The Southwest Louisiana Red Cross seems to be changing-- but it's really not. Officials say what they are doing is focusing in on those programs and services that best fulfill the Red Cross mission to help people in time of disaster: sheltering people after a hurricane or tornado and providing emergency needs after a house fire. These are right in line with the main mission of the Red Cross.
Officials say restructuring and streamlining aim to bring local chapters back to the main mission which is to shelter, feed and provide emotional support to victims of disasters. For instance KPLC's Community Christmas, while still a worthy program, is not considered in line with the Red Cross mission and they say it fits better with the Salvation Army. Brian Burton is on the SWLA Red Cross Board of Directors. "Our mission here is to provide services to those who are in a disaster. And to also provide health and safety within the community. And so participating with Community Christmas was not necessarily part of our mission, but it was a need that we were able to meet in the community. We were able to work very closely with the Salvation Army which, that tended to go a little bit more closely with their mission."
As well, consolidation is seen as a way to provide improved services and more efficiency--freeing up more money to help victims of disaster. Says Burton, "The services to the community itself have only been enhanced with the merging of the chapters. The amount of services that were provided to victims after a fire have increased."
They're pleased the Red Cross and Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corps will team up. Jane Morgan is the Disaster Officer for Louisiana and Mississippi. "The MRC is very involved in public health related activities. They're involved in doing flu mist with all the public schools right now and in the surrounding parishes. This is something that maybe Red Cross can help with also. We can support them in their activities, they can support us in sheltering and staffing and helping train individuals that can respond to disasters."
Calcasieu Medical Reserve Director Angela Jouett says, "Now we do a lot of cross training with Red Cross already because we are responsible for a lot of the sheltering. So, before, in the past, we've collaborated together. But this is just going to make it even better, which I'm so excited because we do community emergency response training. Which, we also partner with the fire departments, with the haz mat, with all this. So, it's a win win situation for all of us to come together."