Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Message from our Greater Rochester Chapter Board Chair

As both the Chair of the American Red Cross, Greater Rochester Chapter Board of Directors, and a Red Cross volunteer, I would like to address some of the facts reported in the Democrat and Chronicle on Sunday, September 4.

The American Red Cross is proud of its heritage here in Greater Rochester. Clara Barton founded the first Chapter of the American Red Cross in Dansville in 1881. Our current location on Elizabeth Street in Dansville serves not only as meeting and storage space for our Livingston County staff and volunteers, but also as a museum to the rich history of the Red Cross. During Dansville’s Clara Barton Day celebration last month, our staff led walking tours for the community and opened our home for the public to see and enjoy the many historic artifacts preserved there. If you missed that opportunity, you can schedule a tour and learn more about this important piece of our community’s history by calling 585-335-3500.

The Red Cross is also proud to be a long-standing United Way partner. There is no single organization that can meet all the needs of a community. The collectively negotiated annual allocation we receive from the United Way—agreed upon prior to the “Vision 2017” national reorganization of the Red Cross referenced in the article--helps the Red Cross fill our role of helping this community prevent, prepare for and respond to disaster, while the United Way also continues to support other deserving organizations that serve different needs across our community.

It is also important to note that the “Vision 2017” national reorganization was actually completed in the fall of 2014, following discussions during the Great Recession as to how to best serve our communities in a different economic climate. Although our brick and mortar presence has changed, our physical presence in terms of our volunteer outreach has not. In the past year alone, Red Cross volunteers in Livingston, Monroe and Ontario Counties: provided food, clothing, shelter and support for over 1,000 of our neighbors in need after home fires and other disasters; installed 760 free smoke alarms to help families reduce the risk of fire-related death and injury; trained over 18,400 people in life-saving CPR/AED, First Aid and other Health & Safety programs; collected over 41,400 units of blood--each of which can help save up to three lives-- at over 2,100 blood drives; and opened 314 cases to help our military members and their families, while distributing nearly 3,000 Military Resource Guides as well as over 520 cold weather and comfort kits to Veterans and Homeless Veteran Partner Agencies. These incredible services that occur each and every day are a direct result of the reorganization completed two years ago to meet the growing demand for our services while making the best use of donor dollars. In fact, an average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes directly to these humanitarian programs.

The American Red Cross is not brick and mortar buildings; it’s neighbors helping neighbors. While most of us were sleeping early Tuesday morning, Red Cross volunteers Melissa Miller and Herb Wolfe were on the scene of a fire that destroyed three homes on Myrtle Street in Rochester. As our over 1,000 volunteers do each and every day, Melissa and Herb not only provided 13 of our neighbors with a safe place to stay, food, clothing and support, they also gave these families something else: Hope. You can help families with nowhere else to turn know that their community will help pick them up in their darkest hours by supporting the Red Cross, either as a donor or a volunteer. You can learn more by visiting or calling 585-241-4400. The American Red Cross has been in Greater Rochester for 135 years, and thanks to your support, we will continue to be a vital part of this amazing community for many years to come.

Diana Clarkson
Board Chair 
American Red Cross, Greater Rochester Chapter