There’s nothing like crisis to make us grateful for what we have. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago makes sure the millions of residents of the Chicagoland area live on to be grateful after crises and have the resources and support to get through disasters.

I want to devote today’s blog entry to highlight some of the great work our local chapter does around the community every day. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago serves the 8.3 million people of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry & Will counties. From disaster response to unique programs to safety training and blood collection – the Chicago Chapter touches all of us in one way or another.

Disaster Response

The greater Chicago chapter responds to an average of three disasters a day, every day in the Chicagoland area including:

  • Residential Fires
  • Floods
  • Tornados
  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme Temperatures
  • Carbon Monoxide Leaks
  • Transportation Accidents
  • Hazardous Material Incidents
  • Community Emergencies

Unique Programs

  • Residential fires are the most prevalent disasters affectng Chicago-area communities. Through the Red Cross Team Firestopper program, hundreds of families in fire-prone neighborhoods learn valuable fire prevention techniques.
  • Being prepared for emergencies is the cornerstone of the Red Cross mission. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago educates individuals about what to do in life-threatening emergencies. Corporate volunteer teams are trained to respond to local disasters through the Ready When the Time Comes program.
  • Latinos make up nearly 30% of the Greater Chicago area. The chapter’s Latino Initiative provides classes in Spanish to better serve the diverse community and recruits Spanish speaking volunteers to provide services.
  • Children make up 50% of the victims who receive emergency aid from the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. The Kid Firestopper and WHALE Tales (Water Habits Are Learned Early) Programs teach thousands of youth annually lifesaving home and water safety lessons in schools.
  • CPR Training Days, Chicagoland’s largest one-day English and Spanish CPR training event makes communities safer by training thousands of people in this lifesaving skill.
    During major emergencies, the American Red Cross Patient Connection Program provides hospitals and medical facilities with a patient management system that connects the injured with families and loved ones. The Red Cross can track patient admissions, provide appropriate information to inquiring families and assist in providing counseling to those injured during the disaster and their family members.

Client Services

Emergency needs are determined by a Disaster Action Team’s (DAT) on-scene damage assessment. Recovery kit(s) and/ or financial assistance to support the immediate emergency needs created by a disaster are provided.

During the first 48 hours after a disaster, the services we provide a family to assist them are:

  • Shelter
  • Food
  • Clothing, shoes, coat replacement
  • Toiletry items
  • Flood clean-up kits
  • Medical replacement (Rx, glasses, dentures, etc.)
  • Mental Health support
  • Funeral expenses
  • Referrals to other community organizations to assist with other needs
  • Information to assist with planning long-term recovery
  • Mass Care Sheltering and other client services (for large-scale disasters, in which over 25 people are affected)

Service Delivery

Service Delivery is completed at three levels of operation:

  • Disaster Action Teams – Respond to smaller Chicagoland area disasters (volunteer and paid staff)
  • Chapter Operations – Respond to larger disasters that include Community Services such as feeding and sheltering.
  • National Level Operations – If necessary, our National organization provides support to American Red Cross of Greater Chicago responders with human and material resources to assist with large-scale operations anywhere in the USA.

Red Cross services are provided to clients without bias, based solely on disaster-caused need.

All disaster assistance provided from the Red Cross is free of charge. The programs are available through the generosity of the American people. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has no expectation of receiving reimbursement for services provided from the client or community.

These are just some of the services provided by our chapter. The fact that our chapter helps so many is precisely why we need a solid base of fundraising activities. With the help of our Auxiliary Board, the American Red Cross of Great Chicago is able to fund these vital services, but we need more people to step up and be part of our team. To become a member of the Auxiliary Society and become part of such an important cause, contact Courtney Manuel, Sr. Manager of Special Events and Sponsorship or call 312.729.6138.

Now back to our usual silliness. As part 7 of our 25 part introduction of our Auxiliary Board, I present this week’s profile: former cheerleader and voted most likely to major in underwater basket weaving by his high school.

Brett Gerig: Brett is a native Ohioan and has worked at Ernst & Young, LLP and Interra Development Partners, LLC since graduating from the University of Toledo in 2004. He enjoys traveling, athletics, attending concerts, and spending time with friends and family. Personal Motto: Ernest Hemingway’s “Live life to the fullest”

Until next week, stay warm and dry, and please, please, join us at our next Flirting for Disaster event on March 19.

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