I have often shared the story that “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering, down the street, across the country and around the globe” to describe the scope of service of our organization. This rings very true today.
“Down the street” in La Plata County, Red Cross volunteers have been honing their skills by receiving training in sheltering, local disaster response, psychological first aid and community partnerships, as well as participating in large-scale training exercises. This continued training ensures that we have the capacity to respond to our communities’ needs when an emergency occurs. Local volunteers have also been very active ensuring that their neighbors are better prepared for an emergency in their homes, and over the past two weekends have installed nearly 30 smoke detectors and educated families in Durango about how to safely evacuate their home if they have a fire.
“Across the country” we have seen the onslaught spring storms, tornadoes and flooding. Red Cross workers have shelters open and are providing meals, relief supplies and helping people begin to recover after the severe weather that struck communities from Texas to South Dakota. Families who were displaced from the storms spent the night in shelters in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Iowa. Red Cross response vehicles are moving through the affected communities to hand out meals and relief supplies. Trained volunteers are also beginning to meet one-on-one with families to help people plan their next steps. The threat of severe weather isn’t over yet, and we are prepared to respond in other communities if necessary.
“Around the globe” in Nepal, as many as 8 million people’s lives have been affected by the April 25 earthquake. Reports vary, but the earthquake has killed about 7,700 people, injured more than 16,400, and damaged or destroyed more than 500,000 homes. More than 3 million people need food assistance. The Nepal Red Cross has disaster teams operating in the most affected regions, distributing shelter materials, hygiene kits, blankets, health-care supplies, and meals and rice to those in need. More than 28,000 tarps, 2,000 sets of relief supplies and almost 242 million water-purification tablets have already been distributed. More than 4,000 first-aid volunteers have mobilized throughout the districts. The American Red Cross has committed $5 million to support the response and recovery efforts and has deployed 10 disaster specialists to support the relief effort. Nine of these specialists are in Nepal to support emergency relief, cash-transfer programming, information management, recovery planning and information technology/telecoms.
It is times like these that I am honored to serve the American Red Cross and can help ensure that we will be there for neighbors down the street, communities across the nation and nations around the world. We would not be able do any of this without the generosity of our donors.
We invite anyone who is interested in supporting our mission to join us for Red Cross Giving Day, where we ask our community to make a difference All In One Day on June 2 for our national day of giving.
Information about how you can support can be found at: redcross.org/GivingDay.
Eric Myers is executive director for the Red Cross in Western Colorado. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 242-4851.