By Stephanie Dunn Ashley
March is a very special time of year when we celebrate American Red Cross Month to honor the people who make our lifesaving mission possible. This annual tradition began nearly 80 years ago when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the first “Red Cross Month” in March 1943 – and every year since then, every American president has followed this honored tradition.
When help cannot wait during emergencies, Red Cross volunteers and blood donors step in to ensure those in need receive relief and care. Every eight minutes, Red Cross volunteers respond to disasters in the United States. Their support is critical as major disasters such as hurricanes, floods and wildfires increase in frequency and intensity, and house fires continue to disrupt lives every day. Last year, in our Metro New York North section, which includes Greenwich, as well as Rockland and Westchester counties, and the United States Military Academy at West Point, we helped more than 1,400 of our neighbors after nearly 100 fires and other emergencies.
The need for blood is also constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, and a donation can help save more than one life. The Red Cross organizes daily blood drives across the country where volunteer blood donors roll up their sleeves to help patients in need. Here in Greenwich, I invite you to roll up your sleeves at our new Jill and John Coyle Blood Donor Centre, located at our head office at 99 Indian Field Road. You can register to donate by visiting www.redcrossblood.org
Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces branch focuses on serving military personnel, veterans and their families. The Red Cross is responsible for providing a variety of humanitarian services and resources to over 1.4 million active duty personnel and over 1.2 million National Guard/Reserve personnel. Red Cross volunteers provide 24/7 global support to help military families, many of whom have experienced multiple deployments over the past decade. We honor the many families in Greenwich and across our region with family members who valiantly serve to protect our country. We also salute the many local students who attend military colleges, such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, where our volunteers proudly support cadets and families.
Additionally, as part of the largest humanitarian network in the world, Red Cross workers respond to international disasters and help communities prepare for emergencies around the world.
Millions of people trained by the Red Cross stand ready every day to use CPR, first aid, lifeguard and other lifesaving techniques in an emergency. As a volunteer firefighter and certified EMT, I can attest that these skills are invaluable. Last month we presented the Red Cross Lifesaving Award to two heroes, Leroy Hadley and Joe Zanzono, who saved the life of another golfer on the course at Leewood Golf Club, proving that you never know when you can put these vital skills into use.
As I traveled to our Chapter area to kick off this year’s Red Cross Month celebration in the Northern New York Metro Area, I was so proud to recognize the incredible work of our volunteers. Despite two years of a global pandemic, their unwavering compassion has enabled the Red Cross to continue to be there for the people and families who need us most – a dedication that truly embodies our vital mission to provide support. when help cannot wait during emergencies.
This Red Cross month, I encourage you to celebrate these local heroes and become one yourself! You can learn a life-saving skill, roll up your sleeves to donate blood, sign up as a volunteer, or make a financial donation. Just visit our website, www.redcross.org to learn more.
Many thanks to our selfless volunteers, blood and funders, and community partners who make our humanitarian work possible during Red Cross month and every day. We all appreciate you!