National Youth Involvement Month, which is observed during November, highlights young people who have served the American Red Cross and demonstrated leadership and spirited compassion toward vulnerable communities and, in turn, become the influential change makers.

The American Red Cross offers high school students the opportunity to travel to youth leadership summits, where they can apply their knowledge and understanding to real life experiences. Keynote speakers include professors from the most prestigious universities across the United States, giving empowering speeches that encourage students to think and communicate effectively as they become young humanitarian leaders.

“These conferences broaden our spectrum in diversity, it gave us an understanding of the organization and the people who make up the organization,” said Trinity Hernandez, president of her high school’s Red Cross Club in Harlingen, Texas. “The conferences were amazing and the lectures by teachers from Harvard and Brown University taught us the fundamentals of leadership, how to make productive presentations, think creatively, and how to interact with other kids.”

Hernandez was a teenager when she became the president of her high school’s Red Cross Club. While attending leadership summits, she was keen to recruit students and maintain a close connection with the local office of the Red Cross. She led her volunteers in managing care packages containing toys, relief supplies, and other basic necessities for evacuees who fled their homes during Hurricane Harvey, as well as to those affected by the fires in Weslaco.

“We loaded semi-trucks with care packages and responded to fires by helping the people who were struggling,” said Hernandez. “My faith has a lot to do with what makes me who I am. I came across an amazing opportunity to serve people and my faith with love and generosity, this opportunity enabled me to build a community and a family.

“I watched so many students within the organization volunteering their time and showing up in the Red Cross office to put Care packages together and make phone calls. I have come to realize that people who make the world a better place are the ones who do it out of love and work out of genuine love, it’s the definition of unconditional love- an opportunity to change a life,” she said.

Hernandez is now a college student working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She believes her past volunteer experiences built upon her personal and professional development and gave her a sense of emergency response, time management, and the ability to lead. “My experience with the Red Cross allowed me to learn from the people I met,” said Hernandez. “I learned how to network and communicate. The Red Cross has played a key role in my own self formation, it resonates with my faith, and it provides me with knowledge and a platform to build upon.”

Story by Veronica Araujo