The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan
Archived Content from Circa 2003

As the nation's foremost humanitarian service agency, the Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and manage emergencies and disasters of all kinds at all times. This was the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan's website around 2003. The four counties that made up the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan were Barry County, Kent County, Ionia County, and Montcalm County.

To reach the the American Red Cross of Michigan' current website go to:​ for the most up to date information. 

The American Red Cross for the state of Michigan is headquartered in Detroit. There are six additional offices are located throughout the Michigan region providing services to more than nine million state residents.​

  • American Red Cross of Southeast Michigan - Detroit
  • American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan – Kalamazoo
  • American Red Cross of Mid-Michigan – Lansing
  • American Red Cross of West Michigan – Grand Rapids
  • American Red Cross of Northern Michigan – Traverse City
  • American Red Cross of East Central Bay-Michigan – Flint

There is no longer specific websites for each region, which most likely explains why this site's domain eventually expired.

When I discovered that the domain for the online version of the was available I immediately bought it with the goal of rebuilding from archived pages at least some of the former site’s content. The work of the American Red Cross is very important and people should be aware of their good works. I suggest that you view the content of this site from a historical perspective.

If you want to volunteer or need assistance from the American Red Cross in Michigan go to their new website:.

An aside:
Inspired by the work the Red Cross does in Michigan, I recently was bouncing ideas around for another type of website with a friend. Michigan has seen its fair share of severe weather with storms and tornados resulting in major flooding; likewise the east coast of the US. We wanted to create a website that would offer efficient and effective water damage restoration service in the NYC area. Since we already had a brick and mortar store that specialized in the cleanup and remediation of commercial properties after water, fire, or smoke damage, we wanted to add residential services as well. Anyone who lived through Hurricane Sandy in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area remembers the extensive damage to both commercial and residential properties. I wondered whether we could approach our local Red Cross office to see if they would be interested in working out some type of arrangement. After all our reliable carpet cleaning experts in NYC are pretty well known for their professional approach.
Since water can swiftly spread throughout a property, everything in its path, including furniture and other household items, walls, and floors can become quickly saturated. Damage starts within minutes. Consequently flooding and other water emergencies require immediate action and response. Quickly dealing with such situations help minimize the damage and reduce the cost of restoration and cleaning.
If we could partner in some way, we would be willing to donate a percentage of our earnings to the Red Cross. It will be interesting to see if our ideas come to fruition.

Now, let's step back to 2003.


Remarkably, almost all Red Cross services are provided entirely by volunteers - there are 45 local volunteers for every paid staff member. Their dedication allows the Red Cross to leverage the dollars it receives from contributors and the United Way into programs and services that would otherwise be unaffordable. The unique combination of volunteerism and community support results in lives saved and neighbors each and every day.


Our Mission Statement:


The American Red Cross, through services directed and performed by volunteers, seeks to improve the quality of human life by helping people prevent, prepare for and manage individual, family, local, regional and national emergencies and disasters.

The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan, founded in 1917, has a rich history of service to the citizens of Barry, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm Service Centers.


Join Us

The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan is a non-profit organization, whose programs and services depend upon the generosity of the people living here in West Michigan. Because no financial support is received from the National Red Cross, local donations, including those made to and through the United Way, are critical to its success. You can help the Red Cross with a financial gift to any of the important programs delivered by the Red Cross.

For more information on how you can financially support the Red Cross, call the Development Office at (616) 456-8661, extension 3106.

The Red Cross’ workforce is 98% volunteer. Locally, the Red Cross is able to save nearly a million dollars each year because of volunteer service. Everyone has something to offer, from disaster relief to data entry. To volunteer your time at the American Red Cross, call the Volunteer Office at (616) 456-8661, extension 3503.


Local History

For more than 80 years, the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan has been touching the lives of West Michigan residents. Each and every day, the Red Cross impacts the lives of more than 70,000 individuals in Barry, Ionia, Kent and Montcalm Service Centers.

World War I

The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan, then called the American Red Cross of Kent County, was established in 1917 in response to a telegram from Washington asking Grand Rapids citizens to assist in the war effort. The chapter’s initial task was to launch a base hospital in Auteuil, France.

  • By the end of World War I, twelve medical officers, 21 nurses, and more than 50 enlisted men, ambulance drivers, and assistants from West Michigan helped the hospital grow from 300 beds to 2,400 beds. These volunteers provided care to 10,478 Allied soldiers.
  • Back home, over 8,000 Grand Rapids volunteers contributed as well by sewing, knitting, cooking, nursing, and serving soldiers passing through the city. In 1917, the volunteers set a national record after producing 400,000 garments, bandages, surgical dressings, and Christmas bags.

1920’s – 1930’s

After the war, volunteer efforts continued through veteran assistance services.

  • In 1921, an influenza epidemic attacked the United States. Local volunteers set up home nursing and health care services for Grand Rapids residents infected by the virus. Because of these efforts, the Grand Rapids chapter expanded it’s services to include preventive health education services.
  • The distress brought on by the Great Depression caused the Chapter to expand in 1934. Volunteers collected and distributed food and clothing to people in need.
  • From 1936 – 1939, Grand Rapids residents helped with relief efforts locally, regionally, and nationally. Volunteers provided assistance to area tornado victims, and traveled to the Ohio Valley and China to aid flood victims.

World War II

War efforts were revitalized in 1940, and continued through 1945.

  • More than 600 Grey Ladies assisted in local hospitals.
  • Volunteers handled 24,680 communications between servicemen and their families.
  • The local chapter raised nearly $500,000 for the War Fund.
  • In 1945, chapter volunteers donated 83,184 hours to produce 1.7 million surgical dressings.

Post-World War II

Kent County chapter growth continued following World War II with the development of nursing services, lifesaving and water safety training, motor services and youth services.

  • In the 1960s, Kent County disaster relief efforts continued locally, nationally, and even internationally. In addition, the Civil Rights Movement caused the chapter to become more socially active.
  • Throughout the 1970s the chapter began offering courses in CPR, first aid, water safety and accident prevention, and pet emergency training.
  • Childcare classes were offered locally for the first time in 1981. That same year, the National Red Cross celebrated its 100th birthday.
  • In 1989, HIV/AIDS education programs were introduced.
  • Commitment continued throughout the 1990s. Volunteers helped with the Gulf War effort while providing national and international disaster relief. In 1996, diversity training became a major chapter initiative.
  • And after providing 80 years of service to the West Michigan community, the Kent County chapter was renamed the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan in 1997, after Ionia and Montcalm Service Centers were added to it’s service area. In 1999, the Chapter added Barry County.


The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan serves Kent, Ionia, Montcalm, and Barry Service Centers. The chapter includes 29 paid staff members, 11 training specialists, and over 800 regular volunteers carrying out 18 different programs.

Although the original chapter has been transformed since World War I, the vision has remained the same. Compassionate volunteers have been committed to helping others since 1917. This commitment to service will continue for years to come.


In the News 

The American Red Cross of West Central Michigan Response to 9/11

Nov 1 2001

The National American Red Cross is responding to the World Trade Center and Washington D.C. disasters. Locally, your American Red Cross of West Central Michigan is on alert....

Help is still available for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks

Date:July 16, 2003

For many people September 11, 2001 is not over and the American Red Cross is still offering assistance. If you: lost a loved one or were injured, worked or lived in the World Trade Center area, were evacuated from that area have a child that attended school nearby, were a rescue or recovery worker, or are a family member of anyone listed above you can contact the American Red Cross for help. Treatment is free or at low cost regardless of whether or not you have insurance.

(Grand Rapids, MI) – For many people September 11, 2001 is not over and the American Red Cross is still offering assistance. If you: lost a loved one or were injured, worked or lived in the World Trade Center area, were evacuated from that area have a child that attended school nearby, were a rescue or recovery worker, or are a family member of anyone listed above you can contact the American Red Cross for help. Treatment is free or at low cost regardless of whether or not you have insurance. You choose a licensed professional regardless of where you now live. Coverage is retroactive to September 11, 2001, and is available regardless of income on immigration status.

“We certainly encourage people to use the help we can provide. They need to know they are not alone and that help is available to them,” said Lisa Marks, executive director of the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan. “Locally, we can also help people prepare for disasters. Red Cross is a key partner with the Office of Homeland Security. We know it is the responsibility of our community, businesses, and our families to make sure we are prepared. We train people to respond if a disaster were to occur here. That really lessens the fear that you can’t do anything should one occur. Through our ‘Together, we prepare’ program we train the public to make a plan, build a kit, get trained to respond, volunteer to help others and give blood. We can also work with businesses to help them create disaster plans for their staffs,” she said.

You can ask for assistance in the following areas:

Counseling – Provides support, advice and education about what you are experiencing
Psychotherapy – Any of several forms of verbal treatment used to help change problems in thinking, feeling, or behaving.
Medication – Can be used to treat some kinds of problems like depression or anxiety
Substance abuse problems – Rehabilitation and detox services for drug or alcohol abuse 
Education and Referrals – To other kinds of help you might need

For help call 1-800-LIFE-NET (1-800-543-3638) or Spanish – 1-877-298-3373 or Asian – 1-877-990-8585 or other languages at 1-800-543-3638 or TTY at 1-212-992-5294

Additional help information can be found at\September 11\help or by calling the American Red Cross at 1-877-746-4987.

American Red Cross Response to September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks as of September 2003

  1. Funds received - $1.072 billion (includes $60 million of donated materials and services)
  2. Total spent or committed - $858 million
  3. Funds committed to long-term services to those directly affected: $214 million

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of these tornadoes and floods and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter at 1050 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or by visiting www.redcrosswcm .org or donate to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013 or


2003 News

New Executive Director Appointed to the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan

Grand Rapids, MI) - Lisa Marks is the new Executive Director of the American Red Cross of West Central Michigan. Appointed May 12, 2003 to serve Barry, Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm Counties, Lisa comes to Grand Rapids with significant Red Cross knowledge, as well as proven leadership in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors.

Lisa was most recently the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan. During her tenure in the Traverse City area she facilitated the merger of a six county jurisdiction and brought to life programs, services, and a strong volunteer base.

Providing leadership within the Red Cross at a local and state level, Lisa Chairs the State Communications Committee, is a Red Cross liaison for Homeland Security and Bio-Terrorism planning, and plays an active role as a member of the organization’s State Conference Planning Committee. In addition, Lisa was one of thirty individuals selected from across the country to participate in a two year Executive Leadership Program grooming successful executives for CEO positions in the top 150 Red Cross Chapters.

Ms. Marks brings with her an emphasis on preparedness in a post-September 11th world. “There is a realization that our world has changed. The Red Cross plays a key role in assessing our community’s readiness and ability to respond to natural and manmade disasters. My goal is to revitalize staff, volunteers and the community around our mission…helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies…it’s what the Red Cross does best.” she said adding, “the Red Cross is a necessary and viable organization whose success relies upon the support of this community. I want to communicate that to everyone”.

Lisa graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with majors in Human & Family Development, International Relations, and Intercultural Communication.

Beyond the American Red Cross, Lisa involves herself in the United Way, is a Rotarian, and serves Big Brothers-Big Sisters and Youth for Understanding. She has a son and enjoys her role as an active mother. Music, skiing, and home remodeling take up any spare time she might have.

Lisa shows great passion and dedication to community service. Her love of the Red Cross mission is evident. As one Red Cross volunteer put it, “When you see Lisa and her big warm smile…you just know everything is going to be alright.