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Giving Day Countdown: One Week Left!

We’re always on the move at the Red Cross, even when disaster aren’t top of mind for everyone across the country. Just this month, Red Cross volunteers provided meals, relief supplies, shelter and helped people begin the recovery process in NepalPhiladelphia and New York, and in numerous states affected by tornadoes and flooding.

We couldn’t be there to help without the generous support of the American public. On June 2, we are asking everyone to make a donation online to the Red Cross for Giving Day. You can even schedule your Giving Day donation today.

Countdown Material

Grab your countdown images off the Giving Day Social Ambassador website (what? You’re not a Social Ambassador yet? Sign up!) or save the images straight from this blog.

(Other image sizes available on the website)

Use Tuesday, May 26:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Wednesday, May 27:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Thursday, May 28:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Friday, May 29:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Saturday, May 30:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Sunday, May 31:

Alabama tornadoes 2011

Use Monday, June 1:

Alabama tornadoes 2011


This Memorial Day, Be Their Champion

Every day, the American Red Cross honors the men and women of the United States Armed Forces as they sacrifice their comforts and freedoms to serve our country. This Memorial Day, we take extra time to remember and dedicate our work to those who have fallen in service to our country. Featured in yesterday’s blog post, we are issuing a call to action to our entire community that no veteran dies alone in America because every veteran matters to all Americans.

In honor of those who have fallen, we invite you to join us this Memorial Day in supporting service members, veterans and their families. From May 22 – May 26, you can support the work of the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces by making a donation using the generosity app from Google’s OneToday website and mobile app (download for free on Google Play or Apple App Stores). This app aims to create a culture of giving every day and lets donors easily give $1 each day to causes and nonprofits that inspire them. Thanks to generous support from SanDisk, your $1 donation will be multiplied by 1x, 10x, 100x, or even 1000x…up to $50,000.


Thank you for supporting the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces. We are truly honored to serve those who have served us.

5 Safety Tips for Grill Masters Readying to Fire up Their BBQ’s

Post by Kevin Wilkinson, Communications Intern

Memorial Day Social Media Grilling Tip

The beginning of the summer is often filled with numerous ‘firsts’ – the first trip back to the beach, the first cannonball in the pool, the first ice cream truck spotting and the first picnic at the local park. With Memorial Day weekend only days away, Americans are getting ready to honor their veterans and also conquer many of these firsts of the summer season.

While families and friends celebrate the unofficial start of summer, it is also one of the first times that people are firing up their barbecues for the season. Nothing says summer like a hot dog, cheeseburger or corn on the cob fresh off the grill. With that being said, there are a few safety precautions as we head into prime barbecuing season.

Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. 

You don’t want to burn that cheeseburger that’s waiting for you! 

  1. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and cook outside. 

  1. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

Your guests might be hungry but they still have to wait until the food is off the grill to get their hands on it! 

  1. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire. 

 Keep the party going and use these safety precautions while cooking. 

  1. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe. 

Provide the chef with the right tools to keep their hands safe so they can participate in the post-barbecue volleyball game.  


Make sure to also download the Red Cross First Aid App. This free app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets.

Every family and group of friends has the one individual who inevitably becomes the grill master for every summer party. Keep the good food coming all summer long and share these safety tips with your party’s grill master.

For more information about getting preparing for and preventing home fires, check out tips and resources from the Home Fire Campaign from the American Red Cross.

Memorial Day: A Time to Remember and an Opportunity to Help

On the last Monday in May, we take time to honor the men and women who died in military service to the United States. Today we’d like you to introduce you to someone who serves U.S. veterans at the last stage of life, day in and out, with the utmost compassion.

Meet Laura, an American Red Cross volunteer with the No Veteran Dies Alone program.

Laura serves in a unique volunteer capacity. By providing comfort and relief to veterans and their families at the end of life, Laura feels as though she’s honoring military members for their service, “They were there for us and we need to be there for them.”

Through the No Veteran Dies Alone program, volunteers sit with veterans, reading or talking to them, playing music and sometimes just holding their hand. They also relieve family members during the stressful final days in hospice care. Laura feels it’s an honor to sit with them during their last hours. “It’s a blessing be there for them at this stage in their lives and I’m so grateful to be able to do it,” said Laura.

Happy Memorial Day Laura and thank you for all you do. You can read more on RedCross.org.

Have a compassionate heart and willing to take a little training? Volunteer with the American Red Cross.


The Barton Report: May Podcast

Welcome to The Barton Report, a podcast brought to you by the American Red Cross.

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with The Barton Report on BlogTalkRadio

Listen here if you have issues with the above player.

This month we’re covering lots of topics to get you ready for this summer. Tune in to hear:

  • A fun Clara Barton fact.
  • Grill safety tips for your Memorial Day weekend.
  • What our “100 days of summer. 100 days of hope.” campaign is all about (hint: it includes an opportunity for you to help save lives!).
  • A volunteer’s story from his deployment to Moore, Oklahoma following the deadly tornadoes in 2013.
  • Swim safety tips as pools across the country open and families head to the beach.

Let us know what you think on Twitter with #TheBartonReport, or shoot us an email at socialmedia@redcross.org.

Until next time! – Beth and Sarah

Special thanks to Audionautix for providing music clips.

QUIZ: Test Your Swim Skills Before You Hit the Pool

You’ve spent years around the water – at the beach, your local pool, or maybe even a backyard pond. You may love splashing around with your floaties, or maybe just tanning on the sidelines. But if you’re in or around the water this summer, have you thought about the five basic swim safety skills that could save your life in the water?

As part of a national campaign to reduce the drowning rate by 50 percent over the next three to five years, the Red Cross released national survey data that shows that most children and teens cannot perform the sequence of all five basic swimming safety skills.

So how do you fare? Take our quiz to find out!


“As a water safety instructor, nothing makes my day more than seeing a child who used to be afraid of the water have the confidence to dive into the deep end and swim to the other side,” said Connie Harvey, director of the Red Cross Centennial Initiative. “The Red Cross created the first national water safety program in the U.S. – and today it’s still the gold standard, training more than two million people annually.”

To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or visit redcross.org.

Gail McGovern: Stories of Resilience from Nepal

In my seven years at the helm of the American Red Cross, I’ve seen far too many disasters – both here at home and around the world. But no matter how many disasters I experience – I’ll never get used to witnessing scenes of destruction on a massive scale. I just returned from Nepal, and the devastation I saw there was truly heartbreaking.

Homes, businesses, and schools were destroyed; entire communities were flattened; and tens of thousands were injured or killed by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25th. While heavy damage occurred in certain pockets of Kathmandu, many villages in remote areas were also severely impacted. Often these villages are very hard to find on a map and are lacking in even the most basic infrastructure. In fact, one Nepalese man told me that to get from Kathmandu to the village where his family lived before the earthquake, he had to take a 36 hour bus ride and then hike 9 hours.

Nepal Earthquake 2015Even in the midst of such terrible tragedy, the Nepalese people that I met with are among the most gentle and kind-hearted I’ve encountered. The landscape there is rough and rocky – and we had to hike over hilly terrain to get a sense of the damage done in more isolated communities. At one point during our trek, I was struggling to keep my footing on a particularly treacherous stretch of hillside. Seemingly out of nowhere, an elderly Nepalese woman grabbed my arm and helped safely guide me down the hill.

Nepal Earthquake 2015In another area we visited, I met a woman who was carrying her grandson in a very large pack on her back. I climbed up a large pile of rubble with her to see what remained of her home, which had been located on the top floor of a three story building before the earthquake hit. Once we reached the top of the pile, there was a fleeting moment where she seemed overwhelmed by the magnitude of what she was seeing. She grabbed my hand, and suddenly I was the one helping her climb down to safety. In that moment, I was reminded of the common bonds we all share and the vital importance of having someone there to provide support when you need it.

Nepal Earthquake 2015One of the most remarkable scenes I witnessed occurred when we stopped at a school that had been mostly destroyed in the disaster. Thankfully classes were not in session when the earthquake hit. And in a wonderful act of community resiliency, the students who normally attended class in the building had turned what remained of the structure into a field hospital of sorts. Upwards of 450 young people were working there – caring for the injured, handing out relief supplies and administering basic first aid. As it turns out, the students had been previously trained in preparedness activities through a partnership with the American Red Cross, the Nepal Red Cross and one of our generous donors that was active in a number of Nepalese schools. In the midst of such destruction and heartbreak, it was an amazingly uplifting moment to see so many young people actively helping their neighbors using the training they had received in a more peaceful time.

The people of Nepal are displaying incredible resilience, and they are eager to rebuild. In addition to committing an initial $5,000,000 to the response operation, the American Red Cross is working closely with the Nepal Red Cross and the global Red Cross network to help coordinate ongoing activities. We’re providing remote mapping and information management assistance. We’re also coordinating relief supplies from warehouses in Kuala Lumpur and Dubai. Additionally, nine American Red Cross disaster specialists are in Nepal – supporting emergency relief, cash transfer programing, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms services – and one expert has been deployed to Geneva to support global Red Cross efforts online. We’re also developing preliminary plans with the Nepal Red Cross to do long term recovery – targeting villages to help rebuild.

Nepal Earthquake 2015

But even with the outpouring of support from the global community, the need in Nepal remains tremendous. While I was traveling back to the United States earlier this week, another 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck there – further damaging infrastructure and causing more injuries and loss of life.

There is no doubt that it will take a great deal of time and resources for Nepal to recover from this trying period, and it’s vitally important the global community extends a hand of friendship and assistance to those in need. There are three main ways to support the ongoing relief work. You can donate to help the people of Nepal by visiting redcross.org. You can also volunteer to assist with our online mapping efforts by going to http://tasks.hotosm.org. You don’t need to be a tech expert to help, you just need a computer and an Internet connection. And you can also support the people of Nepal by sharing word about relief efforts and ways to help on social media channels.

While I’m still incredibly saddened when I think of the lives lost, the homes destroyed, and the communities that have been forever altered in Nepal – I also return home encouraged by the tremendous work of the global Red Cross network and our partners in the ongoing response operation. There certainly is a long road ahead, but I believe the people of Nepal have reason for hope given the incredible generosity of so many.

Red Cross Volunteers – From the Archives

American Red Cross service delivery began on a very small scale, with one female volunteer. Clara Barton’s passion inspired others to join her in meeting the needs of fellow Americans and other people throughout the world. And the organization grew. Today, the Red Cross depends on the involvement of its hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Although the work may be difficult, humanitarian aid is offered selflessly. But that does not mean that volunteers do not appreciate – and need – encouragement, thanks, a pat-on-the-back and recognition.

The Red Cross is committed to honoring and recognizing its volunteers, so we dug through our archives to find some ways the Red Cross acknowledges its most valuable asset.

poster combo sm

Posters with striking graphics helped to recruit volunteers to serve as nurses, for disaster relief, with youth projects and in general volunteer activities.

The Red Cross recognizes the value, commitment and dedication of its volunteers, especially those who have helped fulfill our mission for many years. Volunteers who are celebrating milestone year anniversaries receive service pins.

pins combo

Shown below is Jane Delano, founder of the Red Cross Nursing Program and the American Red Cross Medal of Merit that was awarded to her posthumously. The inscription on the reverse of the 14 karat gold and enamel medal, created by Tiffany and Co., reads “Awarded by the American National Red Cross to Jane A. Delano in grateful memory of her devoted and distinguished service 1908–1919.”

Delano and Medal cr a

Today’s nurses also receive recognition from our national Red Cross organization.

Magnussen pix cr ab

The Ann Magnussen Award is presented annually to a volunteer or employed registered nurse who has made an outstanding contribution to strengthening or improving Red Cross programs and services. It is the highest honor of individual nursing achievement in the Red Cross.

Ann Magnussen (left) was a nurse who made many valuable contributions to the nursing and health-related professions, both nationally and internationally. This award was established in 1968 in her honor.

The Susan Hassmiller Nursing Award recognizes innovative programs that promote the involvement of local nurses in Disaster Preparedness and Response and combine disaster training, community partnership and the spirit of individual volunteerism.

Hassmiller Award cr

Prior to 1948, award recognition was done on the chapter level. For example, here is a Red Cross Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the New York Chapter to Marjorie Bonynge for her volunteer service as a Red Cross Motor Corps driver in 1945. Notice the signature on the right, Gladys F. Harriman, one of the two dedicated volunteers for whom the Harriman Award is named (right).

motor corps cert cr

The Harriman Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service is the highest recognition for volunteer service in the Red Cross. It was established in 1973 and honors volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments in Red Cross service to people and places beyond the local community.

The Harriman Award is named for E. Roland and Gladys Harriman, two of the most formidable volunteers the organization has ever seen. He served for 23 years as chairman of the Red Cross and helped revitalize and modernize the organization following a post-World War II slump. She served for more than 40 years as Chairman of Volunteers at the Red Cross in Greater New York.

medallion and harrimans

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation creating a nationwide Red Cross youth program. Wilson called on young people to help serve the war effort by joining the newly formed Junior Red Cross.

Over the years, various awards named in honor of  Woodrow Wilson and former Red Cross presidents George Elsey and Elizabeth Dole have recognized young volunteers who made significant contributions to their communities and to the Red Cross.

wilson and cert


To learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross today, contact your local chapter or explore opportunities on redcross.org.

National Nurses Week – From the Red Cross Archives

National Nurses Week celebrates nurses and their role in society. Nurses Week began May 6 and finished May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Nightingale, a nurse who treated wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, helped establish nursing as a profession.

In honor of our Red Cross nurses, here are some images from the Red Cross archives:

Red Cross nurses have provided assistance during times of disaster and conflict almost since the beginning of our organization in 1881. Red Cross nurses served at the 1888 Yellow Fever epidemic and the devastation of the 1889 Johnstown flood shown below.

1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania Flood

But not until 1909 was Red Cross Nursing Services formally established by Jane Delano. In addition to her Red Cross service, Delano was also head of the Army Nurse Corps until 1912.

The American Red Cross Rural Nursing Service began in 1912 and focused on providing classes and instructors to women throughout the United States. This service was led by Lillian D. Wald, a pioneer of public health nursing for her entire life. Soon, rural nurses traveled to local areas on bicycle and horseback to provide care.

public health nurse cr b

Shown above is a poster (circa 1920) promoting the work of the Red Cross public health nurse. On the right is a 1934 image, taken by sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine, of a public health nurse. During the Great Depression, Hine worked for the Red Cross, photographing drought relief in the American South.

During World War I, nurses from all over the country volunteered with the Red Cross and served in the Navy Nurse Corps and Army. About 1,800 African-American nurses were certified by the American Red Cross for duty with the military. However, since the military was segregated at the time – and the Red Cross had no control over the nurses’ assignments – their services often were not utilized.

(Photo courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology)

(Photo courtesy Armed Forces Institute of Pathology)

Nurses were recruited for service during World War II using posters such as the one below.

(1944, Jon Whitcomb, Artist)

(1944, Jon Whitcomb, Artist)

Civilian defense during World War II also involved Red Cross nurses. Shown below in this 1941 photo are Red Cross nurse’s aides for civilian defense as they complete their training. Red Cross nurse Virginia Flaig, left, fastens nurse’s aide pins on two students. The Red Cross taught a total of 100,000 volunteer nurse’s aides to free up registered nurses for military duty.

Civilian Defense World War II

Learn more about National Nurses Week, including nursing stories and historic Red Cross nursing pins, on redcross.org.

Blown Away: A Volunteer Story from Nepal

By Glen and Julie Bradley, American Red Cross IT/Telecoms disaster volunteers currently in Nepal

My little yellow tent sailed off the cliff where I had slept the night before.  I couldn’t stake it down because of the rockface, so I left my duffle inside as an anchor against the strong winds whipping up from the steep Himalayan valley. It was all replaceable; clothes, dehydrated food and sleeping gear. All the important stuff was right next to me in my backpack: satphone, radio, toilet paper….

IMG_1593 (640x480)

Ewan Coldicott and I were out in the field as part of a joint American/New Zealand Red Cross IT/Telecoms Emergency Response Unit (ERU). When I heard about my tent I looked down the mountain and kept on about our business. With all the serious disaster surrounding us, the loss of my tent seemed pretty mild. To get to this remote mountainous area of Nepal, we had driven at walking pace up a narrow, dusty road with steep drop-offs, stopping only for a landslide which partially blocked the road and to check on our sensitive equipment strapped to the roof of our car. Our destination was Dhunche, a remote village high in the northern mountains where we were going to support a 35 person Canadian Red Cross medical unit perched on a narrow strip of rare, flat land. This Red Cross unit was the only medical facility in the region and needed contact with the outside world to do their job.

Along the way we passed destroyed villages waving strings of colorful Buddhist prayer flags. Their baked brick homes built on a ridge line had literally crumbled during the earthquake. Survivors had salvaged and gathered what they could and were sleeping outdoors or under raised blue tarps with the Red Cross symbol.

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Finding a clear line of sight to the satellite among the steep mountains was a challenge. We finally locked on and got the row of green lights—success. At this point, the lack of useable living space turned into an advantage for us. As we hammered nails and strung our cables, we realized it was all so compact that we could cover the hospital as well as the Red Cross medical personnel sleeping quarters with one large wifi antenna. As Ewan explained the system to the Red Cross team, a villager ran up the mountain path carrying my tent and duffle over his head. “Auntie, auntie, your tent!”  Now we were all smiling; the Red Cross hospital workers had Internet and communication with the outside world and I had my tent back.


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Julie explains the Ruckus wifi antenna to a Canadian Red Cross doctor and nurse.

Three ways to help those affected by the Nepal Earthquake:

  • GIVE: To help people affected by disasters big and small, visit Redcross.org or contact your local American Red Cross chapter.
  • MAP: To help with critical mapping efforts, visit http://tasks.hotosm.org. No experience is needed, just a computer and internet connection.
  • SHARE: Spread the word on relief efforts and ways to help online. Find and share information on social channels, including the global Red Cross Twitter account and American Red Cross Facebook and Twitter posts.

For more information about our response on the ground in Nepal, please visit www.redcross.org/nepal.

The VSAT satellites installed by Julie and Glen Bradley as part of  a joint American & New Zealand RC IT-Telecommunication Emergency Response Unit (ERU) deployment provides critical connectivity to various Red Cross medical teams from the Canadian Red Cross, the Norwegian Red Cross and the Japanese Red Cross.  This capacity ensures a communications life-line to the outside world.  Because of the internet access established the Canadian Red Cross was able to capture this video from this morning’s 7.4 Magnitude Earthquake in Nepal. For more information about our response on the ground in Nepal, please visit www.redcross.org/nepal