Giving Back Runs in the Barton Family: Red Cross Founder’s Legacy Lives On

Clara Barton with Red Cross bear (2)(CHICAGO, IL)March is Red Cross Month when volunteers are celebrated for helping those in need right in their own community.  Park Ridge resident Dick Barton is a Red Cross volunteer and donor. He is also a descendant of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, and his son honored this legacy by naming his third daughter, age two, after their famous ancestor.

“My son chose the name because of our special connection and because it’s an organization we believe in,” he said.

While it will be some time before baby Clara Barton can actively participate as a volunteer, her grandfather was drawn to take action by the organization’s commitment to caring.

“They’re among the first on the scene when people are in dire and desperate need,” he said. “They have the comforting word, food, blanket, hot chocolate, whatever it might be; they talk about caring for each other, and I like that about the mission.”

Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce, and the organization relies on these generous donations of time, blood and money, especially because it is not a government agency.  In turn, donated time helps the Red Cross invest an average of 91 cents of every dollar it spends towards humanitarian services and programs.

Dick Barton has already been giving back to his community in areas of health and the environment, and now he’s looking forward to joining the ranks of the Red Cross everyday heroes as a volunteer this month.

“People who are the boots on the ground, making things happen, making a difference inspire me and that’s what I want to move towards,” he said.

Red Cross Month is a  tradition started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 and all United States Presidents since have designated March to recognize how the Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world.

Clara-Barton_1Read the entire Presidential Proclamation. “Over a century and a half ago, as gunfire echoed through America’s skies and division flared between North and South, a trailblazing woman, Clara Barton, braved bullets and cannon fire to deliver much-needed care, comfort, and supplies to wounded soldiers of the Civil War. Undaunted by expectations of women at the time, Clara Barton persevered, as she had her whole life, and strived to aid those who sacrificed to save our Union. Determined that humanitarianism could thrive in peace as well as in conflict, she carried her resolve overseas upon the war’s end and was introduced to a relief organization in Europe that inspired her to come home to the United States and establish the American Red Cross.”

During Red Cross Month, anyone can become a community hero by becoming a volunteer; giving blood; making a financial donation; learning lifesaving skills from Red Cross classes, such as lifeguarding or CPR; creating an emergency preparedness plan; and testing your smoke alarm and reminding your neighbors to do the same.

Visit for more information on how to provide support and care to those in need.

Story by American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois Public Affairs Volunteer Marta Juaniza

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