The American Red Cross needs more volunteers

Published 12:59 pm Saturday, November 15, 2008

Aaron Stewart, emergency services coordinator for the Mower County Chapter of the American Red Cross, “schooled” the Austin Noon Lions club on how far-reaching the International Red Cross is today.

Stewart was a special guest at the Thursday, Nov. 13, meeting of the Noon Lions organization at the Austin Elks Club.

Club member Len Astrup introduced the guest speaker to the membership.

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At the start, Stewart said he would tell the club members about “some of the things that don’t get all of the attention they deserve.”

Then, he examined the global Red Cross organization.

The American Red Cross is one of 187 Red Cross societies around the world, according to Stewart.

They all work to “reduce the impact of disasters,” Stewart said.

Around the world, the Red Cross is energetically working to deal with measles, malaria and HIV/Aids.

The infectious diseases are a constant threat to become pandemics, according to Stewart.

During a question-and-answer session that followed his presentation, Stewart talked about the Mower County chapter.

He said it has more than 300 volunteers and four paid staff.

During an exchange with a Lions Club member over the aftermath of the cleanup and rescue efforts from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast, Stewart said, “FEMA was not equipped to deal with the long-term needs of hurricane victims.”

Another club member asked Stewart how one could become a Mower County Red Cross volunteer. “Call me,” Stewart immediately said. “The number is 437-4589.”

“What was the dollar impact of the June 2008 flooding on the local Red Cross chapter?” Stewart was asked.

In dollars and cents, Stewart said the impact was an estimated $10,000.

However, he added the local chapter benefited from generous financial and other support from the community which lessened that impact.

Stewart said his hopes were buoyed recently, when “A group of Ellis Middle School students came into the Red Cross office to volunteer.”