`Strong partnership' shared by Church, Red Cross

As delegates of the American Red Cross were attending their national convention in downtown Salt Lake City May 30, a team of local Red Cross volunteers were on the scene of a fire, preparing for a possible evacuation of a nearby neighborhood.

They contacted a local bishop who gave them permission to use an LDS meetinghouse for a Red Cross shelter.Before an evacuation was necessary, fire officials got the fire under control. But Deborah S. Bayle, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter, said the incident is typical of the "very strong partnership" currently shared by the Church and the Red Cross.

In May 1997, the American National Red Cross and the Church signed a Statement of Understanding, updating the original Statement, which has been in effect over a decade, and outlines roles, relationship and methods of cooperating in planning for and responding to disasters. The statement followed many years of successful joint efforts by both organizations.

Since 1984, the Church has assisted American Red Cross initiatives in 34 projects, donating more than $3.9 million. This is part of the $9 million total the Church donated to Red Cross organizations across the globe during the same time period.

The Church has also provided thousands of volunteers and in-kind donations to both the American Red Cross and other Red Cross organizations worldwide.

For example, Ms. Bayle spoke of a time the Church helped the Red Cross in Utah. In 1987, the Salt Lake City chapter was no longer able to maintain the building it had been renting for office space. "The Church offered an old [meetinghouse] to the Red Cross," she said. The organization was in that building "basically rent free" for 10 years.

"That is what [the Church] does, they come in very often when we are in need."

Josephine C. Martin, vice president of communication for the American Red Cross, agreed. "The Church and the Red Cross have a long-term relationship based on a shared commitment to humanitarian efforts," she said. "[The Church] has consistently been a financial partner of ours, a partner during times of disasters, and a great source of volunteers to us. They also recently committed to assisting us with blood drives."

Gary J. Ouellette, chief operating officer for the Utah division of Red Cross Blood Services, said this arm of the Red Cross has only been operating in Utah for a year.

"Here in Utah the Church has been so incredibly supportive," he said, explaining that Church leaders helped the blood services chapter get started by holding Church-sponsored blood drives in local meetinghouses.

"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Church," he said. "Sixty percent of our blood collections in Utah are through the Church."

Mr. Ouellette also spoke of the support Church leaders offer the Red Cross. President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, attended and spoke at the organization's opening luncheon (see story on this page), and Harold C. Brown, director of Church Welfare Services, attended the groundbreaking for a new Red Cross building in the state.

During the convention, American Red Cross president Elizabeth Dole, lauded the Church, giving it her organization's Transformation Award. The award, presented to Brother Brown, is given annually to organizations or individuals, who have made an outstanding contribution to the transformation of American Red Cross Biomedical Services.

Mrs. Dole praised the Church not only for its commitment to the organization's blood services, but also for its commitment to helping the less fortunate worldwide.

Brother Brown, also a member of the Salt Lake Red Cross chapter board of directors, said the Church plans to continue its long relationship with the Red Cross. "The American Red Cross is a wonderful organization with a great name and great reputation," he said.

Some of the donations, in cash and commodities, and services given by the Church to the American Red Cross and other Red Cross organizations across the world include:

11,000 units of blood during 138 Church-sponsored blood drives in Utah since July 1997.

$37,500 for tornado aid in Florida and Georgia this year.

Blankets and generators for victims of severe ice storms this year in the northeastern United States.

More than $1 million, in cash and commodities, to help victims in Serbia, including clothing, food, soap, milk, medical supplies, washer and ironer, and blood donor bags from 1996-1998.

Clothing and medical supplies in 1997 to help flood victims in North Korea.

Commodities totaling $15,000, including 500 food boxes prepared by members, for Hurricane Lili victims in Cuba in 1996. (The U.S. Department of Treasury gave special permission for the American Red Cross to provide emergency relief. The commodities were exempt from the current trade embargo.)

$30,000 for earthquake victims in Kobe, Japan, in 1995.

Blankets and relief parcels, totaling $25,000, for Cheehen refugees in Russia in 1995.

$10,000 for hurricane victims in Antigua, a Caribbean island, in 1995.

$20,000 emergency cash and commodity assistance during Hurricanes Luis, Marilyn and Opal in 1995.

$10,000 for the construction of a New Red Crescent Hospital in Israel in 1994.

$19,000 in food assistance to victims of Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

$2 million for famine relief in Ethiopia from 1984 to 1986.

In addition, the Church sent its Spearhead unit to Homestead, Fla., after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. The diesel generators from the Spearhead unit became the only source of power at the location.

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