Red Cross marks local centennial
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
The new “One Red Cross” was celebrating a centennial Tuesday at the Orange Red Cross office and 100 years had a special ring for one Orange man.
Larry David’s great-grandfather, Frank William Hustmyre, was vice chairman of the first Orange Red Cross, chartered in 1917.
David’s grandfather, J.W. David, Sr., later served as chairman. And then his father, J.W. David, Jr.
And 2017 marks the second time that Larry David has been chairman of the board for the volunteer agency founded during World War I.
David first volunteered with Red Cross in the early 70s, after military service in Vietnam.
“Back then, you could only serve three years, then you had to get off and get back on,” David explained. “So I’ve been on and off.”
But this is different.
The Orange chapter was one of several area chapters founded in 1917, their charters signed by President Woodrow Wilson.
Within the past year, chapters representing 11 East Texas counties, from as far south as Sabine Lake to as far north as Lufkin and Nacogdoches, have merged to form the Red Cross of Southeast Texas and Deep East Texas.
“It had to be done for cost efficiency,” David said. “’The One Red Cross’ is how they now talk about us.
“And we are one.”
And the group celebrates its 1917 birthday.
Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day get-together at the Interstate 10 office in Orange kicked off a year of centennial celebrations scheduled for the SET-DET chapter.
Topping the list is the May 20 Centennial Masquerade Gala, set for the MGM Elegante’ Hotel in Beaumont.
The Swing Red golf tournament will be held for the 10th year in October.
“We were congressionally chartered in 1900,” Chester Jourdan, executive director of the Southeast Texas and Deep East Texas Chapter, said of the Red Cross.
“Two things we were chartered to do: One is to provide emergency services and mass feeding for the civilian population and the other is to provide emergency assistance for the armed services and their families.
“We still do that today.”
Jourdan, who previously served as director of the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission, said there are many benefits to uniting smaller chapters.
“Disasters don’t care about where lines on a map are,” he said. “You look at when we had this recent flooding [last spring’s Sabine River flooding:
“It started way up north of Sabine and came way down to Orange, Texas. It didn’t care about where those lines on a map were.
“So it allows us to be able to respond effectively, be it tornado, or a home damage, or house fires, or wind damage, or forest fires, or flooding, we’re able to respond in an effective way.”
It’s a safety in numbers approach.
“We’re able to bring together a chapter board that represents San Augustine and Nacogdoches and Lufkin, and be able to recruit volunteers from a bigger base to respond to those kinds of disasters,” Jourdan said.
“Not only for our area, but for the entire Texas Gulf Coast Region, because we know from experience that once a disaster happens, that we’re going to have to be able to respond and be on our own for some period of time.
“This allows us to draw from a volunteer base from a larger set of communities. It also gives us the financial resources we need to be able to respond as well.”
Jourdan said it was the Red Cross that first notified him of the birth of a daughter when was serving in the Middle East and that working for service members and their families continues to be as big a part of the Red Cross mission as when it began.
He said the Red Cross is selling its Beaumont building on Eastex Freeway and has moved its chapter main offices to Orange.