Metro Atlanta Red Cross Turns 100

Centennial News Item 03/19/14
“We especially want to thank our generous community for their many gifts of time, talent, blood and financial support; without them, we wouldn't be here today helping neighbors prevent, prepare for and respond to life’s emergencies.”

In April 1914, 12 concerned citizens met at the Ansley Hotel in Atlanta and petitioned the American Red Cross to authorize a chapter here, paving the way for a compassionate army of volunteers that has spanned 4 generations and is still at work every day in our community. The charter, signed by President Woodrow Wilson, arrived in June 1914 and officially launched the Atlanta Red Cross, which began with first aid training and a mission to save lives. By 1918, the Red Cross had responded to its first large disaster, the Great Atlanta Fire, entrenched itself at Ft. McPherson to assist WWI soldiers, and was helping the community respond to an influenza pandemic.

“As we look back on the vital role the Red Cross has played in our community for the past 100 years and begin our second century of service, we’re deeply grateful to all who have helped make our mission possible here and around the world,” said Terri Badour-Duckett, CEO of the American Red Cross of Georgia and the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter. “We especially want to thank our generous community for their many gifts of time, talent, blood and financial support; without them, we wouldn’t be here today helping neighbors prevent, prepare for and respond to life’s emergencies.”

Through the decades, metro Atlanta’s Red Cross has weathered countless disasters with the community and helped neighbors better prepare for emergencies. It has supplied hospitals with blood; reunited military and international families; taught life-saving skills and enriched the lives of countless people.

Atlanta’s Red Cross opened the first blood plasma bank in the South in 1942 to support the U.S. military and launched a community blood program after WWII. Today, the Chapter provides support for the Red Cross Southern Blood Services Region headquartered in Douglasville, Georgia, where blood donations are processed, tested and distributed to hospitals. The region covers most of Georgia and parts of South Carolina and Florida and needs approximately 1,200 blood donations each weekday to support 100 local hospitals.

“Though we have witnessed many changes over the years, our mission remains the same,” said Jerry J.K. Tillery, CEO of the Red Cross Southern, Alabama & Central Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico Blood Services Regions. “Whether providing life-sustaining blood, a lifeline to those traumatized by disaster, or support to our warrior heroes, our singular focus is to prevent and alleviate human suffering.”

In 1961, the Atlanta Chapter joined forces with chapters in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties to form the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter. Today, some 1,700 volunteers, donors, partners and staff work together to serve a 13-county area with 5 million people. The Red Cross provide services ranging from disaster preparedness and response, and support for military families and veterans, to life-saving training, emergency communications for international families, and blood services. The Metro Atlanta chapter, headquartered in Midtown Atlanta, oversees the 11 chapters that comprise the American Red Cross of Georgia.

Atlanta’s Red Cross is a conduit for the generosity of Atlantans who channel their compassion for neighbors in need down the street, across the country and around the world, from those who lose everything in a home fire, to entire communities impacted by catastrophic disasters.

“I have come to truly appreciate the power of the Red Cross mission, primarily the strength of volunteers and the generosity of donors”, said Kevin Keough, the 52nd chair of the Metro Atlanta Chapter’s historically all-volunteer board. “The Red Cross serves people in the greatest times of need and it does so consistently and reliably.”

100-Day Centennial Celebration

To mark its first hundred years of service, Atlanta’s Red Cross Chapter and Blood Services Region will formally launch a Centennial Celebration on March 23, concluding on July 5. Several “birthday” events are planned, beginning with a March 23 “Run for the Red as part of the Publix Georgia Marathon Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5K in Centennial Olympic Park. In addition to Team Red Cross supporters who will be running in the event, the Chapter is providing 40 first aid-trained volunteers at stations along the race course to help spot and treat participants in need of help.

Other planned events include:

  • Red Cross audio stories recorded in partnership with StoryCorps (Listen online throughout the celebration as Red Cross staff and volunteers share memorable Red Cross experiences)
  • The Atlanta Braves All-American Blood Drive at Turner Field’s 755 Club (June 28)
  • Red Cross Day at Atlanta Braves Stadium (July 5)
  • “Our 100-day celebration provides an opportunity to reflect on our Red Cross heritage and take an inspired look toward our future,” said Badour-Duckett. “This is a once-in-lifetime occasion for all of us, and we invite the metro community to join us as we begin a second century together.”

    For more information on upcoming Atlanta Red Cross Centennial Events, go to redcross.org/atlanta.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.