By Pooja Klebig
In the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea, a chapter of Red Cross history has been penned over the last 107 years – a narrative of dedication, service and community support.
The roots of the former “Carmel Area Red Cross Chapter” began in 1916 with an inaugural meeting taking place at Carmel City Hall. Fifteen dedicated individuals were selected for the Board of Directors from a pool of 34 nominees, marking the beginning of a longstanding commitment to serving the community.
The Carmel Pine Cone, a local community newspaper launched a year prior in 1915, has played a vital role in our history, with the second meeting of the Red Cross Chapter of Carmel announced in its pages on September 27, 1916. Founding officer Lilly Devendorf, whose name echoes throughout local Red Cross history, exemplifies the enduring relationship between the city, the newspaper, and our Chapter.
Throughout the years, the Carmel Chapter actively contributed to various initiatives, from rolling bandages and sending supplies overseas during World War I to conducting programs in knitting production, first aid, swimming instruction, and disaster relief in the 1920s. Fundraising for global disasters became a significant focus, and in 1955, the Chapter found its permanent home in a Comstock-designed post-adobe building on the corner of 8th and Dolores Street.
One of the most unique services, the Chapter-sponsored ambulance, began in 1937, providing crucial support to residents and visitors. Over the years, the Red Cross has remained an integral part of Carmel and the surrounding areas; while the Chapter no longer features an ambulance, it has evolved its services while maintaining a strong community presence.
As of October 6, 2023, the beloved Carmel by-the-Sea office has been sold to The Carmel Foundation as part of a strategic move to optimize resources and expand community impact. Through this partnership, we are thrilled that we will continue serving our mission by leasing a portion of the existing space, ensuring a continued presence in the community.
“We are looking forward to this new chapter and grateful for the support we have received from the community and look forward to a greater partnership with The Carmel Foundation,” shared Michele Averill, American Red Cross Central Coast Chapter CEO. “Our commitment to collecting lifesaving blood products, disaster preparedness and response activities, services to military members, veterans and their families, delivering aid and support programs around the world and health and safety training in the Central Coast remains steadfast.”
The legacy of the Carmel-by-the-Sea Red Cross Chapter lives on because of the community’s dedication to making a difference every day. Thank you for your support!