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Twin Cities Red Cross Charity Profile
The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield endeavors, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.
It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.
In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with the principles of the Movement.
It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
There can be only one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.
A Brief History of the American Red Cross
Clara Barton and a circle of acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881. Barton first heard of the Swiss-inspired international Red Cross network while visiting Europe following the Civil War. Returning home, she campaigned for an American Red Cross society and for ratification of the Geneva Convention protecting the war-injured, which the United States ratified in 1882.
Clara Barton - Founder of the American Red Cross
Barton headed the Red Cross for 23 years, during which time it conducted its first domestic and overseas disaster relief efforts, aided the United States military during the Spanish-American War, and campaigned successfully for the inclusion of peacetime relief work as part of the International Red Cross Movement-the so-called "American Amendment" that initially met with some resistance in Europe.
The Red Cross received its first congressional charter in 1900 and a second in 1905, the year after Barton resigned from the organization. This charter-which remains in effect today-sets forth the purposes of the organization that include giving relief to and serving as a medium of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation.
Prior to the First World War, the Red Cross introduced its first aid, water safety, and public health nursing programs. With the outbreak of war, the organization experienced phenomenal growth. The number of local chapters jumped from 107 in 1914 to 3,864 in 1918 and membership grew from 17,000 to more than 20 million adult and 11 million Junior Red Cross members. The public contributed $400 million in funds and material to support Red Cross programs, including those for American and Allied forces and civilian refugees. The Red Cross staffed hospitals and ambulance companies and recruited 20,000 registered nurses to serve the military. Additional Red Cross nurses came forward to combat the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918.
After the war, the Red Cross focused on service to veterans and enhanced its programs in safety training, accident prevention, home care for the sick and nutrition education. It also provided relief for victims of such major disasters as the Mississippi River floods in 1927 and severe drought and the Depression during the 1930s.
The Second World War called upon the Red Cross to provide extensive services once again to the U.S. military, Allies, and civilian war victims. It enrolled more than 104,000 nurses for military service, prepared 27 million packages for American and Allied prisoners of war, and shipped more than 300,000 tons of supplies overseas. At the military's request, the Red Cross also initiated a national blood program that collected 13.3 million pints of blood for use by the armed forces.
After World War II, the Red Cross introduced the first nationwide civilian blood program that now supplies nearly 50 percent of the blood and blood products in this country. The Red Cross expanded its role in biomedical research and entered the new field of human tissue banking and distribution. During the 1990s, it engineered a massive modernization of its blood services operations to improve the safety of its blood products. It continued to provide services to members of the armed forces and their families, including during the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf wars. The Red Cross also expanded its services into such fields as civil defense, CPR/AED training, HIV/AIDS education, and the provision of emotional care and support to disaster victims and their survivors. It helped the federal government form the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and serves as its principal supplier of mass care in federally declared disasters.
While closely associated with the federal government in the promotion of its objectives, the Red Cross is an independent, volunteer-led organization, financially supported by voluntary public contributions and cost-reimbursement charges. An all volunteer Board of Governors lead the organization. The president of the United States, who is honorary chairman of the Red Cross, appoints eight governors, including the chairman of the board. The chairman nominates and the board elects the president of the Red Cross who is responsible for carrying into effect the policies and programs of the board. The American Red Cross works closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross on matters of international conflict and social, political, and military unrest. As a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which it helped found in 1919, the American Red Cross joins other national societies in bringing aid to victims of disasters throughout the world.