Volunteer power is an awesome force

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​”

By Doug Bardwell, an American Red Cross volunteer

December 13, 2019- Thousands of people’s lives are affected by disasters each year, and those same lives are also affected by relief and comfort from the American Red Cross.

Following a disaster, when life is at its lowest, the American Red Cross is often the first with:

  1. an encouraging word
  2. a hug
  3. financial assistance
  4. a safe place to stay
  5. meals and snacks
  6. a caseworker to help recovery
  7. any or all of the above

Since this isn’t a graded exam, we can share the answer: G.  Throughout the year, locally, nationally, and internationally, the Red Cross is often the first humanitarian association people ever encounter after a disaster.  Responding to a hurricane earlier this year, a survivor told me, “I’ve been through four hurricanes in my life, and the Red Cross is the only organization that has been there to help me after each one.

Doug Blog

During fiscal year 2019, more than 150 volunteers from Northeast Ohio deployed to relief operations resulting from disasters such as Hurricane Dorian, flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda, and multiple wildfires in California.

While hurricanes aren’t a concern in Northeast Ohio, we’ve certainly had our share of other catastrophes. Locally, the Red Cross responded to 979 local disaster events, the vast majority of them home fires, resulting in the distribution of $810,086 in financial assistance to help individuals begin the path to recovery.

In addition to local disasters, we served almost 2,500 military members, veterans and their families with critically needed support while those servicepeople were deployed. Local program staff and volunteers also delivered the “Get to Know Us” briefing to more than 3,200 military recruits and their family members.

Finally, the region’s Biomedical Services collected 145,531 units of blood that resulted in the distribution of no fewer than 436,593 life supporting blood products to more than 50 medical facilities in Northeast Ohio.  These blood products helped patients across Northeast Ohio recover from a variety of medical conditions, including some that were life threatening.

Nationally, the results are even more staggering.  During the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year, we

  • Served over 1.1 million meals and snacks with our partners
  • Distributed over 354,000 relief items
  • Made over 92,000 contacts to support health, mental health, spiritual care and disability needs
  • Provided over 79,000 overnight shelter stays with partners
  • Provided emergency financial assistance to nearly 376,000 people for disaster needs like food and lodging.

Most important to remember, is that all this assistance requires two critical ingredients: donations from our cherished donors and a volunteer workforce.

Despite a mandate from the government to respond to disasters and to support our military, no federal funding is generated.  Operating funds come from the generous donations of American citizens and organizations.  For more information on donating, please visit our donations page.

And, 90% of the Red Cross workers are volunteers, almost all of them are part-time. Some respond to disasters once a year, some monthly and some only when a local disaster occurs near their home. If you have a couple hours, a day, or more, see if there’s a volunteer opportunity you’d like to perform. These days, you don’t even need to leave home to volunteer, with some of the digital opportunities available.

Photo by Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

Help Humanity – And Get a Tax Deduction

It’s been quite a year – Red Cross supporters, volunteers and donors achieved incredible things for families and individuals in need, in Northeast Ohio and throughout the country.

Here’s a look back at some of the incredible work we accomplished with the help of our partners in 2017:

  • We were able to provide 658,000 overnight shelter stays to people affected by imagejpeg_0 (002)disasters like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, historic wildfires and hundreds of home fires. In Northeast Ohio, we responded to about 1,000 incidents, the vast majority of them home fires, helping more than 4,100 people.
  • We distributed more than 7 million disaster relief items during these countless disasters, helping families who had lost everything get back on their feet. In Northeast Ohio, we provided about $800,000 in financial assistance to residents who experienced a disaster.
  • More than 5.7 million people received Red Cross Health and Safety training, including life-saving emergency and first-aid information from Red Cross mobile apps.
  • IMG_4281Volunteers installed 418,460 smoke alarms, including more than 16,000 in Northeast Ohio to make homes safer, bringing the total number installed to more than one million since our Home Fire Campaign began in 2014.
  • More than 2.7 million people chose to give blood or platelets through the Red Cross, helping to save lives at about 2,600 hospitals throughout the country.
  • Over 76,900 military families benefited from emergency communication services provided by the Red Cross.

Each family we meet has a unique story. We were there when we needed to be, for those who needed us most, thanks entirely to supporters and donors.

The need won’t change in 2018, which is why we need to be ready before the next emergency. Will you make your year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Red Cross today?

2016, a Year That Set New Weather Records

West Virginia Floods 2016

In a year that set new records for severe and devastating weather, the Red Cross provided more assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people impacted by these disasters all across the United States than in the past two years combined.

In 2016, 32,000 Red Cross volunteers responded to 180 significant disasters in 45 states and two U.S. territories including wildfires, storms, flooding, Hurricane Matthew and other emergencies. Volunteers from Northeast Ohio deployed to disaster affected areas nearly 140 times this year.

“People impacted by disaster are facing what can be their darkest days. This year a seemingly endless chain of disasters affected hundreds of thousands of people and the Red Cross was there, helping,” said Mike Parks, Northeast Ohio’s CEO. “But we need your support now to continue providing help to families affected by disasters.” The Red Cross depends on generous financial donations to provide services.

As of December 4, the Red Cross provided the following help to people impacted by disasters across the country this year:

  • Opened nearly 800 emergency shelters, providing 206,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes
  • Served more than 4.1 million meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 2.1 million relief items

Home Fires Continued to be Largest U.S. Disaster Threat

Declan&OldAlarmAmidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2016, the Red Cross provided casework assistance to help 79,000 families recover after a home fire left them with nowhere else to turn. The Red Cross and thousands of local partners are also working to help prevent home fires, deaths and injuries. Since 2014, at least 116 lives have been saved through the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, locally known as Operation Save-A-Life, a total of 574,000 smoke alarms have been installed, and 625,000 youth have been taught about fire safety.

Here in the Northeast Ohio Region, the Red Cross responded to over 970 home fires across 22 counties and provided more than $720,000 in financial assistance to those local families affected by disasters. Through the help of community partnerships, the Red Cross installed over 13,000 smoke alarms from July 2015 to June 2016.

World’s Largest Humanitarian Network Responds to Global Disasters

Before Hurricane Matthew hit the United States, the storm made landfall in Haiti, leaving widespread flooding, damage to infrastructure and major crop and livestock loss. The American Red Cross delivered critical relief, including supplies to reduce the increased threat of cholera in the country.

A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada threatened dozens of communities in the spring. The American Red Cross deployed almost 100 employees and volunteers to help.

Ecuador Earthquake 2016A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador in April, cutting off remote communities and causing severe damage to the country’s infrastructure. Red Cross societies from all over the world stepped in to help.

 

2016 has been the deadliest year for refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, with more than 4,000 people dead as they try to cross from Libya to Europe. The American Red Cross has contributed funds to help meet the needs of refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life in Europe, including the deployment of a disaster specialist aboard a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neo, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.