It has been an eventful year for Leslie Sanchez-Seaton, a recruitment specialist for the American Red Cross in Harlingen. In early March, Red Cross offices in the Texas Gulf Coast closed and all services transitioned to a virtual environment, due to the spread of COVID-19.
Despite the pandemic, Sanchez-Seaton has a positive outlook. “2020 has been amazing to me so far,” reveals Sanchez-Seaton. Her enthusiasm stems from a commitment to the mission of the Red Cross as well as reaching some major personal milestones.
Sanchez-Seaton was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas in Mexico. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was a young child and she lived as an undocumented immigrant before changing her status to become a permanent resident in 2009. In February of 2020, Sanchez-Seaton made it official by becoming a citizen of the United States.
Her background as an immigrant helps when reaching out to migrant communities in South Texas. “I try to empower communities to help themselves,” said Sanchez-Seaton. “[I tell them] we need you to be part of this and to help. In a disaster, it can be comforting to see a familiar face.”
Earlier this year, Sanchez-Seaton earned a master’s degree in Disaster Studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She believes the degree compliments her work because it allows her to confidently share disaster preparedness and safety information.
Within her role as a volunteer recruiter, Sanchez-Seaton focuses on the needs of the organization as she interacts with community partners – building and maintaining relationships with groups like local chambers of commerce, civic groups and colleges.
Sanchez-Seaton is responsible for volunteer recruitment in 17 counties within the Texas Gulf Coast region and usually spends a lot of time on the road. On any given day, she might find herself working with the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce or giving a presentation about the Red Cross at Las Colonias school in Eagle Pass.
In addition to personal achievements, her 17-year-old son graduated from high school in May. He was able to have a graduation ceremony, but each student was only allowed to have two guests – a big change for her family. “We’re used to larger crowds!”
Personal and professional accomplishments have certainly kept her busy. “I need to relax,” laughs Sanchez-Seaton. A moment later, she adds that she is thinking about getting another degree. In the meantime, she will continue to share the mission of the Red Cross. “I am trying to make a difference in a person’s life and make their situation better.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer to help your community prepare, respond and recover from disasters visit: https://www.redcross.org/local/texas/gulf-coast/volunteer.html
Prepared by Kristen Vogel, American Red Cross contributor