Hurricane Sandy was a once-in-a-lifetime storm, with surges and flooding devastating New Jersey and New York in October 2012, destroying communities and fracturing lives.
Nikki Skeete was one of those New Yorkers who watched helplessly as the community she’d grown up in was overtaken by the hurricane. Living in Brooklyn, the 29-year-old says the Red Cross volunteers who went door-to-door with food, supplies and more for the hurricane victims brought more than just physical aid – they brought hope to all those struggling. Wanting to make an impact like these volunteers in times of disaster, Nikki joined the American Red Cross as a volunteer in 2015, first assisting at blood drives and now currently serving as the Volunteer Engagement Lead, responsible for engaging all volunteers.
Racking up over 200 hours of volunteering just in the last few months, Nikki, who is studying for a masters degree in public health, balances her service while also working two day jobs as an educator and in a hospital, and is today’s Daily Point of Light award honoree. Points of Light spoke to Nikki to learn more about her work with the Red Cross.
What inspires you to volunteer?
Honestly I’m very into community service and engagement. I’ve been volunteering as early as I can remember at soup kitchens and then progressed to helping various organizations including hospitals and Meals on Wheels. My mom would take my brother and I to serve and give back, and my efforts grew from there.
Describe your volunteer role with the Red Cross.
I began as a Biomedical Blood Donor Ambassador. That means I worked registration and greeted our blood donors. Now, I check in on our blood drives to see how they’re going, I also work towards upcoming blood drives. Currently, as the Volunteer Engagement Lead, I engage our volunteers and make sure they’re recognized for their work.
What sets American Red Cross apart from other volunteer organizations?
We cover a vast, vast list of providing aid and resources. We are known for our blood services, but ARC is involved in so many different aspects within the public health industry. They’re strong advocates for social change and that’s very much needed in today’s society.
Tell me one story about your service that has stuck with you.
I have so many stories, but one that has stayed with me is about a husband whose wife was going through dialysis. He’d come to ARC every 56 days to donate blood, even though he was busy each day accompanying his wife to dialysis. This couple was going through so much, and with the spare few minutes he had, he made time to donate blood to help save someone else.
Donating blood isn’t the only way to help. Explain what else volunteers can do to give back.
You can also donate your time. ARC is looking for people in so many different areas. You can work registration or the canteen at events, also within various departments for disaster relief. Learn more about how you can help here: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html.
Do you have a motto that you live your life by?
Don’t dream your life, live your dream.
Your efforts for the Red Cross have been praised as “tireless”. What does that mean to hear someone say that?
It’s very touching. I always give my all, and I learned that from my mom. She’s such a nurturer and giver, and if I could be a quarter of that, I’d be happy. I like to give, and make sure everyone is ok and everything is going smoothly.
How has volunteering with the Red Cross changed you?
When I see the impact on different people trying to recover from a disaster or emergency, and yet, they’re still thankful, it makes me want to help the community more. Volunteering with ARC has showed me how they can change a life. Even if you think your action or gesture is small, it can be very major for the individual or family.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
You can contribute to making the world better in just the little bit of time you have. Even if you only have one hour, or one day a week, or one weekend, giving that time helps an organization. At ARC, one donation of blood can save three lives.
What future events do you have coming up that you’re excited about?
We routinely have blood drives, and January is National Blood Donor month. Please check the ARC website for more information: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Nikki Skeete? Visit All For Good for local volunteer opportunities.
Post written by Marlena Militana.