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Red Cross Chairman Visits Relief Operation in Haiti


American Red Cross relief workers welcomed Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of its board of governors, to the Red Cross base camp on Saturday afternoon.

After weeks of intensive operations, in which the American Red Cross has spent or allocated more than $80 million dollars to meet basic needs, McElveen-Hunter spoke with volunteers and staff about the importance of their work.

“Thank you for what you are doing,” she said. “You put the very best face on America. This is the face that we want the world to see.”

Meeting Local Leaders

During her visit, McElveen-Hunter learned firsthand from responders about their experiences on the ground. So far, more than 100 people have been deployed by the American Red Cross to assist with the international relief operation.

Chris Darlington, a leader of the American Red Cross-Benelux Emergency Response Unit, was grateful for the opportunity. Darlington helps to coordinate the delivery of relief items to meet needs in local communities.

“It is good for her to see what we are doing, the work we’re doing in the field and the impact we’re having on the community,” he said.

He also introduced her to one of his Haitian Red Cross counterparts, who had just returned from a distribution to 540 families. The Haitian Red Cross has mobilized thousands of volunteers that enable the global Red Cross response operation to work effectively with local communities.

“It was nice to make the connection between the people that we are working with, rebuilding their country and providing support to their family and friends, and American Red Cross leaders,” Darlington continued.

Affirming Red Cross Impact

Her visit provided inspiration and encouragement to those that have been working around the clock.

“Maya Angelou said to me ‘Use me. The Red Cross is my charity,’” said McElveen-Hunter. “We’re all here right now. Use us all to do this important work in Haiti.”

Experienced responder Charles Blake believed the visit would help to ensure the success of the mission in Haiti. Blake is the deputy coordinator for the relief team, which manages the delivery of Red Cross aid throughout the country.

“The recovery process is going to take a long time. We know we have the support and backing that will allow us to continue to do what we need to do.”

Gina Guinta, a relief worker evaluating alternative methods to help earthquake survivors, was simply pleased to meet McElveen-Hunter after 7 years with the Red Cross.

“Her words helped to remind us what we’re all doing.”

So far, at least 1.3 million people have received basic, yet life-sustaining items. Volunteers from around the world, including those from the American Red Cross, are actively distributing food and other supplies, like tarps, rope, hygiene kits, water containers and cooking items.

You can help the victims of countless crises, like the recent earthquake in Haiti, around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013 or to your local American Red Cross chapter. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.redcross.org.