By Communications and Marketing Intern, Alessandra Pacheco
During natural disasters and times of conflict the loss of the whereabouts of a family member can be quite common. The person you may have grown up next to could be gone, your parents could have been lost, or you may even have lost a child of your own.
But where do you go for help when a situation like this happens?
One answer is the American Red Cross.
With the Restoring Family Links program, finding a family member or loved one is made available to anyone who needs this type of service. The goal is to re-connect the family member with their loved one, or find clarification and documentation on their fate.
Since the Red Cross was formed, searching for missing loved ones and sending messages has been a core competent of Red Cross services. With respect to Restoring Family Links cases resulting from WWII and the Holocaust, over 45,000 people have been helped, and over 16,000 cases have confirmed what did happen to a missing family member or loved one during the war. WWII and Holocaust related cases are often accomplished with the Red Cross’ partnership with the International Tracing Service, and Red Cross National Societies throughout Europe. The majority of inquiries in the Los Angeles Region are from survivors of World War II, or evacuees of the former Soviet Union.
The benefits of using the Restoring Family Links program for tracing are that the person requesting help can receive: cost-free tracing, primary source documentation, worldwide help from Red Cross Red Crescent societies around the globe and, a highly knowledgeable staff to provide updates and even translate documents that may not be immediately available in the searcher’s native language. And, as always, Red Cross volunteers are available to provide emotional support throughout the entire process.
Helping to give another person and their family clarity and closure when it comes to finding out information about a missing loved one brings a great sense of fulfillment and pride. This is why Red Cross volunteer, Bob Rich has been working with the Restoring Family Links program ever since he joined the American Red Cross.
Recently, Bob (pictured above) worked on a Restoring Family Links case with Alison Berglas (another Red Cross volunteer, also pictured above). Together, they helped Holocaust survivor and Los Angeles resident, Susan Gati, search for information about her father (pictured above)— who had been sent to a forced labor camp during World War II and hadn’t been seen by Gati, or her family, ever since.
Susan (pictured left and above) was only three years old when her father was taken, leaving her with almost no memory of him at all. Her entire life, she relied on stories and a few pictures passed along by other family members. With the help of Bob, Alison, and the American Red Cross, Susan now knows exactly what happened to her father and is thankful for a new found sense of peace surrounding the entire tragic situation.
If you would like to join Bob Rich, Alison Berglas, and other International Services volunteers to help re-connect people with their loved ones, click here. And, if you or anyone you might know could benefit from Red Cross Restoring Family Links services, please call 626-407-4536 or e-mail IntITracing.LosAngeles.CA@redcross.org.
Alessandra Pacheco will be a Senior at Da Vinci High School. She hopes to become an accomplished author and editor, and enjoys watching basketball. This is Alessandra’s first year interning with the American Red Cross.