By Emily Thornton
Keely Reinhard, of Snohomish WA, said she’s liked the Red Cross since about the sixth grade, when she wrote a report on its founder Clara Barton (Clarissa Harlowe Barton). Since then, the now-retiree has donated blood (beginning in college), become a Red Cross board member (2012) and Tiffany Circle member (2013), and last year was invited to be on the National Philanthropic Board.
And those are just some examples of her commitment to the Red Cross. “I was honored by it and decided to say yes,” she said of the philanthropic appointment. “It’s been just great.”
As part of her duties in philanthropy, Reinhard said she helps fundraise — particularly with businesses. She’s one of just 16 philanthropy members nationwide helping to meet the Red Cross needs for money, which goes toward various services such as disaster relief. The group gathers four times per year to share information, but so far she’s only been able to meet twice in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another thing Reinhard said she enjoys is telling fellow Red Cross members why she’s passionate about the Red Cross. She has shared her story with members of the King County and South Puget Sound and Olympics chapter boards, offering support and encouragement. She later learned her talk had inspired a Tacoma-based volunteer to take on a leadership role.
Reinhard said she includes in her speeches what keeps her going. “The volunteers are really what inspire me,” she said. “Over 90% of the work done [in the Red Cross] is done by volunteers.”
She specifically recalled volunteers working behind the scenes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in 2018. “The Red Cross showed up and they were feeding people and offering mental health services,” she said. The volunteers also did more, including purchasing and placing flowers and gifts at every student memorial. “I still get choked up about that,” she said.
Reinhard’s Tiffany Circle role came about when she decided to donate at least $10,000 per year, the requirement for membership. But she said the group often talked about the three Ts — Talent, Time and Treasure — and joked that she didn’t have much talent, so offered her time and treasure. Regardless, she was still a volunteer.
“As a volunteer, we get so much more out of it,” she said, in comparing volunteering to receiving. She remembered a “down and out” veteran who’d come to the Red Cross for help, but volunteers told him he should volunteer. He refused. “But they just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” she said. He relented, and now has been volunteering for four or five years.
“Now, he said he feels like the Red Cross saved his life,” she said, adding that his giving back helped take his mind off his own troubles. She said another volunteer told her, “I understand what that feels like.”
Reinhard has been giving throughout her life, including being a teacher, raising three sons, being in the Snohomish Teachers Association, owning an aerospace company with her husband Matt, and of course, volunteering.