90 YEARS OF SERVICE
THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

MANATEE COUNTY CHAPTER

1917 – Women’s Club makes bandages and pillows for Red Cross use in WWI, providing the impetus for forming a branch of the American Red Cross in Manatee County. Manatee River American Red Cross was chartered Nov 3, 1917 and consisted of 7 branches throughout the county (due to scattered population and transportation limitations)

1918 – Manatee River Chapter led the nation in percentage increase of membership, from 826 to 2622 members.
            Dr J. O. Brown begins teaching American Red Cross First Aid classes
            Influenza Epidemic kills 20 million worldwide, over 548,000 in U.S.
            A hurricane caused major damage locally.

1919 – first employee hired as Home Secretary to assist returning soldiers, sailors and their families.

1921 – Major hurricane struck Cortez on Oct 25, 1921

1922 – First visiting nurse, Lena Reynolds, hired by the Chapter.  The Treasurer’s report indicated income of $1,857 and expenses of $1, 511, including $312 toward the Cortez hurricane and $640 for the nurse’s salary. (At that time a gallon of gas cost a quarter)

1928 – Hurricane relief fund collections began due to a devastating hurricane that caused Lake Okeechobee to overflow, killing 2,000.

1934 – Manatee Red Cross Lifesaving Corps reported saving 41 lives at the beach this year.  However, the chapter’s efforts to obtain property on the beach for a lifesaving station were dropped due to “the asking price of land being too high”.

1936 – National Red Cross responds to the alarming highway fatalities and injuries by beginning Highway Emergency First Aid Stations. Manatee Chapter operated two of these stations.

1940 – Manatee County Chapter collected funds for the Finnish, Belgium and Luxombourg WWII refugees.

1942 – With the entry of the U.S. into WWII, the Red Cross increased its war relief drives, clothing projects, bandage packing and service to military families.

1944 – During an October hurricane, Manatee Red Cross sheltered 850 people.

1947 – A major hurricane in September required the opening of 15 shelters to accommodate 2,000 people in Manatee County. 
The Home Service volunteers, whose job was to council servicemen, veterans and their families, handled 1,657 office interviews, 4, 140 telephone calls and assisted with 1, 523 letters and 301 telegrams.

1951 – Manatee Red Cross surpassed their fund-raising goal of $14,500.

1953 – The chapter’s Grey Ladies gave 1,778 hours of service at Bay Pines Veterans hospital.

1956 – The chapter’s Grey Ladies launched a new Service Program for Schools, in which they began health clinics in the county schools.  This program was adopted by other chapters throughout the nation.

1959 – The chapter sponsored a Junior Red Cross club in every Manatee County school. Chapter headquarters moved to 2614 Manatee Ave W.

1962 – Hurricane Donna strikes. The chapter opened 6 shelters housing over 5,000 people.

1962 – Floods caused by over 14” of rain did a million dollars of damage in Manatee County. National Red Cross opened a service center in chapter headquarters.

1966 – The chapter opened 6 shelters for Hurricane Alma

1967 – A spectacular fire in downtown Palmetto destroyed a number of businesses and apartment buildings.

1968 – The Chapter opens shelters for Hurricane Gladys in October and assisted victims of a tornado in November

1976  - The chapter builds a new headquarters building on 59th St W.

1983 - The chapter adds an additional 400 square feet onto the headquarters building at 59th St.

1985 – During Hurricane Elena the chapter sheltered over 10,000 people.

1988 - HIV/AIDS prevention education launched.

1993 - Manatee chapter receives a new emergency response vehicle.

2004 - The chapter survives the back-to-back hurricanes: Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jean.

2006 - The chapter's mid-county facility opens at Lakewood Ranch.

2007 - The chapter started using Client Assistance Cards to streamline help for disaster victims.