In 2016, the America Red Cross Los Angeles Chapter will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The chapter, now part of one of the largest regions in the country (the Los Angeles Region), had humble beginnings.
Europe was convulsed in World War I, the Allies were faring badly against Germany, and American involvement in the conflict was imminent when 25 citizens met to discuss the formation of a Red Cross chapter.
Until the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, the chapter had fewer than 500 volunteers. That number soared to 15,000 during the war. The chapter was asked to equip a Navy base hospital and raised $17,000 to do this. One of the major efforts in the fundraising drive was “Project Orange Juice,” in which women volunteers sold orange juice on street corners. Another campaign raised $35,000 to furnish an Army hospital.
At this time a major problem arose. The influenza epidemic that had ravaged the nation reached Los Angeles. The city was not equipped to handle the emergency since many doctors and nurses were on the warfront. On two-hour notice, the chapter took charge of 100 stricken men at the request of the Navy, and a 100-bed hospital was in operation with Red Cross nurses in charge.
When the war ended in 1918, the chapter had posted a remarkable record of service, reflecting the Red Cross tradition of helping mankind in its hour of need.
Through the years, the programs and services have increased to meet the emerging needs of a growing and diverse Southern California community, but our ideals remain the same.