As the month of March draws to a close, so draws the end of National American Red Cross Month. However, those involved with the human services organization want people to keep its mission in mind year-round.
Jeanie M. Roberts, executive director of the North Country chapter of the American Red Cross, is among those who stress the importance of those services going beyond the focus of one month out of the year. People are connected with the Red Cross tens of thousands of times across the country at any given moment, whether it be by donating blood, receiving shelter after a natural disaster, or assistance following a devastating fire.
"People use the Red Cross most when they are experiencing an emergency and don't know where to turn," explained Roberts. "The general public knows we are there when there is a large or small disaster. The chapter is contacted and if it is a situation we can assist with we do. If not, we refer to another community agency where they can be helped."
During recent months, the local chapter has received several calls from individuals who have never had to reach out to an organization before, said Roberts.
"We do our best to get them where they need to be," she said. "These are difficult times for so many."
Last year, the chapter assisted 31 families with emergency services. In addition, the chapter also taught 7,611 individuals lifesaving skills, trained more than 225 people how to respond to an emergency, provided 137 emergency messages between local families and their children serving in the military somewhere in the world and supported 209 individuals with its Lifeline Program, which provides medical alert devices to people, primarily senior citizens, allowing them to stay in their own home "with a sense of security and independence," said Roberts.