Established in 1916

Congress chartered the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross on 23 October 1916 with signatures of then President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary Charles L. Magee and American Red Cross Acting Chairman Eliot Wadsworth.

The first Guam Chapter Chairman was Governor William J. Maxwell (1914-1916) who launched the first Roll Call Drive with 100 percent success. More than $2,500 was raised for the War Fund in 1917 with the following year achieving more than $5,000, considered a large amount of money at that time. In 1918, the chapter provided food, clothing and shelter for typhoon victims nearly depleting its resources, yet four years later in 1922 the chapter successfully launched an appeal for starving Russians in Vladivostok.

In June 1923 the local chapter established a Junior Red Cross club with enrollment of 500 out of a total school population of 2,000 pupils. From 1924 to 1932, the chapter built a school-nursing program in response to health care concerns about school children and small children at home.

The Red Cross continued to grow and provided nursing services, its most active program, seconded by disaster relief.

Service came to a halt, however, on 10 December 1941 with the invasion of Japanese forces. The Guam Chapter was re-established in January 1947 with an all-volunteer staff. The 1950s brought on additional health and safety programs, a blood collection program and an organized volunteer services program.

The 1960s tested the strength of the chapter with the onslaught of Typhoon Karen in November 1962 and the increasing involvement of the US in Vietnam. A building fund was started in 1964 to provide a permanent home for the Guam Chapter. On 23 October 1969 the building, as it stands on Route 4 in Hagåtña today, was dedicated.

The 1970s the Guam Chapter took the lead in accepting tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees at the end of the Vietnam War during Operation New Life. In 1976, Super Typhoon Pamela’s devastation cost the American Red Cross $11 million providing relief to the people of Guam.

The 1980s brought on a new villain which would require the expansion of Red Cross services, HIV – AIDS. The chapter launched its public education program about the infectious disease at that time. Through the 1990’s, the chapter provided food, shelter and energy assistance for the newly arrived citizens from the Federated States of Micronesia in Guam. It also provided disaster relief for victims of Typhoon Russ in 1990, Mount Pinatubo’s eruption in the Philippines in 1991, Typhoon Omar in 1992, Guam’s 8.1 earthquake in 1993, and Typhoon Paka in 1997.

The chapter repeated its fund raising success when it raised another $1 million after Typhoon Paka. More than $7 million was provided by the national headquarters to assist Guam residents for Typhoon Paka alone.

In 1997, the chapter was also re-chartered following a five-year national reorganizing process.

The Guam chapter provided assistance to fourteen Guam families after a flash flood in 1999. The following year the chapter spent $327,668 to provide local assistance, training and support to the community. Twenty-two families received direct disaster assistance and 118 children learned disaster preparedness techniques through the Red Cross Masters of Disaster Program. More than 2,000 emergency messages were delivered to 474 military families, approximately 6,000 people were trained in First Aid and cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), 720 received aquatic and lifeguard training, and 385 people were reached through HIV/AIDS education.

More than 1,000 people gave their time to do the work of the Red Cross as instructors, board members, disaster volunteers and in numerous other capacities.

In July 2002, Typhoon Chata’an hit the island and 3,998 residents sought relief from the Red Cross. Disaster relief assistance amounted to $5,354,350. Six months later, in December 2002, 28,749 residents received assistance from the Red Cross after Super Typhoon Pongsona amounting to $17,772,291.

Red Cross today

Besides providing disaster assistance the Guam Chapter assists families who are victims of single family disasters, processes messages to members of the armed forces, trains people in First Aid/CPR skills, offers aquatics and water safety courses, babysitting instruction and HIV/AIDS education.

The Guam Chapter, whose current executive director is Chita Blaise, has an active, dedicated, hands-on twelve-member board. As a volunteer-led organization, the chapter works hard in recruitment and retention of about 150 trained disaster volunteers that undergo regular training to upgrade their disaster assistance skills. These disaster-trained volunteers occasionally get deployed to assist in disaster operations across the nation. Some of the disasters where Guam volunteers were sent include the 9/11 bombing in New York City in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the California wild fires in 2008.

The largest annual fund raising event for the Guam Chapter is the Red Ball, begun in 2001. It is held every year in October.

The Guam Chapter is connected to more than 750 chapters and 36 blood regions nationwide. Internationally. It partners with the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement whenever a national society is afflicted with human suffering. Requests for assistance are channeled through partner societies for a unified response such as the Asian tsunami and the recent South Asian earthquake.

Volunteer opportunities are afforded to the youth to provide them hands-on experience in administrative skills and dental assistant training and empowering them to become trained in First Aid and earn credentials as Red Cross certified babysitters, lifeguards, water safety and cardio pulmonary resuscitation instructors.

Students from many schools provide community service at the Guam Chapter, including Academy of Our Lady of Guam, Bishop Baumgartner Memorial Catholic School, Father Duenas Memorial School, Notre Dame High School, John F. Kennedy High School, George Washington High School, Simon Sanchez High School, Harvest Christian Academy, St. Paul Christian School, Southern High School, L.P. Untalan Middle School and Evangelical Christian Academy. Students of the Department of Defense schools in Guam are active Red Cross volunteers who participate in volunteer opportunities at the US Naval Hospital Guam facility.

By American Red Cross, Guam Chapter staff