American Red Cross revitalized at UIS

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Photographs courtesy of Tiffany Chin

Sean Blackwell , Staff Writer

Driven by impassioned and committed leadership and a profound desire to give back to the community, the American Red Cross at UIS is fulfilling the mission of its parent organization to help alleviate the suffering of those who find themselves in an emergency and to prevent emergencies before they happen.

The American Red Cross at UIS was founded in 2012 with the intent of being a “student support organization for the Illinois Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross,” according to UIS Connection.

However, by 2014 the fledgling student organization found itself with a vacuum of leadership and a lack of membership—that is, until Alyse Borla decided to fill that vacuum.

Borla, the president of Red Cross at UIS and a senior double-majoring in biology and psychology, took up the reins of the group after resolving to push the student organization into becoming more active in the fulfillment of its mission.

Under the leadership of Borla, the Red Cross at UIS has seen its membership increase from five active members in 2014 to 55 active members in 2016.

“When I started I was a sophomore, and it was the second year of the UIS Red Cross. We had five [active] members, and we did basically nothing,” said Borla. “I was just a regular member. I really wanted to get more involved, because [the] Red Cross, to me, meant a lot more than what we were doing.

“I came from a poor home,” she continued, “and, so, I know how it is to have nothing—you know, not much. And the Red Cross just gives back so much, and I wanted to do that. So, I got involved, and I wasn’t trying to become president. I was just trying to get involved through anything I could do, and they said, ‘What we need you to do right now is be president.’”

Those who elected Borla as the president of the Red Cross at UIS seem to have made the right decision, as the organization has become increasingly involved in giving back to the community since Borla took the reins at the end of 2014.

The American Red Cross, founded in 1881, endeavors to “alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” according to redcross.org. The organization is an affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is the largest humanitarian organization in the world, according to ifrc.org.

For those who would like to become involved in the alleviation of human suffering in the aftermath of emergencies or the prevention thereof, at any level, the American Red Cross affords numerous opportunities to do so.

For example, in September 2016, the American Red Cross at UIS took part in the “Home Fire Campaign,” whereby American Red Cross volunteers branched out to install free smoke detectors in the homes, many of which had none.
Such efforts help reduce deaths related to fire emergencies, according to Borla.

Borla described the gift that giving back to her community provides her, and how she would like to continue receiving the gift of giving.

“That feeling [of giving] is a feeling that can’t be described. It’s just something that you hold on to, and you want to keep getting. I feel like Red Cross really does that for you,” she said.

In the coming weeks, the American Red Cross at UIS will be holding several events, which will keep the student organization actively involved in the community.
During the months of October and November, fundraising events will be held and gratuitous first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes will be offered by the American Red Cross at UIS. Those who attend the CPR classes will earn a certificate upon completion of the course.

Those interested in learning more about the American Red Cross at UIS or in joining the organization can visit their UIS Connection page to find more information.

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