By Mark Walker
Rotarians and members of the Greater Inland Northwest chapter of the American Red Cross joined forces recently to help care for residents of the Spokane Veterans Home.
The home for more than 80 former service members has suffered the most COVID-19 cases of any long-term health facility in Spokane, recording 45 infections and five fatalities.
Rotary 21, the Spokane region’s largest chapter, raised approximately $1,500 and asked the Red Cross to channel the money to veterans.
“A primary mission of the Red Cross since its inception is to help members of the military and their families, and it was awesome to be part of this,” said James McLaughlin, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces specialist.
The Red Cross worked with the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, that operates the Spokane facility, to obtain personal protective equipment for caregivers. That included masks, stethoscopes, oxygen level readers and thermometers. The Red Cross had earlier donated 2,700 masks to the veterans home.
Prior to COVID-19, the Red Cross was a regular fixture at the home with volunteers providing special lunches and leading arts and crafts sessions. With the COVID-19 outbreak, those activities have been suspended, but that hasn’t stopped the Red Cross.
“Since we can no longer visit, we’ve been writing cards to residents to let them know we care about them,” McLaughlin said.
Ryan Rodin, executive director of the Greater Inland Northwest chapter, said serving military members from throughout most of Eastern Washington and a portion of Idaho is among his core missions.
“In this case, our relationship with Rotary allowed us to help people at one of the hardest-hit facilities in our region, meeting some of their greatest needs,” Rodin said.
Rodin helps oversee approximately 2,000 volunteers throughout his region of responsibility.