Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Commitment to Purpose and Passion The American Red Cross Volunteer Story During Disaster

Orlando, Florida
Sept. 4, 2019

It is 2 p.m. a week into an active disaster response for Hurricane Dorian on the East Coast. More than 1,900 trained volunteers from around the country, rallied to the call for help when the storm’s path appeared as though it would cover the state of Florida, and then move through Georgia and the Carolinas. Energy is still high in the headquarters for the response in Florida, but a sigh of relief envelopes the room. The storm has passed, leaving little damage in its wake. Still, handling more than 100 shelters and 7,000 evacuees in those shelters, work is nowhere near to being done.

These volunteers have seen the worst in disaster and continue to respond when called upon. In total, these people have seen 6,491 deployments between them. Fires, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes pepper the stories and memories of disasters past. It is a long day of work. Cool heads, calm voices and open hearts are evident in every single function of the disaster response.

Barbara Riester, a 50 year Red Cross volunteer,
works on her 100th deployment as a Logistics
Chief for the response to Hurricane Dorian. 
One volunteer works in a corner of the room, rarely leaving her post except for a few breaks before nightfall. Barbara Riester has served in one capacity or another for the Red Cross for more than 50 years. For this disaster, she is serving as the Logistics Chief at headquarters. Her love for service and the humanitarian organization began when she taught swimming lessons to children her Freshman year of college. Since those days, she has worked as a Red Cross employee and has deployed on more than 100 disaster calls as a volunteer.

Her call to serve has sent her to most states in the United States, the American Samoa Islands, around the world, and even a 20-month deployment to Indonesia following the 2004 tsunami that claimed more than 200,000 lives. She has seen it all. She lives the mission of the American Red Cross daily. This is her sixth volunteer deployment for the year.

“Like most Red Cross volunteers who are my age, I just didn’t want to retire,” she said from her post in the storm headquarters. “I enjoy working on disaster recovery. Red Cross workers are like family. They are my family. That really says it all for me. I don’t see my service as unique, I feel fortunate I can come and help.”

Riester is from Baltimore, Maryland. There are people serving this disaster from Washington, Virginia, Minnesota, Tennessee and Puerto Rico, just to name a few. All with the same story of passion for the mission of the Red Cross. All who will wait out the storm, providing shelter, food, and help to those who need it most.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a trained disaster volunteer, go to RedCross.org or visit your local American Red Cross chapter.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

National Preparedness Month: Red Cross Asks Everyone to Prepare for the Next Emergency

All It Takes Is Three Easy Steps – Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed

September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time for people to get their household ready in case an emergency should occur. The American Red Cross prepares all year for disasters and urges everyone to Be Red Cross Ready too.

“Disasters can happen anywhere, at any time, even in your home,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive for the Tennessee Region. “During National Preparedness Month, we ask you to take three action steps – get an emergency kit, make an emergency plan and be informed – so you and your loved ones can react quickly if an emergency occurs.”

The Red Cross urges everyone to take three important action steps to get prepared:
1. Build a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications.
2. Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
3. Be informed – Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. Get trained in First Aid and CPR/AED so you’ll know what to do in an emergency if help is delayed. Don’t forget your pets, plan for them too.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross Emergency App has more than 35 customizable severe weather and emergency alerts. Content on what to do before, during and after emergencies from power outages to home fires, to hurricanes and tornadoes, can be viewed in English or Spanish. Parents can download the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App so 7- to 11-year-olds will have a fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies and what to do if one occurs. Apps can be downloaded for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores or visiting redcross.org/apps. People can also enable Red Cross skills for Alexa to receive notifications about an approaching hurricane, get valuable first aid information and schedule a blood donation. Details are available at redcross.org/alexa-skills.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD Severe weather events can have a significant impact on the ability of the Red Cross to collect life-saving blood products due to canceled blood drives and decreased donor turnout in impacted areas. It is the blood already on hand that helps those in need. Each day, the Red Cross must collect about 13,000 blood donations and more than 2,500 platelet donations to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients and children with blood disorders. Volunteer blood and platelet donors are needed to help save lives. Eligible donors are encouraged to schedule a donation appointment by using the Blood Donor Skill for Amazon Alexa, the Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Volunteer Highlight From Flint Clouse, Regional Volunteer Services Officer

We know that our greatest resource is our volunteers. The team accomplishes so much more working together.

Many of you have already heard of our new Friends and Family Referral Program. This program enables volunteers to help recommend qualified people to join the Red Cross. The four steps are:

1. A current Red Cross volunteer encourages a friend, family member, or colleague to apply as a volunteer.
2. The current volunteer submits their personal connection’s information through the referral form located in Volunteer Connection.
3. If requested, an email will be sent to the potential volunteer to encourage them to apply.
4. The potential volunteer applies through redcross.org/volunteer and becomes a volunteer.

We will hold in-person and online sessions to review the resources in more detail, including email templates and where to find the program in Volunteer Connection. To learn more, reach out to your Chapter Executive Director or a member of the Volunteer Services team.

Tracking the referrals in Volunteer Connection will allow us to keep you updated on their application process and have monthly drawings for those with at least three volunteer recruits that log hours in that month, beginning in October. Among other appreciation items, our Pop Socket will be exclusively available for the Friends and Family Referral Program monthly drawing. More information to come.

SURVEY NOTE: You may have heard us talk about the Net Promoter Score or NPS. In your annual survey, we ask how likely you are to recommend the Red Cross to a friend as a good place to volunteer. We appreciate the 9 and 10s because you are likely to recommend us. A rating of 7 or 8 is neutral, and anything lower means “not at all likely” to recommend us. If you are not recommending us as a great place to volunteer, please help us make changes. We don’t want to wait until an annual survey to solve problems. Volunteers make up over 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce, and we recognize that volunteers have valuable feedback to improve our programs.

Thanks for the feedback in reducing the volunteer opportunities on the public website. We went from 35 to 6 pages. Please keep the solutions coming.

And thank you for sharing our volunteer opportunities with your friends. That’s the biggest compliment our programs can receive.

Best wishes,

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - Sept. 2019

Thank You to Our Volunteer Healthcare Professionals

This month we recognize and celebrate the achievements of American Red Cross health care professionals. Nationwide, more than 20,000 volunteer healthcare professionals generously give of their time and talent to help those in need by responding to more than 62,000 disaster calls each year.

Here in East Tennessee, our volunteers include clinicians, individuals with master's degrees in nursing and public health and education, advanced Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification and a range of other related fields. They provide relief for disaster victims, develop and conduct health and safety classes, and render support to members of the Armed Forces.  “Our health care professionals are priceless,” said East Tennessee Disaster Program Manager Kristin Manuel. “They are a lifeline for clients and our Disaster Action Teams can’t provide basic medical services without them “.

First-Aid Station coordinator and disaster volunteer James Pesterfield holds an advanced EMT certification and cites helping others as his motivation to volunteer. “No two clients are the same. I rely on my training and skills to figure out how to treat each one,” Pesterfield said. Teaching life-saving skills is the passion of Mary Franklin, volunteer instructor, trainer and educator with Training Services. “The intrinsic rewards, sharing knowledge and skills with others are really fun sharing, because every class is different,” said Franklin.

Thanks to Franklin and instructors like her, Red Cross Training Services is responsible for providing health and safety training to the public. In 2017, the Red Cross trained 2.28 million people on how to save lives through First Aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or automated external defibrillator (AED) courses, water safety and caregiving and preparedness programs. Illustrating the volunteer spirit, the East Tennessee region grew by 50% in the number of professional health care volunteers from 28 to 47.  Through their commitment to serving others, East Tennessee health care professionals exemplify the tradition of preventing and alleviating human suffering and the power of volunteers. 

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - Sept. 2019

Fall is a beautiful time of year, and I am sure we will find many exciting opportunities to help the American Red Cross with our mission.  

On Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, we are holding a blood drive at the American Red Cross office at 4115 S. Access Road in Chattanooga. I encourage you to sign up and donate blood. The statistics are clear.  Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood.  Every day, 34,000 donations are needed to help save the lives of cancer patients, accident victims and children with blood disorders in the United States. Just one pint of blood can help save as many as three lives. You can make a huge difference in our community by simply giving blood. 

Signing up is easy. The award-winning Blood Donor App is a convenient way for donors to schedule and manage their donation appointments, track the lifetime impact of their donations, earn rewards and recruit others to donate.  Donors can access their donor card through the Blood Donor App and use it as their official form of identification at donation appointments. They can also view their health history information, including blood pressure, hemoglobin levels, and pulse rate, and complete a RapidPass. Text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search Red Cross Blood in your app store. 

I am also excited to announce the 12th annual CHI Memorial Heroes Luncheon supporting the American Red Cross will be held at the Chattanoogan Hotel, on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 11:30 a.m. We are thrilled to have Major Gen. Terry M. Haston, retired Adjunct General for the Tennessee National Guard, joining us as the keynote speaker. 

Sponsorships and tickets are available by visiting our site at RedCross.org/realheroes. Reserve your seats today! 


Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - Northeast Tennessee – Sept. 2019

Teens can help the American Red Cross!

September brings the return of school and that means back to the books, Friday night lights, and the return of many high school blood drives. It is a great time of year for teens to engage with their fellow students and serve in their communities. 

The American Red Cross provides great volunteer opportunities to learn skills that will help them in the future, earn hours toward scholarships, give lifesaving blood and prepare their community for the next disaster. Our youth engagement initiatives allow students to become empowered and develop leadership skills by supporting our different lines of service.  

Currently, youth volunteers make up 16 percent of our volunteer base across the Tennessee Region. We have a goal to increase that number to 25 percent by 2021. We are increasing our Red Cross Clubs in several high schools this year.  We are also working with Taylor Parsons, Miss Tennessee’s Outstanding Teen, and a Northeast Tennessee Red Cross volunteer as our Youth Engagement Lead to attract and train more young people to volunteer with the Red Cross across the Region. 
There are many ways we will grow our youth volunteer numbers in Northeast Tennessee 

  • Youth will serve on Home Fire Campaign teams as a smoke alarm installer. (Age 16/17 with adult supervision).  
  • Organize, promote and recruit donors for blood drives at participating schools during the school year.  
  • Participate in our Missing Maps program to put millions of people from high-risk countries on the map.   
  • Join a thank-a-thon to call and thank past donors and volunteers or write thank you cards to them.  

These are but a few tasks youth leaders can volunteer to support the Red Cross missionI ask each of you to encourage the teens and young adults of your friends and family to get involved in our Chapter activities. They will be helping their community and learning different skills that will support them in their future. Volunteering is as easy as visiting redcross.org/volunteer and registering as a volunteer. That will start them on their path to helping others.  
The American Red Cross is a place for all people who have a passion in their hearts for service to their communityLet’s engage our youth and develop our future for the next generation of volunteers.  

The need is great. The work is rewarding. I am asking you to help us engage the youth in our community.


Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - Sept. 2019

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This quote resonates with me. Thank you for sharing your most precious gift: your time.

We had an incredible annual meeting and were able to recognize so many individuals from multiple lines of service. Our Training Services leadership presented Hadiya Hall-McFarland with a Certificate of Merit. This is the highest honor presented to an individual who is Red Cross trained in Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and utilized those skills to save or sustain a life. Hadiya’s instructors, John Karshner and James Graves were recognized for their commitment to our mission through training Hadiya in CPR.

Our Blood Services team, led by Gene Baker, recognized the 2019 Rutherford County Battle of the Badges Blood Drive winners. Team Law Enforcement composed of Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, LaVergne Police Department, Smyrna Police Department, and Murfreesboro Police Department took home the trophies, edging Team Fire/EMS composed of Rutherford County Fire Rescue, LaVergne Fire Department, Smyrna Fire Department, Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department, and Rutherford County EMS for the inaugural victory. We are incredibly grateful for the work of our first responders in our community and for their support of the Red Cross mission.

Whether you respond to our neighbors impacted by a home fire, install smoke alarms, teach CPR classes, brief our newly enlisted military members on Red Cross services, or roll up your sleeve to donate blood—you are appreciated. You collectively touch all five lines of service: Service to the Armed Forces, International Services, Blood Services, Training Services, and Disaster Services. We hear your stories and we are inspired by them.

With gratitude,

Kathy Ferrell
Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter