The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
A highly competent and accomplished college student, Erin Deery has played an important role at the Mid-South Red Cross this summer assisting our Volunteer Services Department. During June and July she has worked at the chapter every day contacting prospective volunteers, assisting with their intake into our system, and conducting volunteer intake interviews, amongst other assorted duties.
“It’s been fun…. I particularly enjoyed training volunteers and learning why they wanted to serve through the ARC… When I see them come into the chapter and find the volunteer role that works for them, one that I helped them discover, it feels good,” said Erin.
A student at Rhodes College, Erin came to the Mid-South Red Cross over the summer to fulfill a service requirement that is required of all Rhodes students in order to graduate. She was one of fifteen students, and one of only three freshmen, chosen for a Summer Service Fellowship designed to teach through direct experience the impact that non-profit organizations have in the Memphis area. Students selected for the program spend two months actually working at a non-profit organization and then have to prepare a final project on what the experience has meant to them.
“I’ve learned a lot. Not just the skills but what it means to be dedicated to an organization…. Everyone here wants me here. It’s a really cool feeling…. The ARC gave me a new perspective on why we serve, what good service does, and how necessary service is for Memphis,” Erin mused. She goes on to say how much she enjoyed working at the Red Cross with a wide range of people from all walks of life.
“She was an invaluable help to us,” said Tiffany Crumpton, a volunteer services specialist at the Mid-South Red Cross. “During the summer she took over much of the intake process for new volunteers and getting them set up in Volunteer Connection, our volunteer management system.”
Tiffany also noted that the summer was not Erin’s only experience with the Mid-South Red Cross. She volunteered on a less intensive basis during her freshman year at Rhodes. During that time she helped with the intake process when we trained the entire University of Memphis Football Team to be shelter workers and actually co-taught one of the shelter courses with Janelle Wynn, the Mid-South Red Cross Volunteer Lead for Training. “Next year she plans to continue with us by organizing a Holiday Cards for Heroes program and a blood drive at Rhodes. In the spring of next year she hopes to return as an Academic Intern for the Red Cross,” said Tiffany.
When school starts in the fall, Erin will continue at Rhodes on an academic scholarship as a sophomore biology/pre-medicine major with a minor in religious studies.
In addition to her academic and volunteer work, Erin is a member of the Chi Omega sorority and a shooting guard on the Rhodes women’s basketball team, which is the current conference champions. She speaks of her love of her teammates and says that several of them have gotten together on a regular basis throughout the summer to take turns preparing meals for one another.
Home for Erin is a much beloved Winter Park, Florida, where she has deep roots. “My dad went to the same high school that I did. Everyone knows my family,” she shared. However, when it came time to select a college Erin says she wanted to go out of state and have an adventure, a desire that led her to Memphis and Rhodes College.
Working at the Red Cross is not Erin’s first experience in a service organization. During high school days she was a volunteer with “Best Buddies” in the Orlando area. There she had an opportunity to develop a relationship with young people with intellectual disabilities. “It was really exciting to see the young people we worked with grow and progress,” she shared. “At the end it was difficult to leave.”
In high school she also pursued her love of sports, including cross-country, softball, track, and of course basketball. She also volunteered as a coach for her school’s teams for younger kids and also for her local YMCA basketball team. “My little sister was on the YMCA team, and that may have been the end of her interests in basketball,” she concluded with a wry smile.
Story and photo credit: Robert W. Wallace/American Red Cross