By David Moore, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writer.
First of all, I’d like to give a big “Hello There” to our loyal Red Cross Blog readers. Also, afriendly “How YaDoin” to you occasional readers out there who enjoy a good blog posting now and again … and, of course,a trendy “WuzUp”to those of you who clicked on the wrong web address while searching for Red Rock Crossing in Sedona AZ.
This week, lucky you, you get to read about an inspiring Red Cross New Hampshire volunteer who is working to extend her tradition of service and commitment to community into the next generation.
Heidi Foster has strong family ties to the American Red Cross, so to speak. Her mother’s father served in Europe during WWII and the International Red Cross delivered her grandmother’s letters and pictures of Heidi’s mom (then a baby) to him on the battlefield. As a child, Heidi remembers her father’s dadgetting his Red Cross pin for donating 10 gallons of blood, a goal she hopes to reach someday. When the Indian Ocean tsunami hit in 2004, her grandparents were quick to donate to help the International Red Cross get life-saving food, water, and medical supplies to survivors. Each of these stories is a part of Heidi’s family history, and, collectively, they have shaped her life … and, by extension, the lives she touches everyday.
Heidi Foster, Red Cross Volunteer
“I’ve been a Red Cross blood donor and have made financial contributions for most of my adult life, and I’d also taken CPR, First Aid and Shelter training,” Heidi said. “I wanted to follow the examples my parents and grandparents set and pass some of that along to a new generation.”
And so, in 2008, when a destructive tornado ripped through five New Hampshire counties killing one person and damaging more than 500 homes, Heidi decided it was time to deepen her commitment to both her Community and the Red Cross. She started the Hollis Brookline High School Red Cross Club that year with eight members and a determination to show young people that they can play an important role in school and community safety.
“I saw an opportunity to empower young people to help others andto make a real difference with our neighbors during their greatest time of need,” Heidi said.
This past school year the Red Cross Club had more than 30 members and is currently among the most active of the four Red Cross high school clubs in the state. During the six years Heidi has been advisor, the youth club has:
- Organized five blood drives, collecting 176 pints of life-saving blood.
- Conducted several fundraisers including bake sales, Murder Mystery Dinners, 50/50 raffles, etc. raising more than $12,000.
- Organized the Hollis Upper Elementary School Safety Fair for six years, providing information and interactive games focusing on fire safety, basic first aid training, disaster preparation and water safety.
- Wrote holiday cards for military personnel through the Red Cross Holiday Cards for Heroes Program (this past year they sent 480 cards!).
- Ensured all members are Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified.
Alaine Williams, Director of Volunteer Services, NH Region with Heidi Foster and American Red Cross NH CEO Maria White
“The annual Safety Fair is probably one of the best examples of what we accomplish as a club,” Heidi said. “It’s become a tradition since the first club president, David Muse, handed over his Eagle Scout Project for the club to continue annually. With the support of administration and teachers at Hollis Elementary School, club members teach the younger students important safety information and have a blast doing it.”
Of course, Heidi’s volunteer spirit and energy shines out beyond her role as youth group advisor. A mother of three grown children who lives in Hollis and teaches literature and writing, Heidi also has collected cards for St. Jude’s Hospital Camp, visited area nursing homes, participated in the Penguin Plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics, and bought gifts for kids in need during the school-wide holiday program – The Giving Tree.
However, she says it’s hard to beat the feeling she gets when she sees the satisfaction in her students’ faces after running a successful blood drive, or sending a check for several thousand dollars because of the club’s fundraising efforts, or when students are running the 4th grade Safety Fair teaching Masters of Disaster, Basic Aid Training, and Water Safety.
“There’s nothing like it!” Heidi said. “I know my kids are learning the lessons of volunteerism, and that they are likely to go on and ‘do good’ long after they graduate.”
The American Red Cross depends largely on volunteers like Heidi who are trained to help prepare their communities for emergencies, teach lifesaving skills, connect families or simply lend a helping hand to their neighbors in need. In return, our volunteers receive fulfillment, enrichment, gratification and a renewed spirit of belonging and giving. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area, go to the American Red Cross of New Hampshire website or download the Team Red Cross app. Each year, more than a million Americans work as Red Cross volunteers. Join Team Red Cross and discover how you, too, can make a difference.