The Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter has been delivering lifesaving services to the people of Palm Beach County for nearly 100 years. Today our chapter jurisdiction covers three counties, almost 4,000 square miles and serves a population reaching almost 1.5 million residents. We are proud to serve the people of Palm Beach County.
Our premier programs are Disaster Preparedness and Response along with Military Communications and our Health & Safety programs. Funding for Chapter programs has been through generous individual and corporate donations.
Clara Barton and West Palm Beach History
Our chapter was chartered in 1917, during World War I. In 1944 Mrs. Henry Rea donated a house at 201 Evernia Street to the Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter American Red Cross to be used as a chapter building. The house had historical interest because Miss Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, after years of relief and war work, wrote to a friend in West Palm Beach asking the friend to locate a room for her. A room was secured at the home of Mrs. Olive Maltby, the same home which was later purchased and donated by Mrs. Rea.
The Evernia Street Chapter house was sold in 1963, and a new chapter building was constructed at 825 Fern Street.
During World War II, the Palm Beach area contained a number of military training sites and operations. The Biltmore Hotel became a Coast Guard training school, and The Breakers became Ream General Army Hospital for soldiers returning from North Africa. U.S. warships patrolled the waters off the coast of Palm Beach and at least five American ships were lost to U-boat attacks within a few miles of the island. Survivors were treated at local hospitals and your Red Cross was there.
In fact the American Red Cross attracted the support of several hundred Palm Beach residents during these war years. Mrs. Henry Rea, honorary chairman of the Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, had founded the Gray Ladies in Washington D.C. during World War I when she was assigned to Walter Reed Hospital as the first woman field director in the American Red Cross. Other Palm Beach notables, Princess Evangeline Zalstem-Zalesky and Gloria Baker Topping, were members of the Red Cross Motor Corps ambulance drivers and were typical of the society women who remained in Palm Beach year-round to aid the war efforts.
Geographically, Palm Beach County is the largest county east of the Mississippi River. It covers over 2,023 square miles from southern Boca Raton to Jupiter/Tequesta in the north end and west to Pahokee and Belle Glade.