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Red Cross Month: Story Time

American Red Cross CEO and President Gail J. McGovern authored this post. 

As we wrap up Red Cross month, I wanted to share a couple of stories with you.  In the last two weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with two people who couldn’t be more different, but who have both been touched by the Red Cross mission.

One was a man in Dallas who wrote me to thank the Red Cross for getting his son to his grandfather’s bedside before leaving for his second deployment.  His grandfather was suffering with cancer.

In his email, the father said:

“I couldn’t believe one phone call, one request, one person like me among so many could get so much help. My phone rang before and after each step of the process with the same person day or night, as if someone had their hand leading me…Nine hours after my initial phone call Matt was here with us.”

Tears came to my eyes as I read his email.  My stepson served in Iraq, and I also lost my father to cancer just before I joined the Red Cross so I could relate to his story on several levels.

 My second encounter was with a fourth-grade girl in the Washington, D.C. area.  Her father wrote to me saying his daughter had just done a book report on our founder, Clara Barton, and had become completely absorbed by Clara’s life and work. He said that he and his wife were involved in the Red Cross, and they wanted to inspire their daughters to make a commitment to volunteering and helping others when they got older.

I took a moment and sent her an email, telling her I had also done a book report on Clara Barton when I was in elementary school, and now that I work for the Red Cross, I know there’s no better vocation in this world than serving others.  She responded saying:  “My mom volunteered to be in the Red Cross before I was born, and I want to be just like her!”  Talk about the power of role models.

Now that I work for the Red Cross, I know there’s no better vocation in this world than serving others.

The really wonderful thing about these two stories is that I have the pleasure of hearing ones like them all the time.  I walk through a building with my Red Cross pin on and a soldier stops to tell me how we helped him when he was deployed.  In a restaurant, a waitress leans over my shoulder to tell me she’s a life-long blood donor.  In a meeting, a corporate donor tells me he saved his daughter’s life when she was choking because he had taken a Red Cross safety class.

These powerful stories happen every day because the Red Cross responds on average to about 185 emergencies daily.  During Red Cross month each year we thank our donors for their support and encourage more people to join with us and give of their time, blood and finances.  Our work has an incredible impact and many times it can mean the difference between life and death.

So thank you to everyone who makes our work possible.  You’re inspiring dads, sons, grandfathers and little girls.