Guests at an American Red Cross event heard that weather in Oklahoma is changing and that surges in major disasters must be matched by increased humanitarian aid.
The Red Cross serving Central and Southwest Oklahoma welcomed guests to a Tiffany Circle reception on Tuesday evening, where speakers described the shifts in extreme weather and invited them to support the Red Cross mission.
Mary Blankenship Pointer, a Red Cross serving Central and Southwest Oklahoma board member, served as host of the reception, which featured award-winning KFOR meteorologist Emily Sutton as the guest speaker.
“The Tiffany Circle is a community of inspiring female leaders who tirelessly advance the mission of the Red Cross. We invest our time, talent, and treasure to ensure that the Red Cross can reach out to those who need their assistance the most, both locally and globally,” Pointer said. “We are driven by a shared purpose, a deep sense of compassion, and the desire to make a substantial impact.”
Sutton, who became KFOR’s first female meteorologist in 2009, is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) by the American Meteorological Society and has been awarded the National Weather Association (NWA) Seal. She is the only meteorologist in Oklahoma with both seals.
While Sutton noted she is a meteorologist, not a climatologist, the data are clear – Oklahoma is experiencing the effects of the changing climate and we all should take a closer look and adapt quickly.
“The term ‘climate change’ can be triggering and divisive, but you can see it happening,” Sutton said, pointing out that weather events once considered “extreme” are becoming the new standard and that Oklahoma can expect average temperatures to be 2 to 5 degrees hotter within 50 years.
Sutton shared a story she reported in August, “Weather Whiplash,” that showed the impacts of climate change on the wheat and cattle raised by the Pope family in Loyal, Oklahoma.
The Red Cross is feeling the impacts of climate change, too. There has been a sixfold increase in major disasters since the 1980s, and the organization is now averaging a new, major domestic disaster response every 10 days — twice as many as 10 years ago.
By 2050, humanitarian assistance needs worldwide are expected to double, and lower-income and vulnerable populations will continue to suffer disproportionately from major disasters. That’s why the Red Cross has launched a five-year campaign to combat the largest humanitarian crisis of our time and to better serve disaster-affected communities here and across the globe.
“Just as we adapted our mission following the Moore tornado, we must adapt our mission and services and grow our capacity to meet the needs of our community,” said Alice Townsend, CEO the Red Cross Kansas and Oklahoma Region. “Having responded to disasters and adapting our mission to meet the needs of local communities for over 140 years, the American Red Cross is uniquely positioned to make a significant and lasting impact to combat this humanitarian crisis.
“We cannot do this alone. Powered by volunteers and supported by the generosity of donors, this mission expansion is set to change lives for the better.”
The event took place at the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits in Oklahoma City. OKCNP purchased the building from the Red Cross and recently completed extensive renovations. The Red Cross serving Central and Southwest Oklahoma continues to have its main office in the remodeled building.
“Often, we see in other communities that non-profits remain siloed in their work. There can be a sense of competition between mission and funders. However, in our work here at the OKCNP we see that when nonprofits work together toward the same goal, we see a more empowered, healthy, and resilient community,” said Marnie Taylor, President and CEO of OKCNP. “The OKCNP and Red Cross’ physical presence together demonstrates the power of collaboration and reduction of redundancy.”
Pointer and Red Cross Tiffany Circle Chair Stephanie Holloway invited the room to join them in preventing and alleviating human suffering by committing to join the Tiffany Circle. With support from local Tiffany Circle members, the Red Cross makes a lifesaving difference down the street, across the country and around the world.
The Tiffany Circle takes its name from the historic stained-glass windows in the Board of Governors Hall at Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Installed in 1917, the windows were commissioned from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios. The windows cost $10,000 and were jointly purchased by women of the north and women of the south, as an act of reconciliation and hope. Tiffany Circle members from across the country, each donate $10,000 or more annually to support the American Red Cross. To learn more about the Tiffany Circle, visit redcross.org/tiffanycircle.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.