In 1916, with America poised to join World War I, 25 concerned L.A. residents met at downtown’s Alexandria Hotel to form a chapter of the American Red Cross. These visionaries wanted to ensure that Los Angeles could come to the country’s aid during conflict, as well as in peacetime.
Nearly 100 years later, on June 28, 2016, another group of nearly 300 Red Cross supporters gathered again in downtown Los Angeles for a very special Centennial-themed annual meeting to elect new leaders for the coming year and to celebrate the important role the Red Cross has played over the decades. From supporting service members and veterans in times of war to providing critical disaster assistance after major earthquakes, the Red Cross has been there when it mattered most.
Those in attendance - volunteers, board members, donors, employees and representatives from numerous community organizations – met for this historic meeting at the California Endowment, located near L.A.’s Union Station where thousands of area soldiers departed to fight during the World Wars.
Fritz Coleman, NBC4 News weathercaster and longtime friend of the Red Cross, acted as the master of ceremonies for the event, narrating a historical “Then and Now” segment. The photos proved that although fashion, technology and vehicles have changed, Red Cross services, at their core, remain the same. As part of the festivities, volunteers modeled vintage World War II Red Cross uniforms to illustrate the valuable roles that women played on the home front during war.
As part of the business meeting, Andrea Davis was elected as the new Board Chair, replacing outgoing Chair Barbara Matthews, who retired after her two-year term. David Allen, Bruce Daly, and Scott Olmsted were elected to serve a one-year term as Vice Chairs.
Board members who were elected to serve an additional three-year term expiring in FY2019 include: David Allen, Kullen Birkeland, Hannah Coan, Andrea Davis, Lois Ingham, Fasha Mahjoor, Barbara Mathews, Cheryl Moersen, and Tom Tierney. In addition, the following members were elected to serve their first three-year term: Javier Angulo, Brett Boeckmann, Vincent Jones, Ryan Patel, and Jorge Villegas. Samantha Yin was chosen as the FY2017 Youth Board Member. Terry Bodwin, Laura Kim, Agnes Lew, Paul Morabito, Bob Petersen, and Linda Theisen retired from board, as their terms have expired. L.A. Region Lifetime Board Member Buzz McCoy was recognized for his more than 35 years of service to the L.A. Region and was lauded for his past and continued commitment to the Red Cross. Steve Atlee was recognized with a five-year service pin.
In addition to recognizing the chapter’s history, two of the L.A. Region’s Americorps members, Samantha Hwang and Samantha Yin, highlighted the many great accomplishments that have taken place over the last fiscal year. One of these achievements is the L.A. Region’s participation in the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which aims to reduce home fire deaths through the installation of smoke alarms at homes in vulnerable communities. In recognition of its outstanding commitment to this effort, Barbara Mathews awarded the 2016 Chair’s Award for Excellence to the L.A. Region’s Territory 4—covering Greater Long Beach. The Red Crossers from this area installed 1,894 smoke alarms in homes—a record for the Los Angeles Region.
L.A. Region CEO Jarrett Barrios presented another award recognizing the importance of the Home Fire Campaign. He presented the CEO Award for Excellence to the Esperanza Community Housing Health Promoters Program. The nine “promotoras” who participated were instrumental in advancing the message of the campaign and saving lives. Barrios also outlined some of the major goals of the L.A. Red Cross going forward in the next century.
From the very beginning, the L.A. Chapter has relied on its donors to promote its mission. During the meeting, special recognition was given to the Ahmanson Foundation and Weingart Foundation in support of PrepareLA, and to founding PrepareSoCal sponsor, Edison International. Farmers Insurance, with its 120 Farmers employees and agents, helped the L.A. Region break its record for single-day Home Fire Campaign installations, by helping the Red Cross install 686 smoke alarms.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Red Cross over its first century and continues to promote the mission of the Red Cross LA Region every day. Check out photos taken by volunteer photographer Roxanne Schorbach on our Flickr page.