STORY: A Presidential Referral

December 4, 2012

Story by Adrian Brune and Jeramie Williams

QUEENS, N.Y., December 4, 2012 – Presidents seldom offer life advice to their staff, but when then airman Doug Scarlett, a cook for Air Force One, needed something to do in his spare time, President Lyndon Johnson suggested he go see the Red Cross.

And since 1965, the Red Cross is the place where Scarlett has volunteered, beginning with first aid instruction in the Washington, DC, chapter, and subsequently supervising kitchens at more than 51 disaster sites across the country. Since the first days following Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on October 29th, Scarlett had been overseeing kitchens across the Tri-State area, first serving hot meals to clients in New Jersey and now helping Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) bring meals and supplies to people in the Rockaways.

“We didn’t fly that much back then – the Cold War was on – but I saw what the Red Cross was doing and got more and more involved,” said Scarlett, the former chapter executive of the American Red Cross Cumberland County (TN) chapter and a volunteer member of the chapter’s board of directors. “My initial role on Air Force One was to please the president” – then an honorary chairman of the American Red Cross who declared March 1965 national Red Cross Month.

“Now, I just get the food out, and it’s been a lot of food.” The Red Cross kitchen in Jersey City, New Jersey was built for 30,000 meals per day and in the beginning, Red Cross and Southern Baptist Convention volunteers were turning out 41,000.

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