PHILADELPHIA - The Exelon Foundation has made a contribution of $500,000 to Red Cross House - The Center for Disaster Recovery, which provides housing and support services for people displaced from their homes by disasters. The donation is the largest gift yet toward American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania's goal to raise $25 million for Red Cross House.
Exelon Foundation President Steve Solomon and PECO President and CEO and Exelon Foundation Board Member Denis O'Brien joined American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Judge RenÃ©e Cardwell Hughes and Chairman Tom Hays at Red Cross House today to announce the contribution.
"This gift from the Exelon Foundation will significantly boost our ongoing mission to build a more resilient community, able to recover from disasters large and small more quickly and more effectively," Hughes said. "The need for the Red Cross House is undeniable."
"The American Red Cross is probably the most trusted brand in the world," said O'Brien. "It stands for immediate, quality service in the most difficult emergency circumstances. Everything we've learned about the Red Cross House convinces us this is a wonderful investment."
In addition to the Exelon Foundation's $500,000 donation, PECO employee volunteers updated one of the House's two lounges, assembling and installing new furniture and turning the lounge into a library for displaced individuals and families to share time together.
"The Exelon Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout southeastern Pennsylvania," Solomon said. "For disaster survivors in the region who need time and a place to recover, Red Cross House is a source of hope, and the Exelon Foundation is pleased to count itself among its supporters."
There is no other facility in the country like Red Cross House. It is a model for disaster recovery. Because Red Cross House is not a homeless shelter, it accepts only families and individuals who have been living independently, but because of a fire or other disaster need some assistance to recover. During a typical stay at Red Cross House, adults continue to go to work and children continue to go to school. The model works. Families at Red Cross House recover and rebuild their lives faster, in about 21 days on average, and at about a third of the cost of a homeless shelter. Red Cross House also keeps those families together during the recovery process.
Red Cross House has housed more than 9,600 people (nearly 3,000 families) since opening in April 2003. Every family admitted to Red Cross House works with a specially trained Red Cross caseworker to develop a long-term Family Recovery Plan, which includes fire safety classes, mental health counseling, financial literacy workshops, and job search programs. When families leave Red Cross House, they have rebuilt their lives, secured a financially stable living situation, and started the emotional healing process.
Not only is Red Cross House home to hundreds of disaster survivors every year, it also serves as home base for all Red Cross disaster recovery operations in the region. Even if someone does not stay at Red Cross House, their recovery plan is still developed and managed by caseworkers at Red Cross House.
It costs about $1.7 million a year to operate Red Cross House. Those costs come directly out of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter's annual budget. Creating a Red Cross House endowment will eventually allow that money to be used for other vital services in the community. The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania is calling on the region's business and philanthropic communities to join the Exelon Foundation and PECO to help ensure families in Southeastern Pennsylvania who suffer a disaster will continue to have a safe place dedicated to their recovery.
"With today's donation and their other contributions to the Red Cross, the Exelon Foundation and PECO have truly shown a commitment to the wellbeing of the citizens of Southeastern Pennsylvania," Hughes said. "We hope that this generosity will inspire other companies and organizations to follow their leadership."