Natalie McIntyre leads recruitment of volunteers, the backbone of the Red Cross

To commemorate Black History Month, the Red Cross is celebrating team members and how they’re making a difference to the mission.

McIntyre’s first introduction to the American Red Cross was at an early age. When she was in elementary school she was assigned a school project to profile an inspirational person. Many of her classmates chose well-known influential leaders, and she almost did the same. Instead, she chose to learn about Clara Barton, the American nurse who founded the Red Cross in 1881.

“She was an inspiration to me as a young African-American woman, just knowing what she did and how she helped people. She helped everybody,” McIntyre said. “And then I ended up here, at the Red Cross.”

This July will mark McIntyre’s 21st year with the Michigan region of the Red Cross. In 2002, McIntyre joined the organization working with a community-based program. She later found out about an opportunity to join Volunteer Services, which recruits and places over ninety percent of the Red Cross workforce to deliver its humanitarian mission. As she was working on ways to increase the number of volunteers she noticed that there were some inconsistencies in recruitment processes across different areas of the state.

“I said, ‘Hey, let’s come together and make sure our processes are line with each other’. And we implemented new ways of doing things and they worked,” said McIntyre, who became the Regional Volunteer Services Officer in 2015. “The Red Cross loves best practices and so some of those processes we started in Michigan were shared nationally.”

McIntyre leads a team of volunteers and employees who recruit for all Red Cross service lines in Michigan. From supporting blood drives and responding to home fires to assisting military members and their families, volunteers are the heartbeat of the organization. McIntyre said she continues to be inspired by their work.

“I always say that volunteer services is the nucleus of the organization, kind of like the sun. If you don’t have the volunteers, we wouldn’t exist. We can’t do the work without them,” McIntyre said.

Over the years, McIntyre said the types of volunteers and what they want from their time with the organization has changed as well as the approach to recruitment. Sometimes her team works with volunteers who have retired from their primary work, but still want to make a difference in the community. Younger volunteers today are different, she said, and those with technology skills “make them rock stars” to the organization.

“We think outside of the box and look for all different types of volunteers. We look for what will be valuable to any volunteer who can support the mission,” McIntyre said. “I’m a problem solver so I want to figure it out. Their passion is always there, so how can we get you on board?”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of the search for volunteers. McIntyre said that the core values of the Red Cross lead her in her work. It’s all about teaching others as her grandmother said to her.

“It is all about walking in another person’s shoes. We embrace differences because we serve all people,” McIntyre said.

“No one is perfect, and we live in a broken world. The best way to fix that world is together, with hope.” McIntyre said. “Here, you can go home and say ‘I made a difference. I helped’.”

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