UTAH COUNTY

Utah Red Cross has ‘urgent’ need for Spanish-speaking volunteers

Sep 26, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 12:10 pm

Red Cross Giving Day...

The American Red Cross of Utah says it has a large demand for Spanish-speaking volunteers. (Tania Rodriguez)

(Tania Rodriguez)

SALT LAKE CITY — Tania Rodriguez began pursuing her dream of becoming a medical examiner at just 12 years old, quickly learning first aid and paramedic skills through the Red Cross.

Those skills would be the difference between life and death just a few months later when her mother had a heart attack.

“It was just me and my mom, and I remembered everything they taught me. I tried to stay calm and helped my mother until the ambulance arrived,” Rodriguez said in a mix of English and Spanish. “I could have lost my mom. But thanks to the training that they gave me, I was able to help my mom and she survived. After that, she had another heart attack and I was there to help her, too. That’s how my love for the Red Cross was born.”

No matter the time or season of her life, her love for the Red Cross and its mission has remained. It stayed while she studied as a teen to become a nurse; when she immigrated from Chihuahua, Mexico, to the U.S. at 16; and, when she decided to switch careers and opened her own food truck.

Now, as the Red Cross of Utah’s disaster program manager and Hispanic outreach leader, Rodriguez hopes to recruit other Spanish-speaking volunteers in Utah to help the organization serve the state’s growing Hispanic population.

“We are in urgent need of Spanish-speaking volunteers to help and serve our Hispanic community. We need all volunteers. It’s all right if they don’t speak Spanish — but if they do, that’s a plus, that’s amazing,” she said. “We want to help ensure our Spanish-speaking communities are better prepared for disasters and we want to provide the tools they need in their language.”

Census data show about 15% of Utah’s population is Hispanic or Latino, with the percentage rising to 41%, 30% and 20% in West Valley, Ogden and Salt Lake City, respectively. Ensuring individuals can access resources and help in their primary language during an emergency is key — a fact that became increasingly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rodriguez is one of just a handful of volunteers or staff members who speak Spanish in the Red Cross’ Utah/Nevada region, according to spokesman Keith Paul. She is the only Spanish speaker in the organization’s disaster services division in Utah.

“Whenever we have an open staff position, we actively encourage diverse candidates to apply, especially those who are fluent in Spanish. Our volunteer Tania is a shining example of this initiative,” Paul said. “Her fluency in Spanish has been invaluable in communicating with and providing resources to Spanish-speaking individuals. While we do have a few other Spanish-speaking staff and volunteers, they are not currently involved with our disaster services in Utah.”

Paul said the Red Cross saw a decline in volunteer interest during and after the pandemic, although there has been a recent upswing after the wildfires on Maui. Rodriguez said volunteering has been personally fulfilling and she wholeheartedly encourages others to join the Red Cross “family.”

“We help absolutely everybody, it doesn’t matter what their immigration status is or what language they speak,” Rodriguez said in Spanish. “We’re looking for people like you who need something like this in their life. The Red Cross is here with our arms open so you can help serve our community.”

More information about the Red Cross’s various volunteer opportunities, which range from blood donor ambassadors to disaster recovery help, are available on its website.

La Cruz Roja de Utah tiene necesidad ‘urgente’ de voluntarios que hablen español

SALT LAKE CITY — Tania Rodriguez comenzó a perseguir su sueño de ser médico forense a sus 12 años, aprendiendo rápidamente habilidades de primeros auxilios y paramédicos a través de la Cruz Roja.

Esas habilidades fueron la diferencia entre la vida y la muerte solo unos meses después cuando su madre tuvo un infarto.

“Solo éramos mi mamá y yo, y recordé todo lo que me enseñaron. Traté de mantener la calma y ayudé a mi madre hasta que llegó la ambulancia”, dijo Rodríguez en una mezcla de inglés y español. “Podría haber perdido a mi madre. Pero gracias al entrenamiento que me dieron, pude ayudarla y ella sobrevivió. Después de eso, tuvo otro ataque al corazón y yo también estaba allí para ayudarla. Así nació el amor por la Cruz Roja”.

A través de las diferentes épocas de su vida, el amor que Rodriguez tiene por la Cruz Roja y su misión ha durado. Se quedó mientras estudiaba de adolescente para convertirse en enfermera; cuando emigró de Chihuahua, México, a los Estados Unidos a los 16 años; y cuando decidió cambiar de carrera y abrió su propio camión de comida.

Ahora, como gerente del programa de desastres de la Cruz Roja de Utah y líder de alcance hispano, Rodríguez quiere reclutar a otros voluntarios que hablen español en Utah para ayudar a la organización a servir a la población hispana del estado.

“La Cruz Roja Americana está en un urgente necesidad de voluntarios que hablen español para poder ayudar a gente que necesita nuestra ayuda en su propia idioma”, dijo ella en español e inglés. “Necesitamos a todos los voluntarios. Está bien si no hablan español, pero si lo hacen, eso es una ventaja, eso es increíble”.

Los datos del censo muestran que alrededor del 15% de la población de Utah es hispana o latina. Ese porcentaje aumenta al 41%, 30% y 20% en las ciudades de West Valley, Ogden y Salt Lake City, respectivamente. Garantizar que las personas puedan acceder a recursos y ayuda en su idioma principal durante una emergencia es clave y algo que se hizo cada vez más evidente durante la pandemia de COVID-19.

Rodriguez)

Rodríguez es una de los pocos voluntarios o empleados que hablan español en la región de Utah / Nevada de la Cruz Roja, según el portavoz Keith Paul. También, ella es la única hispanohablante en la división de servicios de desastre de la organización en Utah.

“Siempre que tenemos un puesto vacante, alentamos activamente a diversos candidatos a postularse, especialmente aquellos que hablan español. Nuestra voluntaria Tania es un brillante ejemplo de esta iniciativa”, dijo Paul en inglés. “Su fluidez en español ha sido invaluable para comunicarse y proporcionar recursos a las personas que hablan español. Tenemos algunos otros empleados y voluntarios que hablan español, pero actualmente no están involucrados con nuestros servicios de desastre en Utah”.

Paul dijo que la Cruz Roja ha visto una disminución en el interés de los voluntarios durante y después de la pandemia, aunque ha habido un repunte reciente después de los incendios forestales en Maui. Rodriguez dijo que trabajar como voluntario ha sido personalmente satisfactorio y que quiere que otros se unen a la “familia” de la Cruz Roja.

“Le ayudamos absolutamente a todos, sin importar el estatus, sin importar el idioma que hablen”, dijo Rodriguez. “Estamos en busca de personas como tú que necesiten ese algo en su vida. La Cruz Roja te acepta con los brazos abiertos para que puedas ayudar a servir a nuestra comunidad”.

Más información sobre las diversas oportunidades de voluntariado de la Cruz Roja, que incluyen embajadores de donantes de sangre y ayuda para la recuperación de desastres, está disponible en su sitio web.

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Utah Red Cross has ‘urgent’ need for Spanish-speaking volunteers