A Bus Ride and a Thank You Wall

One of our local volunteers, Richard Freund, sent me a message this week. Richard is an inspiring person. After retiring, he came to volunteer in our planning and information management department. He’s been honored as staff member of the month and is a vital member of our Red Cross team. Here’s his story:

One day recently I left the Red Cross office after a shift I worked as a volunteer. When I boarded public transit to head home I noticed a 60-ish couple and a 30-ish woman speaking what I thought to be Arabic. I sat down a couple rows away facing them. In a few moments, I noticed the older woman point at me and say something to the others. Shortly after that she walked up to me and said, “You Red Cross. You help.”

I was momentarily perplexed, but realized that because my jacket was unzipped, my Red Cross ID Badge was visible. I asked her how I could help, and in her limited English she explained that they were visiting the area from Egypt and needed to get to a particular address in the near west suburbs. I was able to tell them which buses they needed to take to get to their destination.

Later, I thought that this was an extraordinary experience. My part in it was very ordinary. I simply tried to help a fellow traveler. What makes it extraordinary is the fact that these travelers who were literally halfway around the world from home and in an unfamiliar city and culture knew that they could reach out to someone that was wearing the Red Cross logo.

What this tells me is that those of us who wear the Red Cross logo here and around the world are trusted and appreciated by more people than we will ever meet. That certainly is a reward for me. I am compensated for my time, not monetarily, but by the people, expected and unexpected, I meet and interact with as a Red Cross volunteer.

To learn more about volunteering with the American Red Cross, visit http://www.chicagoredcross.org/volunteer

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