By: Joanna Proctor, American Red Cross
It isn’t every year that you turn 100 years old, especially when every day of those 100 years has been dedicated to the service of others. Last year the Rhode Island Red Cross did just that and celebrated in style throughout the year, to showcase the achievements of the organization and its volunteers over the last century.
On September 15, 1916 the first chapter of the Rhode Island Red Cross was chartered on Aquidneck Island in Newport. Since that day, the chapter has endeavored to strengthen communities in Rhode Island by providing disaster services, services to our armed forces, health and safety services, international services and blood collection. These services, in one form or another, have been ever present as the Rhode Island Red Cross has served the community over the last century.
Celebrations began in March last year, coinciding with Red Cross Month, an annual tradition that sees the month of March declared a recognition month for all the work the Red Cross and its volunteers do around the world. The Centennial Celebration kickoff began at the Rhode Island State House on March 1 with a special proclamation.
The Rhode Island Red Cross welcomed and thanked all those involved in the 100 years previous and also thanked those involved with creating such a successful event. Lt. Governor Daniel McKee led a citation commending the chapter on their work over the last
100 years. Speaking at the event, Nick Cicchitelli, Rhode Island Red Cross Board member, said “The Rhode Island Red Cross has been there, helping those in need in our community for 100 years. We are honored to begin the Rhode Island Chapter’s Centennial Celebration on March 1, and are excited to celebrate with the community throughout the remainder of 2016.”
The event concluded with the Statehouse dome illuminated with red color lights in honor of both Red Cross Month and the Centennial Celebration commencement.
The event also featured the unveiling of the Rhode Island chapter’s 100 Years of Service traveling exhibit Designed by students at Roger Williams University as part of a class assignment, the exhibit was made up of 12 large poster panels that portrayed the timeline of the Rhode Island Red Cross and depicted significant milestones in the chapter’s history.
The students met with leaders from the Red Cross Rhode Island chapter to research and identify historical objects, articles and photos which were collated together to create the exhibit.
The exhibit traveled all over Rhode Island after its initial two week stay at the State House.
The display was extremely popular, visiting four Community College of Rhode Island campuses all the way down to the Westerly Library, Westerly. The exhibit even found itself on the Block Island Ferry in August as it spent just over three weeks at the Block Island Historical Society! The traveling display also featured at the Red, White & You Ball in Hartford, Connecticut on June 11, one of the most prestigious events in the area with more than 500 prominent leaders of Connecticut and Rhode Island social and corporate communities attending.
The year of celebration culminated with the Centennial Celebration event hosted at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport. The gala showcased the traveling exhibit to guests, featured a live band and hosted an auction, in support of the Rhode Island Red Cross.
In addition, a short film documentary about the 100 year history of the Rhode Island Red Cross made its debut. The event, sponsored by Walmart, was a chance to celebrate not only current Red Cross members and their achievements, but also Red Cross members of years past, recognizing their selfless efforts in servicing the Rhode Island communities and beyond.
Cheers to the next 100 years!