Across the U.S., like much of the world, fast-cycle news often drowns out pressing human challenges that should not only capture our attention, but garner our collective response over the long term. Marshaling a strong response to humanitarian crises often falls prey to a combination of volunteer or donor fatigue, resource scarcity and, quite simply, inattention. Stricken communities, like Louisiana or Ellicott City, Maryland, which have been affected by record flooding, and first responders, like the American Red Cross, who remain perennially stretched yet steadfast, lean on the broader community to support their response and recovery efforts. This community, meaning citizens of the United States and other countries around the world, must also lean in and help shoulder the financial, emotional and logistical burden of providing a national safety net.
The first link in the unbroken chain of a resilient society are prepared people in prepared households. The remaining links combine to form a chain of first responders, emergency preparedness and communities at the city, state and local level who are committed to long term resilience and recovery when disasters strike. Relief agencies like the Red Cross movement are often the one assurance vulnerable communities have when all else fails.
The numbers behind their ongoing mission in Baton Rouge are staggering; as of August 29th they had approximately 2,500 people living in their shelters, served more than 466,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 210,000 relief items (mosquito repellent, gloves, bleach, etc.), provided more than 55,000 overnight stays for displaced families, fielded more than 27,000 calls from people seeking help, and have offered 12,000 health services and emotional support contacts.
The sight of The Red Cross or The Red Crescent icon is itself the sign of relief to communities around the world. Yet, the movement benefits from the kindness of strangers to support this invaluable organization through a wide range of options of engagement at the individual level.