Mission: 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.
Relying on financial and volunteer support from the community to achieve its mission, the Red Cross provides emergency relief services, with disaster teams on the scene following fires tornadoes, floods and power outages. The humanitarian organization also educates the community in emergency preparedness and lifesaving skills such as First Aid, CPR and water safety. In addition, the Red Cross provides communication and financial support to military families, supplies half of the region’s blood, and reconnects international families separated by war or disaster. The organization operates solely on gifts from donors and receives significant investments as a member agency of the United Way.
History: The St. Louis chapter of the Red Cross was officially chartered in 1917 with the escalation of World War I. The chapter produced relief materials for war victims and raised $3 million for war relief in 1919 with its Red Cross War Fund Drive. After the war, the local division expanded into public health nursing and began providing various services through the years, including blood services, relief to disaster victims and HIV/AIDS education. In 1993, it provided critical assistance during the Great Flood, opening shelters, delivering meals and providing more than $18 million in relief. In 1995, the Red Cross aided Bosnian war victims with international tracing and messaging; and after 9/11, the St. Louis area raised more than $6 million for the Red Cross Liberty Fund. In 2009, the local chapter created Ready Rating, a free online program that helps businesses, organizations and schools prepare for emergencies.
Community Impact: In 2011, four area chapters merged to become the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region, serving the city and 72 surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois. That region stretches north past Hannibal, west past Jefferson City and east to include most of Southern Illinois. Last fiscal year, the chapter reached approximately 400,000 people. For example, the Red Cross responds to an average of three house fires every day in the St. Louis area, providing immediate assistance with food, shelter, clothing and emotional support.
Lifesaver Awards Breakfast, May 9, 2013 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac
The annual breakfast is the Red Cross’ biggest fundraiser, with the organization recognizing lifesavers in 10 categories: Disaster Relief, Lifesaving Organization, Firefighter, Water Safety, Good Samaritan Youth, Good Samaritan Adult, Blood Services, Law Enforcement, Military and Healthcare Professional.
How to Get Involved: The local chapter has almost 2,000 volunteers who assist with blood drives, serve meals to disaster victims, teach health and safety classes and help with disaster preparedness and recovery. For more information call 516-2800 or visit redcross.org/stl under the ‘Volunteer’ tab.
On the Board: Dick Clark
Recently, Dick Clark participated in a telethon for Hurricane Sandy relief. For several hours, he answered phone calls and took donations to support the Red Cross’ efforts on the East Coast. “People would call in and talk about when the Red Cross helped their own families,” Clark recalls. “That’s one of the things that strengthens the community support for this organization—that people know that the Red Cross will be there whenever it’s needed.”
As the Greater St. Louis Region’s board chairman, Clark is focused on helping the Red Cross continue its positive impact on the local community and beyond. He became involved with the organization six years ago when he joined the board. That opportunity opened his eyes to the extensive services the Red Cross provides, beyond the well-known disaster relief. “We see the Red Cross on the news and the impact it has immediately after a disaster, but it has so much more going on, such as the health and safety training classes, service to armed forces, and preparedness education,” Clark says. “As I learned more about that, it really increased my level of passion for the organization.”
Following his retirement from Monsanto in 2010 after 35 years as a senior executive, Clark became more involved with the St. Louis chapter, and was elected chairman in 2012. His extra free time allows him to reach out to people and businesses to “share the story of the Red Cross,” he explains. Clark also spends time meeting with the volunteers who contribute to the organization’s mission in a variety of ways. “It’s amazing what people will do to help their neighbors,” he says. “One of the more rewarding things I’ve been able to do is participate in our events that recognize people who save lives through CPR training or disaster response. They may have taken our training class not knowing that they would one day use it to save someone’s life.”
When Clark’s tenure as board chair is over in June 2014, he looks forward to finding other ways to stay involved with the Red Cross. In the meantime, he says, “We want to put the Red Cross in the position to optimize the services it offers the community, and make sure it’s always ready and available to help out.”