The Northeast Florida Chapter
Since 1914, the Northeast Florida Chapter has helped countless people throughout our eight county area; your neighbors, your friends, your family. Whether it's lifesaving training, emergency preparedness or help with immediate needs following a disaster, the Red Cross is here waiting to lend a helping hand to make a stronger, safer community.
The American Red Cross was first present in Jacksonville to provide relief during the Great Fire of 1901 that destroyed most of the downtown area. Thirteen years later, on March 20, 1914, the Jacksonville Chapter of the American Red Cross was chartered by President Woodrow Wilson. The first chairman of the chapter, Waldo Cummer, was quickly involved in coordinating Northeast Florida relief efforts for refugees and other victims of World War I. Then as now, the chapter's focused areas of service were health and safety training, emergency services and support of the Armed Forces and their families, as well as disaster preparedness and relief.
Through the succeeding decades, the Northeast Florida Red Cross would see a steady expansion in area from the boundaries of a city of 60,000 residents, to today's jurisdiction of millions of constituents in 8 counties of Northeast Florida. The volunteer ranks would grow from the initial board of eight members to as many as 20,000 during World War II. Today's volunteer rolls count thousands of members in all lines of Red Cross community service.
On Sundays and holidays, members of the American Red Cross Volunteer Life Saving Corps (ARCVLSC) take responsibility for the guard of Jacksonville Beach, just as they have done since 1912. This is strictly a volunteer service that functions as a highly competent and professional force, composed of men and women in good standing, ranging in ages from sixteen to sixty. The members are well trained and disciplined in the most modern techniques of lifesaving.
The ARCVLSC is the oldest – and now the only – continuously operating volunteer life saving corps in the United States. The members of the Corps are justifiably proud of their record of thousands of lives saved and distressed swimmers assisted over their century of service.