Written by: Tonya Solis-Mosby / American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
Beginning September 15, the focus of many Americans will turn toward a group of people whose heritage, culture and contributions have helped to shape the face of the country that celebrates diversity. It is the day that begins a month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration, which ends on October 15, began with a week-long celebration approved by then-President Lyndon Johnson and was extended to a month by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The beginning date was chosen since it is the date that five Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua - celebrate independence. Then on September 16, September 18 and September 21, Mexico, Chile and Belize, respectively, also celebrate independence.
With the mention of this great month of celebration, it is also noteworthy that just like in the many states across America that celebrate Hispanic Heritage, the Red Cross is in many of the countries that are recognized! No matter the name, including – Cruz Roja Americana, Española, Colombiana, Dominicana or Mexicana – Red Cross volunteers are standing by ready to lend a hand when the need arises.
At the American Red Cross-North Texas Region, diversity among those who are served and among those who volunteer is paramount. For volunteer Yolanda Alsides diversity is her business.
As Diversity Outreach Coordinator for Biomedical Services, it is that diversity that lead her to seek work with the American Red Cross.
“Reaching out to the diverse communities in which we serve, we want to ensure that all services are not only available but known in the minority and diverse communities,” Ms. Alsides, who has volunteered with the Dallas Chapter for one year, said. “We want to assist with education and the understanding of the need for blood donations along with all the services of the American Red Cross.”
A Mexican-American with bi-racial adult children, Angelica, 19, and Rebecca 18, Ms. Alsides said she knows the importance of educating people of various races and cultures on the services of the American Red Cross.
She said she was compelled to focus more on her Red Cross position when she realized that what she was doing for the American Red Cross Biomedical Services was aligning with the Dallas Diversity Leadership Council.
So, what does she like most about the work that she does?
“I like meeting the wonderful people of the Dallas Diversity Leadership Council. I also like making an impact with community involvement and awareness,” she said.
Perhaps one of the most creative ways Yolanda showed that diversity matters occurred when she was cast as a Spanish speaking Red Cross worker in the chapter developed movie, "F5". Her character was tasked with helping a man who lost his wife and child in a tornado outbreak.
If you would also like to make an impact on your community, make a donation today (either blood or money) to the American Red Cross. There are many ways to contact us, including redcrossblood.org; RedCrossDallas.org; or by calling 1-800-RedCross. To watch "F5: The Movie", go to www.redcrossdallas.org/f5.