In October of 2010, Retired Colonel Benjamin F. Robinson retired from a second career in civil service. The following week, Robinson walked through the front doors of the American Red Cross and said he was ready to volunteer. No time for relaxing – he had work to do.
“There was no way I could sit at home and watch As the World Turns. I always said if I had the opportunity to pay back the Red Cross, I would,” Robinson said.
It all started in the early sixties when he was stationed in Germany. His mother, back home in Georgia, fell ill. The doctors had not given her much time to live, so the Red Cross was contacted to help relay the emergency message to him. After receiving word of his mother’s condition, Robinson was granted leave. Within 72 hours, he walked into the hospital and stood at his mother’s bedside.
“My mother hadn’t spoken in two weeks. When I walked in the door she said, ‘There’s my baby’… I didn’t know how the Red Cross did it, but they got me there,” he recalled.
It was his presence, he believes, that aided in his mother’s recovery. “My mother lived 30 years longer than the day the doctors said she was on her death bed. She was afraid I would do something wrong so she had to stick around and watch out for me.”
Sure enough, someone must have been watching over Col. Robinson. While fighting in the Vietnam War, he found himself in the midst of a sticky situation and a rations drop of Red Cross supplies somehow got him back out.
During his military career, not only did he have personal experience with the Red Cross through his mother’s illness, but he was often the colonel who received Red Cross messages for others and authorized the leave for other soldiers.
“My job, when I got the call, was to make sure the soldier was packed up, make sure they had what they needed and get them home,” Robinson said. “If the Red Cross called, I didn’t think twice. I just sent them.” He was always connected to the Red Cross, but not with the knowledge of how they were doing it. He now understands what it takes to get that soldier home—from the first phone call, to the colonel receiving that piece of paper.
For four years now, Robinson has been volunteering three days a week with the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces, answering those very calls. While he describes it as an intense learning program, he is intrigued by the daily efforts of the surrounding staff and volunteers.
“These people—the concentration, dedication, devotion and patience—they don’t know I’m watching, but I am. I look every day at their professionalism, what it takes to deliver that message, and it’s sincere. If it wasn’t for this service and dedication, some of these soldiers wouldn’t get home.”
It only takes one meeting with Ben Robinson to know why the Red Cross works to bring soldiers like him home.
“I’m pleased to be here. There is no hesitation for me to come here every day. I retired from the Army as a colonel. I fought in Vietnam. I spent 23 years as active duty military and 32 years of federal service. And I guess I’ll spend my next 30 years with the Red Cross.”
Article from redcross.org.
Clara Barton’s inspiration for starting the America Red Cross was cultivated while caring for the sick and wounded on Civil War battlefields. As a unique artifact from her time behind the lines goes on display, it’s a great reminder to appreciate stories told through any medium – whether it’s on paper, through a photograph or even a foldaway bed.
WHY THIS BED? Barton was determined to carry out the work she saw as necessary to help get supplies and medical care to the Civil War battlefields – so determined that she convinced the government and the Army to give her passes to go behind military lines.
According to Red Cross records, Barton’s situation led to an order to a firm in Philadelphia for a trunk bed, to be acquired by Barton for her use in battlefield relief.
Barton’s fortitude and frugality were a thread through everything she did during the war. Although she had the bed, Barton and her team made a point to serve soldiers by taking similar primitive living conditions and sleeping arrangements.
Red Cross archivist Susan Watson summarized Barton’s attitude as, “If they can take it, she can take it.”
Even if Barton and her group of supporters had sought a room to stay the night, any viable space close to battlefields – such as inns or churches – would have most likely been commandeered for makeshift battlefield hospitals.
CONSTRUCTION AND HISTORY Also called a camp bed, the piece is constructed to fold into a traveling trunk, complete with a wooden frame and tooled leather. To use the bed, Barton would have opened up the trunk into three sections – hinged on the short sides of the trunk as it opens – to reveal heavy canvas attached to the frame with nails.
Through conservation work on the bed in 2004, a sealed compartment was accessed to reveal slender poles that attached to the bed, and bright blue mosquito netting used as a canopy for additional protection.
Dr. Julian Hubbell, a long-time devotee of Barton and supporter of the Red Cross mission, helped carry on her story after her death. Ms. Rena Hubbell, niece of Dr. Hubbell, donated the trunk bed to Red Cross in April, 1931.
The bed has been housed in collections storage in a Washington, D.C. Red Cross building. In the past it was displayed in a neighboring Red Cross building, but it hasn’t been opened in years.
THE MOVE While Barton was not a trained nurse, she provided medical care for the wounded during the Civil War. Therefore, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland is a fitting location to display the bed in one of their galleries as part of a loan agreement with the Red Cross. This is the same museum that manages the Office for Missing Soldiers, an effort Barton started and ran out of the third floor of a building in Washington, D.C. after the Civil War ended.
“The museum is thrilled to work with the American Red Cross in bringing the story of Clara Barton to the American public through the use of an amazing artifact of her Civil War experience,” said George Wunderlich, Executive Director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
“Clara Barton is a far more influential figure in world history than most people are aware. Through the use of artifacts used by her, we can help tell her incredible story in a very personal and compelling way. The new partnership between our museum and the American Red Cross is doing more than bringing this outstanding artifact into the public eye; it is going to help people better understand Clara’s world and how she still influences our world in the 21st century.”
Article courtesy- redcross.org.
Hey Red Cross Youth!
I don’t know about you, but I love summer! Not only did I graduate from college, but I have TWO Leadership Development Centers to attend this summer. Not even summer can tear me away from the Red Cross!
Leadership Development Center is a camp hosted by the Red Cross in which youth students come and learn about the Red Cross and opportunities to volunteer within the organization, while also developing leadership skills for the future. Not to mention make best friends!
While there are only a handful of LDCs across the country, I feel so lucky to attend two. I’ve been a staff member for the Long Beach LDC in California since 2009 and a staff member for the Bay Area LDC (also in California) since 2012. This year, I am the Camp Director for the Bay Area LDC and I’ve been having a blast! It’s been so great to develop my youth staff, which are avid Red Cross volunteers and are eager to teach their peers about the Red Cross and how to get involved.
If I had to say what one of my favorite sessions is, I’d have to say this session called “Preparedness” where we simulate a disaster and
have the delegates rescue us.
It is pure chaos and fun, and a great way to learn how to prepare for disasters.
LDC is a great way to recruit youth volunteers for the Red Cross, and it has been such an amazing experience for me these past 6 years. If anyone, a youth volunteer or a youth coordinator is interested in the idea of hosting an LDC, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at email@example.com!
The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) unit at National Headquarters is calling on chapters interested in supporting the American Red Cross’ mission to teach IHL, by implementing the IHL Action Campaign program. This program is aimed at teaching the rules of war to young people by way of a peer education approach. In the 2013-14 year, young people participating in the IHL Action Campaign directly reached tens of thousands through simulations, video and trivia games, and presentations.
To help chapters participate in this program during the coming year, National Headquarters is offering grant funding to chapters to support the recruitment and training for the IHL Action Campaign. Interested chapters should submit the completed 2014-15 grant application by Friday, July 11, 2014.
More information and the application form are available on The Exchange (HYPERLINK). Please contact Peer Education Program Officer, Emily Kenney, at IHLYouth@redcross.org with questions about the IHL Action Campaign or for more application details. Two WebEx sessions are available to learn more about the grant process (interested chapters only need to attend one).
- June 30 at 1PM EST
- Login info: http://goo.gl/v9btwE
- Password: Redcross1
- July 2 at 1PM EST
- Login info: http://goo.gl/lG0bt5
- Password: Redcross1
Completed applications should be sent to IHLYouth@redcross.org by July 11, 2014.