Friday, November 15, 2019

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - December 2019

Honoring our Heroes from the Southeast Tennessee Chapter 

If you attended the 2019 CHI Memorial Heroes Luncheon, it will come as no surprise to you at the success of this year’s event.  On Wednesday, Nov. 6, business and community leaders came together to honor local heroes.

Major General, retired Terry “Max” Haston, the 75th Adjunct General of the Tennessee National Guard, spoke to the crowd about his experiences including his interaction with the Red Cross throughout his career.

Each year, the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee honors individuals and groups for acts of great bravery, dedication and service to the community at the Heroes Luncheon, sharing the mission of the American Red Cross and raising the financial funding resources necessary to provide their core humanitarian services. This year was no different, we honored eight individuals in six categories for their service to the community:  Ann Marie Fitzsimmons and Niki Keck, Call to Action Heroes; Becky Ellgass, First Responder Hero; Jim Fox and Johnny Hale, Medical Heroes; Allen Green, Service to Youth Hero; Phil Garver, Service to Armed Forces Hero; and Harry “Hap” Harwell, Humanitarian of the Year.

I would like to extend a special thank you to our generous event sponsors. Without your support, and the support of all our donors, it would be impossible for us to fulfill our mission. 

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Heroes Luncheon such a success!

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - December 2019

Giving Time, Talent and Treasure During the Holidays, and Year-Round

It appears every year, the holidays come earlier than the year before. Christmas trees out during Halloween, Black Friday deals well-before Thanksgiving weekend and before you know it, you are well into the holiday hustle and bustle. The holidays are also a time when many offer their time, talent and treasure to their favorite non-profit mission. 

For the 2019 Holiday Campaign, we will continue to unite around the common theme of “Give Something That Means Something”, using the call to action “Your donation brings comfort and hope” to engage the public in supporting our lifesaving mission to bring hope to those in need.


Every eight minutes, someone is affected by a disaster in the U.S. This year, donations to the Red Cross helped thousands of people whose lives were upended by disasters across the country.  

  • Red Cross volunteers were by the sides of families affected by large events like Hurricane Dorian on the East Coast, tropical storm flooding in Texas, and tornadoes and floods in the Midwest. Here in the Tennessee Region, we have volunteers responding to both national disasters and those in our own state. Home fires statewide, floods in the spring and tornadoes and fall high winds caused havoc for many of our Tennesseans.  

  • On average, the Red Cross responds to a new major disaster every two weeks in the U.S. — on top of responding to tens of thousands of smaller disasters like home fires each year.

  • Donations are key to saving lives because they fund nearly 100 percent of our disaster relief activities. They help provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance to help people get back on their feet. 

Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere. The need is constant. Your donation can help provide necessities like emergency shelter, hot meals and blankets for families in need. 

  • For example, your gift of $50 can deliver hot meals for five people or provide blankets for 10 people after a disaster. 

  • Or a larger donation of $100 can provide a family of two with a full day’s worth of emergency shelter with meals, snacks, blankets, cots and hygiene supplies. 


You can also support other parts of our mission, such as helping military members and veterans. 

  • Across the country, veterans rely on the Red Cross for support transitioning back to civilian life. Your donation of $50 can help connect veterans and their families to critical community services, such as food, housing, mental health support and rehabilitation. 

  • Red Cross volunteers also support service members in military hospitals. A larger donation of $145 can provide hospital kits, filled with toiletries and other essentials, for 20 service members.  


In addition, you can help save lives around the world. 

  • Through our work with the Measles & Rubella Initiative, you can help provide vaccinations for children and educate families about the dangers of these diseases.  

  • Your gift of $100 can provide lifesaving vaccinations for 100 children facing an increased risk of measles and rubella around the world. 


The holidays are a difficult time to collect blood because of busy schedules and inclement weather. Still, the need for blood is constant to help accident victims, cancer patients and others who rely on lifesaving blood products every day. 

  • To give the gift of life, you can make an appointment to donate blood or platelets by visiting  

  • If you’re unable to make a blood donation, please consider making a gift to support our lifesaving Blood Services at

So, this holiday season, please remember the good work the Red Cross does, and the volunteers who serve our organization helping others. I am grateful for your support. Happy Holidays!

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Pamela Holz - December 2019

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” -unknown 

What kind of community do you want to live in? As Red Cross volunteers, you show the world every day that you want to be part of something bigger than yourself. You want to be part of an organization that exists to give hope. You give hope. 

Every time you climb out of your warm bed to answer that 2:00 a.m. phone call and help someone whose home has just burned down. Every time you join in a class to learn how to be prepared to help those who have been caught unprepared in the face of a storm. Every time you leave your home community to help those in another community who have lost their homes. Every time you give time to those who have lost all that they had collected over time. Every time you provide for those who are giving of themselves to help others. Every time you share the joy of volunteering with potential volunteers. Every time you tell others in the community about all the ways the Red Cross is there to help our community. 

Every time you give of your time and talents as a Red Cross volunteer, you are voting for a better community for all of us. While every person serves for their own reasons, what is consistent is that each of you is appreciated for your service. 

Thank you for creating the time in your life to give to others so that their lives can be better. Thank you for volunteering with the Red Cross and joining with thousands across the country and around the world to vote for a better community for all of us. Your gift of time, your daily vote. They make a difference. You make a difference.

Pamela Holz

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - December 2019

Happy Holidays, Mid-West Tennessee chapter. By the time you will be reading this message from me, we’ll be just a few days removed from Thanksgiving and into the December holiday season. I hope this article finds you well and things are good with each of you and your respective families.

In October and November, we finished up our two and a half week disaster response as a chapter to the damage created in our southern counties of Decatur, Hardin, and McNairy, due to the high winds that gusted as high as 80 to 100 mph, and all the residual effects of it. As I’m comprising this article the Disaster Recovery caseworkers are still connecting with impacted families in our efforts to provide financial assistance to the qualifying homes that either had structural damage or were destroyed. I’m proud to say that our volunteer leadership led by example throughout the response as I assumed they would and proved invaluable in the implementation of our services. I am especially impressed as this was in the absence of a staff Disaster Program Manager.

As we enter the other side of this DR, I’m confident in saying that we stepped up as a chapter, and not only represented our local chapter with excellence, but we also proved to be good hosts to all of the additional Tennessee chapter teams that came alongside us to offer their help and support. Thank you to all those people from Chattanooga, Kingsport, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. Kudos to each of those teams and their willingness to drop everything in their respective chapters and come to our aid. That was truly a gesture of one Red Cross.

We have much to be thankful for as we enter the holiday season. I look forward with great anticipation to what the next few months hold for us in our chapter and Red Cross family. We are eager for the hiring of a new DPM staffer, our upcoming holiday party, participating in Christmas parades and holiday gatherings, growing our first ever American Red Cross Club at USJ high school in Jackson, hosting our third annual Sound the Alarm event in April, recruitment of new volunteers to build our chapter and extend our community outreach and impact even more. Let’s all look forward to it with great anticipation and do what each of us can to make our chapter stronger for our Red Cross family.

Again, thank you all and Happy Holidays!

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Regional Chief Operations Officer, Greg King - December 2019

Red Crossers Need to be Prepared for Disaster Too 

As Red Cross volunteers and staff members, we usually focus on the needs of others before our own needs. Today, I am asking each Red Cross member to spend some time making sure they can take care of themselves. I’m sure you all have an emergency kit tucked away in a closet and it has been sitting there safely for the past year. Daylight savings time is a good reminder to not only check your smoke alarms but to update your disaster supplies.

I am sure I am preaching to the choir, but I want to give everyone a reminder of the basic essentials for their kit. If you can have these items on hand in sufficient quantity to last 72 hours, you should weather most disasters just fine. What I recommend is:

  • Water- one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation 
  • Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food 
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert 
  • Flashlight 
  • First aid kit 
  • Extra batteries 
  • Whistle to signal for help 
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place 
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation 
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities 
  • Manual can opener for food 
  • Local maps 
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives 
  • Glasses and contact lens solution 
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream 
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet 
  • Cash or traveler's checks ($100 in small bills) 
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container 
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person 
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes 
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Matches in a waterproof container 
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items 
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils 
  • Paper and pencil 
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children 

Store this in a cool dry place in your home and you should be good to go. If you haven’t built a kit, start by buying one or two items a week and storing them in a five-gallon bucket. In no time, you will have put together some great supplies that will see you through most situations.

This is like putting on your oxygen mask on a plane. We need to take care of ourselves, then we can help others.


Greg King
Regional Chief Operations Officer

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Megh Mankad - December 2019

This month we want to spotlight the work of one of our esteemed volunteers, Megh Mankad, a caseworker for Service to the Armed Forces (SAF). 

Megh, a 2017 graduate of East Tennessee State University with a degree in Business Concentration, became a volunteer at the East Tennessee chapter in the Spring of 2019. He is using his time at the Red Cross to gain volunteer experience and advance his career.

 Megh is utilizing his business degree by working as an accountant at a firm owned by his mother. He and his parents, who originally came to the United States from India, love traveling. Megh’s been to Britain, France, Italy and Portugal and loves going to the amusement parks in the Gatlinburg area.

Megh’s hobbies include singing, bowling and watching action-thriller movies.  He works with regional SAF director Jess Hernandez and SAF team leader Marilyn Rasmussen, assisting members of the armed forces and their families deal with emergency situations both at home and abroad. 

Megh says being a volunteer at the Red Cross is very rewarding and he appreciates all the help and support he receives from both Red Cross staff and other volunteers.

Megh Mankad, who loves the work he’s doing at the American Red Cross, encourages others to volunteer and explore the different lines of service and multiple opportunities to help others offered by the American Red Cross.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Keep the Boos Away This Halloween

Safety tips to make Trick-or-Treating Safe

Halloween is just days away for Tennessee trick-or-treaters. Fast becoming one of the most popular holidays in this country, masses of little superheroes, cartoon and television characters will be out in their neighborhoods for a night of fun memories. The American Red Cross has these tips parents can follow to help all little ghouls and goblins stay safe while enjoying the fall festivities.

  • Trick-or-treaters need to see and be seen.

- Use face makeup instead of masks which make seeing difficult.
- Give trick-or-treaters a flashlight to light their way.
- Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.

  • Use flame-resistant costumes.

  • Make sure adults know where the kids are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door.

  •  Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.

  • Walk, don’t run.

  • Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.

  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.

- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
- Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
- Don’t cut across yards or use alleys.
- Don’t cross between parked cars.
- Drivers – use extra caution. The youngsters may forget to look both ways before crossing.

  • A grown-up should check the goodies before eating.

- Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.
- Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

Don’t forget little “tricks” that can make for a safe night for those visiting your home. “Be sure to light the area so kids can see when coming to your door,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive for the American Red Cross of the Tennessee Region. “It is also important to take time to sweep leaves from sidewalks and steps and clear your porch and front yards of things that could cause someone to trip.”

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert first aid advice right at your fingertips. Use the free app Emergency for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross app treats in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to