Red Cross volunteers honored for service

18 May 2012 | Cpl. Miranda Coleman

In recognition of the tireless efforts of American Red Cross volunteers, the Marine Corps Installations East annual volunteer appreciation event was held at the Paradise Point Officers Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune May 18.

More than 100 volunteers were honored for their service to the military community.

“The American Red Cross is delighted to welcome each and every one of you here with us to express our sincere appreciation to our valued volunteers who make a difference around MCIEast and the world,” said Timm Downey, master of ceremonies for the event.

Since the foundation of the American Red Cross in 1881 by Clara Barton, known to many as the ‘Angel of the Battlefield’, the organization plays an important role during humanitarian crises and in support of the military.

For more than 100 years, the American Red Cross has been on the frontlines, be it Haiti, New Orleans, Iraq or Afghanistan.

Aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, the American Red Cross’ influence and work has helped support the military’s mission, abroad and stateside for the past 68 years.

According to the American Red Cross Station Volunteers Month proclamation given by Beverly Perdue, governor of the state of North Carolina, more than 689 American Red Cross volunteers from MCB Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg combined gave more than 77,522 hours of service during the past year, providing a link between service members and their families anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

During the ceremony, Rita Fountain, with the American Red Cross, told the story of a Service Armed Forces caseworker.

It was not the normal emergency communication the caseworker was used to dealing with. It was a true Red Cross message.

The caseworker delivered a message to a young service member who said he didn’t know the name of the sender. After reading the message he realized it was from his father. His father worked for a government taken over by rebels and just before the takeover he worked with the Red Cross to get his family out of the country.

The young man’s last memory of his father was when he took him in his arms and told him he was now the man of the family; he needed to go to the United States and live in freedom, make the U.S. his own and be loyal to it.

He thought his father had died and after 15 years of not knowing, the Red Cross gave him his father back.

“Your cases stay with you forever,” said Fountain. “They are your children and you never stop worrying about them. They carry you through the tough times, inspire you to be a better person and keep on going.”

Many of the services offered by the American Red Cross include classes on cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, babysitting, lifeguarding, wilderness safety and pregnancy.

For disaster relief, the organization helps victims get back on their feet, opens shelters and provides food and clothing.

Through the American Red Cross blood and tissue, program, they are able to collect blood and tissue to be used by service members and victims of disaster.

The final mission is to support the International Red Cross, a neutral organization that can act as a mediator for warring countries and prisoners of war.

For the American Red Cross located aboard the base, the main mission is focused around service members. With a 24-hour phone number, the organization can get in contact with a service member or their family, even if they are deployed.

The American Red Cross currently has offices located at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, building 121E across from the Harriotte B. Smith Library, and a third branch office located on Marine Corps Air Station New River.

Each location has several volunteers who can help as bookkeepers, lab assistants, teachers, and cart attendants in the hospital as well as an American Red Cross dentist who assists naval personnel.

“I am honored to be here amongst the volunteers of the world,” said Vicki Thacker, American Red Cross Camp Lejeune station chair. “You all come from different backgrounds. Some of you have traveled abroad to different lands to serve. Some of you had the honor of serving in different parts of the United States, but your purpose in life is obvious, you are here to serve.”

To donate or volunteer at any of the American Red Cross offices in the general area, call 451-2173 or visit building 121E