IF YOU DONATED TO THE RED CROSS in hopes it would help the WTC victims...THEY DIDN'T GET IT!
Red Cross caught red-handed
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EDITORIAL November 13, 2001
Red Cross caught red-handed
First came the disheartening news that the American Red
Cross was slow to distribute relief funds to the families
affected by the attacks of September 11. Then came the
distressing news that the relief funds were being used for
programs unrelated to September 11. Now, the most
shocking news of all: America's No. 1 blood bank might
destroy tens of thousands of pints of donated blood because
of greed and mismanagement.
A federally chartered and 120-year-old non-profit, the
Red Cross collects about 6 million pints of blood each year
and earns 60 percent of its revenue ($1.5 billion) by selling
such blood byproducts as plasma and platelets for $225-plus
per unit. It began soliciting cash and blood donations
immediately after the September 11 attacks and, within a
month, had collected as much as 400,000 extra units. The
blood donations could have easily fattened its coffers, except
for one tragic factor: The majority of the victims of
September 11 perished.
Compounding the problem was that the Red Cross, which
ordinarily could have frozen the blood and thawed it for use
later, couldn't do that either. Seems that, while it had a
surplus of cash, thanks to Americans who were more than
generous with their wallets, the Red Cross had neither the
equipment, the plan, nor the manpower to freeze the surplus
blood donations. In other words, it simply had too much
blood on its hands. And, even after conferring with the Bush
administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and
others in the field, the Red Cross did not inform Americans
that they should donate blood at a later date. As a result,
blood inventories more than tripled.
Now the inevitable has happened. The 42-day shelf-life of
blood that the Red Cross collected immediately after the
terror attacks has come and gone, which means it is useless
and must be burned. Thousands of units of blood have been
destroyed, thousands more are slated to be burned. Also
startling was outgoing President Bernadine Healy's confession
last week at a congressional hearing that the Red Cross plans
to establish a major blood-freezing program and plans to
finance that program with $50 million of the money that
donors intended to help families of the September 11 terror
An estimated 3,000 donors have contacted the American
Red Cross in recent days and demanded to know where their
money is going. The standard answers are long-term needs,
such as the blood-freezing program, counseling, and future
attacks responses that have left some Americans of the
mind that a federal charity czar be established or that
Congress legislatively mandate what happens to charitable
donations. Both would produce disastrous results. But, now
that the America Red Cross has been caught red-handed, it
might not be a bad idea if state attorneys general took a
serious peek at the American Red Cross.
Red Cross response will be definingA Dayton Daily News editorial
The Americans who wrote checks or stood in line to roll up their sleeves and give blood are asking tough questions of the Red Cross, and it's right that they should.
The confusion at the top of that relief agency is so high-profile and serious that it's risking the public's confidence. This is not the occasion to assume that the bad press will pass.
The Red Cross has received unprecedented donations in the wake of Sept. 11. Specifically, its Liberty Fund pulled in $547 million. That's a huge number by any standard, even relative to the agency's immense $2.7 billion annual budget.
Now there's controversy about how that money will be spent. In particular, the board is divided about whether all donations should go directly to help victims hurt in the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in the Pennsylvania plane crash. The arguments for taking a less-restrictive view of donors' intentions are not absurd, but there's only one bottom line: The victims and their families are the reason people rushed to give.
The Red Cross isn't being clear about its plans. That there is disagreement is not bad; given the sum that's involved and the complicated nature of the relief efforts, conflict was inevitable. But the Red Cross has to be more forthcoming.
Getting out information has been complicated by turmoil within. Last month, Dr. Bernadine Healy, the Red Cross president and CEO, abruptly resigned, although some say she was pushed out.
The circumstances don't matter now. What's more important is that money is not getting to desperate people. Only about $100 million has been dispersed so far. Donors need a window into the discussions that could explain what's taking so long.
Meanwhile, there's still more criticism. Some suggest that the Red Cross sought blood it knew it couldn't use. The Washington Post reported recently that the agency collected as much as 10 percent more blood than was needed. Because blood is perishable, thousands of pints may be destroyed.
Finally, there's yet a third controversy this one relating to the American Red Cross' relationship to the international group. Dr. Healy vehemently, and rightly, objected to the international body's decision to deny Israel full participation in the International Red Cross. Some members in the international organization object to the use of a red Star of David by Israel's Red Cross. Yet the Red Crescent is used and accepted in Islamic countries where a cross would be insensitive.
Dr. Healy, whose fiercely independent style rankles some, decided to withhold America's dues to the international organization until Israel was included. It was a principled move and should have been supported by the board, but apparently was not.
For the near term, though, it's not internal or international disputes that most U.S. donors will follow closely. They're focused on whether the half-billion-dollar Liberty Fund will be distributed efficiently and thoughtfully. (Dr. Healy, for instance, initially resisted the creation of a unified list of beneficiaries with other charity organizations, citing privacy concerns; she wisely reversed that decision.)
This tragedy has created untold numbers of victims, and some have more immediate and greater needs than others. There is no way to make people whole or to compensate them for their losses. But the Red Cross and other charities have to show that they're dedicated to helping the neediest the most.
The Red Cross has a vital role to play in this national tragedy, and it is a historic opportunity. How it does its work will define the agency for years.
[From the Dayton Daily News: 11.13.2001]
http://www.activedayton.com/ddn/opinion/1113redcross.html not there 12/08
Red Cross defends handling of Sept. 11 donations
November 6, 2001 Posted: 9:39 PM EST (0239 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Charities swung into action after the September 11 terrorist attacks, raising more than $1 billion. But questions are being raised about where and how and how much of that money is being distributed.
Bearing the brunt Tuesday during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight panel was outgoing Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy.
The Red Cross has raised more than $564 million for the Liberty Fund, which was set up in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
While the agency states on its Web site that it is spending more than any other relief agency responding to the terrorist attacks, it has distributed only $154 million.
Healy was hammered by one New York official for the Red Cross' decision to put aside nearly half of the money raised for future needs that may include terrorist attacks.
"I see the Red Cross, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars that was intended by the donating public to be used for the victims of September 11 -- I see those funds being sequestered into long-term plans for an organization," testified New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Healy later told CNN the Red Cross was a service organization and that previous donations had prepared the agency to deal with September 11.
"We had planned for a weapon of mass destruction attack," she said. "We knew our obligations under the congressional charter. We knew it involved victim assistance and sheltering. We knew that it involved with dealing with rescue workers. We knew that it involved blood."
She also noted that some of the new funding went toward helping communities learn how to deal with other threats such as anthrax.
The hearing was contentious, with panel members trying to get at the issue of donor intent and whether the Red Cross misled donors.
"What's at issue here is that a special fund was established for these families. It was specially funded for this event, September 11," said Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana.
"And it is being closed now because we are told enough money's been raised in it, but we're also being told, by the way, we're going to give two-thirds of it away to other Red Cross needs."
The subcommittee asked Healy and her agency to provide the exact language of all of its television and newspaper appeals for donations.
Healy said what the agency has learned is it needs to explain to the public the mission of the Red Cross.
"Don't confuse us with the 9/11 Fund in New York. Don't confuse us with Habitat for Humanity. Don't confuse us with the scholarship in New York for the victims. We have to get that out," she said.
Controversy over the Liberty Fund was one reason Healy decided to resign at year's end. But she defended the agency's decision of how to use the money.
"The Liberty Fund is a war fund. It has evolved into a war fund," she said."We must have blood readiness. We must have the ability to help our troops if we go into a ground war. We must have the ability to help the victims of tomorrow."
Elizabeth McLaughlin says keeping up with red tape required an 18-page spreadsheet.
A widow who lost her husband in the World Trade Center attack also complained to the panel that what money was available from various charities was tied up in red tape and confusion.
"Why then haven't these charities been able to get together and agree on one uniform application? Why haven't they been able to get together and develop a quicker way for families to receive these funds?" asked Elizabeth McLaughlin of Pelham, New York.
"We all have the missing persons reports, death certificates, and any other proof needed to avoid fraud. But the charities are not sharing these documents and information with each other," she testified in tears.
She told the panel that she had to construct an 18-page spreadsheet to try to keep track of all the requirements of various aid groups.
McLaughlin received a $27,000 check from the Red Cross but fears she may still lose her house without additional aid.
The Red Cross said it has helped 25,000 families with food and temporary shelter, counseling and cash assistance.
Red Cross closes Liberty Fund, names interim head
October 30, 2001 Posted: 2:11 PM EST (1911 GMT)
WASHINGTON -- The American Red Cross, under heavy criticism for its handling of fundraising since September 11, announced Tuesday that it is ceasing "active solicitations" of donations to its special Liberty Fund, which had raised over $500 million since the attacks.
"Red Cross board members and management believe the Liberty Fund as it now stands will be sufficient to address immediate, near-term and long-range needs relating to the September 11 tragedies as well as necessary public education and terrorism preparedness actions," the organization said in a press release.
The Red Cross said it has engaged KPMG to audit the Liberty Fund, "with results to be made public later this year."
Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy resigned last week under heavy criticism of her aggressive fundraising and the relatively small portion of the Liberty Fund that was making its way to victims' families.
The organization named Harold Decker as its interim president on Tuesday. Decker, 56, has served as its general counsel. A search is under way for a new president and CEO to replace Healy.
The Red Cross said the Liberty Fund has attracted $547 million in pledges, of which more than $140 million has been spent on disaster relief, including $43.8 million in direct financial aid to 2,296 families of victims. More than $66.9 million has been spent, the Red Cross said, "on immediate disaster relief needs."
The Red Cross had decided only $100 million was needed for direct financial aid to victims and victims' families, but continued raising money for other Red Cross activities, angering some donors and some local Red Cross chapters.
Soon after the terrorist attacks, Healy created the Liberty Fund as a special account specifically targeted for attack victims. Donations to the Red Cross typically go into its Disaster Relief Fund for general use.
Philanthropic watchdogs say by establishing the fund, the Red Cross may have created unrealistic expectations that all donations would go directly to the terror victims.
Red Cross spokesman Mitch Hibbs said the organization is doing the best it can considering the size of the relief undertaking.
"It takes a lot of money to do a lot of work. We believe very much that we are honoring donor intent," Hibbs said. "Yes, we are helping the families, but we're also helping everyone else."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Red Cross chief quits, says she was forced out
October 26, 2001 Posted: 6:00 PM EDT (2200 GMT)
From Fran Lewine
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After a gathering filled with kind words and patriotic songs at which she announced her resignation, Red Cross President Bernadine Healy told reporters Friday she left because "I had no choice."
"I think there were some differences of opinion," Healy said, adding: "I think the board felt I was out ahead of them in some ways."
As Healy spoke with reporters, the board chairman arrived and denied the Red Cross chief was asked to leave.
David McLaughlin, who joined in the exchange with reporters, said the board "did not ask Dr. Healy to leave."
"There were differences on the board," McLaughlin said, but some members supported Healy.
Healy said there were policy issues over how to distribute money from "The Liberty Fund," which collected some $500 million to help victims of the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.
She also acknowledged friction over how the American Red Cross handled a decision by the International Red Cross to exclude the Israeli version of the agency -- the Magen David Adom Society -- from membership in the global agency.
Healy, 57, has headed the national organization for the past two years. She is the former director of the National Institutes of Health and a medical consultant to CBS News.
She is leaving the Red Cross post at the end of the year
McLaughlin said an acting president would be named while a replacement is selected by the board.
'The board is the one who decides'
Earlier, speaking in a ballroom filled with board members and staff who had gathered for what was touted as a chance to "celebrate her accomplishments," Healy said it was hard to leave, but "now seems right for new challenges in my own career."
She later became quite emotional while talking to reporters about why she was leaving.
"I think there were matters of difference as to whether or not a separate fund should be there," she said of the Liberty Fund, "and I respect those differences and the board is the one who decides."
She added that "the board may have felt that I did it without their approval although within a matter of days David (McLaughlin, board chairman) approved it. But it's caused a little bit of friction."
In her speech she made references to both the Israeli Red Cross and the Liberty Fund issues, though she downplayed any serious problems.
Healy plans to write a book on Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, the Red Cross Web site said.
She also will dedicate time being an adviser on weapons of mass destruction preparedness and the threat of bioterrorism.
Healy has held the $450,000-per-year Red Cross job since September 1999. Her predecessor, Elizabeth Dole, held the position for eight years.
ANOTHER CHARITY FAILING 9/11 KIN
By SUSAN EDELMAN
December 2, 2001 -- The September 11th Fund, which has raised more than $300 million in charitable donations, is considering lifting a controversial $10,000 cap on aid to families of people killed in the World Trade Center.
The tight limit has angered those who have maxed out at $10,000 but still need help with mortgages or rent, bills and other living expenses. The families also criticize the fund for failing to announce a plan for how it will disburse more than $250 million that remains banked.
Officials from local United Way chapters, who are helping families living in their areas, have also begun to complain that money released by those who control the fund's purse strings has been "paltry."
"I've told a lot of our clients that we're out of money," said Lisa Rattner of United Way of Bergen County.
The September 11th Fund has allotted the Bergen County agency $300,000 for emergency aid to families - and that has gone quickly. The chapter has requested another $1.2 million.
"It's just been absolutely maddening. We have at least 133 victims' families in Bergen County," Rattner said.
"As a social worker, I have never felt such a degree of pain and grief. And then to feel like the system designed to help is compounding the pain is unconscionable."
The fund - which is run by United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust - only recently relaxed a rule that required families of the deceased to come in every two weeks for a $1,500 check.
"You had to come back each time and prove that your husband is still dead," one official said sarcastically.
WTC widow Karen D'Ambrosi, who has two daughters, rapped the $10,000 cap: "I find it strange they have all that money, and that's all they can figure to give out," she said.
Officials at other local United Way chapters told The Post that getting money from the fund had been a struggle.
"We have all had an incredibly difficult time getting the message out that we can best help the families where they live," said one New York official, who asked not to be named.
"I had to do an enormous amount of lobbying."
Jeanine Moss, a spokeswoman for the September 11th Fund, said all local United Ways in the tri-state area that requested emergency money for families have received a first round of aid - and several agencies have already had a second.
Moss said the $10,000- per-family limit was set soon after the fund was formed, and was "meant to help you survive until additional assistance becomes available."
"As the disaster has unfolded, that cap may be lifted. That policy is under review at the moment," Moss said.
Plans for the rest of the money are still under study, she said.
The Red Cross, which has raised nearly $550 million for its Liberty Fund, last month responded to criticism of its spending decisions by promising all the money it raised would go to victims and their families.
IF YOU DONATED TO THE RED CROSS in hopes it would help the WTC victims...THEY DIDN'T GET IT!
Here's the Red Cross form....request your donations back!
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