Change brings uncertainty and change brings opportunity; a glass half empty or a glass half full depending upon your outlook on life. While change is rarely easy, sometimes it is necessary in order to chart a path forward through difficult times. According to American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, “I have an almost complete disregard of precedent and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things always have been done…. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
So why take on such a challenge? Because I believe that future generations in my community and my country deserve a strong Red Cross.
What does the future hold for the Red Cross of Southern Missouri? Over the last six weeks, I have asked myself this question countless times. The answer to that question lies at the heart of our organization – with our volunteers and their passion for our mission. Red Cross volunteers go out in the middle of the night to bring comfort and compassion to families who have lost everything. They teach future generations how to prepare for emergencies and how to save lives. Red Cross volunteers help communities recover from the nightmare of a devastating disaster. They connect soldiers half a world away when a family member is in need. Volunteers are the heart of the Red Cross and each day they live out our mission statement – preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies. Empowered Red Cross volunteers who choose to serve their neighbors and community have been and will continue to be the future of a strong Red Cross.
Over the last eight weeks, more than a dozen volunteers from Southern Missouri have selflessly deployed to the floods in Texas, Oklahoma, and now Wyoming to serve people who are suffering and in need of assistance. In addition, we have helped five families in our region with flooding assistance and we have provided over 30 clean up kits to county emergency management offices. When there is a need our volunteers respond and our chapter sent more volunteers within the first few weeks than any other chapter. More than anything, these volunteers understand these words spoken by Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” The volunteers from the Southern Missouri Red Cross are the past, present and future of a strong Red Cross that will be resilient and enduring for generations to come.
–Stacy Burks, Executive Director, American Red Cross of Southern Missouri