By Kimberley Nemrava
Provincial Director – B.C. & Yukon
VICTORIA – March is Red Cross Month across Canada, and I am delighted to take this opportunity to celebrate the power of humanity and recognize the efforts and compassion of the public to respond generously to humanitarian needs.
Building community participation is one of our key strategies for helping vulnerable people. Training teams of disaster services volunteers, reducing and preventing relationship abuse and bullying through education, teaching water safety and first aid, and fundraising locally for disasters are some examples of how we mobilize the community on issues that can impact us all.
In British Columbia last year, Red Cross directly served nearly 452,000 people with the support of more than 2,200 volunteers. Our health equipment loan program provided more than 137,000 pieces of equipment. We responded to 72 disasters and provided 98 courses and workshops. We’ve been a leader in swimming and water safety since 1946 and saw more than 237,000 Red Cross Swim participants last year. Our Violence and Abuse Prevention program reached nearly 29,000 youth.
Our work goes beyond the borders of our province and even our country. Wherever disaster strikes, everyone in the Red Cross/Red Crescent family is ready to help. Last year, when Hurricane Sandy devastated communities in the eastern United States, local Red Cross Disaster Management volunteer Robbin Stephens was among dozens of Canadian volunteers who dropped everything to go to New York to assist American Red Cross in their relief efforts. Robbin, a Red Cross volunteer since 1998, used her wealth of experience with the many floods, fires and storms across British Columbia to help in the aftermath of the super-storm. Along with volunteers from around the world, Robbin helped deliver millions of relief items to thousands of people impacted by the storm. We are extremely proud of our local volunteers like Robbin, who dedicate large portions of their lives to the work of the Red Cross, helping vulnerable people when they need it most.
Every day, ordinary British Columbians do extraordinary things – people like you, or your neighbour, or someone else you know. During March is Red Cross Month, I encourage everyone to find out what the Red Cross does in your community and also how to get involved. You will learn both how to help others and how to help yourself in times of need.
The Canadian Red Cross Society is a non-profit, volunteer-based humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the situation of the most vulnerable in Canada and throughout the world. Founded in 1909, the Canadian Red Cross has served Canadians by providing disaster preparedness and response, injury prevention and community health and care. As part of the international Red Cross Movement, Canadian Red Cross provides public education and awareness on and support to international relief efforts in countries affected by disaster or conflict. For more information on the Canadian Red Cross, please contact your local Red Cross office or visit www.redcross.ca/.