July 26, 2011; Source: mlive.com | Apparently as a part of Red Cross’ plan to lay off 10% of its staff and generally cost cut and consolidate nationwide, the Central Lower Michigan Region and the Flint region of the Red Cross are merging and laying off 12 staff. The new combined chapter had been asked to cut $575,000 in costs. This is a part of a national push to consolidate Red Cross offices and we have recently seen reports from Palm Beach, where a spokesman commented that “It’s part of a nationwide, strategic restructuring. There is no reason, for example, to have three accountants in three offices across 80 miles of territory. It’s simply a matter of reducing redundancies and making sure the donor dollar is put to its best use,” from Buffalo, where 63 jobs will be lost, and from Ohio, where the Dayton and Cincinnati chapters merged, and layoffs are in progress.

NPQ is interested in this situation, which officials say will not affect Red Cross’ ability to respond to disaster. Our concern is that the local bases of these types of responder organizations need intimate contacts with their communities to move quickly and accurately into a devastated community. A lack of such relationships and understanding of the terrain was, as we understand it, part of what slowed the response on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. What will regional consolidation do to these relationships and on the ground knowledge? We will follow this story for our readers.—Ruth McCambridge