Centennial Flashback: Women play vital role in L.A. Chapter’s 100 years

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Throughout the Red Cross Month of March, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region is Celebrating its 100 Years of Service with a series titled: Centennial Flashback.  This will be a historical snapshots about the Red Cross L.A. Chapter in action during the past 100 years

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It is fitting that March is not only Red Cross Month, but also Women’s History Month. Since the founding of the American Red Cross by Clara Barton in 1881, women have played a vital role as leaders, volunteers and staff both nationally and here in the Los Angeles Region, which is celebrating its Centennial this year.

 One hundred years after Mrs. W. A. Edwards served as L.A. Board of Directors Chair, another prominent resident, Barbara Mathewsnow serves as L.A. Region Board Chair. (Barbara also works as Vice President of Edison International and Southern California Edison). In fact, thousands of local women have worked tirelessly to promote the Red Cross ideals over the last 100 years: to serve humanity, protect life and health, ensure respect for human beings and promote mutual understanding, friendship and stable peace among all people.

During both World Wars, Los Angeles area women formed and led Red Cross units to help the war efforts, including a Motor Corps that transported volunteers and veterans; Canteen Service volunteers who served treats to departing soldiers at train stations; Gray Ladies who assisted returning soldiers at the VA Hospitals; and a Production Dept., whose volunteers made millions of surgical dressings for the wounded.

Post war, women like Pat Snyder have held important leadership roles in Disaster Services. A registered nurse, Pat began her Red Cross volunteer career when she responded to a plane crash in a San Fernando Valley school yard in the 1950s. For the next 50 years, she served on numerous local, national and international disaster assignments, including the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and the 1984 Northridge Earthquake. In 1980, Pat developed the first American Red Cross Earthquake Preparedness Program. In 1984, she was presented with the American Red Cross Harriman Award, the highest level of recognition an individual can receive for volunteer services.

For 60 years, volunteer Ona Marie Chaidez dedicated her life to serving others through service to the Red Cross.  Beginning in 1948, she was a Blood Services driver delivering blood and driving volunteers to bloodmobiles.  She also volunteered to help patients at the West L.A. Veterans Administration.

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