Hispanic Heritage Month is a chance to rejoice in the vibrant Hispanic and Latino cultures in America. In honor of this month, we had the privilege to chat with María Carrasquillo, the Direct Services Support Manager for the Indiana region of the Red Cross. María shared how her path intertwined with the Red Cross and how her Hispanic heritage manifests in her day-to-day activities in her job.
From early on, María’s first encounters with the Red Cross were marked with profound appreciation. Growing up in Puerto Rico, her early childhood was heavily impacted by hurricanes, and the Red Cross greatly assisted her family in times of crisis. As such, these benevolent interactions are the reason why María joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 1992. Now, as a Direct Services Support Manager, she oversees volunteers working in mass care (sheltering, feeding, distributing emergency supplies, etc.), logistics, and disaster client services. Thanks to María’s fluency in Spanish, her client-facing role is bolstered by her bilingual skills, and she can resolve language barriers within her team. “I’ve worked with families that were afraid of us because they did not know who we were. They were afraid that we would turn them over to Immigration Services, and being able to talk to them in their language made a huge difference,” she revealed in our interview. It is important to emphasize that as a humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross provides safe shelter, food, and supplies to those in need of assistance during disasters. Our shelters are open to everyone in need regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or citizenship status.
As a Direct Services Support Manager, María embodies compassion, resourcefulness, and unity. She campaigns for working within the Latino community in Indiana and teaching them about what the Red Cross offers and the opportunities it has to help them become part of the movement. As for Hispanic Heritage Month, María is passionate about uplifting Hispanic voices and celebrating Latino culture every single day of the year and onwards. As she enthusiastically said, “Our culture is unique, beautiful, and multifaceted. I’m incredibly proud to be able to say I’m a Latina, a Puerto Rican, and a member of the Red Cross.”
As a Red Crosser, María’s work goes beyond our region as she has deployed multiple times to provide assistance to those impacted by disasters across the country. Most recently, María traveled to Guam to help communities affected by Typhoon Mawar. She also joined our disaster response during 9/11 and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
By joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, you can make a positive influence within your community. For additional details on how you can get involved with us, explore our volunteer opportunities at redcross.org/volunteer!
Written by Katriel Lin, Communications Intern.