Each March, which is Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross honors and celebrates the everyday heroes who help fulfill our humanitarian mission. As we approach our third year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a remarkable spirit of humanity that has inspired compassionate people to step up and help when help can’t wait.
“The month of March is a meaningful time for the American Red Cross of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” says Tina Beazer, Executive Director. “We are fortunate to celebrate both Red Cross Month and Virgin Islands History Month simultaneously!”
Since 1943, U.S. presidents have proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to recognize Americans participating in its lifesaving mission -- powered by a workforce that is more than 90% volunteers. The month-long recognition caps off with Red Cross Giving Day on Wednesday, March 23.
OUR HISTORY ON THE ISLANDS
With more than a century of compassionate service, the Red Cross of the U.S. Virgin Islands traces its history back to 1904, when the islands were still under the rule of Denmark.
The first local Chapter, then known as the Santa Cruz Chapter, was chartered on December 12, 1917, after the islands had become U.S. territory. The name was formally changed to the St. Croix Chapter in 1963. A Chapter dedicated to the islands of St. Thomas and St. John was chartered May 9, 1918, expanding services to the three islands.
In the summer of 1920, a cadre of social workers, librarians and nurses from the American Red Cross on the mainland traveled to the recently acquired U.S. Virgin Islands. This led to the establishment of nursing programs in local schools and the establishment of the Territory’s first library, St. Thomas Public Library, which still operates today.
Humanitarian disaster relief activities soon followed when Hurricane Gale passed directly over the Territory on August 28, 1924. This storm devastated the island of St. John, causing at least 100 casualties. Red Cross then expanded services beyond disaster relief to include emergency preparedness, working to enhance community resilience and reduce human suffering.
When COVID-19 posed unforeseen global challenges and forced day-to-day business to revolve around virtual technology, the mission continued without pause.
Today, the Red Cross of USVI is preparing to meet the next crisis head on while also conducting numerous programs in preparing the community for disasters. National Red Cross programs such as the Home Fire (Safety) Campaign, Youth Disaster Preparedness and Be Red Cross Ready continue in a modified format to help educate the Virgin Islands community. Staff and volunteers continue to hold trainings, exercises and meetings in preparation for any unforeseen disaster that may arrive on our shores.
We need you. The American Red Cross is an organization for the people, by the people. The backbone of the Red Cross is our volunteers who represent over 90% of Red Cross workforce on the islands. In 2021, 112 local volunteers contributed 9,368 hours of service. Without their dedication, our mission would not be possible.
Our need for volunteers is constant. New volunteers can expect to gain expertise that will be useful in day-to-day life and new skills can be learned while gaining the satisfaction of helping your own community, your own neighbors.
We are looking for volunteers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to serve on in-person assignments. Consider becoming a Red Crosser today! Apply online at redcross.org/usvi or call 340-778-5104 (St. Croix) or 340-774-0375 (St. Thomas).
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
Here are some other ways that you can join our Red Cross Month celebration:
• Donate. Support Red Cross disaster relief efforts at redcross.org/givingday. Your donation will be part of our annual Giving Day on March 23. A gift of any size makes a difference to provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support, and other assistance.
• Take a class. The Red Cross offers a full suite of lifesaving skills classes that can be taken completely online at redcross.org/takeaclass. (Due to COVID, there are no in-person classes on the islands presently.)
• Wear RED on March 23. Snap a selfie and post on the Red Cross USVI Facebook page at facebook.com/RedCrossUSVI.
The American Red Cross of the U.S. Virgin Islands has offices in St. Croix and St. Thomas (serving St. Thomas, St. John and the Water Island districts). Call us at 340-778-5104 (St. Croix) or 340-774-0375 (St. Thomas). For more information, please visit redcross.org/USVI or facebook.com/RedCrossUSVI