Editor’s note: This post is a response to Craig Newmark’s Social Good Blog Series call for posts on the topic, “How Will You Change the World in 2012?”.
From the tornadoes in Joplin, Miss., to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, this past year has been marked by devastating and deadly disasters that have killed thousands of people, destroyed whole communities and changed lives forever. It was one of the worst years for disasters, but it brought out the best in millions of people who gave generously to support their neighbors down the street, across the country and around the world.
When people talk about changing the world, many will say it’s impossible, but I must disagree. I have been privileged to see first hand how the work of an organization like the American Red Cross can change the world for the better.
When the American Red Cross can help build temporary homes and hospitals in Japan, we have changed the world for the survivors who lost everything.
When one billion children in 60 countries have been vaccinated against measles, their world has been changed. When a cancer patient or accident victim receives a life-saving blood transfusion, their world has been changed.
When a family’s house burns down in the middle of the night, and Red Cross volunteers arrive with a warm cup of coffee, a blanket for their shoulders, a place for them to stay and a plan to help them get back on their feet, their world has been changed.
There are stories after stories of the many ways the American Red Cross changes lives every day.
In 2012, I aspire to change the world by doing everything in my power to engage more Americans in our mission and to help more people in need.
In the coming year, the Red Cross will be on the ground in Haiti continuing to build homes, support cholera prevention, create job opportunities for Haitians and increase access to clean water.
As the largest supplier of blood products in the U.S., we’ll be supporting the evolution of cellular therapy for treating diseases, like advanced prostate cancer, as well as leading research on blood transfusions in the area of emerging diseases.
In 2012, we will continue to stand ready 24/7 and will strive to provide flawless disaster relief whenever and wherever a disaster strikes. Every year we respond to about 70,000 disasters, from large-scale events like Hurricane Irene, to a single-family house fire. Every nine minutes we’re on the job somewhere around the country offering disaster victims food and shelter, a shoulder to lean as they face an uncertain future, and resources to help them recover.
As more and more of our service members return home from deployments, the Red Cross will be there to help them reconnect with their families and communities; and we will continue to help support those in military hospitals along with their families, especially through our new partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project.
We’ll also be looking at ways to make our first aid and CPR classes more accessible to the public this year. Our goal is to train 5 million people in hands-only CPR so they, too, can save a life.
In 2012, I will strive to continue to ensure that our donors approve of how we’re using their precious gifts. We are proud that an average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to our humanitarian services and programs. In September, we were gratified to learn that Charity Navigator, a watchdog group for charities, awarded us four out of four stars for fiscal health, accountability and transparency.
Our work does change the world by offering the priceless gift of help, hope and compassion to people in urgent need. But we cannot do it without your help. I invite you to join us in 2012. There are so many simple ways you can make a difference. Donate blood. Make a financial contribution. Sign-up to volunteer.
I would be honored to work alongside you to change the world, and I know it can be done because I see it happen every day at the Red Cross.