By Rose S. Prinzi
It’s 3:36 am on a cold winter night. You wake to red and amber emergency lights flashing outside your window and make the horrible discovery that your neighbor’s home is engulfed in flames. Emergency personnel are fighting to contain the blaze while your neighbors stand outside wrapped in blankets, shocked at what they are watching: their life going up in flames.Their house is decimated, and their personal belongings are lost forever.
How quickly life has taken a turn for them. What do they do now? Where will they go with only the clothes on their backs?
The American Red Cross is ready when help can’t wait. Along with the fire and police emergency personnel teams, the American Red Cross is there, prepared and available to assist victims of catastrophes. Their Disaster Action Team members respond all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year, ready to take action when unexpected tragedies hit.
Fires are not the only disaster for which the Chautauqua County Chapter of the American Red Cross provides needed relief. Power outages, ice storms, floods, snow storms, and tornados are all disasters to which the Red Cross responds. When people are forced to leave their homes or are stranded on the highway due to inclement weather, a mobile equipment trailer for temporary emergencies, supplied with cots, blankets, and pillows, stands ready for rapid deployment.
Last year, when their mobile trailer needed updated equipment to accommodate their emergency shelter operations, the American Red Cross appealed to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for assistance. We answered the call through our Community Service grants program and provided funding for a 100 cots to be housed in the Cassadaga-based mobile trailer. Community Foundation funds enable a more rapid response, increasing the flexibility of the America Red Cross’s shelter support operations especially during adverse winter weather conditions.
The Foundation’s philanthropic activities identify and address the needs of our community. Whether it is helping with natural or manmade disasters or taking an active role in programs that make our neighborhoods better places to live, the Foundation is committed to “…enriching the quality of life in the Chautauqua Region.”
If you would like to assist with the activities of the Foundation, you may want to contribute to an already existing fund or establish a Community Service Fund of your own. A Community Service Fund recognizes that the community’s challenges and opportunities will change. It provides flexible resources to support innovative responses. Donors entrust the Foundation with the selection of promising projects to receive grant funding through a competitive process based on community needs. As with all of the Foundation’s funds, distributions are made in the name of the fund or anonymously, as the donor wishes.
When help is needed, the American Red Cross is there, and so is the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.