— CHICAGO—Ready When the Time Comes, a corporate volunteer program, is a national partnership between the American Red Cross and Grainger designed to tap into the organization and manpower resources of American businesses to create a corps of volunteers that can be mobilized during an emergency.
Richard L. Keyser, chairman and CEO of Grainger (left) and Jack McGuire, President and CEO of the American Red Cross, celebrate the national launch of the Ready When the Time Comes disaster volunteer program with Grainger employees-Red Cross volunteers in Lake Forest, Ill., July 12, 2019.
(Photo Credit: Peter Barreras/Grainger)
Corporations allow their employees to receive free disaster relief training from the Red Cross. Then, when disasters strike, the corporate partners make their trained employees available to respond to local emergencies as Red Cross disaster services volunteers.
“Whenever disasters strike, we are flooded with calls from individuals and corporations who tell us that they simply want to ‘do something’ to help,” says Martha Patterson, Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Red Cross. “Ready When the Time Comes partners can immediately translate that desire into action. The companies we have partnered with are helping to make sure that the Chicago area is unquestionably ready and prepared should disaster strike.”
Industrial supply distributor W. W. Grainger, Inc. has been working with the Red Cross in the Chicago area to develop the Ready When the Time Comes model and the two partners have successfully trained and deployed 200 Grainger employees as Red Cross volunteers in Chicago and Denver. The Greater Chicago Chapter of the Red Cross also has support from 16 other corporations in the area. In addition, Grainger has provided support for the program in Florida at the Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Broward County chapters. To date, the program has recruited and trained hundreds of corporate volunteers.
Grainger Ready When the Time Comes volunteers working at the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter call center in Denver, Colo., file photo.
(Photo Credit: Mile High Chapter/American Red Cross)
On July 12, 2019, Grainger contributed $1 million to the American Red Cross to enable it to expand the program. The Red Cross plans to implement the program in 16 cities across the country over the next two years, beginning with Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; New York; Orange County, California; San Francisco; and St. Louis.
“I believe the business community with its vast resources feels a responsibility to contribute to disaster relief, not only with money and products but with its greatest resource, hard working, dedicated people,” said Richard L. Keyser, CEO of Grainger. “Disasters affect all of us; businesses aren't immune. We must use our resources to become active participants in creating the solution.”
“We are extremely grateful for Grainger’s generous contribution to launch this innovative program in 16 select chapters,” said Jack McGuire, CEO of the American Red Cross. “We’re also grateful to their employees for helping the Red Cross build our network of compassionate volunteers. Ready When the Time Comes will help the Red Cross accomplish its lifesaving mission by enabling us to reach out to corporations and tap into one of their most valuable resources, their employees.”
Grainger Ready When the Time Comes volunteers are trained to respond as Red Cross relief workers when disaster strikes. Shown here are (left to right) Grainger employees Melissa Torres, Kevin Bale, Judy Winkleman and Sharon Beyda at a celebration in Lake Forest, Ill., July 12, 2019.
(Photo Credit: Peter Barreras/Grainger)
Grainger has a strong tradition of helping communities respond to disasters that dates back to the company's inception more than 78 years ago. In addition to their $1 million gift for the Ready When the Time Comes program, Grainger sponsored the Red Cross Volunteer Administration Institute and gave more than $1 million in supplies and cash to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Grainger also received the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarian Award in 2005 and 2006 for its support of disaster relief efforts throughout the United States.
“There is nothing that can compare to the feeling I have after I've just helped someone who has experienced a tragic event or helped to prevent something tragic from happening,” said Patti Rowles, a Grainger employee and experienced volunteer. “Being a part of the Ready When the Time Comes program gives me the opportunity to represent my company and give back to the community simultaneously.”
For more information about volunteering for the American Red Cross, visit the “Volunteer Services” section of Redcross.org.
Allen Crabtree is a volunteer from the Southern Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross and lives in Sebago, Maine. He is a writer, antiquarian book dealer, blueberry farmer, town Selectman, volunteer fire fighter and ambulance driver.