PUBLISHED: 4:38 PM on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Red Cross district director sets goals to serve region
Reid Bowman was recently named district director of American Red Cross of Southeast Alaska. He has been a life long Alaskan who has lived, worked and played in Western, Interior, South-central and Southeast Alaska. Bowman came to the Red Cross after a career in banking and tourism and is looking forward to helping our Southeast communities prevent, prepare for and respond to their neighbors in times of disaster.

The Red Cross provides emergency services to our Armed Forces, disaster relief, health and safety classes and much more in the desire to prepare individuals, families and communities to respond to one another in times of disaster.

What are some short-term goals of Red Cross for Southeast Alaska?

The Red Cross Southeast District is very interested in finding people across Southeast who will be interested in helping to prepare their communities for disasters, be ready to respond to those unfortunate events, and help teach classes within their communities. We are prepared to provide the training that would be needed, but need dedicated people to get involved.

  Reid Bowman
There is the potential for us to get people trained right now at little or no cost to themselves, due to some grants we have received to increase our community prescence.

How does the organization serve the Southeast region?

The American Red Cross of Alaska's Southeast District serves communities from Yakutat to Metlakatla. We do this by providing Disaster Relief Services, Health and Safety Classes, Armed Forces Emergency Services and Disaster Preparedness classes to the public.

Disaster Relief is one of the Red Cross' most visible missions, and primarily why the Red Cross was chartered by Congress. Disasters can be on a major scale like the recent Southern California wildfires, or on a very personal scale such as a single family house fire.

We are the first human services agency to arrive at the scene of the disaster and are there to provide immediate aid and comfort to those affected. This takes the form of arranging for shelter, food, clothing and even things like toothbrushes for those who may have lost everything they own. We have the infrastructure in place to open shelters to serve in the event of a massive disaster and can call in the resources of the Red Cross nationally if necessary.

We also teach classes through our Health and Safety instructors. Trained people who can respond in an emergency until regular Emergency Medical Services(EMS) personnel arrive are critical in saving lives. These classes range from First Aid and CPR to Lifeguard training and swimming lessons. An especially exciting class that we offer is called Wilderness First Aid. This class is perfect for anyone who spends time away from the formal EMS system, and away from help.

The third function that the American Red Cross provides is in doing casework for the Armed Forces Emergency Services.

We help our service men and women to get home in the event of a family emergency, and facilitate communication with them.

Finally, we reach out to people, organizations and businesses and teach them how to prepare for disasters, put emergency kits together, how to build a family communication plan and other programs that help keep families safe.

How can people donate time, goods or money?

The Red Cross truly is an organization that is made up neighbors helping neighbors, and working together to make our community a healthier, safer place to live.

There are many ways that folks can assist the Red Cross in carrying out our mission and ensuring that Red Cross life-saving programs and services are available to Alaskans during their time of need.

Volunteers are literally the backbone of our organization, and it is through the caring expertise of more than a thousand Alaskans who generously volunteer each year that the Red Cross is able to operate. There are so many for folks to get involved - we have opportunities on the front lines such as a disaster responder, or a first-aid CPR instructor, who can make a direct impact in providing services in our community. Once folks have the proper training and experience, they are eligible to serve on a National Disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina, where more than 300 Alaskan Red Cross volunteers were deployed to assist with the massive relief operation. We also need folks to help with administrative tasks such as data entry, answering phones, or coordinating local fundraisers. All Red Cross training is free, so please contact us at 463-5713 to learn about additional opportunities and how to get involved.

The Red Cross relies on donations from the community in order to provide our everyday operations. Many folks don't realize this, but the Red Cross is not a government organization and does not receive federal funding. There are many ways can support us financially - the first is to make a tax-deductible financial contribution. Folks can make a safe, secure online donation by visiting our website at, by calling us at (907) 463-5713, or by sending a check to 3200 Hospital Drive, Juneau, AK 99801. The Red Cross is highly committed to being excellent stewards of your donor dollars, so you can be assured that your donation will stay right here in Southeast Alaska. In addition, the Red Cross holds several fundraisers throughout the year including our Hawaiian Luau or a Wine and Whales Cruise - come join us for a good time and support a good cause at the same time. Lastly, folks can help out by holding a fundraiser in their workplace, in their school, or at their church - it is a good, rewarding experience to band together with friends and neighbors to raise funds for a good our staff here will give you all the support you need for a successful fundraiser.

Lastly - I would like to touch on blood donations. While the Red Cross handles more than 50 percent of the nation's blood supply - here in Alaska our community partners, the Blood of Alaska, handles all of Alaska's blood needs. Please consider contacting the Blood Bank today to learn about our communities' blood needs and how you can help.

What is the importance of an organization such as Red Cross?

The Red Cross really plays a critical role in our community, in the state, in the nation, and literally around the world. The Red Cross is the world's largest humanitarian organization, and is an incredible example of how we can mobilize humanity to help alleviate suffering for some of the worlds most vulnerable populations. And that rings true for our community's right here in the Southeast. The Red Cross has a very unique position in that we are one of only two charities that has a Congressional charter - which provides us the privilege and authority to carry our disaster services program and our assistance to military families. The services that the Red Cross provides are not duplicate services - during some of folks' greatest time of need it is the Red Cross that they can and do turn to help them during a crisis. It really is an honor to be part of an organization with such a good, noble mission and that makes such a difference locally and around the world. Again, I encourage you to learn more about the Red Cross and how you can make a difference in our community.

What do you see as the future of Red Cross in this area?

Alaskans have always been exceptional at coming together as neighbors to help each other in times of need. It is one of the things that we should be most proud of. The Red Cross can bring help and resources to bear that individual communities might struggle to muster in the event of a disaster. We are here for the long haul to serve as first responders to those disasters, and teach health and safety courses. Getting more people involved in areas outside of Juneau is a critical strategic goal, so that we can help them to help themselves. We are actively looking for people who are interested in becoming Instructors for Health and Safety classes, and disaster relief volunteers who are interested in helping their communities in time of need. Throughout the first part of next year, Health & Safety will be reaching out to other communities with a grant program designed for the public school system by offering free instructor training to each school district in southeast AK. This will enable the school districts to train all of their employees with CPR, AED and First Aid, as well as any students and parents/community members they choose to train.

We are reaching out to United Way Partner Agencies with an opportunity to train instructor candidates from each organization in six communities outside of Juneau. We will be furnishing each of these communities (Craig, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Haines) with a full training package of equipment and materials for use by our authorized providers in offering training to their employees, patrons and community members.

Our "Mistress of Disaster," Linda Wahl will be traveling to Prince Of Wales Island, Sitka and Ketchikan in February to help organize disaster relief teams to serve those communities and later in the year will be looking at other interested communities.

Please contact us, if you want to learn more for your community about either of these opportunities.