Monthly Archives: March 2020

Just like everyone else, we have been adjusting to the new normal of working under social distancing guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic, while keeping our focus on our number one priority: the people we serve.  

Home fires have continued to displace families throughout the crisis, and our disaster action teams are determined to find ways to continue providing emergency assistance in a safe, yet effective way with minimal in-person contact.  

Because of their diligence in coming up with a solution, they’ve been able to do just that. 

Last week our team got a call about a single-family fire in southwest Philadelphia. The fire department was on scene and reported that the family was not going to be able to return to their home. The family needed our help, so the disaster action team jumped into action.  

Bob Schmidt responding to a local disaster prior to the COVID-19 situation

Instead of sending a team out to the scene, Bob Schmidt, the on-call Duty Officer, quickly contacted the family and used FaceTime to get a few important details, including observing the damage done to the home.  
Bob, who is also a member of the Disaster Action Team, dispatched Hiwa Shams who volunteered to act as a ‘runner’ to support the response. Hiwa went directly to the scene and provided the resident with emergency assistance and a folder containing recovery materials, keeping a safe social distance and minimal personal contact. The whole response took less than an hour, which helped the family move forward in their recovery more quickly, including help with a place to stay and resources to plan their next steps. 

Through the use of technology, the individuals affected, the first responders and our Red Cross volunteers were able to deliver the Red Cross mission through safe measures during a difficult time. 
Many thanks to Bob and Hiwa for their dedication to teamwork and ensuring that the Red Cross mission endures through this pandemic.  

By: Sophie Kluthe

We know all corners of the country are feeling the impact of COVID-19, and like many of you, we’re doing all we can to help. 

Here’s what we’re up against as it relates to our blood donation services: as of Monday, March 23, more than 6,000 blood drives were canceled due to Coronavirus fears, resulting in the loss of more than 200,000 donations. 358 of those drives were canceled in the state of Pennsylvania, with a loss of 10,311 donations. 

You know what’s so inspiring, though? As our country went into a severe blood shortage, we put out a plea for blood donors, and you flocked to to answer the call, filling up the few blood drive and blood donor center openings we had still open. And you continue to answer that call. 

That’s why, when you go to, it might take a while to load. If you want to give this week, you may find there aren’t any appointments available. Please don’t be discouraged. Have you considered donating next week, or the week after that? 

We’ve had thousands of blood drives cancelled, but we’re working around the clock to set more up. Despite our efforts, there are still fewer drives than would normally be, and that means fewer available appointments. Remember, that little kid with cancer, that person who needs a lifesaving surgery, will still need you next week, and the week after that. People will still depend on blood donations, because the need for blood is constant.  

As experts have emphasized, this outbreak is not limited to days, and the American Red Cross will continue to face blood collection challenges for weeks, and even months to come because of Coronavirus.  

So thank you, for being so willing to donate your precious, lifesaving blood. And thank you for being patient. Thank you for being open to setting up an appointment a little further down the line, helping us as we try to stabilize this blood shortage.  

During this crisis, we’ve also been working to keep blood donation is a safe process, increasing our already stringent safety protocols:–covid-19–and-blood-donation.html 

We also want you to have the safety information that may help you get through this as well: 

We’ll get through this, together.  

By: Caitlin Mclafferty

March is Women’s History Month, and for volunteers with the American Red Cross, one name stands out above all others: Clara Barton, founder.

Born in 1821, Barton began her career as an educator in 1838. She was one of the first women to gain formal employment through the government when most of her colleagues were men. After about 12 years, as the American Civil War began to escalate, she moved out of the classroom and onto the battlefield. There she helped treat injured soldiers, cook meals, distribute supplies, and provide families of missing soldiers with information about their loved ones. 

Barton developed a bond with the soldiers. She called them “her boys” and saw the positive influence her efforts had on men embroiled in a bloody war. Notably, she helped construct a national cemetery around the graves of Union soldiers who died in Georgia’s Confederate POW camp, Andersonville Prison (also known as Camp Sumter). With assistance from a soldier, Dorence Atwater, Barton helped identify and record the deaths of 13,000 men. Currently, the National Park Service maintains the Andersonville National Historic Site as well as an electronic record of the deaths Barton helped record, which anyone can access to search for records:

Barton traveled to Europe after the war, where she was introduced to the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. She was also influenced by a memoir by Henry Dunant, founder of the International Red Cross network. Inspired by what she learned and bolstered by her own Civil War experiences, Barton volunteered to help the Red Cross provide relief during the Franco-Prussian War. After seeing the Red Cross help soldiers and the greater community throughout the Franco-Prussian War, Barton returned to the United States and began to encourage a series of presidents to sign the Geneva Treaty so that a Red Cross organization could be established stateside. 
Barton continued to dedicate herself to emergency assistance and international relief while developing the American Red Cross.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Barton faced criticism as she faced diminished capabilities with advancing age; she was forced to step down as president of the American Red Cross in 1904. Even after that, she began another organization to improve public safety: The National First Aid Association of America. The organization was short-lived, but the effort shows how motivated Barton was to enhance the lives of people in need of health care and relief. The American Red Cross, which is currently active in communities across the United States, would not have been so effective and powerful without her influence. Throughout her life, Barton made a difference in countless lives through her efforts with the Civil War, the American Red Cross, and the International Red Cross.

By: Sophie Kluthe

When I think of the notion of ‘home’, I think of Nashville. It’s a place so full of vibrancy, color, and music at every turn. People are so welcoming and warm and excited to share their culture and story with visitors from all over the country and the world.

East Nashville is where I married my now husband. Just down the road from that venue was where we hosted our rehearsal dinner BBQ. It’s where we shared our first home. East Nashville is where we created incredible bonds with our neighbors and frequented many of wonderful restaurants, bars and other venues that helped make our time there so memorable.

East Nashville is also where two people were killed Monday night into Tuesday as an EF-3 tornado tore from the Germantown part of the city, through downtown, all the way through neighboring Donelson. Waking up to the images of those very same establishments where we created so many memories, crushed into rubble, with no roof in sight, was absolutely heartbreaking. It was upsetting to see the path of destruction that barreled through the homes of my neighbors, former coworkers, friends, and their families. That restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner just two years ago sustained damage to the windows and exterior.

March 3, 2020. Nashville, Tennessee. Red Cross volunteer Denisha White, right, holds Gaberl Booker, 5 months old, as the mother Quanisha Booker, left, holds Rapheal, also 5 months old, at Red Cross shelter at the Centennial Sportsplex for people displaced by a tornado in Nashville, TN. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Through all of it, I know that one of the bright lights for the people who are no doubt suffering right now, will be the warmth and safety of a Red Cross shelter, stocked with cots, food and resources to help them retain some sense of normalcy. Many in the Nashville area and Wilson and Putnam Counties, which were also hard hit, are dealing with unspeakable tragedy involving not just the loss of homes, but significant loss of life. I know that Red Cross volunteers, trained in mental health and emotional support, will help get them through what are probably the worst days of their lives. The volunteers supporting Middle Tennessee are from Middle Tennessee, because that’s the beauty of the Red Cross. It’s neighbors helping neighbors. And in the face of unspeakable tragedy, I know this will be one of the driving forces on that road to recovery.

To learn more about what the Red Cross is doing in Tennessee, and how you can help, visit: