ATLANTA — The Red Cross serves a unique and diverse mission, and the organization’s deep roster of volunteers propels it to success.
That was the message of Terri Badour Duckett, CEO of the American Red Cross of Georgia, when she spoke Thursday before the Buckhead Business Association (BBA) during its weekly breakfast speaker series.
“We literally give folks … the opportunity to save a life,” Duckett told an audience of more than 50 business professionals at the City Club of Buckhead. “You can give back in so many different ways.”
President Woodrow Wilson signed the original charter for the American Red Cross of Georgia in 1914. Since its inception, the Red Cross has focused on serving the armed forces in addition to helping with preparedness, response and recovery.
“Every non-profit depends on volunteers, but Red Cross is a very unique culture,” Duckett said. “As businesspeople, think about how would you operate your business if the majority of your employees are volunteers?”
Last year, the Red Cross of Georgia responded to 700 fires in Metro Atlanta and helped 3,800 families statewide in the wake of disasters, many of which happen outside normal business hours.
“When we have a fire that happens in the middle of the night … that (call) goes to volunteers,” Duckett said. “Many of those volunteers are retired; many are still working. They get up in the middle of the night, they leave the comfort of their home — it could be pouring down rain, it could be whatever the conditions are — and they go out to help somebody that they’ve never met before because they know that that neighbor is in need.
“I personally am incredibly moved by the dedication and commitment that our volunteers have,” Duckett said. “What we hear from our clients most of all, it was that somebody cared and somebody’s helping them figure out, ‘How do I get back onto my road to recovery.’”
As its next breakfast meeting, Karen Beavor, executive director of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, will speak to the BBA.