Sunday, March 17, 2013

Celebrating Red Cross Month

By Nurse Diane
191 years ago, on Christmas Day, an angel was born in North Ford, Massachusetts.  Her name was Clara Barton.  At the young age of 16, she became a school teacher.  Under her direction attendance in the schools exploded increasing to over 600, and she had hopes of becoming the head of the school, but instead a man was hired for the job.  Frustrated, she moved to Washington and began working as a clerk in the US Patent office.  This was the first time a woman held a job with pay at the same level as a man.  Subsequently, under political opposition to women working in government offices, her position was reduced to that of copyist, and in 1857, under the administration of James Buchanan, eliminated entirely.  She was now 36 years old, and  spent the next several years living with family and friends.  When President Lincoln was elected she went back to Washington and worked as a temporary clerk, in order to pave a way for women in government service.  Then the Civil War started.

I learned about Clara Barton while in nursing school.  Nine days after the start of the Civil war, a train full of dead and wounded soldiers arrived in Washington.  Clara, using her own supplies, help take care of these men, nursing them back to heath.  She was given permission to ride on the ambulances, and was called "the woman in charge" over the hospitals.  

Following the war Clara traveled all around, telling stories of the conditions of war.  When Clara Barton returned to the United States, she inaugurated a movement to gain recognition for the International Committee of the Red Cross by the United States government. When she began work on this project in 1873, most Americans thought the U.S. would never again face a calamity like the Civil War, but Barton finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester Arthur, using the argument that the new American Red Cross could respond to crises other than war.  She became the first President of the American Red Cross in Washington, in 1881 at the age of 60.  She continued working to help people after wars around the world as well as other crises, building orphanages and helping to rebuild until 1903, at the age of 83.

Today the Red Cross is still going strong.  Today, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. Through a worldwide network, the American Red Cross provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families – in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world. Red Cross Blood Services collects and distributes more than 40 percent of this country’s blood supply. And, more than 9 million people across the United States receive American Red Cross training in first aid, water safety and other skills every year.

I know first hand of the help from the Red Cross after the effect from Hurricane Katrina.  The volunteers were first on the scene offering medical aid, food, supplies and support.  They are readily available during all types of crises, hurricanes, floods, tornados and in other tragedies such as plane crashes, bridge disasters and assistance during 911.

March is American Red Cross Month.  They depend on support from the community through donations, volunteers and blood donations.  If you are able, why not go and donate some blood at your local Red Cross, or visit this site to learn more about what they do, and perhaps send a cash donation or offer to volunteer your time to assist others in need.

(All images from Google) 

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