This week’s Friday Focus organization is part of the world’s largest volunteer network. Active in 187 countries worldwide, the Red Cross plays a fundamental role in the lives of many millions of people. We spoke with Jonathan McNamara, Regional Director of Donor and Media Relations and spokesman for the local Virginia chapter of the organization, about the important role the Red Cross plays locally, nationally and globally.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in need. Our network of generous donors, volunteers and employees shares a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world, through five key service areas:
Disaster Relief: The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family to hurricanes that affect tens of thousands, to earthquakes that impact millions. In these events, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet. Although the Red Cross is not a government agency, it is an essential part of the response when disaster strikes. We work in partnership with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims.
Supporting America’s Military Families: The Red Cross helps military members, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to the challenges of military service. Emergency communications, training, support to wounded warriors and veterans, and access to community resources help an average of 150,000 military families and veterans annually.
Live-saving Blood: Your donations of blood are what make the American Red Cross the largest single supplier of blood and blood products in the U.S. Each year, nearly 4 million people donate blood through the Red Cross, helping to provide more than 40% of America’s blood supply.
Health and Safety Services: The Red Cross is the nation’s leading provider of health and safety courses, such as CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard training. Each year, more than 9 million Americans participate in our training programs, including first responders, educators, babysitters and people who want to be prepared to help others in an emergency.
International Services: The American Red Cross is part of the world’s largest humanitarian network with 13 million volunteers in 187 countries. Working together, we help respond to disasters, build safer communities, and teach the rules of war. Each year, we reach an average of more than 100 million people across the globe.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: Every moment where we help a family is special. From supporting families who have lost everything after a home fire at 3:00 a.m., to reuniting a loved ones separated by armed conflict, our volunteers and staff work tirelessly to alleviate human suffering.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: We continue to have to adapt to the challenges our communities face. This is why we work so hard to recruit and train volunteers to support our mission. We also work with a variety of partners to communicate our vision and work to bring people together to build more prepared and resilient communities.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: We are participating in a variety of community events across our area. For more information about upcoming events, or to have the Red Cross at your next function, visit http://www.redcross.org/va/fredericksburg or call 757-446-7700. You can also follow the Red Cross on Twitter @RCCoastalVA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/redcrossSEVA.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: Each year, over one million Americans serve as Red Cross volunteers providing local community needs, such as:
- Helping people in emergencies and disaster response
- Teaching people how to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies
- Teaching first aid and CPR, swimming and other health and safety skills
- Delivering emergency messages to members of the military
- Reconnecting families separated around the world through international tracking services, etc.
- Organizing youth programs
Red Cross volunteers work directly with people, serve on boards of directors, serve as managers, advisors, and provide behind the scenes support. Be a Red Cross volunteer!
Helping others feels good, and helps you feel good about yourself. Your local Red Cross can work with you to provide rewarding experiences, opportunities to utilize your talents, or provide training to help you serve your community.
To join our team visit: http://www.redcross.org/va/fredericksburg/volunteer