Longtime Volunteers Reflect on Decades of Service

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For Linda and Fred Eldredge of Havelock, N.C., volunteering has just been a way of life.

The years rolled by, until Linda, 71, realized that this October marks 49 years of service with the Red Cross. She jokes that her husband, Fred, 80, lags a bit behind her at only 26 years as a Red Cross volunteer.

“But,” she says, “he was just a bit busy during his 30-year career in the Marine Corps.”

In 1969, Fred was serving in Vietnam and Linda was home with her mother and Pamela, their then toddler-aged daughter. Linda volunteered as a Red Cross office assistant after being inspired by her mother – a longtime Red Cross volunteer in the Navy surgical clinic.

Over the years, the couple was stationed at Navy and Marine Corps Bases and Air Stations in Quantico, Va.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Paris Island, S.C.; and Beaufort, S.C. During Fred’s 30 years and four months in the Marines, he moved up the ranks from private to major. All the while, Linda continued to care for their daughter, later their grandchildren, and volunteer for the Red Cross wherever they were stationed.

After Linda’s more than three years working as an office volunteer and coordinator, she answered the call to volunteer in the Naval Dental Clinic at Cherry Point.

“I had been enrolled in dental school years back but had to drop it when new orders came through,” Linda said. “I was excited to have the chance to take the Navy dental course and eventually received my dental assistant certificate.”

Linda remembers wearing the Red Cross pinafore and cap in the clinic and developing dental X-ray film by hand.

As their daughter grew up and had three children of her own, Linda and Fred helped care for their first grandchild, Alison. When Alison turned 12, she announced that she wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross like her grandparents.

“She was too young to work at the hospital, but she was able to be a Red Cross volunteer at the Cherry Point Base Library and later at the Cherry Point Base Veterinary Clinic,” Linda said.

Both Linda and Fred have since volunteered at Red Cross bloodmobiles, where Linda was trained to take patient information and vital signs, and Fred enjoyed working in the canteen. Fred also volunteered for many years at the Base Exchange Pharmacy, and Linda at the Naval Health Clinic.

Linda and Fred have never slowed down and don’t have any plans to do so soon. Their days are still spent volunteering and helping care for a young grandson.

“As long as it’s fun, we’ll keep on doing it!” Linda said.

Story by Susan Washburn / American Red Cross

Iraq native teaches about International Humanitarian Law in Durham, NC

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DURHAM, NC, AUGUST 20, 2018 — More than 6,000 miles from her hometown of Hillah, Iraq, Samira Jasim found herself in front of a group of 14 Iraqi teenagers, at the Central North Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross in Durham, NC.

That day in mid-August, Samira taught the students about the Red Cross International Movement and International Humanitarian Law, hoping to spread her passion for volunteerism and kindness.

“With all of the hate all over the world, people need to learn about love. And they need to learn about law because it helps keep order,” Samira said.

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Samira Jasim (left) with Barry Porter, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina.

Samira helped explain the Red Cross International Movement – the largest humanitarian network in the world. “Its mission ​is to alleviate human suffering, protect life and​ health, and uphold human dignity especially​ during armed conflicts and other emergencies. ​It is present in every country and supported by ​millions of volunteers.”

Samira spent two years working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad, Iraq, before coming to the United States as a refugee with her family in 2015. At the ICRC, it was her responsibility as a communication officer to work with media, organize missions in the field for journalists, and serve as a liaison between the ICRC and local authorities. Often, she risked her life in war-torn cities to help those in need.

Samira now volunteers her time at the American Red Cross and works as a civil engineer in Raleigh, NC. She said it is her goal to teach others about International humanitarian law (IHL) – a set of rules that restrict the means and methods of warfare while protecting citizens, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers. The four Geneva Conventions—which form the foundation of IHL—are the only treaties in the world that have been ratified by all nations. As part of the Geneva Conventions, all countries are tasked with educating their population about IHL. The American Red Cross assists with IHL education for the American public, and provides the following programs:

Youth Education: Through the IHL Action Campaign, teams design and implement a program—such as a simulation, flash mob, school newspaper column or petition—to teach their peers and local community about the rules of war.

Legal Education: In-depth legal trainings, workshops and seminars are offered on the evolving body of IHL for law students, military officials, government employees, policy makers and the legal community.

Public Education: The Red Cross hosts events at its national headquarters and chapters across the country to educate the public on key global humanitarian issues during times of armed conflict.

About the morning spent with students, Samira said, “This is the new generation in my country. We faced a lot. I want them to have hope and success. Believe in humanity and equality.”