Houlton Rotarians hear about Red Cross programs

6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club hosted Mary Green, Red Cross Community Manager for Aroostook County at a recent meeting.

Green was there to talk about the American Red Cross and what it does locally as well as around the world. Their mission statement is “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Green, who has been with the agency for a little over a year, explained that the Red Cross is most prominently known for their blood drives and for disaster response. She added, however, that every 60 seconds 250 people are assisted by the American Red Cross. Two hundred times a day Red Cross volunteers help a family affected by a house fire or disaster and 380 times a day they connect armed forces members with their families.

Green noted that 2017 was an unprecedented year for disasters, citing such statistics as Hurricane Harvey causing the largest flooding disaster in U.S. history with the rain that fell on Texas — 24.5 trillion gallons — being enough to cover all of Alaska, California and Texas in an inch of water.

Hurricane Irma was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hurricane Maria was the largest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico since 1929 and it wiped out power to the entire island.

In addition, the California wildfires were the most destructive in U.S. history burning more than 1 million acres and turning over 8,000 homes into ash. In Maine, extreme winds and rain knocked out power to nearly a half million homes and businesses which was far more than in the Ice Storm of 1998.

Locally, Green explained, much of their work goes to assisting those who have dealt with a fire. She also mentioned that they work on providing smoke detectors to people in the area noting that smoke detectors increase a person’s chance of surviving a fire by 50 percent. It was also pointed out by Green that only 10 percent of Red Cross staff is paid, with the other 90 percent being volunteers. She stated that for their branch, they have one major fundraiser each year — the Real Heroes Breakfast. This event recognizes ordinary people for doing extraordinary things and 100 percent of the funds raised stay in Aroostook County.

Joining Green at the meeting was her sister Kim Rohn who oversees blood services and blood drives from Blue Hill to Fort Kent. She remarked on the challenges of getting enough blood and encouraged that who are able to participate in a Red Cross Blood Drive. She reported that only 10 percent of all those who are able to give blood actually do yet one blood donation can save three lives. Rohn talked about some of the different types of donations. Whole Blood Donations are the most flexible type of donation and can be accepted by any blood type. She also spoke about Power Red Donations. This is a donation of a concentrated dose of red cells which is the part of the blood used every day for those needing transfusions. Ideal blood types for Power Red Donations are O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative.

She noted that Aroostook has the highest rate of “Power Reds” in her region. Power Reds are only accepted every 112 days while regular donations can be made every 56 days. The Red Cross continues to provide 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply making it the largest supplier of life saving blood in the country. In 2017, the Red Cross hosted 600 blood drives every day in communities across America. Individuals can track their blood and find out about upcoming blood drives at redcrossblood.org.