Owen Zhang’s American Red Cross journey began in seventh grade, when his sister introduced him to a Pass the Bucket volunteering opportunity at a Harlem Globetrotters show in Houston, Texas. Little did he know, passing the bucket would lead him down the path of becoming a National Youth Service Council (NYC) Member. His sister, Zoe, was attending Bellaire High School as an 11th grader and president of its American Red Cross club.
When he was in the ninth grade, Zhang joined the Bellaire High School American Red Cross club. Following in his sister’s footsteps, he became president of the club a year later. After becoming president, he served as a member of the American Red Cross Youth Service Council in the Greater Houston Area Chapter, which lead to his role as a field ambassador.
Zhang graduated from high school earlier this year and started his freshman year at Yale University at the end of August, where he is studying economics and computer sciences. Nonetheless, his service with the American Red Cross has not stopped. Zhang is one of 13 members of the NYC, where he serves as the Consortium Call Lead.
“I hold calls every month that educate and inform our youth and young adult champions about how they can help make sure everyone is supported in their region,” said Zhang. “I’m there to lead our calls, as well as a point of contact whenever anyone needs help or has questions about getting youth and young adults involved. I’m always here to help and act like a resource for everyone to be as successful and love their red cross journey as much as I love mine.”
His most valuable memory with the American Red Cross comes recently when Zhang received the Texas Gulf Coast Region Clara Barton Volunteer of the Year Award. Zhang is one of the first youth volunteers to win the award.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the support from my fellow volunteers, as well as my mentors,” said Zhang. “I think the award is so meaningful to me because it isn’t just an award for myself, it’s an award for the whole team and all the people that have been involved in helping me in the various services of the American Red Cross. I feel like it is an award that recognizes how supportive and building up the American Red Cross is.”
A fun fact about Zhang is he is extremely close with his two siblings. Over quarantine when COVID-19 sent people into their homes, Zhang and his siblings started a YouTube channel that has over 30 thousand subscribers. Now that he is states away in college, Zhang enjoys the ability to rewatch his fun times with his younger and older sister. To check out their adventures, search zoezhang on YouTube for the channel.
Overall, the family Zhang has made through volunteering has stuck out the most during his time with the American Red Cross.
“The connections you make with other volunteers in the American Red Cross run so deep because of the experiences you go through together,” said Zhang. “It allows the ability to build those connections that run far deeper than just those hours you’re volunteering. Everybody is so supportive, great and always wants to help each other. It’s a family; I think that’s the biggest thing I love about the American Red Cross.”
Story By, Kyndal Dugger