CLARA BARTON and THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

Sometimes, the best way to add “life to my years” is to add it to someone else’s.

I want to dedicate today’s column to The American Red Cross.  As I’m sure all are aware, The Red Cross has launched a massive relief response to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey. They are supplying shelter, beds, blankets, food and comfort to tens of thousands of victims, and are engaged in delivering much needed blood products to Houston and Dallas area hospitals.

They help US, and we must help them to continue fulfilling their mission to ‘prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.’  You can make financial donations by visiting https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation, texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Of course, The Red Cross is not without it’s controversies, whether founded or unfounded, but, IMHO, the good that they do for humanity, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or financial status, outweighs any of these real or imagined missteps.

The past 5 years have found the Red Cross taking advantage of new technology by launching apps to alert and educate people who are dealing with hurricanes, tornados, emergency first aid, and pet first aid.  They ensure that hospitals have sufficient blood supplies through their blood drives and banks, supplying more than 40% of our nation’s blood supply.

The Red Cross has been on the front lines to serve others during times of war and in response to many of the world’s most devastating natural and deliberate disasters.  Following is a short list since 2000:

  • 09/11/2001: Red Cross responds to terrorist attacks in New York, at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania, providing aid, relief and comfort.
  • 08/2004: Hurricane Charley slams into Florida’s Gulf Coast, followed by a succession of 3 more hurricanes.  Red Cross responds with relief in what was, at that time, the largest mobilization of the Red Cross up to that point.
  • 12/2004: American Red Cross joins in the international relief effort after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the west coast of Indonesia triggers massive tsunami that brings death and destruction to 12 countries.
  • 08/2005: Red Cross mobilizes its largest, single disaster relief effort to date, at that time, to provide relief to those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
  • 01/2010: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake hits Haiti, leaving 1.5 million people homeless and prompting one of the largest single-country responses in the history of the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network.
  • 10/2012: 17,000 Red Cross workers participate in the massive emergency response effort across New Jersey and other affected states to provide relief to those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
  • 11/2013: Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded in the Philippines, claims more than 6,000 lives. With American Red Cross support, more than 3,200 families receive new homes while 6,600 others receive cash, materials, and technical support to rebuild existing houses to better withstand future disasters.
  • 03/2015: The Red Cross raises $7.6 million to help people in West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.
  • 04/2015: The American Red Cross helps fund emergency relief efforts and sends $39.9 million to help Nepalese families and individuals rebuild their homes, communities and livelihoods after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes Nepal, taking nearly 9,000 lives.

The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, a nurse, health activist, teacher and humanitarian.  I remember reading books about her as a child – she was one of my heroes; if I had possessed a stronger interest in the natural sciences than in the arts, perhaps I would have pursued a career in nursing.  I don’t know if there is a profession that I have more admiration for than nurses.  PBS published a wonderful, easy-to-read article about Clara Barton and the founding of the American Red Cross on it’s 133rd anniversary.  You can read it HERE.

Please consider volunteering your time (VOLUNTEER) or money to this most-worthy organization, and join me in sending good thoughts and, if you’re so inclined, prayers to the people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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