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American Red Cross: A Year Round Giver

The holidays are approaching and so is the end of another year. During this time we gear up to give presents to our love ones and prepare to take advantage of those last minute tax deductions. But how would you like to do both things at one time?

There are so many wonderful non-profit organizations in the Triangle whose mission is to serve all of us, but there is one where you can give a gift that keeps on giving and at the same time receive a tax deduction for your generosity. You can give a monetary donation to such organizations as the American Red Cross, or donate blood or even volunteer your time and talents.

The American Red Cross has various chapters but for those of us here in the Triangle the Triangle Red Cross serves the citizens of the Triangle and beyond. The Triangle Red Cross was established in March of 1917. Since its inception, some of its missions was to support military medical services, keep service members in communication with family and to provide disaster relief. The disaster relief was started due to devastating natural disasters occurring around the US in the late 1800s/early 1900s. (Jonestown PA floods, SanFran Earthquake, Galveston, TX Hurricane). We all associate the Red Cross with the blood drives and providing resources to those individuals who have been affected by disasters such as floods, storms, fires, etc.

Today the Triangle Red Cross (TRC) provides services such as emergency communication for military families, disaster relief and international relief and communications. In a single year alone the TRC will assist over 1000 military and disaster affected families. But did you know the Red Cross provides other services such as CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator (AED) training for individuals, companies and additional programs which include injury prevention courses, and bloodborne pathogens training and community disaster preparedness education to companies. The Red Cross also offers training on babysitting and lifeguarding. The Red Cross has partnered with the Boys Scouts of America, which approved the American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid Basics.

Here is the full the interview that The City Insight done with Barry Porter, the Executive Director of the Triangle Red Cross:

barryporter_webWhat is your role as the Executive Director?
Manage the executive team for Raleigh region – includes 25 NC counties, 5 Red Cross chapters. Inspire commitment and dedication among employees and volunteers to the Red Cross mission.

What inspired you to become involved in the TRC?
In Indiana, as a college student, I registered with the Red Cross as a volunteer and ended up working the disaster that devastated the University of Evansville basketball team. I was given the task at that time of driving our counselors to the airport, to support the families and friends there. Watching the Red Cross come to the aid of those families helped me understand the critical, unique service that only the Red Cross is able to provide.

What is it about your position that you find most rewarding?
The mission of the Red Cross makes my job rewarding. We truly impact lives on a daily basis. The volunteers and employees of the Red Cross are filled with passion, and having the opportunity to experience that again, every day, is infinitely rewarding.

Has there been a situation that has changed your life directly related to your job?
As a blood donor and employee, I had a personal experience with a catastrophic need for blood. A close personal friend was expecting his first children, twins, and suddenly, unexpectedly found himself in danger of losing his wife. In order to save her life, she needed 6 units of blood. Without it she would have died. I have held on to the memory of how our blood program saves lives, dozens of times every day.

What do you want to see the TRC accomplish in the next two years?
More than just our chapter, the team of chapters in our region, I would like to see the community with a clear understanding of the relevancy of the Red Cross, even as our chapter nears its 100th year. We are still a vital, dynamic, impactful organization, 100 years later, touching 1 in every 10 Triangle residents every year. Two years from now we hope to have even more support and participation than ever from our community.

Can one ever be prepared for a disaster?
You cannot prevent disaster from happening, and you can never ensure that you will not be affected by a natural disaster if it does happen, but yes, you can be prepared to minimize the effects.

TRC consist of volunteers, what do volunteers do?
bparctruck_webEverything, from manage a disaster response, to fundraising, to teaching CPR.

How can one volunteer?
As often as their schedules allow. Some volunteers are able to give 40 hours a week. Others can only give 4 hours a month, but we can use every minute of it. We average nearly 50 volunteers for every paid staff.

How does the TRC assist businesses?
ReadyRating.org is a great example. Ready Rating is a free, easy to use framework for preparing your business to minimize the economic effects of a disaster. (as many as 40% of businesses will never re-open after a major disaster)

What is the Ready Rating Program?
The Ready Rating Program provides an easy framework for your business, organization or school to become better prepared with five manageable and important steps. To learn more please visit http://ReadyRating.org

How important is it for the TRC to have supporters?
Every year the Triangle Red Cross touches 1 in every 10 Triangle Residents. For a family affected by disaster, the cost can easily exceed $900. So for every resident we don’t touch, we need as much as $100, to support those that we do touch

Many people may say that a small donation can not make difference what kind of difference could fifty dollars make?
The Red Cross can actually do a lot with $50: Groceries for 1 week for a single disaster victim, 15 comfort kits (toiletries for families who have lost everything in disaster),
8 blankets for disaster victims, overnight shelter stays, or fuel for our Emergency vehicle to deliver food to a disaster affected neighborhood.

TRC also offers various types of training. What are they?
CPR / First Aid, Babysitting, Lifeguarding, Workplace Safety

The TRC does more than just provide services to people here in the Triangle. What other services do you offer to others outside of the Triangle?
National / International movement – support Nationwide blood distribution: tarc-logoWe are part of the collection system that provides more than half the nation’s blood supply through a nationwide distribution system.

International – family communication: When families are separated by war, famine or any other conflict, the American Red Cross is there to reconnect them. With a large refugee community, the Triangle Red Cross provides a vital lifeline between local refugees and their families back in their native countries.

Military – emergency communication: One of our most important services, and part of our original congressional charter, was to keep military families in touch with service members who are deployed. When we reach out to a military member on behalf of their family, they might be in California, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Korea. Wherever they are, the American Red Cross has the unique ability to reach them, and request an emergency leave on behalf of their family.

To see how you may get involved with the American Red Cross Triangle Chapter, please visit www.triangleredcross.org

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