Archive for the ‘Red Cross’ Category

International Volunteer Day

Saturday, December 5th, 2015
International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day

Today is International Volunteer Day. Many non-profit organizations will host public events to promote their contributions to the community and to recruit new volunteers to join them. Local chapters of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, for example, will often take the opportunity afforded by International Volunteer Day to make their communities aware of the contributions that the Red Cross makes at local, national and international levels. It is a great way to show how individual community volunteers are contributing to a better world. Today, the Red Cross will also promote campaigns to attract more volunteers both for first aid training and for disaster risk reduction training (to identify key hazards and prepare for them). There are a number of ways that small businesses can participate in International Volunteer Day. Some may encourage their employees to volunteer, particularly for causes that align with the missions of their businesses. Others may give employees paid time off to volunteer. Still others may choose to sponsor events for local non-profit organizations such as, for example, providing food and beverage for the local volunteer events. There are many ways to contribute, even for small businesses with more limited resources.

Legislation Proposes Oversight of the Red Cross

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

American Red CrossThe U.S. General Accounting Office just released a report, American Red Cross: Disaster Assistance Would Benefit from Oversight Through Regular Federal Evaluation, following an eighteen-month investigation requested by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The report finds that while the Red Cross has a mandate from the government to respond to disasters, “no regular, independent evaluations are conducted of the impact or effectiveness” of its work. The GAO report cites examples of failures in the response of the Red Cross to SuperStorm Sandy and misleading statements by the Red Cross leadership as to how the organization has spent funds raised for disaster relief work.

Indeed, this is nothing new. Following the terrorist attacks of 9-11, the Red Cross broadcast national appeals for aid for the “Liberty Fund” which appeared to suggest that all funds raised would be donated to those who lost family members or were left homeless as a result of the terrorist attacks. When the organization was slow to distribute the aid, public outcry forced the Red Cross to change its practices and begin more proactive outreach to Lower Manhattan communities impacted by the events of 9/11. Other critics of the Red Cross, such as Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), questioned the efficacy of the organization’s work in Haiti following a devastating earthquake.

In response to the findings of the GAO report, Congressman Thompson has drafted the American Red Cross Sunshine Act, legislation that would require regular audits of the financial operations of the Red Cross and evaluations of its response to disasters in the United States and abroad as well as other reforms. The American Red Cross has pointed out that that it is not a federal agency, its disaster relief efforts are privately funded and its work is performed almost entirely by volunteers. These are all valid points and all underscore the need for transparency and oversight of the Red Cross – no other organization has a government mandate for disaster relief work in the United States. Clear accountability and oversight gives donors the confidence that their contributions will be used in the most effective way, consistent with the donor’s intent and the organization’s mission. Congressman Thompson’s bill deserves support and all Americans owe thanks to Pro Publica, the non-profit journalism organization that provided an in-depth look at the response of the Red Cross to SuperStorm Sandy.

Celebrating the American Red Cross

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

This weeks marks an important anniversary as Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross on May 21, 1881. I have long supported the Red Cross. I have decided to pay tribute to the American Red Cross by publishing interesting Red Cross trivia:

  • Did you know that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped build the American Red Cross headquarters?
  • The American Red Cross offers training to certify babysitters to more safely care for children.
  • The Red Cross also offers training on pet first aid.
  • The President of the United States is always the honorary chairman of the American Red Cross.
  • The American Red Cross supports the work of the chapters of the International Red Cross by, for example, supporting relief work in Haiti and other disaster-affected areas.

I invite Red Cross volunteers to expand on this list!

In the Bag for the Red Cross!

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Today, the Red Cross Chapter serving the Washington DC region is holding its annual fundraiser, “In the Bag”. The women’s committee of the chapter will auction designer, vintage and celebrity handbags to help fund the vital services the Red Cross provides to the community, including disaster relief, first aid training and assistance to military families. This event raised $20,000 last year and this year’s goal is to reach $40,000. Just to appreciate how important funding support is, consider that the National Capital Region of the American Red Cross provides 250,000 meals monthly and 750 volunteers to local hospitals. In addition, the Red Cross chapters also support international disaster relief efforts. Last year, the Capital Region Chapter provided emergency services to over 40,000 people.

I donated a handbag that was custom made for me at a shop in the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. I have never used the bag; it is in mint condition and I hope someone else will enjoy it. You can see it on the auction site which features snapshots of the bags. If you don’t want to bid on a bag, you can volunteer or contribute funds. This graphic image, by the way, relates to a Red Cross chapter in Louisiana “Power of the Purse”, so check out what your local Red Cross chapter is doing this month as you may be able to get a great deal on a top-notch handbag.

It is particularly important that we support the Red Cross this year. In this tough economy, with persistently high unemployment, it is no surprise that charitable contributions have declined relative to years past. At the same time, the frequency and severity of natural disasters has increased dramatically and we certainly cannot count on government support, either at the community, state or federal levels.

So let’s all do what we can to support the Red Cross which delivers services critical to every community.

Red Cross Assesses 2005 Hurricane Response

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
We Did Our Part

We Did Our Part

As we approach the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross is sharing its lessons learned in a report Bringing Help, Bringing Hope: The American Red Cross Response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. With $2.2 billion in donor funds, the Red Cross provided shelter and emergency financial assistance to evacuees across thirty-one states and the District of Columbia. This assistance reached 1.4 million families or 4.5 million people, nineteen times the Red Cross’ previous record of outreach. The unprecedented scope and scale of the relief effort prompted the Red Cross to enhance planning for large-scale disasters and created new partnerships at the local, state and national levels. The Red Cross also established a national warehouse system, stocked with more than twice the amount of disaster relief supplies previously kept in inventory – enough to support 35,000 shelter residents. The number of trained disaster volunteers was increased from 25,000 to nearly 95,000, including nearly 50,000 who are on call to travel to disasters around the country. Finally, the Red Cross created web tools to connect families online after disasters. It was an extraordinary response to an unthinkable event. The image here shows the certificate we received from the Hurricane Recovery Director of the American Red Cross for our assistance to affected small businesses. We can all do something and the Red Cross report shows the results of many individual contributions.

Tragedy in Italy

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
From Zurich to Milan

From Zurich to Milan

Yesterday, central Italy was struck by an earthquake which registered 6.3 in magnitude on the Richter scale. Nearly 150 people are believed dead as a result of the tragedy, which is Italy’s deadliest earthquake since November 23, 1980, when a 6.9-magnitude quake hit the southern part of the country, leveling villages and causing about 3,000 casualties. Emergency responders in Italy have reported strong aftershocks in the affected region. Compounding the tragedy is that relief aid to effectively respond to a disaster of this magnitude is limited by the weak economy. The American Red Cross has set up a site to collect donor contributions for this critical need.

The photograph accompanying this blog entry is one I took when I lived in Switzerland, showing the Cisalpino, the high-speed train that connects Zurich to Milan. As a senior executive of Swiss Re, I often had occasion to travel to Italy on business and of course, I also enjoyed spending weekends in Milan, Florence, Venice and Rome. I have very fond memories of my time in Italy and have contributed to the Red Cross’ relief efforts.

March is National Red Cross Month

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
March is National Red Cross Month

March is National Red Cross Month

In 1943, President Roosevelt, acting as the honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, recognized that organization’s outstanding humanitarian services when he declared March “National Red Cross Month”. This declaration became the basis of support for annual fund raising and volunteer recruitment drives to support the critical activities of local Red Cross chapters. Supporting your local Red Cross chapter is particularly important this year as donor support has declined with the economic recession. I learned some interesting facts about my local Red Cross organization, which is the Greater New York Chapter of the Red Cross. First, the largest corporate sponsors of our local Red Cross chapter included Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG and Merrill Lynch! Second, the New York chapter of the Red Cross responds to eight to ten disasters a day, ranging from people rendered homeless from the collapse of construction cranes to local fires. This is significant because many of us in New York are focused on 9-11-scale events when, in fact, it is the everyday disaster that we are, by definition, most likely to experience. With many small businesses struggling in the current economy, contributing funds may be difficult at this time. However, there are other ways you can support the Red Cross, from volunteer work to training. I urge you to contact your local Red Cross chapter to find out what you can do.

Deadliest Disaster in Australian History

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

One week ago, more than 400 fast-moving fires, some of which appear to have been set deliberately, moved through Victoria, Australia killing more than 180 people in the most fatal disaster in that country’s history. The fires destroyed more than 1,800 homes leaving more than 7,000 people homeless. More than 4,000 firefighters continue to fight nine fires still blazing in their area, with their ranks supplemented with firefighters flown in from both New Zealand and the United States. In an effort to count the casualties, a team of Indonesian experts who had helped to identify bodies after the Bali bombings and the 2005 tsunami has gone to Australia. The Australian Red Cross has launched a fundraising appeal to help the victims of the fires and has established a website where you can make a secure online donation with your credit card.