On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. Since that day, we’ve worked to embody Clara’s passion and dedication for helping people in their darkest hour in everything we do as an organization.
Those of us who have the privilege of carrying on her legacy 138 years later are still inspired by her trailblazing efforts, particularly for a woman during that time period. Clara began teaching school when most teachers were men and was among the first women to be employed by the federal government.
My favorite quote of hers, which I framed and hung in my office, reads: “I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that will improve the past.”
The American Red Cross draws from her spirit of innovation to improve how we deliver our mission in communities every day. Today we use a GPS system and drones to assess damage after disasters; the electronic transfer of funds allows us to quickly get money in the hands of people using their mobile phones following a disaster; we are installing solar panels in Puerto Rico to prevent power outages in future hurricanes; a Bot, appropriately named Clara, answers questions about your eligibility to donate blood; and you can ask Amazon’s Alexa to schedule a blood donation, learn CPR, donate funds or receive emergency weather alerts. And just as Clara provided support to soldiers on the battlefield during the Civil War, we continue to aid our men and women in uniform – only now they can access Red Cross services through our Hero Care App.
Thanks to the generosity of the American public and the dedication of hundreds of thousands of remarkable volunteers, the Red Cross continues Clara’s legacy in ways she could never have envisioned, but we believe would make her proud.