(WSYR) — Ahead of National Volunteer Week, which kicks off on April 18, the American Red Cross Eastern New York Region is taking a moment to recognize its volunteers who “continue to work tirelessly to help people in need during COVID-19.”

The Eastern New York Region has more than 1,700 people volunteering with the Red Cross. These people do tasks like respond to home fires and other disasters, support blood collections, and provide emergency assistance to military families.

“We are grateful for the dedication of our volunteers, whose support make a compassionate difference for our neighbors in need,” said Kevin Coffey, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Eastern New York Region. “Their support during disasters and other emergencies has been more critical than ever, as families cope with increased anxiety and financial strains brought on by the pandemic.” 

90% of the national Red Cross workforce is made up of volunteers.

Last year, volunteers

  • responded to 577 local disasters, providing relief to more than 2,300 people impacted by fires, floods, and other emergencies
  • installed nearly 4,000 free smoke alarms making more than 2,400 homes safer
  • worked with over 2,800 military families connecting them with critical services and support
  • trained over 40,000 people in life-saving courses including CPR, water safety, and babysitting
  • and collected more than 66,000 units of life-saving blood

The American Red Cross Eastern New York Region comprises three chapters—Central and Northern New York, Hudson Valley, and Northeastern New York—along with three blood donation centers. Together, these chapters serve a population of more than 3.6 million people across 27 counties and more than 51,000 square miles.

Volunteering, making financial donations, or donating blood are great ways to help the American Red Cross. There are plenty of ways you can help and become a Red Cross volunteer.

Blood donations are essential to the health of our communities, and blood donor ambassadors are a vital part of this work by welcoming visitors and taking their temperatures before entering Red Cross facilities and blood drives. Visitors could include potential blood donors, people seeking help, training course participants, and Red Cross employees and volunteers. We also have a high-priority need for transportation specialists to help deliver blood from our facilities to local hospitals.  

Most of the U.S. disasters that the Red Cross responds to every eight minutes are local home fires, which can destroy nearly everything a family owns in a matter of minutes. Partnering with local fire departments, Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers connect with families by video or phone call to provide emotional support, emergency financial assistance, and information to help families begin to recover.