Friday, June 10, 2016

My Red Cross Story: Gretchen Neels

Gretchen (on the far right) attends the 2015 Salute to Service Gala with fellow Tiffany Circle Members
Meet Gretchen Neels, a woman of the utmost, untiring compassion. Her journey as a Red Cross supporter was sparked in 2008 when she joined the Tiffany Circle, a society of women leaders and philanthropists from regions across the U.S. As a part of this group, Gretchen carries on our founder Clara Barton’s legacy to support the Red Cross mission.

Gretchen loves how her current actions can link her to such a strong legacy. She is heavily involved in the Tiffany Circle of the National Capital Region and assumes extra responsibilities as the Co-Chair. Such a role entails raising funds at events, attending galas, steering official Tiffany circle meetings and other social gatherings. Her ultimate purpose, though, is to weave together the circle’s 30 or so members and ensure that each woman feels confident about where her donations are headed to, and why. When all is said and done, Gretchen gives about ten hours per month to this organization.  

In addition to her administrative tasks, Gretchen also nurtures a desire to directly impact the surrounding communities with her own two hands. A perfect example is her devotion to the Home Fire Campaign, a project that aims to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 25% within five years. Along with her team of fellow humanitarians, they go door-to-door in neighborhoods that are at high-risk for fires to deliver fire safety information and install free smoke alarms.

Unfortunately, fires have made an impact on Gretchen’s life in additional ways. Her daughter underwent the traumatic struggle of losing her condo to a fire. Not a single possession of hers could be salvaged, but thankfully an organization was committed to helping her and other individuals persevere: the American Red Cross. As Gretchen’s daughter struggled with the aftermath, the Red Cross assisted with her immediate needs, including providing comfort kit items. The Red Cross took an overwhelming experience and provided Gretchen’s daughter with compassionate care. Those tender moments etched a lasting impression of this organization on Gretchen’s mind and undoubtedly resulted in her giving back in any way possible.

The Red Cross is fortunate to have such a remarkable woman like Gretchen Neels in its Tiffany Circle society. With a seemingly never-ending supply of enthusiasm guiding her, she constantly supports the Red Cross. As Gretchen so aptly put it, “We help everybody. There’s no boundary. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white, a man or a woman, we will help.” Gretchen not only says such words – she brings them to life.

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