As Flexible as a Volunteer: Kim Rosell

Kim Rosell isn’t quite sure how long she has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross but its over 40 years. In that time she’s held many different positions and titles from instructor, caseworker, fundraiser and more working across disaster services, preparedness, helping manage mental health services, administrative, sheltering and everything inbetween. She says one of the best things a volunteer can be is flexible.

“As a volunteer you have to be prepared for all the jobs, and when you go out and you have to be flexible,” Kim said.

Lately Kim has been most active with DST, Disaster Services Technology, making sure other volunteers have the connectivity and resources needed even during the chaos of a disaster.

But her interest in volunteering started as a child as she watched her mother, a physician, encourage people to donate blood and volunteering at blood drives. She was very interested in helping with disaster response and got involved with the Red Cross even though she was just a teenager. She started taking Red Cross classes- as many as she could- and got prepared for her first deployment. When she was finally old enough, she deployed to Puerto Rico as a Red Cross volunteer for Hurricane Hugo.

It’s become a family affair for her, as both her husband and son are also Red Cross volunteers. It’s been something consistent in her life though she has moved around and held various jobs, she’s maintained a connection to the Red Cross.

Originally born in Vietnam, Kim left as a child to come to the United States. She says she is very fortunate her family had the ability to leave and is grateful for that. In Illinois, she lived in several places including Bloomington, Chicago, the Champaign area and now Park Ridge, IL. After retiring from a career as an IT manager and being fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese, Kim now works for United Airlines as a translator- and has stayed on as a volunteer through nearly all of it.

“I’m very proud of my life, I was able to accomplish a lot when I was young so now I can do the fun things,” she said.

Fun, but be flexible she emphasized. She recalls another time during her deployment for Hurricane Katrina when she originally was assigned to the Response Technology Team, but since she had so many other qualifications ended up helping with family service work within a mega shelter.

She says it doesn’t matter what job she’s doing as long as she’s helping people.

“I always tell people the force of human nature is stronger than the force of mother nature,” she said.

“Whatever mother nature wrecks on her way, as volunteers we put it back together for people so I always feel like being a volunteer is a selfish thing because you get this personal satisfaction but if your neighbors in need, you need to be there to help them.”

During Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Kim says she reflects on being part of the Red Cross workforce and how different perspectives from different people can only help us better serve the people we help.

“I think its great that we have diversity of people because our country is a melting pot and our clients are from all walks of life so the more that we have input in I think we can serve our clients better,” she said.

She’s also a photographer in her spare time, and has taken photos for the Red Cross as well. Any skill she has, she looks to use it to help others.

“Its an obligation in society that we have to take care of one another,” she said.

Thank you for volunteering, Kim.

Join volunteers like her at the American Red Cross:

Written by Illinois Communications Manager Holly Baker

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