Administering aid: Attorneys urge support of American Red Cross

By Sheila Pursglove

Legal News

The American Red Cross, founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, has a mission to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared March as a special month for the organization in 1943 and very president since then has proclaimed March as Red Cross Month.

The Washtenaw County Chapter of the American Red Cross, at 4624 Packard Road in Ann Arbor, has plenty of activities on tap this month--culminating in the big fund-raising "We'll Be There Breakfast," sponsored by KeyBank. The event is set for 8-9 a.m. on Thursday, March 31 at the Four Points Sheraton in Ann Arbor. To register for the breakfast, call Mary Kumbier at (734) 971-5300.

Attorney Francyne Stacey--who recently announced her move from Pear, Sperling, Eggan, & Daniels to Butzel Long's Ann Arbor office--hopes people will bring their appetites and checkbooks or credit card to the event. At last year's "We'll Be There" breakfast, the Chapter reached its goal of $200,000 in multi-year donations.

"The community is more than generous even in these uncertain times," Stacey said. "To see that generosity first hand every day, as well as at our annual breakfast or Red Cross Ball, is energizing and heartwarming."

Stacey, a University of Michigan alumna who earned her law degree from Wayne State University, has served on the board of the Washtenaw Chapter for seven years with a stint as chairperson of the Chapter's Human Resources Committee.

"I also provide the chapter with legal advice when asked, so I feel like my expertise is helpful," she says. "The Red Cross is a wonderful organization and I'm proud to be a part of it. The work done by the Red Cross is amazing and incredibly important to all of us."

A Mission Tour at the Washtenaw Chapter facility about four years ago helped Stacey to truly understand and appreciate the hard work and dedication of all Chapter members, volunteers and employees.

"I had no idea how much the Red Cross did in Washtenaw County alone, not to mention its work with national and international disasters," she says.

Timothy Damschroder, an attorney with Bodman LLP in Ann Arbor, also serves on the chapter board.

"I joined the board because of its tremendous, world-renowned reputation for assisting people of all walks of life who are in need because of emergency situations beyond their control--they're put into a vulnerable position through no fault of their own and the Red Cross is there to help, no questions asked," he said.

"What many people don't know is that the Red Cross does this right here in our own community. It's vitally important to keep this safety net in place for all of us and I'm lucky to have an opportunity to do my part."

The Washtenaw Chapter's primary lines of service are: Health & Safety; Emergency Services (Disaster, Service to Armed Forces, and Community Disaster Education); and Blood Services.

The Washtenaw Chapter also offers First Aid Support Teams (FAST) providing immediate and temporary medical care through advanced, specialized training at local community events and University of Michigan sports events.

Swim-A-Cross Plus is a summer fund-raiser where residents--especially youngsters--are challenged to use their athleticism and collect pledges to raise funds for the Red Cross.

The Chapter is supported by the generosity of the Washtenaw community and is not a government-funded agency, says Communications Coordinator Jenni Hawes. It receives some grant and corporate support, but--like all organizations and companies--"we're being affected by economic hardship." No matter the amount of support, every dollar is used towards assisting people in their time of need as well as supporting these programs.

"We've had little children come in with their piggy banks wanting to make a difference. Our fund-raising is very grassroots and we encourage people to support our mission in any way they can whether by donating time, blood or money. We hope the community will be inspired by the services and the critical work we do."

Published: Wed, Mar 30, 2011