NEW YORK, — Nearly 2000 times in 2020, a year like no other, the American Red Cross in Greater New York provided emergency relief after a local disaster. Since January 1, 2020, the organization helped more than 9000 residents following emergencies in NYC, Long Island, Rockland County, Westchester County and Greenwich, Conn. Many of these individuals were not only coping with the loss of their homes but also the anxiety brought on by the pandemic.
Click here to view an interactive map of Red Cross disaster responses in Greater NY in 2020.
“Since COIVD-19, to ensure the health and safety of the residents we serve and our volunteers, our disaster response work has looked a little different, with face masks, gloves, social distancing and virtual casework,” said Mary Barneby, regional CEO, American Red Cross in Greater NY. “But our urgent assistance was still provided in very meaningful ways.”
Beyond local disaster assistance, Red Cross preparedness programs moved to a remote environment, allowing instructors to continue teaching readiness education. Since January 1, 2020 the organization trained 4700 adults and children, most of them virtually.
Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program modified its crisis counselling, workshops, and supply distribution to address an array of new challenges for veterans, service members and their families. Over the past 12 months, American Red Cross in Greater NY provided 6000 services to military community members.
Blood collection became even more vital with rigorous safety protocols carefully followed at collection locations. At sites in Rockland County, Westchester County and in Greenwich Conn., the Red Cross collected 5000 units of blood since the beginning of the year.
COVID-19 survivors rolled up their sleeves at Red Cross convalescent plasma collection locations. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and contains antibodies that might help patients actively fighting the virus. In the Greater New York Region, 856 COVID-19 convalescent plasma products were collected from recovered patients.
During the peak of the pandemic in this region, the Red Cross also sought out new ways to address some of the emerging needs brought on by COVID-19. The organization developed an array of programs to support hospital workers, elderly residents and other vulnerable individuals. This assistance included distributing food, household items, providing grief counseling and other urgent support. In 2020, as part of these special initiatives, the Red Cross:
· Helped deliver nearly 500,000 care packages of food, household items and other supplies to 100,000+ NYC healthcare workers.
· Delivered 3500+ pizzas donated by Papa John’s to families in need.
· Helped distribute 30,000+ facemasks for low income and elderly community members.
· Helped build more than 45,000 pantry boxes for vulnerable families.
2020 will also go down as a year of extreme weather events, which generated the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters to strike our country in a single year. From multiple major hurricanes and tropical storms in the South to devastating wildfires in much of the West, back-to-back massive disasters have kept Red Cross volunteers working tirelessly for months across the country to provide food, shelter and comfort to tens of thousands in need.
Nearly 100 Greater New York Red Cross team members deployed far from home or virtually to provide their compassion and expertise to these communities coping with disasters.
“Red Cross volunteers are committed to helping those in crisis down the street or across the country,” said Barneby. “In the middle of the pandemic, many deployed to another state for several weeks at a time to deliver the same compassion and care they share her with their fellow New Yorkers.”
Ignacio Mantilla, a volunteer from Manhattan who joined the Red Cross in April after losing his job to the pandemic, deployed twice to Oregon to support large-scale wildfire relief efforts.
“I was looking for something to do, something productive, something that was meaningful,” said Mantilla. “[In Oregon] I think every day I was reminded of the difference that we make.”
Nationally, to aid families in need, nearly 11,000 Red Cross workers delivered relief virtually and in person across the country. This included:
- Serving more than 3.6 million meals and snacks with partners
- Providing more than 1.3 million overnight stays in emergency lodging with partners
- Distributing more than 596,300 relief items with partners
- Providing emergency financial assistance to more than 282,500 individuals
- Making nearly 187,900 contacts with people to support their health, mental health, spiritual care and disability needs
In addition, thanks to the generosity of thousands, the Red Cross has been able to collect and distribute more than 92,000 convalescent plasma products to hospitals nationwide, as well as 4,211,000 units of blood.