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My experience with the American Red Cross

My experience at a two day event with the American Red Cross

I had the opportunity to go to the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, DC several weeks ago. I was given a two day behind the scenes look at different programs the Red Cross participates in and offers. I am so glad that I took this chance to get to know more about the Red Cross, because I learned a lot…. And I can’t wait to share everything I learned with you mama’s!

When you think about the American Red Cross, what comes to your mind? I can tell you what I thought of, blood drives. That’s honestly the only thing that came to my mind when I thought about the American Red Cross. I hear about local blood drives, and I have even participated in a few blood drives, despite the fact of my fear of needles. Now, I can share my knowledge of everything the Red Cross offers, which I am going to do in this blog. So sit back and get comfy mama’s.

First I want to start out with the American Red Cross’s Mission Statement. “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.” Every Red Cross member that I got the pleasure of speaking with or listened to, all had such a passion for what they do within the Red Cross, and I believe they take their Mission Statement very seriously.

My two days at the American Red Cross Headquarters were full of information. They set up a very nice agenda for us bloggers, and kept us busy with speakers, tours, hands on experiences, and behind the scenes opportunities. They also kept us well fed and even offered a tour bus to view DC.

Blood Donation

Let’s talk about the thing the American Red Cross is most well-known for, blood drives. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. With only 3 out of 100 people donating blood, and with a declining blood donor base, blood donation is needed more than ever. Did you know it takes just about 8-10 minutes for a blood donation? And just one blood donation can save 3 lives? These are lives of cancer patients, trauma patients, burn patients, patients with chronic diseases, Sickle Cell patients, and more. The Red Cross plays a big role in this need and is responsible for supplying 40% of the nations blood in the United States. You can find a blood drive by contacting our local American Red Cross, going to our local American Red Cross blood donation center on Tuesdays 1-7pm and Thursdays 12-6pm, or going to the American Red Cross website. One of the most needed blood types needed is for patients with Sickle Cell disease. So what is Sickle Cell disease? Sickle cell disease is a common, inherited red blood disorder. Sickle cell disease patients can suffer different conditions, such as acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes. So what does donating blood have to do with Sickle Cell disease? The Red Cross supports one of the most critical sickle cell treatments of all, blood transfusions. Some sickle cell disease patients require transfusions as often as monthly, making the need for blood donations constant. The ideal donation types for this disease is especially from African-American donors, because sickle cell patients require multiple transfusions and must be very closely matched to the donor’s blood type, usually from the same racial and ethnic group. And the ideal Blood Type is O negative, especially from African-American donors. So if you fit that description, then you are greatly needed to help fight this disease! But of course, all blood types are greatly needed.

Sound the Alarm

One of the programs that really stood out to me that the Red Cross offers is a program called Sound The Alarm. Here is a very scary statistic, every day, seven people die in home fires, most victims in homes without smoke alarms. How can we reduce fatalities of home fires? With smoke alarms. The American Red Cross has made this one of their missions, to equip homes with smoke alarms through their Sound The Alarm campaign, which launched in 2014. With the help of Red Cross volunteers, fire departments and other community partners, the Red Cross is able to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, and provide fire prevention and safety education to at-risk neighborhoods, as well as other neighborhoods and to individuals. In just five years, the Red Cross has accomplished installing more than 1.8 million smoke alarms and preparing more than 1 million people against home fires. So how are they able to get this all done? With Red Cross volunteers! People like you and me! You can start saving lives by volunteering your time to the Sound The Alarm program right here in our community! You can find volunteer information and other helpful information with more statistics here.

While I was at this event, they had a hands on training with installing fire alarms, which I got to participate in. They showed us how fast and simple it was to install these alarms.

Military

Another cause the American Red Cross services are our military. Yes, that's right, our military. I was so happy to know that they are helping out our service men and women. Being a daughter of a former Army officer, the military holds a very special place in my heart.The American Red Cross serves 2 million military personnel, including active duty, National Guard and Reserve, and veterans. One of the American Red Cross's several apps is the Hero Care App. This app helps members of the military, veterans and their families identify and access both emergency and non-emergency Red Cross services from anywhere in the world. Here are just a few of the things this app offers......

  • Request Red Cross emergency services, to include an emergency message or assistance with emergency travel or emergency financial aid.

  • Securely and easily access information about their service member in the case of an emergency, including updated information as they move or change duty assignments.

  • Access non-emergency Red Cross behavioral health assistance including financial assistance and free local workshops for military kids and spouses.

For more information about the services that they offer, click here.

Disaster Relief Efforts

The American Red Cross responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year with

95% of the disaster relief workers being volunteers and 90% of disasters being respond to are home fires. They respond to disasters big and small, across the country, bring relief to wildfires, floods, earth quake, winter storm, Home fires, and hurricanes. In these types of disasters, the Red Cross opens up overnight shelters so that people have a safe place to stay, provide meals and snacks, distributes emergency supplies, health and mental health services, utilizes trained Red Cross volunteers and employees, sends out their Emergency Response Vehicles, and reunification. The Red Cross also provides some long term recovery services in certain situations.

International Services

Another thing that I did not know, was that the Red Cross has international services as well! The Red Cross Red Crescent teams provide relief in nearly 200 countries with over 17 million volunteers worldwide. These teams utilize volunteers that often come from the communities they serve, which helps bring communities together and are taught life saving skills.1 in 25 people around the world are helped by the Red Cross and the Red Cross Crescent each year. During many of these disasters, people become disconnected from their families, and the Red Cross and Red Cross Crescent have reconnected over 9,000 families internationally. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the Red Cross maintains a corps of trained disaster responders and relief supplies worldwide to deliver immediate support when needed. Another international service that they offer is the Measles & Rubella Initiative. This campaign has vaccinated over 2 billion children against measles, which has resulted in a 79% reduction in global measles deaths. It costs about $2 to vaccinate a child against measles and rubella, which makes it a very cost-effective health intervention. For more information about the International Services that are provided, click here.

Volunteer Opportunities

There are so many way you can volunteer with the Red Cross. There are also different capacities in which you can volunteer, too. You can donate blood, you can donate money, you can donate your time, and you can even host your own blood drive. 90% of the American Red Cross is made up of volunteers, people just like you and I. If you plan on donating money, just know that an average of 90 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need. I was very happy to learn about that, as that is something we all wonder about when we donate our money. If you are thinking about becoming a volunteer with the American Red Cross, simply contact the American Red Cross!

Deluxe Personal Safety Emergency Pack

Something that I keep in my car now and that I would recommend having in your vehicle or at home is the Deluxe Personal Safety Emergency Pack. This American Red Cross Personal emergency preparedness pack has essential supplies for an emergency. This kit includes an emergency drinking water pouch, rain poncho, emergency blanket, two hand warmers, a light stick, a N95 particulate face mask, two nitrile gloves, a hand sanitizer, germicidal wipes, whistle with neck cord, Mini first aid kit with assorted bandages, antiseptics, and a brochure to help you customize your own Emergency Preparedness kit. You never know when the time will come that you need something like this, and it's good to have on hand just in case!

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