Friday, January 13, 2017

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - January 2017

Happy New Year!

The year 2016 was one of the busiest years in recent history for the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross.  From home fires and floods, to tornadoes and wildfires, our volunteers showed up when our neighbors needed us most.  Our volunteers were deployed across the Nation to share their time and talent in large disasters. These deployments were in addition to the home and apartment fires we respond to every day.

We provided help and hope to service members and their families in their time of need and prepared them for deployment, as well as, welcomed them home.  We taught lifesaving classes in CPR and provided critical blood to patients who needed it.

Our fabulous donors also shared their treasure to ensure that the resources were there to accomplish our mission.  Here’s a look at some of the services we provided together in 2016:
(January 2016 – November 2016)

2,596 home fire responses
8,277 smoke alarms installed
5,731 children prepared for disasters and emergencies through the Pillowcase Project
71,192 blood donations
4,339 services provided to military members and their families
5,511 volunteers

These numbers are very impressive.  I am very proud of our Tennessee volunteers sharing their time, talent and treasure in ways much greater than I could have imagined.

Thank YOU, for continuing to serve the great State of Tennessee.  I look forward to another great year serving with you in 2017!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Southeast Tennessee Volunteers of the Month, Jan and Larry Turner - December 2016

Jan and Larry Turner were our December Volunteers of the Month.  The Turners have been American Red Cross volunteers in Southeast TN for six years and have worked with multiple positions including, Disaster Assessment, Sheltering, and most recently, Disaster Action Team. Disaster Assessment has become their favorite GAP because they are able to go into disaster affected areas and really see what the clients have gone through.

When asked why they volunteer Jan said “I have had a very blessed life, from my childhood, to my marriage, to my daughter- I felt like I have a lot of payback to do.” She went on to say that she really appreciates how group oriented the chapter in Southeast TN is and enjoys the team effort.

Jan and Larry have deployed three times, with their most recent deployment to Gatlinburg, TN for sheltering during the wildfires. They received a call at 10:00 p.m. the night the fires occurred and started to head that way immediately. After a long night of unloading trailers and preparing shelters Jan and Larry continued to work through the next day. By evening all hotels in the immediate area had filled up, so they ended sleeping in a shelter that night.  Jan was very thankful for the experience of not having housing for her first evening of the deployment. She said that being able to walk into a shelter and know what other families were going through really put into perspective why they volunteer with the American Red Cross.

The Turner’s have met some incredible volunteers along the way and have had great experiences both in the chapter and while deployed. When asked what their favorite memory with the Red Cross is, they shared about a deployment in Florida when they had stopped at a restaurant to get food and the people around them started applauding. Jan and Larry didn’t initially know the applause was meant for them and the work they were doing for Hurricane Matthew until someone told them. This showed them how much the community cared about the work they were there to do.

Jan and Larry Turner are quick to respond if needed without a second thought. We appreciate their flexibility, warm approach to any situation, and willingness to help in all circumstances.

Nashville Area Volunteer of the Month, Joyce Page - January 2017

Joyce Page has a spirit of giving. She volunteers for multiple volunteer agencies in Nashville and is actively involved in her church. She stops by the Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter every Monday to help with various projects and answering the phones. She’s been a tremendous help in the year she’s volunteered with us, and is the January 2017 volunteer of the month.

Joyce started out volunteering with the Red Cross as a community events volunteer. She attends numerous health fairs and events around town on behalf of the Red Cross. Many people aren’t aware of all the services the Red Cross provides to the community, so Joyce helps inform people about the Red Cross lines of service. She first learned about the assistance the Red Cross offers to home fire victims after having a home fire of her own decades ago. With the Red Cross mission close to her heart, she decided to become a volunteer after her retirement.

Recently, Joyce hand wrote over 500 cards to donors to thank them for their donations that enable her to volunteer. She also answered phones at the WKRN News 2 phone bank telethon to raise funds for disaster relief.

Kind. Sweet. Gentle. Conscientious. Thorough. A pleasure to work with. Always willing to help. This is how Joyce is known around the chapter office.

“I’d love to have a bunch more of her!” said Sherry Ricketts, Volunteer Specialist.

When asked what her favorite part of volunteering is, Joyce said, “Giving back!” We are extremely grateful to have Joyce as a volunteer at the Nashville Area Chapter.

To learn more about our lines of service, visit
If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - January 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope that each of you and your families had a wonderful holiday season and enjoyed some relaxing, quality time with your friends and loved ones. I can’t believe we’ve celebrated the New Year and are already knee deep in January!

It’s important to take a look at the past several months and truly celebrate the accomplishments that you personally had a hand in. I think we would all agree that 2016 was a TREMENDOUS year for our chapter and the Red Cross organization! Let’s consider what your hard work as volunteers helped our chapter accomplish from January- November 2016. It included:

193 Home Fire Events (Cases Opened)
1,874 Smoke Alarm Installations
368 Pillowcase Project Participants/ Recipients

These statistics don’t even begin to tell the story of the impact made on the locations many of you were deployed to over the last 12 months.  From California and Texas to Mississippi and Louisiana and eventually to the east side of the state in Gatlinburg, you represented our chapter WELL! You not only helped change lives through your dedicated and compassionate service, but your own lives were changed as well.

With all of the above in our rear-view mirror, we can now begin to turn our chapter’s full attention to 2017. We can answer the call of a new year to our Red Cross organization (and chapter) to continue to provide disaster relief and assistance to our 14 counties and other areas in need around the country. Many of you will help us write the script of the year to come! When we look back a year from now, you will read 2017’s accomplishments for our chapter and you’ll be able to take pride in the fact that you personally played a significant role.  Who would want to miss out on the opportunity to impact the lives of others (and your own) in 2017?

I feel confident each of you will “answer the bell” in 2017 as you have over and over this past year. Who’s with me?!

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - January 2017

Here we are in 2017!  This is an exciting year as we celebrate 100 Years of Service by the American Red Cross to the communities of Northeast Tennessee.  If you missed our All Volunteer Meeting on January 5th, please stop in when convenient and check out our historical timeline.  Jane Harris did an exceptional job developing a snapshot of our history from 1917 to today.

Across the years, our focus has remained the same:  Assisting people by preparing for, responding to or recovering from emergencies.  For example, volunteers have been in the community teaching first aid for 100 years and when the skills for CPR were added in the 1970s, courses were adapted and we continued to teach the skills that make our community safe for us all.  Today, many of our courses include an option to train online.  Our methods take advantage of the many advances that occur in our society but our focus remains the same.

History shows us disasters in the 1930s that involve volunteers from counties across Northeast Tennessee coming to the aid of their friends in Kingsport when a tornado hit.  In 2016, we saw volunteers from those same counties travelling to the aid of our neighbors in Sevier County when the wildfires struck.  Some early stories tell of volunteers riding horses to deliver assistance while today we drive on interstates in cars to deliver aid.  Methods have changed but the giving hearts and dedication of Red Cross volunteers stay the same.

During World War II, thousands of servicemen travelled by train through Northeast Tennessee stopping in Morristown, Johnson City or Bristol where they were met by smiling Red Cross volunteers operating canteens to provide food and drink.  These dedicated volunteers were at the train stations all day and through the night.  Today, we are still supporting our military population with services to active duty military, their families, and the many veterans in our communities.  Needs have changed but our commitment to those who serve remains the same.

Stop by the office and learn about our history, sign the timeline, and share your memories as well.  We have a Century of Service to celebrate along with the excitement of beginning a Second Century of Service to Northeast Tennessee.  Together, let’s tip our hats to the past and join hands as we face the promise of the future.


Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - January 2017

Wow! 2016 came to an eventful close, and our Southeast Tennessee Red Cross volunteers exhibited their very finest in response to numerous disasters including the Woodmore school bus accident, tornadoes in McMinn, Sequatchie and Polk counties and the wildfire operation in Gatlinburg.  To say we were busy would definitely be an understatement.  I can't express enough my gratitude and appreciation for the long hours, hard work and dedication our volunteers give when helping our community during crisis.

As we tended to the people affected by the disasters both locally and in our neighboring communities, our Service to Armed forces volunteers collected over 5000 cards this holiday season from members of our local community. Our Red Cross volunteers provided children the opportunity to make handmade cards at the United Way's Family day at Chattanooga's Hamilton Place Mall.  Our community partners at Whirlpool CXC of Cleveland also created and collected cards from associates and their families. All cards were distributed to our local active duty and reserve military as well as the veterans in our area.

The end of 2016 was not easy for our chapter, yet it was incredibly rewarding to see everyone come together in support of one another and of our community. We are blessed with the hands and hearts of so many that serve on a moment’s notice.

 I look forward to working together with each of you in the new year!

Southeast Tennessee: January 2017 Safety Preparedness Tip - Winter Auto Safety

Monthly Safety Preparedness Tip: Winter Auto Safety

Winters in Southeast Tennessee are often unpredictable, and having items in your car for any scenario is a good way to ensure your safety on the road. Whether you find yourself stranded in your car in a snow storm, or your car won't start in freezing temperatures, being well prepared will make the difference between panic and peace of mind.

Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events. Here are some safety tips you may want to consider for your automobile and while getting out on the roads this winter.

Before Leaving Home:

Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help see.
Before leaving, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
Make sure your phone is charged.  A great preparedness item is to have a portable charger.
Keep a set of warm blankets or the very effective NASA survival blankets in your car in case you have to stay there for a period of time.
It is always a good idea to keep flashlights and fresh batteries in you automobile.
Other safety equipment such as road flares can easily signal distress
Pack necessities such as snacks and bottled water.
Consider roadside assistance service. Most auto insurance companies offer this service as a part of your premium coverage.

When Driving:

Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
Don’t pass snow plows.
Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
Don’t run the engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t die.
If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.