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Trainings Teach Red Cross to Partner for Better Disaster Response
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Jenny Agee-Aldridge
June 6, 2007

The American Red Cross recently concluded the third in a series of four trainings designed to increase the cultural consciousness of its employees and volunteers and equip them with effective communication skills to work successfully with diverse populations.

The two-day trainings have been conducted in Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco and will conclude later this month in Chicago. Trainees will be responsible for integrating new community partners into Red Cross operations, then building upon these local relationships so they reflect a cross section of the community’s population.

By the time the trainings end, nearly 170 “community relations liaisons” will have participated in the sessions. These liaisons will assist local Red Cross units on a daily basis by facilitating activities in support of community development and putting these relationships into action during times of disaster.

“By placing well-trained community relations liaisons in chapters and blood services regions across the country, we are ensuring that all members of the community, in every demographic, are fully served by the American Red Cross,” said Mori Taheripour, vice president of corporate diversity for the American Red Cross.

Sponsorship for the trainings was provided by Home Depot through a partnership between the two organizations to educate one million people about disaster preparedness and support Red Cross disaster readiness efforts. Class participants said the trainings were valuable and will help them reach out to new partners and improve services to disaster victims.

“This training has empowered me to go back to my chapter and work on new and beneficial partnerships that will help us better deliver services to our clients,” said Mary Kay Wray, Southwestern New Mexico volunteer disaster chairman.

“Community partnerships of all kinds are vital to ensuring the Red Cross can fulfill its mission during times of disaster,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president of preparedness and response for the American Red Cross. “Training community relations liaisons will help build the ideal disaster response team: trained Red Cross disaster workers and community partners working together to help more of our neighbors during their time of need.”

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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