Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I took my very first American Red Cross Health & Safety course – Babysitter’s Training – when I was 11 years old. In the years that followed I received numerous additional certifications and recertifications from the Red Cross: CPR for adults, children, and infants; AED for adults and children; Basic First Aid; Blood borne Pathogens; Lifeguarding; Water Safety; and Water Safety Instructor. Eventually I also took the Fundamentals of Instructor Training course and became a certified American Red Cross Health & Safety Instructor.

I started working for the American Red Cross soon after I graduated from college. I spent two years with the Grant Wood Area Chapter (Cedar Rapids, IA) as the Financial Development Associate and six years with the Washtenaw County Chapter (Ann Arbor, MI) as the Blood Services Volunteer Coordinator and then as the Director of Volunteer and Youth Resources.

I’ve been affiliated with the Red Cross for 21 years, and consider myself a Red Cross girl, through and through. Even my kids have been indoctrinated.

This fall both of my kids attend school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, which means that on Tuesday and Thursday mornings I. AM. FREE. Well, I’ll be free after I exercise; shower (without worrying that “someone” will drop my phone in the toilet or whack her brother over the head with a wooden ukelele); pay bills; grocery shop; and visit the dentist, doctor, and hair salon (I’m LONG overdue with regard to all three). I should fill my free time with a paying job, but as I’m sure you can imagine, it’s tough to find a job that allows one to work only Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Except a job, say, substituting at one’s children’s school. So while I try to figure out what kind of work I want to do in the future (taking into account that 1. the Red Cross in my county is not hiring, 2. the Red Cross in my county will probably not EVER be hiring, and 3. if I can’t work for the Red Cross I’d really just like to write/blog professionally), I’m going to substitute teach at Will and Hallie’s preschool.

To prepare for the upcoming school year, all of the lead and assistant teachers, as well as any substitute teachers who were interested, attended a child CPR/AED and first aid class. My Red Cross certifications in these areas had expired, so recertifying by sitting through the class – even though I’ve taken and taught it countless times – seemed like a good idea.

The instructor rose and walked to the front of the room. She introduced herself, and hit play on the DVD player to introduce the, wait for it, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION Child CPR/AED and First Aid course.

Though the American Red Cross/American Heart Association rivalry isn’t as well known or vicious as say, the Boston Red Sox/New York Yankees rivalry, it’s a rivalry just the same. The two organizations have the same overarching goal – to train as many people as possible in the lifesaving skills of CPR, AED, and first aid – and are constantly competing with one another to be the most-trusted and most-used heart health and safety organization.

Sitting through the American Heart Association CPR course was brutal for me, a Red Crosser for two thirds of my life. I felt guilty and dirty, and kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to see my Red Cross peeps scowling at me from the dark shadows in the corners.

I’m a traitor. And to make up for it, on my first “free” Tuesday morning, I’m heading to the Red Cross office in my county to find out how I can volunteer.


  1. Hi Erin -

    This is Gloria from the Red Cross social engagement team in DC. What a confession! NO worries, however; even though you couldn't take the course through us this year, I'm sure all of us are proud to call you a fellow Red Crosser still. :) Rock on!

    PS. the photos of your kids are adorable, I'm loving the onesie. :)

    Best wishes,


  2. This is Wendy from the American Red Cross, Gloria's coworker. Go Red Cross! Go Red Sox! While we can't pay you, we'd love to invite you to be a regular contributor to our blog (blog.redcross.org). Just email one of us and we'll get you set up!