Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Erwin Stierle – Executive Director for Loudoun County – talks about the National Capital Region’s impact…

American Red Cross in Loudoun and Prince William Counties - what exactly do we do?  

Part 1 of a multi-part series

Written by: Erwin Stierle, Executive Director for Loudoun County

It's not surprising that so many people I talk with aren't familiar with everything we do locally.  As a national organization, we are known primarily for two things:  large scale disaster response and blood drives.  At least that's the preponderance of opinion I hear when out in the community.  It's likely because of how visible the big disasters are.  As I write this, Texas is dealing with massive flooding that turned fatal and injured dozens this Memorial Day weekend.  The emotional trauma for those who've lost their homes will touch thousands.  This is what's visible through news outlets and social media, at the national level.  But, did you know we're a very hyper-local nonprofit as well?

I ask that because the devastation isn't any less when just one family loses their home in a local house fire or local flooding.  And home fires happen in Loudoun and Prince William neighborhoods more than once a week.  Over our last full 12-month reporting period for these counties, we responded to just under 100 incidents and supported over 250 families consisting of over 650 people and giving them nearly 1,000 relief supplies for their immediate needs.

The volunteers handing out the relief supplies and comfort kits are also providing comfort and reassurance during a time of great need and stress for the families involved.  Our team has specially trained volunteers to handle a variety of specific needs.  For example, we have specialists who can handle situations when children with special needs are involved.  We ensure any lost medication is replaced immediately by coordinating with doctors’ offices and pharmacies.  We provide longer term care in terms of psychological needs that develop because of the trauma that is suffered.

None of this gets covered on the local news.  It won't make national news.  But the disaster suffered by that local family, their neighbors, their friends and their extended families will result in the same type of loss and emotional trauma that is prevalent in "the big" disasters.

I hope this gives you a glimpse of just one aspect of what we do in the National Capital Region every day.  Next week, I’ll focus on our Preparedness efforts within our schools 
and our community in general.  Please send me any questions or if you or your company want to get involved somehow with helping the Red Cross deliver on its mission in your community.

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