I attended a lecture on leadership at the University of Richmond last night. At the end of the event, a stranger walked up to me. She looked at my Red Cross pin and said, “thank you for what you all are doing right now in Boston. The Red Cross is awesome.” I thanked her for her words of encouragement.
I am grateful that our neighbors trust that we will be there for them, and their loved ones, whenever and wherever the unexpected occurs.
My heart goes out to the people whose lives were disrupted by the tragic event in Boston.
Every year the President of the United States, the honorary board chair of the American Red Cross, proclaims March as Red Cross Month. During Red Cross Month, let’s make a special effort to tell our Red Cross story and clarify misperceptions about our role in society. Some people assume the Red Cross lies dormant until there is a natural disaster. Some people assume that the Red Cross plays a critical role during those natural disasters because we are a quasi governmental agency, receiving federal funding to support our important work. Neither of those assumptions is correct.
Please spread the word about the work of the Red Cross. During the month of March, as with any other month during the year, the Red Cross paid staff and volunteers in this region will serve hundreds of our neighbors, including victims of home fires; service men and women hoping to connect with a loved one back at home; people who want to learn how to save a life by taking a course or donating a unit of their own blood; and students who want to mobilize themselves to help heal the world through an international humanitarian organization. We are able to fulfill our mission of preventing and alleviating suffering in the face of emergencies, because of our priceless volunteers and the funds that we receive from the individuals, businesses, and foundations.
These words appeared on the editorial page of the Richmond Times Dispatch in 2011 after the tsunami disaster in Japan, “After each natural disaster nations and political parties put aside, however briefly, their petty squabbles and pull together for a common goal: remaking communities and restoring hope. The work is often backbreaking, sometimes heartbreaking – but never futile. No matter how great the disaster inflicted upon it, humanity marshals its strength and begins to build again.” As I read those words, I felt that I could not think of a better way to describe the multifaceted, humanitarian work of the Red Cross and our role as the catalyst that brings people and resources together in times of crisis, both great and small.
Thank you donors, investors, volunteers and friends. We are able to do our work and respond to our neighbors in need because of you.
Here is some good news to start off 2013. Ginger Weaver, Coordinator of Disaster and Military Services working out of our Halifax location, received some well deserved praise in the News & Record in South Boston, VA. The general manager of the newspaper listed “the good deeds” of eight people or businesses that he felt made significant contributions to the community. Here are his words about Ginger:
“Ginger Weaver. The redoubtable former director of the local chapter of the American Red Cross has transitioned to a regional position, although darn if I’ve been able to tell any difference with the changes in title. Weaver is seemingly everywhere that trouble lurks; the Caped Crusader is a slacker by comparison. With the Red Cross, Weaver has spent her long career offering aid, counsel and a caring hand to individuals and families displaced by fire or disaster; it is impossible to measure the amount of comfort she has provided to members of the community, but it’s been a ton. Next time you see a town or city somewhere on TV that’s been knocked flat on its back by a disaster, give thanks for people like Weaver and organizations like the Red Cross. I’m sure a monetary donation would be appreciated, too.”
Congratulations, Ginger! Thanks for being a wonderful embodiment of the fundamental principles of the Red Cross.
Dear volunteers and donors,
On behalf of the paid staff and all of the people we serve, I just want you to know that your gift of time and/or money has made all of the difference in the world. It is not an overstatement to tell you that we would not have been able to fulfill our mission in 2012 were it not for you. I know there are many causes and organizations that could have been the beneficiary of your time and money, so I am grateful that you selected the Red Cross as one of your charities of choice. We need you. The encroaching new year will bring challenges and more opportunities for us to blend our talents and resources together to help our neighbors when they are confronted with the unexpected. I feel confident that we, as a Red Cross family, will continue to do what we did in 2012, spreading hope and generating countless smiles. Thank you for your selfless service and sacrificial gifts.
I represented the Virginia Capital Region at the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial. I have conflicting emotions about the experience.
While there I spoke with an octogenarian WWII veteran who began his military career at age 16. He sighed heavily as he told me that most of his friends from the military have passed away. I hugged a woman who was weeping because she remembered the unrequited love of her fiancée who never made it home from Vietnam. I stood next to another man who tearfully thanked me for all that the Red Cross does for members of the military.
I am glad that I am a part of an organization that is dedicated to the needs of our service men and women and their families, but I am saddened by the pain caused by war. I respect all of those who have fought and sacrificed to protect us. I know that I am able to enjoy the life that I have in this nation because of them. Nonetheless, my fervent prayer on this Veterans Day Sunday is that before I reach my golden years, mankind will find peaceful ways to resolve our differences as we coexist on an ever shrinking planet.
As much as I hope and pray that Sandy is going to be less destructive than it is currently projected, I am reminded that many people to our south have already experienced the impact of this hurricane. My heart goes out to the people in the Caribbean who have just begun to recover from days of torrential rain and wind. In spite of advance warning and preparation, some people did not survive.
As I follow the news reports and social media, people on the east coast have been made fully aware of the seriousness of the storm. Schools are closing, transit systems are shutting down and stores can barely restock their aisles of disaster preparedness items. The public is bracing itself for the storm. That is good news.
As always, I am encouraged by the grit of our Red Cross disaster volunteers. Many of them have already rearranged their lives in order to make themselves available to do whatever needs to be done to assist their neighbors before, during and after Sandy. Because of them, the Red Cross is ready to help the people who, in spite of their best efforts to get prepared, will need to turn to us for assistance during these next few days. Although we are prepared to accommodate hundreds of people in this region, I hope that, miraculously, very few people need the help of the Red Cross as a result of Sandy. That would be great news.
My heart goes out to all of the people who have been displaced and feel anxious as they face Tropical Storm Isaac. I know the experience is surreal for those persons who were living in the same area when Katrina went through the area seven years ago today. I am grateful for the support from our friends and donors. Because of you, the Red Cross has been able to mobilize thousands of volunteers who have converged on the Gulf Coast to join in the response effort. Some of the corps of selfless volunteers who have made their way to the Gulf Coast are members of our local community. They could be away from home for several days as they support the needs of the disaster victims.
Everyone has a part to play when disaster strikes. If you would like to show your support by giving money, please go to www.redcross.org. Thank you.