Friday, June 16, 2017

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Sam DiNicola - June 2017

Meet Sam DiNicola, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter volunteer spotlight for June 2017.

Sam was born and raised in Utica, New York with southern roots from his mother.  When the time came to go to college, he chose Vanderbilt.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Tennessee.  For 37 years he worked for the Tennessee Department of Correction in various positions such as in the correctional office, administration, and lastly as the Superintendent of the Tennessee Correction Training Academy.  While in this last position he also took a position on the local Red Cross Board.  In June 2013, after retiring, he joined the Red Cross as a disaster action team volunteer and has been extremely busy ever since.

Sam keeps track of the disasters he has responded to for the Red Cross.  Since June 2013 he has helped at 147 disaster responses (averaging 4-5 a month), helping 463 people who were left homeless due to a disaster of some type.  These disasters have included single family home fires, apartment fires, tornadoes, and trees falling on houses.  He regularly responds to disasters in Coffee, Warren, Franklin, and Lincoln Counties and on occasion in Bedford, Marshall, and Rutherford Counties.

In addition to being Disaster Action Team (DAT) Captain, Sam also  fulfills duties with Disaster Cycle Services, and as Disaster Responder, and Home Fire Preparedness Campaign Member.

Sam is motivated by the satisfaction of helping those in need. He gives credit to the wonderful leadership of the Heart of Tennessee Chapter.

From the Heart of Tennessee Chapter: Thank you, Sam for the countless hours of helping the people of Middle Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, Janet Caperton - June 2017

The Tennessee River Chapter Volunteer Spotlight is Janet Caperton!

Janet has been a volunteer with the Tennessee River Chapter since 1996. Her journey started as a CPR and First Aid instructor and has flourished since the day she started. Janet is now heavily involved with Disaster Cycle Services as a Disaster Action Team Captain in Stewart County, Disaster Assessment, Co DAT Coordinator, and HAM Radio Operator.

Janet has always believed in volunteerism, and she considers herself a career volunteer. Over the years, Janet has worked as a volunteer EMT Firefighter in Stewart County and led a Girl Scout troop for twenty years. She found the Red Cross because of a need she saw in her community and has been an asset to the team ever since.

Janet comes from a military family and says while Stewart County is not where she is from, it has become her home. Together, Janet and her husband have one daughter. They now live on land within the county that has been passed through eight generations and is on the highest hill in Stewart County, “perfect for Amateur Radio”!

Through her endeavors, Janet recalls several memorable moments. During the Clarksville tornadoes, Janet worked tirelessly from the office to coordinate supplies and resources for those in the field. At the same time, she was coordinating food and shelters for members of Stewart County. Because of her superior work, Janet received the Above and Beyond Award. Most recently, Janet has worked the Big Rock flooding and flooding in Sumner County. She also set up a booth for Eagle Fest in Stewart County.

“I am honored to work with the chapter and watch it continue to grow; it seems to get better every year”, said Caperton. “The chapter is evolving for the good”.

We cannot express our depths of gratitude for Janet and the work she continues to do for our chapter. It would be an understatement to say she is an asset to the team. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. It is because of individuals like you that our chapter continues to develop.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Dean Sparks - June 2017

Congratulations to Dean Sparks, this month's volunteer spotlight! “Dean has really stepped up over the past few months as the Mental Health lead. He shows great passion for helping others and great leadership in engaging our Red Cross chapter in the community around disaster mental health needs.”

Dean has worked as a disaster mental health volunteer with the Red Cross since 1993. He is a social worker by training; he retired about 2 years ago, and moved to Tennessee from Ohio. His role has evolved over time from a support for the volunteer teams and staff, to now also responding to the local victims. Dean provides support, does assessments, and connects those in need of further services to local help. He believes that volunteers and victims must take care of themselves before, during, after trauma, and his contribution to the Red Cross stems from his values that if one has skills, knowledge and ability, they are obligated to help. He feels he has professional, religious and moral commitments to respond.  As the team lead, he is now trying to build a team of other qualified volunteers.

In the first several years of his volunteer work, he mainly participated in deployments. His first deployment was to the Northridge earthquake in 1993. Throughout his 24 years, he has assisted in many major events nationally such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. Dean now also participates locally and is called whenever there are fatalities like in fires, local plane crashes, accidents, etc. Here in Chattanooga, he was essential in dealing with the tornadoes and bus crash.

His most memorable experience was responding to Hurricane Katrina. For two weeks, he worked 20 hours a day in charge of the spiritual needs, mental health, recreation, and assisting of other volunteers. He slept on a concrete floor with thousands of other people and said of the experience, “It was hard work, but best work I’ve ever done.”

Thank you, Dean, for your valuable contribution over the many years, and your time in the Chattanooga area!

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Mary and Francis “Fritz” Walker - June 2017

This month I wanted to spotlight two volunteers in the East Tennessee Chapter. Mary and Francis “Fritz” Walker are two volunteers that make this chapter function. They are a “powerhouse” at home as the sweetest couple and they are a “powerhouse” at the chapter doing every job there is to do.

Mary has been a volunteer with the East Tennessee Chapter since 2015. She holds a position in disaster as a disaster responder with a concentration in casework, Fire Safety House, the Pillowcase Project, and staff services. She is also the lead engagement volunteer for disaster and is responsible for engaging and on-boarding volunteers that are new to the chapter and this line of service.

She selflessly takes the time every month to cook for 100 attendees of the “All Disaster” meeting, then stays until it is over to clean up afterwards. All the while, she has a smile on her face. Mary has deployed four times, with the most recent being the East Tennessee Wildfires in Gatlinburg where she was a pivotal part of staff services and the success they had.

Mary jumps in whenever it is needed, whether it is a disaster response and the days are 12-14 hours long, or on a “day off” when she had other plans. I know that she is one of the most selfless volunteers that we have and is always looking out for others.

And then there is Fritz….

Fritz also has been a volunteer with the East TN Chapter since 2015 along with his wife, Mary. He holds a position of disaster responder, with a concentration in emergency response vehicle driving, logistics, mass care, disaster action team, and Home Fire Campaign. He is always even keeled and there is nothing that gets him stressed or worked up, not even a disaster response.

Fritz has deployed seven times since becoming a volunteer and has made an amazing impact each time.

If disasters are not enough to keep him busy, he comes to the chapter to do any and all sorts of maintenance.  He is crucial in the painting of our building, removing wallpaper, fixing whatever is broken and problem solving when needed. He always has a smile on his face and makes it a point to say “hello” to everyone around.

I can’t say enough about these two volunteers and all they do for the East Tennessee American Red Cross. All I know is that my day is better the moment they come through the door.  I am proud to call them volunteers, but even more privileged to call them friends.

Kristin Manuel
Sr. Volunteer Services Specialist

Tennessee River Volunteer Submission - June 2017

Spring is a time of renewal, and for some, cleaning. As in, it’s time to deep clean the house, its contents, wash windows, and beat a few rugs outside to remove the dirt and grime and staleness of winter, and to enjoy the fragrant clean air and warmer weather of spring. I’m not sure how much actual “spring cleaning” occurs in today’s world since heating with sooty coal furnaces is mostly a thing of the past. Yet using spring as a time to gear up for summer applies to what we do in the American Red Cross.

In a little less than five weeks, the current fiscal year ends and a new fiscal year begins. The month  of June will be spent reviewing goals to see if they were met, setting goals for the new fiscal year, completing year end Client Assistance Cards inventory, creating or renewing spreadsheets to use in the coming months, renewing service agreements at the chapter level, and generally tying up all the loose ends.

It’s a time of closure and a time of renewal. For the non-organized individual, it may also be a time of stress and trepidation, but it doesn’t need to be. Make a list of what needs to be completed by the end of June, and tackle the items daily, a little at a time. And, yes, there is gratification in crossing “chores” off the proverbial to-do list.

So, while Spring itself makes an early appearance (relative to, say, Maine) in this region, and while we “spring ahead” with Daylight Savings Time, we can still count June as a spring month as a time to get our American Red Cross house ready for the new year.

-Submitted by Jan Thompson, Tennessee River Volunteer

Red Cross Urges Everyone to Get CPR/AED Trained

Sudden cardiac arrest claims thousands of lives every year and knowing what to do can help save lives. The American Red Cross urges everyone to get trained on how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) so they can help during an emergency situation.

Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.

Interested in getting trained?  Find information on Red Cross classes here. Take classes online, or in person.

The Red Cross recommends that households, businesses and schools receive training in CPR and proper use of an AED. This training can give you the knowledge and confidence to respond during an emergency situation with skills that can help save a life.

Whether you want to be able to help keep your loved ones safe or help someone in your work place, or use your training professionally, Red Cross can give you the knowledge and skills to be able to help. Red Cross training is OSHA compliant so if your training is mandated where you work, certified Red Cross instructors can help.

The Red Cross offers several different opportunities to receive training. One is to attend in-person classes held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. Online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning offerings are also available. Check with your employer as to what class you need if you are taking training to fulfill a job requirement.

You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at

Get Ready to Pedal for the Red!

Bring your family and friends and join us for a fun bike ride on June 24 in Knoxville that benefits the American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

Pedal for the Red is a family-friendly way to be part of the USA Cycling National Championship Weekend. Amateur cyclists of all ages and levels can ride the 4.8 mile championship time trial loop BEFORE the pros start.

The ride starts in the Old City, (East Jackson Ave.) and the route is open only to Pedal riders from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 am. Two great hours to ride as many laps as you’d like.

Top off the ride with a free pancake breakfast at the finish line.  It’s the perfect spot to watch as the pro competition begins.

It’s a great ride - for a great cause!  Help us celebrate the American Red Cross Centennial.  100 Years of Service in Tennessee!

Visit to register or volunteer.

Register by June 18 to receive special pre-event registration rates.