#YOLO: You Only Pope Once

When I learned that Pope Francis would be visiting the United States, specifically my home city of Philadelphia, I booked my airline ticket from Portland, Ore. to Philadelphia, Penna.  It must have been divine timing, as I return annually about this time of year to visit family and friends.

For the past year and a half, I have enjoyed volunteering for a variety of charitable organizations’ special events. Knowing that the American Red Cross supports humanitarian needs, I contacted my colleague at the Red Cross in Philadelphia to see what needs the communications team might have.  With 20 years of staff and volunteer experience with Red Cross Disaster Relief, this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime assignment.  What an exciting and challenging opportunity to serve my Red Cross in its efforts to make sure the people of Philadelphia would remain safe and well through the Pope’s visit to the City.

As one of nearly a thousand people, including Red Cross volunteers and staff, I and the team of about a dozen set out to capture, in words and images, the Red Cross at work. Along with our partner organizations, we set up first aid stations and reunification centers throughout the city. Our primary role at this event was to help reunite families and friends who were separated and could not get in touch with or find each other at the event.

What an honor and a privilege to serve my home city in this historic — and personally humbling — event.

Pope_Volunteer_1   rco_blog_img_Kem Possible_resized for blog

Kim Elizabeth Manning

Salem, Ore.

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