International Volunteer Day: Why volunteer at the Red Cross?

Volunteering is one of the Red Cross’ fundamental principles. You could say it’s part of the DNA of the organization. Volunteers are involved in every disaster the Red Cross responds to and contribute to every program offered. Volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross are as diverse as the talented and skilled people who fill these roles.

Did you know that the Canadian Red Cross counts on nearly 17,000 volunteers in communities across the country? And did you know that worldwide, the Red Cross Red Crescent movement relies on a powerful network of 17 million volunteers to deliver humanitarian aid, most often within their own community?

We wanted to share a few of the reasons why Canadian Red Cross volunteers dedicate so much of their time helping others. Meet these amazing Red Cross volunteers:

Bill and Paula Green, Red Cross volunteers

Photo: Marko Kokic/Canadian Red Cross

Bill and Paula Green, a married couple from Saskatchewan, have been volunteering together for 11 years with Red Cross. This past year, they travelled to B.C. to assist in the response to the wildfire as disaster management volunteers.

“When you are going out to help somebody... you’re not just going to talk the talk, you are going to walk the walk. [People] are going to come away from the Red Cross with something immediately and that’s the part we like.” – Bill Green

“When you’ve eased some of their pain, or you’ve eased their stress, that’s rejuvenating for me.” – Paula Green

Bill Hardstaff and Jessica MacLeod adjusting a piece of health equipment
Bill Hardstaff and Jessica MacLeod volunteer with the health equipment loan program and also staff the reception desk at the Red Cross in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Bill who began volunteering in 2006 is pictured showing new volunteer Jessica how to adjust a piece of equipment.

“I love the Red Cross community and I like to be useful.” – Bill Hardstaff

“I love that the HELP program supports people in keeping their independence and I want to be of service in my community.” – Jessica MacLeod


Photo: Stephanie Colvey

Anita Reny has been volunteering with the Restoring Family Links program in Montreal for more than five years. You could call her a humanitarian investigator. She helps family members reunite after being separated as a result of disasters, conflict or migration. Anita (right) is pictured above with Sara Bamba (left) who was reunited with her two children after being separated for six years.

“I listen to their story and every little detail matters. It’s often very painful for families to revisit the challenges they faced that brought them to the Red Cross. The trust we build is precious. Being able to help them turn the page and move forward with hope, that’s extraordinary.” – Anita Reny

When the Canadian Red Cross put out a call looking to recruit new volunteers in communities impacted by the B.C. fires this summer, Williams Lake resident Cindy Lahaise seized the opportunity to lend a hand and an ear to friends and neighbours. 

“It’s made me feel needed and it’s just a rich reward in my heart. It brings everything more alive in your life.” – Cindy Lahaise


Rupal Srivastava and Shasha Han volunteer with the Red Cross in Calgary. Rupal has volunteered for more than a year and assisted in the response to the 2016 Alberta fires. She now also volunteers with the Red Cross Basic Needs program, along with new volunteer Shasha who joined the Red Cross a few months ago. Both women recently settled in Canada and chose to give back through volunteering.

“It is good to work with a team. I have been in Canada for three years. I wanted to interact with people and help them.” – Rupal Srivastava

“I am a new immigrant and I got many benefits coming to Canada. I wanted to give back and get some local work experience.” – Shasha Han

Hope-min-(1).jpgHope Maloney is a disaster management volunteer from Gander, Newfoundland. She became a volunteer after seeing others speak on local news about their experiences helping in disasters.

She’s assisted in numerous large-scale responses in Canada, including the wildfires in B.C., in Northern Saskatchewan and in Fort McMurray, as well as the flooding in southern Alberta several years ago.

“I thought that was really intriguing so when I retired, I decided that I wanted to do some disaster volunteer work. Getting to know them [volunteers] and their spirit and willingness to work and to give of themselves is superb.” – Hope Maloney

Photo: Marko Kokic/Canadian Red Cross

Read more stories about the work of Canadian Red Cross volunteers.

Want to get involved? Find out more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross.

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