Story and Photo by Dawn Leaks
“When tragedies like this happen, diversity is one of the things that sometimes gets neglected,” says Mabel Lam, Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer. “It’s very meaningful to have the Red Cross come in with a diverse group that understands different cultures”.
Mabel, a Hong Kong native, grew up in San Francisco and moved to Cambridge, MA in the 80s. She has a long history with the Red Cross and has helped people cope with the stress and anxiety of disasters since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Her background in clinical psychology makes her an excellent mental health volunteer for the Red Cross and Mabel is glad to be able to provide a different prospective to the people she cares for.
Since Sunday, April 21, Mabel has been to the Boston Common and several memorial sites helping Boston residents work through their emotions and try make sense of the bombings. “People react differently in situations like these,” said Mabel. “Cultural competence is essential – it’s so important to have that piece involved”.
Part of the Red Cross vision is to cultivate a culturally competent and inclusive organization, where the make-up of Red Cross volunteers increasingly reflects the clients and communities we serve. The Boston area is rich in diversity and the bombings along with the events that followed have taken a toll on the entire community.
“Many people are taking the bombings very hard,” shared Mabel. “I’m just happy that I can help in some way.”