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Red Cross Formalizes Partnership with YMCA


The hurricane creeping across the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder of how important partnerships are to the American Red Cross. No single organization can handle disaster relief on its own, so collaboration and advance planning with partners is crucial.

Yesterday, representatives from the YMCA of the USA and the Red Cross met in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which provides a framework for their cooperation.

“This partnership is just a natural fit,” said Joe Becker, Red Cross senior vice president of disaster services. “Put together, we have almost 300 years of experience and connections to communities across the country—so together we’ll work even better.”

This meeting comes a month after Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern sat down with Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA, to discuss ways they could build on their pre-existing relationships across the country.

Although the two organizations already cooperate on a local level in many places in the U.S., the MOU provides a framework for national-level cooperation with respect to community disaster relief and other mutually beneficial services.

The YMCA will help coordinate disaster preparedness education activities in the local community; this includes distributing disaster preparedness checklists and teaching people how to build a disaster supply kit and make a family communication plan. The YMCA will also support disaster relief by using their facilities as Red Cross shelters or bulk distribution centers.

The Red Cross will support the YMCA through disaster response training and CPR/AED and first aid training. During a disaster, the Red Cross will also use the YMCA as a referral for child care.

The meeting participants also discussed other areas for future collaboration, including youth programs and services for military families.

Attendees at Tuesday’s event came away with an excitement for what promises to be a strong relationship.

“The humanitarian spirit to serve the community is what binds our organizations,” said Juliet Choi, senior director of partner services. “We’re confident that this will be a sustained partnership.”