Celebrating a milestone

140 years of service, innovation, and hope

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

May 21 marks a milestone in the history of American compassion and generosity: 140 years ago today, Clara Barton organized the American Association of the Red Cross to appeal for clothing and funds for victims of a devastating forest fire in Michigan.

Circa1865. Matthew Brady portrait of Clara Barton.

Her visionary leadership laid the groundwork for future generations to transform the Red Cross into a leading humanitarian organization. It brings together the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors to prevent emergencies and alleviate suffering across our country and around the world.

This video provides a brief history of the Red Cross.

Throughout the 1880s, Clara and her corps of a few hundred volunteers mobilized to help survivors of floods and famines, storms and outbreaks of disease. During the Spanish-American War, she led support activities for U.S. military forces in Cuba.

By 1904, the organization had taken on such crucial roles that it received a charter from the U.S. Congress, giving it official duties to support American armed forces and to provide disaster relief.

Cleveland-born Mable Thorp Boardman took over leadership of the American Red Cross in 1905 and a local chapter was founded in her home town. During her 44 years of involvement, Mabel was credited as being the “administrative genius” who presided over exponential growth of the organization and expanded its range of prevention and response activities.

As World War I spread across Europe, readiness-minded folks in Lorain, Elyria, Toledo and Erie and Wood counties formed chapters in 1916; the following year, chapters sprang up in Medina, Summit, Stark, Wayne, Trumbull, Mahoning, Portage, Ottawa, Sandusky, Huron, Hancock counties and the Muskingum Lakes area!

Late in the 20th century, Cleveland again provided leadership to the Red Cross – Steve Bullock. After 16 years as CEO of the greater Cleveland chapter, Bullock was tapped to serve as interim president of the American National Red Cross during 1998-99. He brought a wealth of experience to national headquarters, having worked for the Red Cross in military installations in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia as well as being executive director of the St. Paul, Minn., chapter.

Steve Bullock
Photo credit: Daniel Cima/American rRed Cross

Steve quickly outlined his “100-day plan” to enhance the organization’s strengths, support local chapters, strengthen international relationships and address problems in the blood services division. “It’s a matter of making sure we’re performing at an excellent level,” he said.

Local and global impact

As we mark this anniversary, the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross serves 5.3 million residents in 31 counties, where trained responders provide comfort, essentials like food and shelter, and support for folks to rebuild their lives after crises of all kinds – more than three times every 24 hours.

This video recaps 140 years of disaster responses.

Meanwhile, we’re collecting, testing and distributing blood and blood products for accident victims, surgery patients and those undergoing treatment for chronic conditions and life-threatening diseases. Most recently, we began free COVID-19 antibody testing on all blood donations.

Men and women in our armed forces, veterans, and their families and caregivers can turn to the Red Cross for emergency communications, mental wellness courses, deployment readiness briefings and  morale-boosting activities in military medical facilities here and abroad.

Through a diverse portfolio of classes, more than 4.5 million people a year receive Red Cross training in first aid, water safety, nurse assistant training and testing, along with other lifesaving skills. The Red Cross also offers free mobile apps that about 2 million people download each year, including our First Aid, Pet First Aid and Swim apps. 

And as part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the Red Cross is one of 192 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies across the globe that respond to disasters, help families search for loved ones missing as a result of war, natural disaster or civil unrest, and work to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

How you can make a difference

American Red Cross humanitarian activities are only possible through the generosity of donors and volunteers, who comprise more than 90% of our workforce. Visit redcross.org to get involved by making a financial donation, volunteering, giving blood or taking a class to learn lifesaving skills.

Northeast Ohio’s Mabel Boardman built strong foundation for today’s Red Cross

Women’s History Month profile of Clara Barton’s successor

By: Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross Volunteer

March is recognized not only as Red Cross Month, but also as Women’s History Month, and the Red Cross has a powerhouse of a woman to recognize. One of Northeast Ohio’s very own, Mabel Boardman, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1860 and passed away from coronary thrombosis in 1946. During her 86 years of life, Mabel lived an exciting and innovative life, with much of the fruits of her labor being the development of the sturdy framework that the Red Cross has today.

Mabel Boardman served with numerous social philanthropies throughout her life, one of which was serving on the executive committee of the Red Cross. After Clara Barton’s resignation in 1904, the Red Cross received a formal federal charter under President Woodrow Wilson, and although Boardman’s name was listed on the list of incorporators, she claims to have never given her consent. She was commonly referred to as the “administrative genius” of the Red Cross and was the acting leader of the organization, but she humbly refused any formal recognitions because of her fear that having a woman as a leader would harm the public’s confidence in the organization and diminish its credibility.

Mabel Boardman

The achievements that Boardman spearheaded for the Red Cross are numerous, but one of the most notable is that she was able to establish a large, permanent endowment fund for the organization that would give it a strong, reliable financial foundation for the future. In addition, she established Red Cross branches across the country, which directly impacted the global presence that the organization would come to have. Boardman established cooperation with other groups, like the American Nursing Association, that resulted in improved services, and she also developed the readiness of the Red Cross to respond quickly to disasters. Boardman organized the Volunteer Special Services division and served as the director in 1923 and retired 17 years later in 1940 after the membership roll in Volunteer Services reached 2.72 million.

Much of the Red Cross’ successes and developments can be traced back to Boardman and her ability to transform a 300-member society into an innovative and flourishing institution with over 29 million junior and senior members. She received the first Distinguished Service Medal ever awarded by the Red Cross. She definitely wins our vote to be recognized as a notable Northeast Ohio woman this Women’s History Month.

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Founder’s vision paved way for volunteers to support those in need today

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

December 25, 2020- Clara Barton is one of my all-time heroes.

Born 199 years ago today, Clara shook off her 19th century “woman’s place” and founded a movement that continues to move hundreds of thousands of people to action.

“We are all in Clara Barton’s debt for her vision to found the American Red Cross,” said Gail McGovern, president of the American Red Cross. “We still follow her example today whenever we deliver comfort and care to the victims of disaster, support our men and women in the armed forces, and donate our blood to help save lives. Clara saw the urgent needs of others, and she created a way for generations of humanitarians to help meet those needs.”

Circa 1865. Matthew Brady portrait of Clara Barton.

Clara Barton was 60 years young when she established the American Association of the Red Cross in 1881.

By then, she had been a trailblazer many times over: Founder of the first free school in New Jersey, first paid female employee of the U.S. Patent Office, “Angel of the Battlefield” for supplying critical supplies for the Union soldiers wounded during the Civil War, and head of the postwar Office of Missing Soldiers. On a trip to Europe to “relax” after a decade of war, she directed relief for civilians on both sides of the Franco-Prussian War under the auspices of the Swiss-based International Committee of the Red Cross.

In the 1880s, Clara and her fledgling organization began helping survivors of floods and famines, storms and outbreaks of disease. In 1897, at the age of 76, she sailed to Turkey to direct American relief for civilians suffering a humanitarian crisis. The next year, she worked in hospitals in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

This woman’s energy and commitment to help ease suffering set the standard the Red Cross continues to follow. During fiscal year 2020 alone, 2,800 Red Cross volunteers from Northern Ohio responded to disasters here and across the country, using new procedures to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Regionally, the Northern Ohio Red Cross:

  • Responded to nearly 1,200 local disasters and distributed more than $1 million in aid to meet immediate disaster-related needs
  • Taught nearly 61,500 people potentially lifesaving CPR, AED, first aid, aquatics and babysitting skills
  • Collected more than 168,700 units of blood that were converted into some 506,000 life-supporting blood products for patients in more than 80 medical facilities across Northern Ohio
  • Presented community preparedness education, most of it virtually, to more than 10,500 individuals, and disaster preparedness education to 4,441 youngsters in grades 3 through 5
  • Handled nearly 5,500 urgent contacts between armed forces members and their families, and briefed some 5,400 deploying men and women, and their families, about Red Cross emergency services

“None of this would be possible without the generosity of our thousands of volunteers and donors,” said Gail Wernick, volunteer services officer for the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. “ Hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors over the years are indebted to Clara for her founding example.”

1902. Blockley Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Clara Barton with graduating class of nurses at Blockley Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Miss Barton spoke to the graduating class.

So this is my birthday salute to Clara Barton. And my thanks to generations of Red Cross heroes of every age, gender, race and creed who have given selflessly of their time, their talents and their treasure to help humanity. If you’d like to follow in Clara’s footsteps in the new year, find the volunteer spot that fits you at redcross.org/volunteertoday. To financially support the work of the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/donate.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Happy Birthday, Clara, you really started something

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

December 24, 2019- One hundred ninety-eight years ago, Clarissa (Clara) Harlowe Barton was born on Christmas Day, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.

Many of her skills and interests reflect the services afforded by today’s American Red Cross, the organization she founded in 1881 and served for 23 years as its president. Each of the four main lines of service here in Northeast Ohio can be traced back to her influence.

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Teaching life safety, swimming and first aid classes

Clara started teaching when she was just 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, she moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey and opened a free public school. The Red Cross has been offering classes to the public since the early 1900s.

Blood services

As a nurse, when the Civil War erupted, Clara was determined to help however she could, experiencing combat first at Fredericksburg, and eventually earning the nickname, “Angel of the Battlefield.”

The Red Cross eventually developed the first nationwide civilian blood program in the 1940s. We now provide more than 40 percent of the blood products in this country.

Service to the military and their families

As the Civil War concluded in 1865, Clara was authorized by President Lincoln to open The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army to identify the fate of missing soldiers for grieving parents, family and friends. In 1867, when Clara closed the office, 63,183 letters had been answered and 22,000 missing men were identified.

When the Red Cross was first chartered by Congress in 1900, the organization’s primary mission was to provide services to the members of the American armed forces. Just since Sept. 11, 2001, the Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families during deployments and emergencies.

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Disaster response

In addition to helping the military, our congressional charter also mandates that the Red Cross provide disaster relief in the United States and around the world.

It’s a hard fact to comprehend but somewhere in the country, we respond to an emergency every eight minutes. That’s 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 52 weeks a year that our disaster teams are available to answer the call of those in need.

If Clara was still alive today, shed be calling you

To render all these services, the Red Cross depends on volunteers. Today there’s a significant need for volunteers to staff our disaster response teams.

If you could afford to be on call four times per month, you could experience the ultimate satisfaction of helping someone in their most desperate hour of need. There’s no greater feeling than to bring assistance to someone who has lost everything they own in a home fire. Consider volunteering by starting your online application here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Christmas marks birth of “Angel of the Battlefield” Red Cross founder

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Merry Christmas! Billions of people around the globe will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ today. This religious and cultural holiday is also the birth date of a significant figure in American history. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was born on December 25, 1821. It seems fitting that a day focused on giving marks the birth of a woman who dedicated her life to giving to those in need.

Matthew Brady Portrait of Clara BartonBorn Clarissa Harlowe Barton in Oxford Massachusetts, Clara was a shy child. She became a teacher at age 15 during a time when most teachers were men. She was also among the first women to be employed by the federal government. She moved to Washington, D.C., in the mid 1850s to work as a recording clerk in the U.S. Patent Office.

In Washington during the Civil War, Clara collected clothing, supplies and food for sick and wounded soldiers. But she felt she was needed most on the battlefields. She persuaded government and army leaders to provide her with passes to bring her volunteer services and medical supplies to battle sites and field hospitals. Her work earned her the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield.”

Clara’s pioneering vision and commitment to service continued throughout her life. She founded the American Red Cross at age 60 and served as its first president. Her spirit of giving shines on to this day through the ongoing relief work of the organization she created.

In a second consecutive year of record wildfires, hurricanes, tragic shootings and other large crises, the Red Cross’ disaster workforce—90 percent volunteers—helped millions of people across the country.

In 2018, generous support enabled the Red Cross to:

  • Serve over 8.2 million meals and snacks
  • Distribute over 2.2 million relief items
  • Provide over 290,000 overnight stays in shelters
  • Make over 188,000 health and mental health contacts
  • Provide over 73,000 households with recovery support after home firesAmerican Red Cross Historical Photo

Locally, the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region responded to about 900 disasters, the vast majority of them home fires, assisting more than 4,200 people—about 1,600 families—and distributing about $800,000 in assistance in 2018.

To celebrate Clara’s birthday, if you would like to donate to the Red Cross and give something that means something on this momentous holiday, visit redcross.org/donate.

To read more about the life and achievements of Clara Barton, visit here.

Clara Barton Answers the Call to America’s Largest Flood

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Just before 3 p.m. on May 31, 1889, 14 miles west of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a dam broke, releasing 20-million tons of water into the Conemaugh Valley. In this narrow valley, the water reached 60 feet high as it barreled toward the city at speeds of 40 m.p.h.

By the time it struck Johnstown, the 4 billion gallons of water brought with it everything in its path. Four square miles of downtown were completely obliterated by the crushing flood waters. By the time it was over, 30 acres of human bodies, homes and debris were piled 70 feet high against the stone-arched railroad bridge at the far edge of town. The pressure and amount of the water was later compared to all the water flowing over Niagara Falls in 36 minutes.

johnstown55

Photo credit: Johnstown Flood Museum

Between the force of the water and the ensuing explosions and fires that broke out, more than 2,200 people died, 1,600 homes were destroyed, and $17 million worth of damage was done (close to $500 million in today’s valuation.)

From War Relief to Disaster ReliefClara B

In Washington, D.C., Clara Barton got word of the event.  Prior to this time, she had provided relief to the Civil War soldiers, but was lobbying for the American Red Cross to provided relief for peacetime disasters as well.  Five days after the flood, Clara and five Red Cross workers arrived in Johnstown. Within days, she had assembled a team of 50 doctors, nurses and relief workers.Johnstown Flood

Setting up headquarters in the city, she immediately began organizing donations that began arriving from all around the world.  Food, clean water and supplies were passed out immediately to survivors as they tried to create shelters however they could.

 

“Red Cross Hotels” were opened to provide shelter for those left homeless before the winter weather set in.  The first “hotel” was so successful, five more were quickly erected.

Johnstown Flood 2

Photo credit: U. S. National Park Service

They also began building 3,000 “Oklahoma houses,” a type of prefabricated home, to aid the city in rebuilding. Furniture donations and domestic items were then organized and distributed to outfit these homes.

Clara didn’t leave the city for five straight months, only returning to Washington on October 24, 1889.  The city presented her with a number of gifts to show their lasting gratitude.  One editorialist wrote, “Too much cannot be said in praise of this lady…To her timely and heroic work, more than that of any other human being, are the people of the Conemaugh Valley indebted.”

Today if you visit the Johnstown Flood Museum, you’ll see a section devoted exclusively to Clara Barton and the Red Cross’ success in helping restore the town, along with some of her original papers and one of the first Red Cross blankets to be distributed.

Johnstown Flood 3.docx

Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross

Based largely on the success of her mission to aid the Johnstown residents, the American Red Cross received its Congressional Charter 10 years later, in 1900.

Today you can continue the legacy of Barton and volunteer to help with the next big disaster to strike this country.  Volunteer today at https://neoredcross.org/volunteer/.

Access the ProVia Employee Red Cross Volunteer Application here.  

Merry Christmas – and Happy Birthday Clara

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

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Today is a very special holiday. Yes, of course it’s Christmas, but it’s also Clara Barton’s birthday. Who is Clara Barton? One the most honored women in American history. Barton was a pioneering nurse during the Civil War who risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field. Her understanding of the ways she could provide help to people in distress guided her throughout her life. By the force of her personal example, she opened paths to the new field of volunteer service. Her intense devotion to serving others resulted in enough achievements to fill several ordinary lifetimes.*images (1)

2017 may very well go down in history as the year women found their voice–and began to speak up for injustices that have been going on for a very long time. Sometimes, it takes a while to find your voice. To find your mission. And if this year taught me anything, it taught me that it’s never too late. Clara Barton is the ultimate example of that. She was a feminist before there was even a word for it. And when most people her age, and at her time were settling into old age, she was busy founding the Red Cross. Yep, when Clara founded the Red Cross in 1881 she was 60 years old!

On this Christmas Day, when so many of us are enjoying the company of family and friends, it is good to reflect on the many who know no holiday–nurses, caregivers and the many volunteers, specifically those for the Red Cross, who every day help those who have been affected by the many natural disasters this year; the hurricanes, wildfires, home fires and other tragedies.

Need a last minute Christmas gift? Donate to Red Cross today. Merry Christmas- and Happy Birthday Clara!m15840200_South_Florida_Clara_Barton_Society_A_Spot_514x260

*Source

Angel of the Battlefield: Celebrating Ordinary People that do Extraordinary Things

Everyday heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things. Clara Barton was an ordinary person whose ideas and passions for others made her the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a hero in the American Civil War.

Clara Barton - US Patent Office

US Patent Office

Born in Massachusetts on Christmas Day, Clara grew up enjoying the wonders of the world. As a child she tended to her brother, David after a farm accident where he fell from the rafters. At 15, she became a teacher and opened a free public school in New Jersey. Throughout the 1850’s she worked for the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

Following the first battle of Bull Run in 1861, Clara provided immediate assistance to federal troops, despite the social mores of the time, which said that the battlefield was no place for a woman. She provided clothing, food, and supplies to the ill and wounded she also read to the troops wrote letters fro them, and listened to their problems.

Matthew Brady Portrait of Clara Barton

Portrait of Clara Barton

In August of 1862, she appeared at a field hospital in Cedar Mountain, in northern Virginia at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. Her assistance left the surgeon on duty in awe. The surgeon later wrote, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n]… angel, she must be one – her assistance was so timely.”

From that time on, Clara became known as the Angel of the Battlefield as she assisted troops in the Battlefield of Fairfax, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

The Red Cross shares stories of everyday heroism to inspire other people to act with generosity. The Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will present its 2015 Acts of Courage event recognizing ordinary people that perform extraordinary acts to save a life, on March 5 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton.

Red Cross is currently calling for heroes to be recognized at the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter event in April and the Lake to River Chapter event in June.

To be considered for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter Hometown Heroes award, nominees must reside or be employed in Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas County. The Heroic event must have occurred in 2014, but may have taken place outside of Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties. Click here to access the online nomination form.

Nominees residing or working in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana or Jefferson Counties may submit a nomination for the Lake to River Chapter Acts of Courage Event. The heroic must have occurred between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. To download the nomination form, visit the Lake to River Chapter event page.