This is no run of the mill volunteer

Qualities: “Very eager. Very capable. Seems excited to talk to people; she’s very comfortable doing so.”

A description of an eager beaver job candidate?

Nope. It’s how Kay Cramer, director of development for the Snohomish County Chapter of the American Red Cross, describes the volunteer work of Allison Graham.

Graham took what had looked like a summer of lost opportunity and turned it on its head.

Initially, Graham, who will begin her senior year at Western Washington University this fall, had hoped to find a summer job.

But with no job prospects this summer, Graham said she began looking for ways to help the community and add a line to her resume.

While scouting online for an internship, she happened to spot a listing for a volunteer post at the Snohomish County chapter of the American Red Cross.

Graham is volunteering at the Red Cross as part of the Summer of Service, a national program to encourage volunteerism. The program continues through Sept. 11.

Graham spends about 10 hours a week volunteering for the chapter, taking on duties as varied as data entry, fundraising, planning special events, marketing and communicating with volunteers and the public through social media, such as Facebook and MySpace.

“It’s worked out well for me,” Graham said. “I can be productive now.”

Graham, of Mill Creek, said that she became interested in volunteering by watching the work of family friends Steve and Linda Knox as organizers of the Run of the Mill, a 5K run and walk for a fund that benefits cancer patients.

One of her best experiences while volunteering at the local chapter was participating at an event called Red Cross Live at Premera in Mountlake Terrace.

“Going into my volunteering, I wasn’t sure what the Red Cross was,” she said. “I learned so much and found out how important an organization it is. They do a lot more than I even knew.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486,

Meet Allison

Name: Allison Graham

Age: 21

Education: 2006 graduate of Jackson High School; begins her senior year this fall at Western Washington University

Major: anthropology

Other volunteer experience: Run of the Mill, a benefit for cancer patients

Want to help?

Red Cross Summer of Service is looking for short-term volunteers to help with:

  • Weed pulling, picking up trash and mowing the lawn at its headquarters in Everett.

    Cleaning its kitchen.

    Painting its bathroom walls.

    Shampooing its carpet.

    Light carpentry work, including changing doorknobs and tightening screws.

    Not handy with a paint brush or screwdriver? The organization has a variety of longer-term volunteer needs, including an administrator for an electronic newsletter.

    For more information, check the Web site at and click on the local volunteer opportunities link or call 425-740-2327.

    What does Red Cross do?

  • Helps victims of single- and multiple-family fires

    Provides emergency communications for families of people serving in the military

    Educates citizens on disaster preparedness

    Trains people in first aid and CPR

    Provides emergency services, food and shelter during floods and other natural disasters

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