Serving as Regional CEO for the last 14 years has been an incredible honor and joy for me. What could be better than leading an organization that has helped people in need in our region for over 100 years. And what could be better than spending time with our small staff and over 1500 volunteers who pour their hearts and souls into their work every day no matter what the challenge is before them.
The Red Cross has taught me that our communities are full of so many good people, including our Red Cross volunteers, Board members, staff and donors, that selflessly give of themselves to help others every single day. So much has happened in the Red Cross over the last 14 years. What started as a group of small chapters has grown into a stronger 27 county region serving over 3.6 million people.
Working closely with our government and non-government partners, we have significantly increased our capacity to respond to disasters. This is critically important as the incidence of climate related disasters continues to increase. I’m proud of the work we are doing building new and diverse partnerships so that our communities receive as much support as possible when disasters occur.
Over 90 percent of our workforce are volunteers. Over the last 14 years, we have responded to hurricanes, floods, ice storms and tornadoes and many large and devastating fires. We have also deployed hundreds of amazing Red Crossers each year to disasters throughout our nation. Those volunteers work for weeks, often in difficult conditions, helping disaster victims.
There is nothing I have enjoyed more than spending time every day with such committed and kind humanitarians. I’m pleased that both locally and nationally the Red Cross has built a comprehensive program to support and engage our volunteers; including providing training and learning opportunities, recognition and a variety of work experiences. Our goal is to be the organization of choice for volunteering in our communities and our satisfaction surveys show that we are making great strides in providing the best volunteer experience possible.
We continue to respond to so many devastating home fires each year. In just a moments time, people often must evacuate their homes leaving behind everything. Fortunately, whenever there is a residential fire in our region, our Red Crossers are quickly on the scene to provide emotional and financial support. Last year in our region, we responded to nearly 500 local fires helping over 2000 people.
Because fires are our most common type of disaster, we have begun a Home Fire Campaign designed to reduce deaths and injuries from fires. We have installed over 27,000 smoke alarms in area homes and have provided fire safety training to thousands of families.
We have significantly grown our disaster preparedness programs that train tens of thousands of people annually. I am proud of our Pillowcase project that teaches 3-5 graders to be prepared for emergencies.
The Red Cross has a long history of providing support for members of the military, their families and veterans. We have significantly grown our services to military families providing help to thousands of families each year. Daily, we work to match those in need with available resources. We have programs providing support to families and soldiers both during and after deployments. We provide needed emotional support to families during difficult moments and work with patients at our local VA hospitals. There is no more noble cause than aiding those who have served our country.
During the current COVID 19 outbreak, we were quickly able to transition our operations and continue our services such as responding to disasters and helping military families while protecting the health of our staff, volunteers and clients. We also provide support to frontline health care workers and organizations throughout the region like food banks and food pantries that are meeting new COVID-19 related community needs.
I want to thank all our community for your strong support. The Red Cross cannot accomplish its mission without your donations of funds, time and blood. The work above could only be done by all of us working together as a team.
I leave at the end of June knowing that thanks to all of you, the Red Cross will continue to thrive in Eastern New York helping people when they need us most.
Gary H. Striar
Regional Chief Executive Officer