Long Island’s first chapter honored at Mineola Village Hall
The American Red Cross, a national organization dedicated to serving those in need, has been in existence since 1881, with one of its longest standing establishments in Mineola. On Thursday, June 22, the 100th anniversary celebration of the chapter was held in front of Mineola Village Hall.
Hailed as the first Red Cross chapter on Long Island, the Mineola-based Nassau County chapter was founded on June 22, 1917, claiming a prime location on Willis Avenue. Formed while World War I was underway, this chapter has since merged with the Suffolk County chapter in recent years to form one uniform Long Island chapter.
The commemorative centennial ceremony was attended by Red Cross volunteers, board members and Long Island Chief Executive Officer Neela Lockel.
“It was very fitting for us to be able to do this here and celebrate at our actual birthplace,” said Lockel. “One of the things that makes our work and our mission so special is that we are neighbors helping neighbors. It’s so important for us to have volunteers who are always trained and ready. There’s a never ending need for volunteers.”
Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira and Village Clerk Joseph Scalero were also on hand to congratulate the esteemed organization and its dedicated network of volunteers.
“I think it’s only fitting that the Nassau County Chapter of the Red Cross was born here in Mineola, and that it remains here, because we pride ourselves in the Village of Mineola of being a service-oriented, volunteer-oriented community,” said Pereira in his opening remarks, noting that the village itself will be 112 years old this September. “We’ve essentially grown up together, and I can’t think of a more fitting community.”
The gathering outside of the Mineola Village Hall held dual purposes, serving as both a celebratory event, complete with birthday cake, as well as an opportunity to announce the Red Cross’s volunteer recruitment initiative.
In honor of 100 years of service, the organization is calling for 100 new Long Island volunteers, encouraging involvement from people of all ages and backgrounds.
“Historically, after any major disaster, our phones are ringing off the hook. Everyone wants to volunteer,” said Craig Cooper, an active Red Cross volunteer and spokesperson for the organization. “When things are quiet, in what we sometimes refer to as ‘blue skies times,’ people don’t necessarily think about volunteering. That’s not to say that we’re understaffed, but you can never have enough volunteers. Volunteers can come in any age, shape and size.”
Currently, the collective team of more than 1,000 Long Island Red Cross volunteers deliver emergency relief to residents affected by local floods, fires, blizzards, plane crashes and other incidents.
The Red Cross also conducts several community initiatives throughout Nassau and Suffolk County. In 2016, the organization installed thousands of free smoke alarms in area homes; taught skills like CPR, water safety and first aid; empowered countless local families with vital disaster preparedness skills; and collected lifesaving blood.
For more information about the Red Cross Long Island chapter, visit www.redcross.org/local/new-york/greater-new-york/about-us/contact-us/long-island.