‘Our Job Is to Build a Bridge’: How the Red Cross Serves the Community

Andy Klein pulled up to the house in the dark after the fire was put out, and the fire trucks were rolling up their hoses to leave.

The residents stood outside in their pajamas when the fire department told them they couldn’t return home.

Years ago, this was one of Klein’s first responses as an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member. He remembered getting these residents a hotel room, clothes, and a card with money for food and basic necessities.

“A lot of it is just holding their hand,” he said. “It’s really hard, and these people are in an emotional crisis. Our job is to build a bridge.”

The American Red Cross offers many services for individuals and communities. Although known for blood drives, the group also provides disaster relief and various training and educational services to keep people safe.

Curt Luthye, executive director for the Montgomery, Howard, and Frederick Counties Chapter, is passionate about getting people the help they need. As an organization that runs on donations, Luthye encourages people to get involved with the Red Cross however they can.

Luthye said blood donation is one of the easiest ways to do something life-saving. According to the Red Cross, only about 3% of eligible people donate blood yearly. The Blood Donor app has made it easier for donors to find sites, schedule appointments, and track their donation journey.

Individuals can sign up to volunteer like Klein still does today. Luthye said volunteers can get involved in many ways, from fundraising to disaster response. Organizations are also encouraged to invite the Red Cross to talk to group members.

“It’s just really, really practical, heartwarming things that we’re doing to take care of people,” Luthye said.

For those looking to sponsor an event, contact Luthye by email at [email protected] or by phone at (443) 695-8018.

Photo: © Tada Images – stock.adobe.com

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