Alex Almazan is making a difference… a big difference in a big charity. The American Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organization in the world and until recently did not have a young professionals group. Almazan has changed that on a local level, and his efforts are beginning to grow roots nationally.
The Young Professionals of the Red Cross (YPRC) was created by Almazan, a 34-year-old partner in the law firm of Almazan & Rodriguez in Coral Gables, with the help of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.
“I attended a fundraiser for Mayor Manny Diaz in 2005 and there I met a man who worked for the local Red Cross chapter,” said Almazan. “We shared a common idea and so did others at the local chapter and YPRC was born that day.”
Since then, under the leadership of Almazan, YPRC has seen tremendous success. His goal is to bridge the gap between the young people who want to make positive contributions to society and the establishment that is already doing so.
“How can people between the ages of 20 and 45 make a difference?” said Almazan. “They can put on a tuxedo and pay $300 to attend an event, but YPRC allows young people to do more. I like to use a sports analogy by comparing YPRC to a minor league farm system. We are preparing for the day when it is our turn to lead.”
YPRC recruits and educates its members through networking and awareness events. Events have been held at Chispa, Big Fish and Smith & Wollensky to name a few, and serve both the host venue and the organization.
“I don’t mind if people attend our events to gain business contacts, as long as we have the opportunity to educate them about what the American Red Cross truly is,” explained Almazan. “Many people have no idea about what the Red Cross does. Some people think that it’s an arm of government. They think that the Red Cross is only there when a disaster hits. But the Red Cross is a year-long organization that provides everything from shelter, to fire assistance for displaced families, to mental health counseling, to blood drives, to local hurricane assistance here in Miami and elsewhere.”
YPRC has been so successful that it has garnered the attention of the Red Cross’ national leadership. A national pilot program of YPRC has been established and will be made available to chapters throughout the country. But Almazan and his team are far from the finish line.
“This has been a tremendous learning experience for me,” he said. “We have an extremely talented and diverse group of people who are working hard to make YPRC a success, but in the end we are a group of volunteers. We need more people to make this succeed.”
The first step for young professionals to get involved is to go to MiamiRedCross.org and click on the “Young Professionals” link. The site can educate potential members about what YPRC does and they can join right there. Or they can simply attend the next YPRC event.