Red Cross to the Rescue: 100 Year Anniversary for San Juan County Chapter

Posted April 4, 2018 at 5:48 am by

Luncheon for Red Cross Workers, Friday Harbor, 1918 - Photo Courtesy American Legion Hackett-Larson Post 163

 It’s time for the April install­ment of the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety’s month­ly His­to­ry Column…

Although most know the impor­tance of Amer­i­can Red Cross efforts in dis­as­ter relief today, few­er know that our local chap­ter was offi­cial­ly formed 100 years ago on Jan­u­ary 11, 1918. That’s quite a his­to­ry of vol­un­teer ser­vice. Since it is now the start of Nation­al Vol­un­teer Month, we have cho­sen the San Juan Coun­ty Chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross as our April focus.

Dur­ing World War I, much was writ­ten in the Fri­day Har­bor Jour­nal about the war effort and the many ways in which islanders could sup­port Red Cross aid activ­i­ties. In true island fash­ion, peo­ple here did not need much encour­age­ment to orga­nize sewing projects for ban­dages, hos­pi­tal gowns, and the like. As knit­ters do today, socks and muf­flers flew from nee­dles to camps and hos­pi­tals in need. And those vol­un­teers didn’t need to wait for a local Red Cross chap­ter to be established.

Much of this crit­i­cal activ­i­ty was pri­or to that bench­mark date in 1918 when the Fri­day Har­bor head­quar­ters for the coun­ty chap­ter was autho­rized. Indeed, San Juan Coun­ty Red Cross vol­un­teers are said to have cre­at­ed over 33,000 aid items, from sur­gi­cal sup­plies to sweaters by war’s end.

Mod­ern day activ­i­ties are more often in the form of relief from nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, such as fires and floods. Com­mu­ni­ty and world needs spike and change. The con­stant is the ded­i­ca­tion of the Amer­i­can Red Cross and its vol­un­teers. To read more about the his­to­ry of the Red Cross and its place in our com­mu­ni­ty, click His­to­ryLink to go direct­ly to Lynne Weber/Roochvarg’s excel­lent and well-researched arti­cle. It inspired the writ­ing of this column.

Do you have a sto­ry to share about the his­to­ry of the Red Cross here on the island? You can help pre­serve our unique his­to­ry by con­tact­ing the San Juan His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety and Muse­um.

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Categories: History

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