Finding Family

Being a Red Cross volunteer has helped Magaly Linares cross cultures. Magaly, originally from Panama, is continuing her Red Cross service in the United States.

“I don’t have my biological family here or many friends now,” said Magaly. “I came to the Red Cross and found a team of people willing to share with me. When you’re here, you know everything is all right and that you’re in a good place. That’s something I appreciate: being welcome.”

Magaly, a veterinarian, was brought in by the Red Cross in Panama to help with training search and rescue dogs. She soon became an active Red Cross volunteer.

“I was traveling across the country, working in national disasters,” she said. “It was very intense. All your time is used – a 24/7 job, basically.”

About six months ago, she came to the United States and began volunteering with the Red Cross in Columbus. She is a Disaster Services caseworker and member of the Disaster Action Team.

“There are assignments I’ve never done before, like home fires,” Magaly said. “That’s the main thing here, while in Panama it was flooding. It’s completely different, but it’s the same purpose being here, the same quality. Everyone wants to help other people.”

Disaster Services volunteers are called to assist people immediately after disasters large and small, including home fires and weather events such as floods. Others in the department provide follow-up casework after immediate needs are met.

“There are always more people in need than you think, especially in a country like the U.S.,” Magaly said. “Working for the Red Cross, it’s continuing my life in a way that doesn’t feel all that different. That is a good feeling. It feels like an extended family, as it did in Panama.”

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information on how to become a Red Cross volunteer, go to



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