PUBLISHED: 3:27 PM on Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Organization grows throughout the years
American Red Cross of Southeast Alaska
The Red Cross is a globally, well-known organization, which helps civilians, members of the armed forces and their families during times of disaster.

The organization does more than provide relief in times of distress; it also offers education, aid and health care support to those who are in need of it.

Since its establishment in the United States in 1881, the nurses and volunteers have continued to help, offer emotional support and educate people nationally and internationally regardless of disaster.

The American Red Cross was founded in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881 by Clara Barton. Barton, inspired by the International Red Cross Movement in Europe, (prior to the First World War), campaigned to have an organization which provided the same types of attention and protection for those who were injured during times of war here in the United States.

The Red Cross initially introduced first aid, water safety, and public health nursing, however, today its objectives and focuses have broadened significantly.

The American Red Cross conducted its first domestic and overseas disaster relief efforts by aiding the United States military during the Spanish- American War.

During the First World War, the Red Cross staffed hospitals and ambulance companies and recruited 20,000 registered nurses to serve in the military.

After the war, the Red Cross began to provide service to veterans, safety training, accident prevention, and home care for the sick and as well as nutrition education.

Between the First and Second World War, the American Red Cross provided relief to the victims impacted by the Mississippi River Floods of 1927 and the severe droughts during the Depression in the 1930s.

When the Second World War broke out, the Red Cross was heavily relied upon once again to provide extensive aid and relief to those who were either in the military or were victims of disaster.

The numbers of nurses increased significantly from 20,000 in the First World War to 104,000 and at the request of the military, the American Red Cross introduced the first nationwide civilian blood program which supplies 50 percent of the blood and blood products in this country.

Today, the American Red Cross works closely with the federal government and has helped in the formation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When disaster strikes in the United States, the Red Cross is the principal supplier of mass care in federally declared disasters.

The American Red Cross is an independent, volunteer-led organization that works closely with the federal government to promote its objectives.

It is an organization that receives public contributions and cost-reimbursement charges and relies upon the assistance of its volunteers.

The American Red Cross is operated by a 50-member, all volunteer Board of Governors; eight of the governors (including the chairman of the board) are appointed by the President of the United States.

The American Red Cross works closely with more than 175 other societies that are members of the International Committee of the Red Cross to tackle matters of international conflict and social, political, and military unrest.