Okay, I received lots of e-mails, but this one stood out. It’s actually from one of my brand-new public affairs volunteers who, despite lots of training, finally GOT the Red Cross this weekend.
“What I’ve learned since joining you is that my former perception of what the Red Cross does is pretty much what a lot of those around me believe as well.
I knew that Red Cross people went to local, national and international disasters and did the blood thing, of course…but when the news had a comment about the Red Cross providing clothes, I had no idea what they did.
I thought that perhaps the Red Cross got clothes from someplace like Goodwill…or had donations given to them that were of a similar nature…OR, perhaps they gave a family enough money to get each member jeans, a shirt and a pair of shoes to tide them over.
Even that seemed like a nice thing for them to do in my view, so my perception overall was a positive one, but didn’t necessarily tug my heartstrings because I haven’t known anyone who needed the Red Cross’ help as yet.
As far as providing shelter…I expected they bought the people a hotel for the night, thereby allowing them a night and day to figure out what they were going to do next and who they could go live with.
I didn’t know that you gave on-going grief counseling after disasters, or that you gave it to military families…for a death that might have occurred half the world away.
Carolyn [one of our long-time disaster volunteers] gave me HUGE insight! She told me about the more than $100 per person for clothes. She told me they would pay for rent for a month (and deposits), if deemed necessary. To find out that she was looking for an assisted care center for a gentleman this last weekend absolutely astounded me. I had NO idea! And that she and her husband help those grieving over the death of their pets nearly had ME in tears as she told of their pet burial ground.
I’ve worked in those large companies who hold those blood drives for their employees and others in those high rises. I’ve been the person that someone goes to in order to ask for money or other help during huge emergency situations, but nobody has ever given me details like that.
I believe the Red Cross needs to “toot” their own horn…and let people know exactly what they are doing; the details that are coordinated AFTER the firemen are gone, the hoopla and adrenaline have died down, and the cold, hard realities still have to be faced. Someone is still standing with the people in their corner: the staff of the Red Cross!
Someone once told me a quote that I absolutely love. It was something like, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” What I now know is, “Today’s Red Cross: Still doing the right thing, even when everyone else is done watching.”
Wow, right? Can you imagine how happy I am to have her on our public affairs team? But her point is well taken — lots of people know the big picture of what we do, but not the little details of how we’re truly rebuilding the lives of people who have absolutely nothing left.
What we do is important. I’m proud to work for the Red Cross and if you’re a donor, you should feel good about what your gift helps us accomplish.
Did you know all of these things about the Red Cross? If you’re an employee or volunteer, what work do you see us doing that goes under the radar?
Photo of an actual hand-written letter (who does that anymore?) courtesy of a.drian