Ready When the Time Comes participating chapters and corporate sponsors spent the day before the opening of the 2008 National Convention evaluating the program's strengths and weaknesses.
Ready When the Time Comes, designed to train corporate volunteers to respond to local disasters, is mid-way in a three year pilot. During its first 18 months, 3,736 Ready When the Time Comes volunteers have been trained. These volunteers have been involved in 16 responses.
"I've really seen diversity bubble up through this program," observed American Red Cross National Chair of Volunteers Kate Forbes. "Ready When the Time Comes volunteers tend to reflect their communities; these corporate employees are more diverse than our traditional Red Cross volunteers."
A working lunch featuring the vice president of the Credit Suisse Americas Foundation and the chapter executives from the Central Maryland Chapter and the American Red Cross of Orange County determined that Ready When the Time Comes is a win-win partnership. Jennifer Bornemann from Credit Suisse reminded forum attendees that the Red Cross was offering something of great value—the opportunity to help. Giving people the chance to help should not be underestimated.
After discussions about recruiting, retention, deployment and training, Red Cross Senior Vice President Jane Gilbert spoke, referring to Ready When the Time Comes as a "wonderful prototype of what the Red Cross can do." "I have never seen a period of time when the value of volunteers is more important than now," Gilbert continued, as she offered her personal endorsement for continuing, and growing, Ready When the Time Comes.
The forum closed on an especially warm note, as a chapter employee spontaneously spoke of the contributions made by Jan Tratnik who is employed by Ready When the Time Comes national founding sponsor, W. W. Grainger. Tratnik, Grainger's director of global communications and public affairs, has shepherded Ready When the Time Comes from the program's planning stages. Red Crossers and corporate sponsors alike rose to their feet, cheering and clapping, in recognition of Tratnik's passion and professionalism.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disasters at home and abroad, collects and distributes nearly half of the nation's blood supply, teaches lifesaving skills, and supports military members and families. The American Red Cross, a charity and not a government agency, depends on voluntary contributions of time, money and blood to perform its humanitarian mission.