2014 marks the 125-year anniversary of the Red Cross in Johnstown.
The Red Cross first arrived in Johnstown after the area was devastated by a significant flood on May 31, 1889. The Johnstown Flood claimed more than 2,000 lives and left behind substantial wreckage; relief was desperately needed.
The needed relief arrived on June 5, 1889 when Clara Barton – the founder of the American Red Cross – and a team of 50 doctors, nurses and relief workers arrived in Johnstown. The group immediately set up feeding stations and provided unprecedented medical care, sheltering and relief. Under Barton’s leadership, the Red Cross remained in Johnstown for five months, assisting more than 25,000 people with food, shelter and supplies – and the organization has been here ever since.
Since then, the Red Cross in Johnstown has been a beacon of hope for those in need during some of the darkest days of their lives. Through each of our World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and wherever our troops are located the American Red Cross is nearby providing aid and comfort. Red Cross volunteers on the homefront rolled bandages, packed care packages and train for and continue to provide emergency messenger services.
The American Red Cross has also assisted our community through many local disasters, including the floods of 1936 and 1977 and the tornado that ripped through the Salisbury community in 1998.
The eyes of the Nation were on the American Red Cross in our community following the September 11 crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville where we were deployed for several weeks supporting the families and emergency workers.
Yet again in July of 2002 we were called to action for the Quecreek Mine disaster. As the world watched, the American Red Cross in our local community provided aid and comfort services to the families and rescue personnel.
While the organization’s services have changed slightly over the years, the core of the Red Cross mission has remained the same – to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.
Your local American Red Cross continues to provide vital services to the community today. From disaster relief to preparedness education, and from lifesaving CPR training to blood collections, the Red Cross strives to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, every day.
Last year, the Keystone Chapter responded to home fires and other disasters throughout Cambria and Somerset counties, providing approximately $40,000 in direct aid to assist families with their immediate needs for food, clothing and shelter. The organization also trained nearly 8,000 people in vital preparedness education and thousands of individuals in lifesaving CPR, First Aid and AED skills.
These services would not be possible without the kind support of donors and volunteers alike. As a volunteer-led organization, the Red Cross could not fulfill its humanitarian mission in the community without the dedication of its volunteer cadre. And if volunteers are the heart of the organization, donors are certainly the backbone, enabling the vital work to be a reality every day.
Since Clara Barton first arrived in Johnstown, the Red Cross has been a consistent lifeline for people when they need it most. The depth and breadth of Red Cross services is unmatched by any organization in the world. As the Keystone Chapter moves toward the next 125 years, the organization will continue to provide compassionate care to those in need in Johnstown.