The American Red Cross

Saving Lives Since 1881

Ashley Jin and Zena Karam

Their Main 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.”

Everyday Superheroes

For many people, superheroes come in comic books, movies, and television shows. However, today’s reality involves hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, spills, and explosions, in which superheroes that people adore cannot help save them. During these times of need, the American Red Cross are the local heroes that come to save people from their distress. The American Red Cross is known mainly for their vital disaster relief programs. With thousands of natural and man-made disasters occurring today, this organization has significantly impacted the lives of many. Today, the world would never be the same without the immense aid the American Red Cross has brought. Through thick and thin, this widespread organization has successfully supplied communities with their basic needs through the aftermaths of disasters and other issues.

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1. What is the issue/cause that your charity supports?

Although the American Red Cross deals with many issues, their main mission and focus is to provide service and relief to disaster areas, military families, blood donations, and the general health and safety of people around the world. The American Red Cross answers to about 70,000 disasters in America due to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, spills, and explosions, the Red Cross immediately answers to those who depend on them. Also, being involved in servicing the veterans and their families at all times takes a lot of effort when providing critical care. In addition, they run blood donation programs in which blood from anyone is sent straight to victims of accidents, cancer, and blood disorders along with surgical candidates. Not only does the American Red Cross deal with these main issues, but many more minor problems too. According to the Academic American Encyclopedia, in an article titled, “Red Cross” on page 112, it states, “It’s work [Red Cross] has been extended to include such peacetime services as maintaining blood banks, offering training in 1st aid and water safety, and caring for victims of such disasters as floods, fires, and famines. It also aids refugees.” The American Red Cross is involved with civil defense and support in diseases such as AIDS and HIV. Nurses and workers all are trained for emergencies and in times of need such as the ones listed above. But, this organization is mainly run on donors and their generosity. Over all, when people depend on the American Red Cross, the Red Cross depends on donors to help make their mission possible.

As stated in a section titled “What We Do” on the Red Cross website, it says, “The American Red Cross exists to provide compassionate care to those in needs. Our network of generous donors, volunteers, and employees share a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world through, through 5 key service areas.” With it’s ideal focuses in providing health and safety to humanity, this organization is also built upon key core values when supplying people with their basic needs in times of struggle. Their seven fundamental rules are humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. Humanity, being the Red Cross’s first essential belief, is about helping and supplying those in need without discriminating them and avert issues that affect human life and survival. Also, it includes having mutual acknowledgement, friendship, peace, and teamwork. Second, the key concept, impartiality, describes that volunteers and employees should not be inequitable to someone because of their race, nationality, religion, class, and opinions on politics or any other subjects. To succeed in their missions, they need to maintain neutrality, which is not to take sides on an opinionated subject at any time. Third comes independence, in which all workers of Red Cross must follow only the directions within the organization at all times. Voluntary service, another principle, describe that all who help in the Red Cross should not expect anything other than the satisfaction of helping others in return. Next is unity, which is only one Red Cross in each country and that each Red Cross must attend to any emergencies at all times. Finally, universality, in which every country has an equal level of responsibilities and commitments and should work together to provide the greatest amount of safety and peace (Parry, Ann 10-11). With all these conducts, their mission statement briefly summarizes their focus and causes in their movement. On the Red Cross website, the mission statement explains that the American Red Cross prevents issues affecting humans in times of need and uses volunteers and donations to their advantage.


2. How did the organization begin and grow into what it is now?

The American Red Cross began with an inspired Clara Barton who soon led this organization to become extremely successful and widespread. When the first Red Cross program was created, it was mainly founded in Switzerland to provide care for the ill and injured soldiers during wars. According to the same encyclopedia and article stated above, on page 112, it states, “With aim of voluntary service to others, the Red Cross was established to provide welfare service for victims of war and to help carry out the terms of the Geneva Conventions of war.” As time pushed on and the civil war began, nurses and doctors were needed to contribute in aiding the soldiers. In 1861, Clara Barton became one of the first women to be employed from the government in a position to nurse for the soldiers during the Civil War. From working with medical supplies and helping troops, she became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield”. After the Civil War ended, Clara visited Europe in 1869 in search of rest. When she was there, she was exposed to the International Red Cross service in Geneva, Switzerland. After reading Henry Dunant’s book (the Red Cross founder), Clara Barton became fascinated of this idea and was inspired to bring it to the USA. Barton immediately talked to the Red Cross leaders in Switzerland about founding an American Red Cross through letter. In 1877, with a letter sent by the Switzerland Red Cross, Clara Barton introduced this idea to President Rutherford B. Hayes who soon rejected it. But, later on, in 1882, President Chester Arthur agrees to this idea and acknowledges it by signing the Treaty Of Geneva. With the ratification from the Senate a couple days later, Clara Barton officially becomes the founder of the American Red Cross organization.

As head of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton and her workers dedicated their first 20 years to disaster relief. Although the Red Cross today does involve in many issues, their very first focus was mainly on natural and man-made disasters. A couple examples of times where the American Red Cross was needed for disasters were in 1884. When a flood broke out along the Mississippi and Ohio river, the American Red Cross volunteers immediately responded. In 1889, a dam break occurred, forcing 50 volunteers to rush to rescue. Even though 2,000 people died, the American Red Cross did its best to save as many people as they could. From then on, the American Red Cross continued with its disaster relief works and have impacted America significantly. As time moved forward, the American Red Cross finally gains their very first congressional charter in 1900 following the second one in 1905. But, soon after 23 years of leading the American Red Cross, Clara Barton finally resigns. As stated on the Red Cross website, in an article titled “Founder Clara Barton”, it says, “Despite these strengths, mounting criticism of her management styles, abilities, and age caused Barton to resign as president of the American Red Cross in 1904.” Yet, the American Red Cross wasn’t over. When World War I rolled along in 1917, the American Red Cross were sure to help.

The International Red Cross and the American Red Cross has gone a long way since their beginning. With achievements like creating more than 130 individual Red Cross’ in different countries to the American Red Cross being one of the world’s largest Red Cross organizations obtaining a staff of more than 20,000 people and more than 2,900 chapters (which are local units), they have become extremely prosperous. Not only have they achieved immense popularity and adoration, they have won awards and have received partnerships. In both 1917 and 1944, the International Red Cross organization won a Nobel Peace Prize. Later, in 1963, the International Red Cross committee won the joint award for Committee and Federation. Partnerships with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) have boosted their success also. On the Red Cross website, in an article called “Our History”, it states, “Since 2006, the Red Cross and FEMA have worked together helping government agencies and community organizations plan, coordinate and provide feeding, sheltering and family reunification services for people affected by disasters.” Therefore, the Red Cross has a long history behind it with achievements and struggles, but, that isn’t going to prevent its bright future ahead of them in sustaining their main mission of helping all humanity.


3. What does your chosen charity do for the community?

The American Red Cross provides relief programs for communities affected by natural disasters. For example, when an emergency strikes, there are always volunteers workers trained, and ready to respond. Local forces drive through communities with Emergency Response Vehicles or ERVs, during times of need, loaded with supplies such as food and basic personal items. Additionally, the Red Cross also sets up shelters for people whose homes have been ruined, due to natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, or volcanic eruptions. They welcome everyone with open arms, and supply them with water, clean-up supplies, and hot meals. Volunteers are always willing to provide anything, from first aid care to emotional support.

When helping out the community, it’s important to remember that it includes not just people, but animals as well. After Superstorm Sandy, many household pets were separated from their owners, with no home to return to. The American Red Cross partnered with a local organization, the Westminster Kennel Club, to take in any stray animals in a mobile trailer, containing a variety of supplies, such as cages, microchips, and collars. However, that’s not all that they did after Superstorm Sandy, which “...was the largest Red Cross Operation in the U.S. in more than five years.” During this time, the organization reached out to others in different manners, which included delivering blankets, health care, and critical relief supplies to communities struck by the tragic disaster. They also set up food banks for families struggling to pay for all the expenses cause by the storm in New York City, Long Island, and Monmouth County. Victims affected by Superstorm Sandy were able to get back onto their feet much quicker, thanks to the help of the Red Cross.

To ensure that communities are better prepared for future disasters, the ARC volunteers work to teach the people valuable skills. In some areas, trained workers teach others courses on subjects such as CPR and First Aid Training. In addition, they also host courses on parenthood, home nursing, and child-care. After more people are educated, it creates a chain reaction of knowledgeable people, who are ready for what Mother Nature, or anyone else, has to throw at them. Along with the effort of community, the American Red Cross would fulfill its mission of helping out others during times of need.


4. How effective is this charity in accomplishing its goals?

Overall, the American Red Cross is very successful in accomplishing its goals. On the Red Cross website, the mission statement explains, “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.” By comparing the goals from the organization’s mission statement to the facts and statistics, it becomes clear that they are successful in their work. The Red Cross is able to spend the money that they have wisely, by utilizing the amount of volunteers that they have, as 95% of the charity’s workers are volunteers. Furthermore, about 85% of their total revenue comes from gifts and grants, which shows that they can complete the tasks that come with the job, while still fulfilling the principles of the mission statement. The total revenue that the ARC receives is $3,412,238,741, while their expenses total to $3,356,880,480. While the expenses may seems like a lot, the money received, or the revenue, is still greater. Not to mention, about 91% of the total expenses from this charity is used to pay for their humanitarian services.

Without the aid of the American Red Cross, many people would not be as fortunate as they are today. They respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, so needless to say, they have save many lives. Superstorm Sandy was a particularly devastating blow to many communities, and after the event “...the Red Cross had received $311.5 million in donations for Sandy emergency relief and recovery effort, and we have spent or committed more than 99 percent of these funds… to provide affected families with financial assistance, housing repairs, and mental health services…”. This goes to show how the ARC honestly uses donations, and makes sure that every penny will having a lasting impact on these overwhelmed communities. The generous contributions from volunteers and donors have helped people rebuild homes, clean communities, keep food on the table, and find strength within themselves. After all these years, the nationwide organization is irreplaceable and vital for communities to recover after any type of disaster.


Clara Barton Quotes

"I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them. "

"An institution or reform movement that is not selfish, must originate in the recognition of some evil that is adding to the sum of human suffering, or diminishing the sum of happiness."

"The surest test of discipline is its absence."

Works Cited

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Cross, 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.

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"Our History." Red Cross. The American National Red Cross. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.

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Incorporated, 1998. R-112. Print.

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10-11. Print.

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The Associated Press. "Red Cross Trailer Would Serve Stranded Animals in Disasters."

ProQuest. EBSCO. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

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