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In addition to interviewing Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies recently (story), I was also able to speak with David Meltzer, Senior V.P. of International Services for the American Red Cross.

David manages American Red Cross government- and privately-funded programs in more than 30 countries, plus the $581 million Tsunami Recovery Program.

David came to the Red Cross from the private sector.  Both of us seem to straddle the worlds of for- and not-for-profit corporations.

Inside the fire station volunteers are preparing meals for community members. The vehicle shown here is called an Emergency Response Vehicle and it is used to provide food and supplies to communities who have been affected by disaster.  Photo courtesy Beverly Bean/American Red Cross.

I started in with the Red Cross in Marietta, Ohio in 1972.  I was 12.  Today’s American Red Cross is so much cooler.  And just as committed to saving lives.  They still want your time, your blood - and your contribution.

Recent promotional videos play on YouTube:

Haitian-American sensation Wyclef Jean is a Red Cross volunteer.  He has seen firsthand what the Red Cross can do in both the U.S. and in his native Haiti.  American Red Cross "Wyclef Jean: Volunteer"

Red Cross video “Change a Life,” part of a campaign launched in the United States to engage people in the critical life saving efforts of the Red Cross and how you can support those efforts.

American Red Cross public service announcements, including celebrity volunteers.  

David recently told me:

As climates change, the frequency and scale of disasters is increasing.  Combined with population growth and urbanization, more and more people are being impacted by disasters.  The American Red Cross is investing more resources in preparing communities for disaster.  

In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, we are working with the staff and volunteers of our sister red cross and red crescent societies to help prepare their communities to reduce the risk of disasters and mitigate the damage wrought by disasters.  

We are helping people respond and recover from disasters – including earthquakes in Peru and China, wildfires in Australia and Greece, floods in Mexico and Vietnam, cyclones in Myanmar and Bangladesh, Tsunamis in Indonesia and Thailand, and conflicts in the middle east, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

We and our partners are vaccinating hundreds of millions of children in Africa and Asia against killer diseases such as measles which have been forgotten in the west.  We are helping prevent the spread of malaria and working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Americas, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.  

The American Red Cross is helping people separated by natural and man-made disasters from their loved ones to find one another – sometimes as much as sixty years after they thought their loved ones perished in a war.

The American Red Cross is also educating Americans and their youth about international humanitarian law, including the Geneva conventions, and the treatment of civilians and combatants during times of war.

The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors -- across the street, across the country and across the world -- in emergencies.

Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new -- the more than 700,000 volunteers and 34,000 employees of the Red Cross.

Through more than 700 locally supported chapters in the U.S., more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world.

An American Red Cross feeding vehicle passes through the charred remains of homes in Barefoot Resort neighborhood in North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Some four million people give blood -- the gift of life -- through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States.

As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people.

American Red Cross worker Kris Posey comforts Moorhead shelter's youngest resident, Ethan Delonais, two months old, after the Red River Flooding.  Photo courtesy Virginia Hart/American Red Cross.

An average of 90 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

Get involved.  It’s our world.  It’s your move.

Originally posted to Thought Leaders & Global Citizens on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:50 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My web sites:,,,,,

    by jimluce on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 12:50:02 PM PDT

  •  You say . . . (3+ / 0-)

    The Red Cross is not a government agency

    If that is the case, can you explain the undue influence of the US Federal Government in running this organization?

    For example:

    On April 1, 2005, President George W. Bush appointed the following to the Board of Governors of the American National Red Cross, for a three-year term:

    Michael Chertoff of New Jersey
    Carlos M. Gutierrez of Michigan
    Michael Leavitt (Mike Leavitt) of Utah
    Robert James Nicholson (Jim Nicholson) of Colorado
    Condoleezza Rice of California
    Margaret Spellings of Texas


    Really, that's not a group I'm going to be opting to send my money to . . .

    •  Not undue influence under their charter (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roadbed Guy, raincrow, LynneK

      The relationship between the American Red Cross and the federal government is unique. The American Red Cross is an independent entity that is organized and exists as a nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable institution pursuant to a charter granted to it by the United States Congress. Unlike other congressionally chartered organizations, the Red Cross maintains a special relationship with the federal government. It has the legal status of "a federal instrumentality," due to its charter requirements to carry out responsibilities delegated to it by the federal government.

      Among these responsibilities are: - to fulfill the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory, assigned to national societies for the protection of victims of conflict, - to provide family communications and other forms of support to the U.S. military, and - to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief, including mandated responsibilities under the National Response Plan coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

      Despite this close relationship with the federal government, the American Red Cross is not a federal agency, nor does it receive federal funding on a regular basis to carry out its services and programs. It receives its financial support from voluntary public contributions and from cost-recovery charges for some of its services, such as the provision of blood and blood products and health and safety training courses. Under limited circumstances, however, it sometimes becomes necessary for the American Red Cross to seek appropriations for certain programs when the funding requirements are beyond that supported by the charitable public. At times, federal and state government agencies also contract with the Red Cross and provide material aid and assistance to support the Red Cross in fulfillment of specific instances of its charter obligations.

      "The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use" Physicians for Human Rights

      by Catte Nappe on Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 01:18:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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