volunteering since current volunteers also participate to share their experiences and answer questions live.
“I always think it’s nice to have the volunteer’s perspective because they are the people who are out there already doing the work and can speak first hand about what it’s like,” she explained.
Cohen said the virtual presentations really lifted the limits on who could attend based on travel time and accessibility to transportation. Her team has had people register for the sessions from all over the country wanting to learn more about volunteering for the Red Cross.
“For live presentations, you have that geographic limitation, but doing virtual ones, there really is no limitation,” she said.
Cohen says the greatest reward may come from knowing that your work is making a difference in the community.
“We really are a humanitarian organization and we live it and we breath it and we are making differences in people’s lives every day. I love this job, I love what I do and, I think I speak for a lot of people I know, it’s just a really great environment to work and volunteer in.”
Questions about becoming a volunteer? Visit redcross.org/volunteer or email Lynn Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org
To watch recordings of previous Lunch and Learn sessions, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/RedCrossPhilly/videos