“I was a volunteer for the Red Cross for a few years before I took over as director and I was never aware of the amount of projects and services that the Red Cross is involved in,” said Fikes, who is also a Rotarian.
The American Red Cross was founded in May of 1881 by Clara Barton and a circle of friends in Washington, D. C. Barton campaigned for an American Red Cross Soceity and for advocation of the Geneva Convention, which the United States had ratified in 1882. Barton headed the Red Cross for 23 years, which saw the organization receive its first congressional charter in 1900.
The Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters. The operations are conducted by a fleet of volunteers that constitutes 96 percent of the work force and the organization responds to over 70,000 disasters yearly, including house fires. The volunteers also collect blood, obtaining over 6 million pints in 2009.
Training is another area in which the volunteers play a huge role. Last year, over 158,000 volunteers taught CPR, first aid and other health and safety skills to 11 million Americans.
The American Red Cross helps family members link with their loved ones through the American Red Cross International Family Tracing Service, which traces people who are in a part of the world that has suffered a disaster. Tracing is also used to help families seeking the fates of their loved ones in wars and from the Holocaust.