About Us

  • group of red cross staff stand in front of emergency response vehicle in philadelphia
     

The Eastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross is part of the largest and most diverse service organization in the United States. We serve more than 5 million people in Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Monroe, Luzerne, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming Counties.

We provide food and shelter in emergencies, assist members of our armed forces and their families, teach lifesaving skills, and more. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people.


Red Cross workers in Eastern PA help thousands of members of the community each year. Last year:

  • more than
    5,344
    individuals received financial assistance from the Red Cross after experiencing a disaster.
  • over
    1,200
    disasters, including home fires, floods & other emergencies, were responded to by our teams.
  • We trained
    44,590
    people in disaster preparedness.

    In 2014-15, our Region:

  • Responded to 1,287 local disasters
  • Trained 44,590 people in disaster preparedness…
  • Provided case services for 2,928 active duty family….
  • Helped 1,832 families recover from disaster.
  • Taught 1,875 students through 25 Red Cross clubs
  • Provided financial assistance to 5,344 individuals

Mission

The Eastern Pennsylvania region seeks to fulfill on a regional level the American Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

We are guided by seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

You can view how the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania carries out the

Red Cross mission by viewing our Mission Moment videos.

History

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter was founded in 1916 as a chartered unit of the American National Red Cross. Today SEPA is one of the largest American Red Cross chapters in the country, serving nearly 4 million people of Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

SEPA has a long and proud history of providing comfort and relief to those most in need:

  • 1916
    Chapter founded on January 22, 1916 as a result of a meeting at Mr. and Mrs. Charles Custis Harrison’s house. This meeting was attended by former President Howard Taft, the chairman of the American National Red Cross, who urged the Red Cross in Philadelphia to get into action. Official recognition was received by Washington on March 4, 1916.
  • 1917
    During Wartime, canteen volunteers were extremely active, and between September, 1917 and November, 1919, more than 3.8 million men were served. One of the most notable individual services rendered by the canteen was the hot roast beef dinner, requested by the City of Philadelphia, served at Shibe Park on May 15, 1919 to 16,000 men of the returning 28th Division by 300 Canteeners in 110 minutes. A new world record!
  • 1918

    In September, 1918, the Spanish Influenza epidemic struck Philadelphia, In response, the Red Cross Disaster Service opened 32 emergency hospitals within 24 to 48 hours. In addition, 67 hospitals were supplied with volunteers and equipment.

    Also in response to the epidemic, overseas, five Base Hospitals were equipped wholly or in part by the Chapter.

  • 1930

    During the Depression of the 1930’s, the Chapter distributed 34.5 million pounds of government flour to the poor, 1.8 million articles including more than 100,000 bedding and cotton garments made by the production volunteers.

    The Canteen Service, assisted by Junior Red Cross in the Branches, ran canning centers and filled containers with vegetables and fruits, which were distributed to the needy.

  • 1941
    Blood Donor Services began in May of 1941. That month, the very first blood donors in our region gave 201 pints of blood.
  • 1942
    Volunteer numbers were astronomical during World War II. As an example, the Chapter recorded 46,481 volunteer served 470,504 hours in December of 1942 and 78,056 volunteers served 585,334 hours in February of 1943.
  • 1943

    From March 1943 to June 1945, 1,000 volunteers worked in shifts around the clock to fill 7.9 Million Prisoner of War Packages in the factory at the southwest corner fo 23rd and Chestnut Streets as part of the national “Prisoner of War Package Service”.

    During the war, the Chapter occupied part of a building at 511 North Broad Street as headquarters.

  • 1946
    In June, 1946, the American National Red Cross Convention was held in Philadelphia. This was the first convention since 1941 due to the war. It was the largest ever held at the time, only surpassed by the Wilkie Republican Convention.
  • 1956

    The Lower Bucks County Branch seceded to become a separate Chapter.

    The Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter was given its own home – a large house on the northeast corner of 17th and Locust Streets to serve as headquarters.

  • 1958
    The Chester Branch in Delaware County seceded to become a separate Chapter, later merging with the Wallingford Chapter.
  • 1967
    A very special event took place at City Hall in May 1967 with the celebration of the birthday of Henri Dunant on World Red Cross Day. Part of the program was a parade of uniforms dating from 1916 to those current at the time.
  • 1969
    In 1969, plans were formulated by a building committee, to build a new building to serve as headquarters and a Capitol Fund Drive was launched.
  • 1971
    Ground was broken for a new headquarters at 23rd and Chestnut.
  • 1972

    In June, 1972, Hurricane Agnes (which cost the American National Red Cross over $26 million) struck. Devastation was brought to communities from Florida to New York state, including Pennsylvania. At the peak of the disaster, the Red Cross housed 178,312 people in 668 mass care shelters.

    On November 3, 1972, an open house was held at the new Chapter Headquarters located at 23rd and Chestnut during which the cornerstone was filled with a list of historical items.

  • 1974
    In 1974, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter became the headquarters for the newly formed Mid-Atlantic Division, which comprised 48 Chapters in Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey with the SEPA Chapter’s Executive Director serving as manager of the division.
  • 1983
    The Mid-Atlantic Region was dissolved, but the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter continued to house the Field Service Manager.
  • 1990
    Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm escalated Service to Military Families. One Chapter staff member accepted an assignment in Saudi Arabia. Following the cease-fire our volunteers and staff spent time at the airport round the clock to greet returning troops. Roughly 1,180 volunteers met 73 flights and greeted 19,480 service members.
  • 1991
    As of July 1, 1991, a restructuring occurred to create two separate administrative units, each with its own board of directors for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter and the Penn-Jersey Blood Region.
  • 1994
    The Penn-Jersey Blood Region moved from Chapter Heaquarters to the Musser Blood Center at 7th and Spring Garden Streets.
  • 1996
    The Chapter partners with AmeriCorps to create a National Preparedness & Response Corps unit in Philadelphia.
  • 2001
    Chapter volunteers and staff assisted in the massive response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
  • 2003
    Red Cross House – the first of its kind in the country – opens to provide temporary housing for victims of disaster.
  • 2005
    The Philadelphia Fire Department honors our chapter with its Community Partnership Award.
  • 2005
    Hundreds of volunteers from our chapter participate in disaster relief operations along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.
  • 2011
    As part of a restructuring, Chester Wallingford and Lower Bucks County Chapters are closed and absorbed into Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter.
  • 2014
    SEPA and NEPA regions combine to better serve the 17 counties making up the Eastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross