In light of the countless individuals’ legacies during Hispanic Heritage Month, we are honored to highlight Donna Colon, the Executive Director of the Southeast Indiana Chapter of the Red Cross. Her journey with the Red Cross spans eight years and is symbolic of her efforts in giving back and centering her work around volunteering.
Donna joined the Red Cross in 2015 as a Program Specialist for Service to the Armed Forces and International Services. Before joining, she served in the military for almost 10 years and was on a deployment overseas in Germany. This position allowed Donna to combine her military background with some personal experiences she had with the Red Cross, as the overseas staff provided steadfast support to her. These experiences make up a unique source of inspiration for why she transitioned from army work to humanitarian work.
What makes Donna’s story stand out from others is the full circle moment from receiving help from the Red Cross to representing the organization and extending help to others. As Executive Director, Donna oversees partnerships with Su Casa (a nonprofit in Columbus, Indiana that provides Spanish classes, ESL classes, translation services, etc.), the local fire department, and Hispanic churches. “It’s been a great partnership, ensuring that those families are protected, that they understand fire education, and that we’re a safe place for them to turn to. If they know someone who has a fire or is in dire need, they can reach out to us,” she shared during the interview.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate who you are and be proud of where you came from,” Donna elaborated. As a second generation Latina (with roots in Mexico and Puerto Rico), Donna advocates for cultural enrichment activities and discussions for those interested in learning about Hispanic culture, like make-a-tamale workshops and spotlights on Hispanic Red Cross employees. Her visible role as an Executive Director has provided her with many cultural and community-centered insights, and she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with younger generations. Her advice to young people wanting to go into humanitarian work is to start volunteering early, research organizations that particularly speak to one’s soul in terms of values and missions, and view failure as an opportunity to learn and reach closer to one’s goal.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we thank Donna for her efforts in positively impacting the Hispanic community in Southeast Indiana and her influence on the next generation of humanitarian leaders.
You can also make an impact in your community through volunteering. Please visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about volunteer opportunities with us!
Written by Katriel Lin, Communications Intern.