The United States is a country of volunteers. The military is all volunteer. Libraries, schools, local organizations, churches and hospitals thrive on community service at a grass roots level. The United States depends heavily upon the assistance of ordinary people giving their time, their money, their sweat and even their blood to fill the gaps of need.
One national organization, the American Red Cross, reaches out to help with boots on the ground. Founded by Clara Barton in 1881, she campaigned for an American Red Cross and for ratification of the Geneva Convention to protect those injured in war.
The first U.S. congregational charter was given to the Red Cross in 1900. Today’s charter gives the organization the ability to “give relief to and serving as a medium of communication between members of the American armed forces and their families and providing national and international disaster relief and mitigation.”
The Red Cross provides relief to disaster victims in the United States; collects blood, processes it and distributes the products where needed; provides health and safety education and training.
For such a wide area of responsibility, community support and organization are key.
Mary Armbrust of Stuart, Florida is the Captain of the Martin County Red Cross Disaster Action Teams. She has spent her life in service, beginning as a pinstriper in the hospital (Red Cross), becoming the support of a military husband, and later going to work with Homeland Security. She has been an inspector inside detention centers in Arizona, worked at the Port of Entry in El Paso, and been on duty during 9/11 in Atlanta’s airport.
Now retired, she has returned to work part-time with the Red Cross, dispatching volunteers in four Florida counties to immediate disasters, most often fires. She also works as a volunteer for her local House for Hope, helping provide food to the needy. Additionally, Mary serves as the Government Liaison Representative for Martin County’s Emergency Operations Center. She is the Mass Care, Logistics, Regional Disaster Services instructor as well. Also, she holds a part-time Americorps position, specializing in Disaster Services and Recruiting. In all, Mary works full-time in service positions. This is a picture of active American retirement.
Mary Armbrust states, “People can do and be whatever they want. Their only limitations are their own.”
Mary relates, “As the American Red Cross evolves, it sees a future of moving more toward client services. Money and volunteers are always needed. Quick relief is provided to victims of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and terrorist bombings.”
As the United States moves into a new generation and a new America, its citizens must each realize that each one of them matters to their community, and to their country. Freedom comes at the price of responsibility, to speak up, to participate, to change lives for the better—to make a difference.
Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 were events that paralyzed the nation. Today’s young adults do not remember these events, but the Red Cross was there, almost immediately, because they are in each community. We do not know what is yet to come in the United States, but it is prudent to be ready.
Today, the American Red Cross is in need. Give of yourself.
America, a country by the people, for the people.
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© 2014 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon