A Rich Heritage
The Muskegon Chapter of the American Red Cross was founded in 1917. In 1917, during the uproar of World War I, Red Cross volunteers were busy rolling bandages, knitting socks and helmet liners, organizing fund raising activities, and assisting with other humanitarian projects. During World War II, the Chapter developed First Aid and Nursing training programs and continued with their efforts of knitting comfort items for soldiers.
While dwelling in the Hackley House, the blood services program was developed (1948) and the on- going commitment of weekly blood drive was a main goal. Some of the burden of fund raising was taken away from the Chapter in 1965, when the partnership with the United Way began. In the heat of the Vietnam War (1966), Muskegon Chapter volunteers were involved in sending and receiving messages between soldiers and family members, tape recording messages, organizing comfort kits, arranging leaves of absence and much more.
In 1967 the Chapter moved from the Hackley House to the current campus of 313 W. Webster because of the continued growth of the organization. In 1973, the Oceana Chapter of the Red Cross joined forces with the Muskegon Chapter to provide better service to residents in the rural community. In 1976, Muskegon-Oceana Chapter Blood Services joined forces with Blood Services at the Lansing Red Cross and eventually became one of the Distribution Centers for the Great Lakes Regional Blood Services. This regionalization service makes blood collecting, processing and distribution more cost effective. Expansion of services such as swimming, health, first aid, CPR and youth classes were occurring during the 70’s and 80’s.
The Newaygo County Chapter of the American Red Cross was an all-volunteer chapter since receiving its national charter in 1917. Traditional Red Cross services were provided by a dedicated core of volunteers. Management and administrative responsibilities were carried out by the volunteer Board of Directors. In 1996, the Board of Directors of the Newaygo County Chapter request that the Muskegon-Oceana Chapter consider a consolidation of the two chapters.
The Muskegon-Oceana Board of Directors, feeling a close kinship to the Newaygo area, agreed to accept the request. On July 1, 2000, the National Red Cross officially approved annexation of Newaygo County by the Muskegon-Oceana Chapter. The Chapter became the American Red Cross serving Muskegon, Oceana and Newaygo Counties.
In 2011, the West Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross consolidated with the American Red Cross serving Muskegon, Oceana and Newaygo Counties. The West Shore Chapter office at 1644 W. US 10, Scottville remains open and provides all traditional Red Cross services to the counties of Mason, Manistee and Lake.
The ultimate vision is that as a group of six counties, all acting as one, we can provide quality, effective and efficient service to the people we serve regardless of where they live, work or play. Together, we can ensure that we continue to save lives and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies and position the Red Cross as one of the leading human services organization that is prepared to meet any challenges the future may bring.