Red Cross Public Ally Number One!

By Adam Wolfe, American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter, Community Presentations Coordinator

So far my experience with the Red Cross has been amazing. More than one month ago, I joined the American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter as the Community Presentations Coordinator. I will be here for a total of ten months through the AmeriCorps “Public Allies” program. The work I’m doing here has its challenges, but I am enjoying it and feel as if I’m making a positive impact on the community.

Winter weather safety presentation tools. Photo credit: Grace Thompson, American Red Cross

My job consists of giving various health and safety presentations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area. I addition, I manage a group of around 25 volunteer presenters and also promote our programs to local community organizations. We present on a wide range of topics, such as fire safety, basic first aid, winter weather safety, heart disease, and flu pandemic preparedness. After observing a few presentations and getting a feel for how things were done, I was able to become a presenter myself. I taught high school math for a year, so speaking in front of groups was nothing new for me, but talking to adults is slightly different than talking to pubescent teenagers. I got the hang of it without too much trouble though and the presentations have gone well.

Adam practicing his community presentation techniques. Photo credit: Grace Thomopson, American Red Cross

One presentation that stands out in my mind was a winter weather safety talk I gave at the Lao Center in St. Paul.  It was to a diverse group of adult English language students, many of whom were recent immigrants to the United States. Their teacher called me because many of the students were still wearing sandals even though the temperature had dropped into the teens! It was a challenging group to talk to.  The group was from all over the world and spoke many different languages.  Because their English was not so good, I created a new slide presentation with simple terms and many pictures. I enjoyed the challenge of communicating effectively with this group, and also saw that this was the type of group that could benefit the most from important Red Cross disaster and safety information. While I’m sure some of the tips were not completely understood, I generally felt that the class learned a lot and appreciated this outreach.

Fire Prevention Presentation Kit. Photo credit: Grace Thompson, American Red Cross

By far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced has been letting people know that the Red Cross provides these presentations. This has been very surprising to me. We provide information on relevant, important topics, and we have flexible hours that work around almost any schedule. In addition to all of this, the presentations are absolutely free! Initially, I thought we would have problems with overbooking and trying to fit everyone into our schedule, but unfortunately this has not been the case. Despite countless phone calls and emails to community organizations, the presentations schedule has been slow to fill up. This is an issue I will continue to struggle with and will hope that begins to change soon.

Now that I’m familiar with the work here and I’m beginning to get to know the rest of the Red Cross staff, I feel very optimistic about the coming months. My Red Cross coworkers and supervisors have been helpful and have made me feel at home. I’m confident the outreach I’m doing will begin to show results. I hope to have the much more desirable problem of having too many presentations to schedule, and not enough time to do them! The next nine months will be exciting.

If you or anyone you know is interested in scheduling a presentation in the Twin Cities metro area, please call (612) 871-7676 and ask for Adam Wolfe or email awolfe@redcrosstc.org.

 

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