Hilary Swartz had just made her way into Fresno and was beginning to set up her classroom. The drive from her mountain home isn’t the shortest or the easiest, but she’s happy to do it in order to teach a new class of eager CPR students. She flicked on the lights and began lining up her practice manikins.
Hilary began volunteering with the Red Cross just a few months ago, but she is already a DAT responder and preparedness educator in addition to teaching CPR/AED/First Aid and babysitting courses. Like many volunteers, Hilary often goes above and beyond her normal duties. She’s known for taking her knowledge into her own, often hard to reach, rural community. Her proactive approach to education is what makes her a great volunteer.
“Our volunteers have so much passion for what they do,” said Alex Villa, Volunteer Services Officer, “Their infectious energy is what makes them such powerful ambassadors to the communities in which they work and live.”
Hilary’s passion for the Red Cross comes from personal experience. During Hurricane Sandy, her 90+ year old mother-in-law was evacuated to a Red Cross shelter where volunteers provided her and other residents with lodging, warm meals, and comfort items. Then last summer, her small mountain community faced disaster when a wildfire destroyed neighbors’ homes. Her house was spared, but Hilary saw Red Cross disaster response first hand in her town. It was enough to inspire her to get involved.
Hilary began to greet her students as they arrived to the Red Cross classroom, each with a handshake and warm smile. Some were there out of obligation for work, and others simply to learn a new skill. Either way, Hilary planned to inspire all of them to learn these new lifesaving skills and use them to make a safer community.
“One thing I enjoy about being an instructor is I learn something new each time I teach a class,” said Hilary, “I am then able to use that in upcoming classes, so I am always learning also!”
All of the students were seated – a full class – and Hilary fired up the projector.
“Ok! Who’s ready to save some lives?”
Instructors like Hilary are part of the more than 90% volunteer workforce that provides humanitarian and public health services in the Central California Region. The Red Cross thanks and honors these selfless and compassionate every day heroes during National Volunteer Week, April 12 -18. Click here to learn more about the “Day in the Life of a Volunteer” series.