Let me introduce Lynn Crabb, Director of Mass Care for the American Red Cross. That means she’s the one making sure people are housed and fed in the wake of a disaster. If you think she’s probably a total badass, you’d be right. Lynn is also a friend of mine. We met at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington when our kids were newborns and we’ve been hanging at playgroup ever since. I asked her to tell me about what she thinks are the most awesome programs the Red Cross offers and she shared this:
There are two things that I think are really cool.
First, the main “disaster” we respond to is the house fire. The vast majority of responses we make are to people who have lost some/most/all of their stuff in a house fire. That’s how I started out in the Red Cross. I was a volunteer on the Disaster Action Team. We would go meet with people who had just been affected and get them a few nights in a hotel, some funds for food and clothes (including coats if it was winter), and other items based on their needs. One of the strongest memories I have is of an apartment fire during the 2003 Presidents’ Day snow storm. We got called out on a 6 unit apartment fire. One of the volunteers dug himself out, drove to the chapter, dug out the 4-wheel drive vehicle, came and picked me up, we went and picked up another guy and then we drove over to the apartment complex. The folks who had been affected were all sitting in the complex manager’s office because they had nowhere to go. We got them set up for a few days of hotel, food, etc. The crazy thing is–all of us were volunteers. That is nuts! Where else do you find that? It is the only reason we can do what we do–our volunteer base is unbelievable.
The other thing that is neat is our Services to the Armed Forces. Its main function is to provide crisis communication to the service member while they are deployed, on training assignments or otherwise away from their family. We also provide support around dealing with deployments and have implemented some new programs recently to assist with those service members coming back from deployment. Mental health issues are rising and we have been working on ways to help deal with that in conjunction with the military. I especially love this program because when my cousin was stationed in Iraq he was the beneficiary of two messages–one on the birth of his daughter and one on the death of his father-in-law.
You can find out more at www.redcross.org.
You didn’t really need me or Lynn to tell you that the American Red Cross is a worthy organization. You probably already knew it. But if you’re like me, you didn’t know about at least one of these services. The Red Cross touches thousands of lives daily and does so with the help of donors and volunteers. If you have time or money to give, the Red Cross could use both.