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Community Resources: the American Red Cross

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The American Red Cross is a well-known organization that provides services at the local, state, national and international level. The history of the organization began on May 21, 1881 when it was founded by an American nurse named Clara Barton (The Red Cross, 2020). Even though many have heard of the organization, they may not be aware of the numerous services provided, such as working with our military and their families, providing first aid and swimming courses, disaster relief, and blood donation. Throughout their long history, they have been dedicated to serving those in need. The Red Cross exists and continues to depend on generous donations of time, blood, and money from the community. This paper will explore more into the organization’s mission and vision, its promotion of equal opportunity, and its impacts on the health and safety needs of the local community. Other topics such as funding & government involvement will also be discussed.

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According to RedCross.org (2020), their mission is to alleviate suffering when any disaster occurs, large or small. They also want to protect life and improve the health of the community. The organization is capable of meeting their mission goals by generous monetary donations and a large number of volunteers who donate time. Some of the visions involve always being ready and prepared for disasters with supplies and trained individuals nearby. All people affected by disaster, no matter their location and with no discrimination, will receive the required care and shelter, and have access to lifesaving blood and blood products.

The ‘Global’ Red Cross has fundamental principles that focus on respecting each and every human being. Those principles are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, and unity (Red Cross, 2020). The organization also stresses how they do not discriminate, from gender and race to political views or practicing religion. The Red Cross is not permitted to ‘take sides’ or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature (Red Cross, 2020) The organization is a worldwide institution, and it is policy that there can be only one Red Cross society in any one country, have equal status, and share equal responsibilities in helping each other. It doesn’t matter in what territory or country, the organization must abide by the mission, values and fundamental principles set forth by The American Red Cross.

As for the employees of The Red Cross, they are from diverse backgrounds and provide numerous skills and talent. No size fits all with this organization as it is comprised of men, women, young, old, veterans and military families, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community (Red Cross, 2020). They all come together to carry out the mission of The Red Cross.

As previously mentioned, the work of The Red Cross depends on the work of many volunteers who come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a variety of talents and skill levels. Today, ninety percent of the organization is made up of volunteers working on the local level to assist in the community (RedCross.org, 2020). Numerous volunteer opportunities are available, for example, organizing fundraising events, educating the public, working blood drives or shelters, as well as leadership rolls.

The Red Cross depends on the generous donations received in order to carry out services provided by the organization. Ninety cents of every dollar received is spent on services and supplies for those in need (Red Cross, 2020). The Red Cross works to build strong relationships with state and federal governments as well as community leaders. This is done by increasing government’s awareness and understanding of the role The Red Cross plays in disaster planning and response, as well as how the organization helps to improve the health and safety of the community and the armed forces (Red Cross, 2020). The American Red Cross has a Board of Governors, which has the responsibility to direct and oversee all activities of the organization (Red Cross, 2020).

Since ninety percent of the American Red Cross is made up of volunteers, there is legislation that clearly defines a volunteer and the activities of volunteers. This includes what they are permitted and prohibited to do, and a set of laws relating to all volunteering issues (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies [IFRC], 2011).

As mentioned earlier, The American Red Cross is a well-known organization, but it may not be known as to what all is provided by this incredible organization. There are numerous services available to assist the community in health and safety. From small house fires to large natural disasters, volunteers respond wherever needed to provide clean water, shelter, hot meals and supplies. According to RedCross.org (2020), volunteers respond to an average of 60,000 disasters annually with 90% of those disasters being home fires. Following the emergency phase of a response comes assistance with recovery and addressing community needs. The Red Cross works alongside community leaders and government, as well as other relief agencies to determine the needs.

Planning assistance, equipment, trained staff, and recruitment tools are all available through the Red Cross when hosting a blood drive. Blood drives save lives! Many jobs require up to date CPR and First Aid training because an emergency can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Everyone can benefit from Red Cross training because so many courses are offered for the community. Courses include Swimming and Water Safety, Lifeguarding certification, Caregiving and Babysitting, as well as lifesaving courses such as CPR, first aid, and AED training. These courses provide the training and skills needed to prevent and respond to emergencies (Red Cross, 2020).

The Red Cross stands alongside members of the military and their families, active and retired, with the challenges of military service. Since September 11th, 2001, The Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families by providing the comforts of home and services on military bases and hospitals globally, providing support for families during deployments, and support for our veterans (Red Cross, 2020). Red Cross Red Crescent teams is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, providing relief throughout the world (The Red Cross, 2020). They not only respond to international emergencies, they also help communities prepare for future disasters and ensure children are receiving vaccines needed to stay healthy.

A large part of the volunteer population are nurses and other health professionals. According to RedCross.org (2020), The American Red Cross relies on the more than 20,000 nurses and other health professionals to care for disaster victims. They do this by working in shelters and temporary medical units, working in military hospitals, and collecting lifesaving blood. Some other areas they are needed is with teaching CPR/first aid and other lifesaving courses. Because of the education background of nurses, they may also be seen in supervisor and management positions throughout the organization.

With the assistance from generous donors and volunteers, The American Red Cross helps to prevent and relieve suffering, here in the United States and around the world. Volunteers and the community donate time, money and blood. The Red Cross teaches life-saving skills so communities can be better prepared when the need arises. They do this every day because the Red Cross is needed – every day.

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