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Local Red Cross Turns 90

Loudoun Chapter Celebrates Anniversary

Sheryl Booth, a Loudoun County Chapter American Red Cross employee, placed four large binders on top of a desk in her small Leesburg office Friday afternoon. The bright red binders with white crosses pasted on their covers were filled with articles that date back to 1917, the year the American Red Cross came to Loudoun County.

"These articles date back along time," she said. "The last 90 years are in here."

Booth pointed to an article from the March 14, 1917, edition of the Loudoun Times. It's title, "Loudoun to Have a Red Cross Chapter," says it all.

Booth, also a longtime volunteer, said the local chapter has been faced with all types of disasters over the course of 90 years.

Loudoun County resident and American Red Cross volunteer Ann Robinson is in charge of the organization's anniversary celebration.

Robinson, who became a Red Cross volunteer shortly after Hurricane Katrina, said the Loudoun Chapter will celebrate its anniversary with a ball.

THE LOUDOUN RED Cross 90th Anniversary Ball will be held Feb. 24, at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg. There will be dinner, dancing and a silent auction, all to benefit the local chapter.

The county chapter has been providing community services, like disaster relief and transportation services to the sick and elderly, since March 9, 1917.

Carol Barbe, CEO of the Loudoun Red Cross, has been involved with the organization for the past 15 years and a paid employee for the past five years.

After a neighbor encouraged her to volunteer with the organization, Barbe knew she couldn't stop at one event.

"I've been here ever since," she said.

Barbe has been involved in all aspects of the organization. The organization is mandated, by law, to provide emergency services in times of disasters, in addition to providing health and safety services, such as CPR classes and transportation services to the sick and elderly. Barbe said the organization also assists families whose homes have been destroyed by fires.

Recent events like 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina have changed the kinds of services the Loudoun chapter provides.

"We are more focused on emergency preparedness," she said.

Barbe and her team teach the community how to plan for emergencies, how to make emergency preparedness kits, and hold emergency response exercises.

"Ever since 9-11 and [Hurricane] Katrina, we've been focused on preparedness," she said.

BARBE REFLECTED on the 2005 hurricane season.

More than 500 Hurricane Katrina victims passed through Barbe's small Leesburg office. The organization provided them with hotel stays, food and money.

"One step toward recovery is buying your own things," she said. "That's what we believe. That's how we helped them rebuild their lives."

After Hurricane Katrina, approximately 200 Loudoun residents, like Robinson, volunteered with the organization.

"We've been able to retain them," she said.

The organization has a diverse pool of volunteers, young and old, from all walks of life, Barbe said. "We have no problem finding help around here."