Mabel Boardman – the Original Red Cross Volunteer

The American Red Cross would not exist without our volunteers.  It is the simple truth of our existence – we have always been and will always be an organization empowered by volunteers.  As hundreds of volunteers are deployed across the country to help those affected by the flooding in Wisconsin and Florida and the wildfires across the West – I consider those who have exemplified volunteerism over our 130 year history.

I am a Red Cross junkie – truly addicted to the mission and the history of the American Red Cross – and I had never heard of Mabel Boardman until very recently.  I suppose it is a testament to her behind the scenes service, but I think it’s time to end the silence.

Mabel Boardman was appointed to the Executive Committee of the American Red Cross in 1903, as Clara Barton retired.  While Mabel refused to become Chairman, she shaped the organization over the next 41 years with her indomitable personality.  Under her leadership the organization established an endowment fund, created a unified network of nationally chartered chapters, and undertook a major expansion of Red Cross volunteer corps and Red Cross programing including the additions of nursing, first aid, water safety, and the Volunteer Special Services.  You look at her picture and you just know – this was a woman who could get stuff done.


Each year, at the Hometown Heroes Celebration, the American Red Cross of West Michigan honors community members who have demonstrated heroism through extraordinary acts of courage and kindness.  Our Heroes live their lives in the tradition set forth by our founding mothers and fathers.  The Mabel Boardman Spirit of Volunteerism Award recognizes an individual who has dedicated their life to the service of their community as a volunteer.  Please help us tell the stories of the heroes in our community by nominating your hero today.

To Nominate a Hero:


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