The AMERICAN RED CROSS, CLEVELAND CHAPTER, was organized by SAMUEL MATHER in 1905 to provide volunteer aid to the army and navy, to act as a channel of communication between families and members of the armed forces, and to carry on a system of disaster relief. The local chapter directly linked to the national organization in 1910. Since its founding, the Cleveland Chapter has been chaired by prominent people such as ALVA H. BRADLEY, Amasa Mather, MYRON T. HERRICK, Judge Stanley L. Orr, Albert M. Higley and GEORGE CRILE, SR. In its first years, the Red Cross Cleveland maintained an emergency committee and was active in welfare and training. It expanded during WORLD WAR I, when the Cleveland Chapter was named headquarters of the Lake Division (Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana).
As a member of the Community Chest, the Cleveland Chapter's budget was severely reduced in the 1920s and 1930s. It helped veterans, provided hospital volunteers, and offered lifesaving and first-aid training. During the Depression, the Cleveland Chapter served as a distribution center for government supplies; more than 50,000 families were fed and clothed. In 1938 the ANDREW SQUIRE mansion on EUCLID AVE became the chapter's new headquarters. During WORLD WAR II, the local chapter again expanded, founding the Nurses Aide Corps, the Gray Ladies volunteers, and the Dietitians Aide Corps. Red Cross volunteers collected and produced knitted goods for war sufferers, operated local canteens for soldiers, and recruited nurses. Cleveland was chosen to set up a Red Cross blood-donor center to secure blood to be processed into plasma for the army and navy. In 1951 the Red Cross Regional Blood Donor Center opened; it was one of the country's largest. Later known as the Northern Ohio Red Cross Blood Program and, still later, Northern Ohio Blood Services, in 1980 it served eighty-seven hospitals (see HOSPITALS AND HEALTH PLANNING). In the 1990s it was selected as one of fourteen Red Cross National Blood Testing Centers.
Into the 1990s the Red Cross in Cleveland, which received funds from the United Appeal (see UNITED WAY SERVICES), continued disaster relief and expanded its volunteer, NURSING, and youth services. In 1985 it took over the TRAVELERS AID SOCIETY. Late in the decade, the organization joined the National Bone Marrow Registry and addressed AIDS and homelessness. The chapter dedicated a new building, the Joseph M. Bruening Red Cross Center, at 3747 Euclid Avenue in September 1990. Local Red Cross Emergency Services continued to deal with crises like Operation Desert Storm, relaying messages between soldiers and families, and its aftermath, assisting returning military personnel and their families. Volunteers were sent to the midwestern states during the floods of the summer of 1993, and to southern California following the January 1994 earthquake. In January 2005, American Red Cross, Greater Cleveland Chapter partnered with eleven Cleveland television stations to raise $1.2 million dollars for Southeast Asia in the wake of the December 26, 2004 tsunami, which claimed more than 170,000 lives, orphaned thousands of children, as well as destroying homes, hotels, and businesses.
Kelly, Marion Bradley, ed. "History of the Greater Cleveland Chapter American Red Cross" (1980).
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Finding aid for the Selma H. Weiss Papers. WRHS.
See also MEDICINE.