Red Cross Partners with Houston Non-Profit to Bring Disaster Preparedness to an Underserved Population

Style Magazine Newswire | 7/17/2023, 2:48 p.m.
The Texas Gulf Coast Region of the American Red Cross has partnered with Houston’s Center for Pursuit in an effort …

The Texas Gulf Coast Region of the American Red Cross has partnered with Houston’s Center for Pursuit in an effort to help a diverse and historically underserved population better prepare for disasters.

The Center was formed in 1950 with the goal of helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism or similar conditions realize their full potential. It provides a range of innovative programs and services, including job skills training, supported employment, health and wellness, community living, and day services. It was through a friend that Ann Balthazar, Red Cross regional disaster preparedness manager, learned of the Center and realized the potential for bringing critical emergency awareness skills to a hard-to-reach public.

“I’ve never actually been able to partner with a full-fledged organization that offers programs for adults with learning disabilities,” she said. “That was always one of my goals to offer these services to those in that population.”

To that end, the Red Cross has partnered with the Center by training both children and adults in emergency preparedness through programs such as the Pillowcase Project. Chamberlain University nursing student volunteers in disaster preparedness taught these skills to approximately 100 people over two days in June.

“They taught the Pillowcase Project emergency skills and the types of hazards that are in their area to adults with learning disabilities who may not be able to have access to these kinds of activities within their own community,” Balthazar said. “The students shared that when they asked Center participants what they know about the American Red Cross, hands shot up and immediately knew we were the ones to call when individuals from the community require help from a disaster!”

Bathazar says the reaction to the training has been so positive that future training sessions are planned and will include CPR training and Services to Armed Forces outreach to veterans. Considering the Houston area’s recent history of hurricanes and other disruptions, she believes it is critically important that the Red Cross help everyone in the region, especially historically underserved populations, become better prepared for potential disasters.

“I absolutely enjoy working in those diverse communities,” Bathazar said. “I believe the first thing that we really need to be doing is making sure we’re visible and then they trust us and know exactly what our mission is.”

The Red Cross mission is to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.” The organization’s Vision Statement says, in part, “We aspire to turn compassion into action so that our communities are ready and prepare for disasters.”

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information about volunteering or contributing to the Red Cross’s mission, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit or, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.