Friday, February 28, 2014

Recognizing Our Everyday Heroes During Red Cross Month

March is Red Cross Month and we would like to recognize our Everyday Heroes who reach out to help their neighbors when they are in need.

These everyday heroes are our volunteers who help disaster victims get on the road to recovery. They give blood to help someone in the hospital. They brighten the day of an injured service member in a hospital far from home. They take our classes and step forward to help someone having a heart attack or to save a drowning child.

March is also a great time to become part of the Red Cross. It’s easy. Household members can work together on a preparedness plan. People can sign up to take a class or volunteer their time. They can give blood or make a financial donation.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families; collects and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains millions of people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.

Here in the Middle and West Tennessee area, the Tennessee Volunteer Region responded to 932 local emergencies, delivered 1,593 emergency communication messages to service members and 3,695 pre & post deployment briefings for military members and their families.

Red Cross Month is observed in dedication of everyone who supports our mission. We are grateful to people for their generosity which enables us to continue our work, and encourage everyone to become an Everyday Hero during Red Cross Month by helping their neighbors.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fleet One Employees Donate to Red Cross

This Valentine’s Day, the American Red Cross Tennessee Valley Blood Services Region received a sweet surprise from the team at Fleet One in Antioch. In addition to rolling up their sleeves to donate life-saving blood, the team at Fleet One presented a Red Cross Representative with a monetary donation for our Disaster Services team. Employees of Fleet One were able to raise $2,190. The team presented the check to Red Cross representative Brandie Spradley.

More than 100 employees at the company wanted to make a financial contribution for a variety of reasons. Some weren’t able to donate blood, others needed assistance from the Red Cross in the past or had family members who needed help and there were a few who donated because the company offered a month of casual wear if they donated $20 or more. 

We are thankful for our outstanding partnership with the team at Fleet One.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Download the Red Cross Tornado App

Visit to download the free Red Cross Tornado App.

Tennessee Severe Weather Awareness Week

by Communications Intern, Yasmine Eli

Storm Ready? Prepare—Warn—Respond!

Tennessee Severe Weather Awareness Week (TSWA) is in full effect! TSWA week ends this Friday, and it is calling attention to the severe weather that occurs in the late winter and spring seasons. It is best to become storm ready and be prepared. Today’s topic is Tornado Safety and Preparedness. Severe weather and tornadoes are most common across Tennessee during the spring, especially the month of April. April has had some of the largest and deadliest tornado outbreaks in Tennessee’s history.

If you are a weather aficionado in your community, you can become a SkyWarn storm spotter. Skywarn is the National Weather Service (NWS) program of trained volunteer weather spotters. SkyWarn storm spotters play a vital role in providing ground truth data, which helps the NWS, perform our primary mission to respond and save lives and property. SkyWarn storm spotter training classes are offered all across Tennessee throughout the year. To enroll, visit

The best way to be prepared for severe weather is to become Red Cross Ready. Having an emergency preparedness kit can help you be equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of a storm. Also another easy way to be prepared for a tornado is to get the official Tornado App from the American Red Cross via ITunes or Google Play.

With severe weather expected across Tennessee on Thursday evening, it is vital to make sure that you and your family are prepared BEFORE disaster strikes.  Visit for more information.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Red Cross Heroes Luncheon Raises $80,000

MURFREESBORO, TN, February 19, 2014 — Nearly 340 guests packed the room at the Stones River Country Club for the 2nd Annual Heroes Luncheon to benefit the Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross on Wednesday, February 19th.  The event raised $80,000 to assist the Red Cross as they help our community prepare, prevent and respond to disasters every day.

“We truly appreciate everyone who attended this event, made a donation and recognized our local Red Cross Hero of the Year, Andy Womack,” said Mike Cowles, Chapter Executive.  “Everyone also really enjoyed hearing from News Channel 5 meteorologist, Lelan Statom, as he talked about the importance of being prepared before disaster strikes and shared with the audience how the Red Cross assisted him after a fire when he first moved to Middle Tennessee.”

The Heart of Tennessee Chapter would like to thank all sponsors for 2014 including:  Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital, Black Box, Special Touch Disaster Restoration, Ascend Federal Credit Union, Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder & Kious, PLLC, State Farm Deb Insell Agent, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Bell Jewelers, City Café, Gil’s Ace Hardware Smyrna, TN, Guardian Security Systems, Inc., MidSouth Bank, Redstone Federal Credit Union, John M. Green Attorney at Law, Shacklett’s Photography, and Wilson Bank & Trust. 

For anyone who was unable to attend the event, but would still like to make a contribution to the Red Cross, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or log on to make a donation.  Checks may also be mailed to the Heart of Tennessee Chapter at 501 Memorial Blvd. Murfreesboro, TN 37129.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Red Cross Looking Forward to 2nd Annual Heroes Luncheon

Event Will Feature News Channel 5 Meteorologist as Guest Speaker

MURFREESBORO, TN, February 13, 2014 — The Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross is looking forward to hosting their 2nd Annual Heroes Luncheon on Wednesday, February 19th at noon at the Stones River Country Club.  Seating begins at 11:30 a.m. This year’s event will honor Andy Womack as the “Hero of the Year”.

“With all of the recent winter weather events we have been experiencing and responding to as a disaster relief organization, we are anticipating a very relevant and timely message from our keynote speaker, Lelan Statom, Nashville News Channel 5 meteorologist,” said Mike Cowles, Heart of Tennessee Chapter Executive. 

Corporate and individual table sponsorships from $250 - $5,000 are still available.  To purchase a sponsorship or to get more information, please contact Deena Cruz at 615-893-4272 ext. 104 or via e-mail at

 The Heart of Tennessee Chapter would like to thank current sponsors for 2014 including:  Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital, Black Box, Special Touch Disaster Restoration, Ascend Federal Credit Union, Kious, Rodgers, Barger, Holder & Kious, PLLC, State Farm Deb Insell Agent, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Bell Jewelers, City Café, Gil’s Ace Hardware Smyrna, TN, Guardian Security Systems, Inc., MidSouth Bank, Redstone Federal Credit Union, John M. Green Attorney at Law, Shacklett’s Photography, and Wilson Bank & Trust. 

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross. 



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Storm Shelters and Warming Centers

Shelters/Warming Centers Open (Updated 2/12 at 8pm EST):

·        White Pine Ambulance Center 1104 Champion Lane White Pine, TN (Warming Center)

·        Rescue Squad 915 Industrial Park Rd, Dandridge, TN (Warming Center)

·        Greene County Rescue Squad 602 West Church Street Greeneville, TN. (Shelter Operated by Greene County EMA)
Please continue to follow these blog posts for more information.
For immediate updates download the American Red Cross Shelter App for iPhones.

Red Cross Offers Safety Tips for Cold Weather

As yet another wave of harsh winter weather rolls into Tennessee, we want to remind you to take steps to stay safe.

Cold Weather Safety Tips
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
• Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
• Don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
• Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
• Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
• Download the Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.

During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, people should remember the following:

• Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
• If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
• If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
• Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
• Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms or countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Am a Red Cross Nurse

By Jan Freeman, RN, MSN

I am a Red Cross Nurse.

Few descriptive comments I can say about myself generate more pride.  After working 30 plus years, in hospital settings, my husband and I (both RNs) were able to “retire” young.  We planned this future for ourselves for many years.  Feeling very blessed by all that our lives had given us, we wanted to give back to our community and become more engaged in the activities that mattered most to us.  For us, that meant using our knowledge and experience to help others.  To that end, we jumped into volunteering with the American Red Cross with both feet.

In the last year, we have been on 4 national disaster deployments including Hurricane Sandy.  In addition, we serve our local community by teaching CPR and First Aid, and participate in community outreach events such as health fairs and preparedness events, etc.  In 2012, we also staffed a Red Cross informational booth at the TNA Convention.  We are members of our local Disaster Action Team where we respond to single and multi-family fires, local floods and other weather events in our community.  We speak at fundraising events.  We teach Disaster Nursing to other volunteer nurses and in nursing schools throughout the state and wherever we are invited to speak.  

For the last several months, I have served in a volunteer leadership position as the State Nurse Liaison for the state of Tennessee.  My role has been to provide support to Red Cross chapters throughout the state by helping them recruit and retain nurse volunteers, support health initiatives, develop partnerships, provide information and education, and be a resource and contact for nurses. 
The year 2012 was very busy for me and my husband, Drex.  As volunteers, one of our first activities was to join a Rapid Deployment Shelter Team.  This is a group of volunteers who train together on a regular basis so that when a disaster strikes, they are ready to go, and can deploy and mobilize to operate a Red Cross shelter in short order.  One afternoon, our phone rang and it was our team captain asking if we could travel to Duluth, Minnesota to help with the worst flooding in that city’s history.  Less than 24 hours later, we were on a plane headed north. 

When we arrived in Duluth, we went to the shelter location and quickly jumped into our roles; deciding which of us would work which positions, who would work the day and night shifts, we set up cots, arranged for feeding, organized supplies, etc.  In the evenings, I would write emails to our five daughters back home in Tennessee to give them updates on what we were doing.  The following is copied from one of those emails home to them.

Tuesday June 26, 2012  

Dear girls,

Today was a very long day. Our shift is 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, but we were needed to come in early and we ended up staying late.  It has been some time since I did this much physical work in a single day.  I got to ride in an Emergence Response Vehicle (ERV) and help pick up and deliver bottled water to residents in affected communities.  I made  60 ham and cheese sandwiches, 30 peanut butter and jelly,  carted in  boxes of apples and oranges, mopped floors, disinfected cots, washed blankets and towels, repaired a donated high chair…..the list goes on.   

But the best part of my day was my interaction with a family here.  They have been here four days, and the days have not been kind to them.  These are decent, hardworking people who have just fallen on hard times.  The father had lost his job; they were living in an apartment.  They lost everything they have, the building is condemned, and they had no renters insurance and now no place to go.  One of our case workers had been trying to find them an apartment, but since the father was unemployed no one would accept them without any proof of income even though the Red Cross would pay their first month’s rent.  Finally, someone came through for them and said they would provide them a place free of rent for 6 months.  The Red Cross gave them money for clothing, food, and a voucher for furniture from Goodwill.  These were the happiest people I have ever seen.  They hugged us all and couldn’t stop thanking us.  Then, their 5 year old boy came up to me and handed me a piece of paper.  On it he had written in very primitive but legible print:  

Thank You Red Cross.  I Love Your Bunks.

I was so moved it brought tears to my eyes.  I asked if I could give him a hug.  People often ask us why we volunteer so much time without pay.  This is my answer.  There is no amount of money that could replace the feeling you get by helping another human being in their hour of need; especially a child.  I have been a nurse for over 30 years and have loved every second of it, but this topped anything I ever did in my work life. 

As is the nature of many floods however, the flood waters came up fast but receded quickly and within a few days we were no longer needed in Duluth.  But needs were developing quickly in other places as tropical storm Debby was pummeling north central Florida, bringing with it torrential rains and more flooding.  My team was asked if we would get on a plane and go directly to Florida from Minnesota, and the next morning we flew from Minneapolis to Gainesville, Florida.  The situation there was much worse, as the flooding did not recede as quickly. 

Another entry from emails home:

Dear Girls,

When we got to the shelter, things were a bit chaotic.  It is hot and humid from the flooding and Florida temperatures.  There are more people in the shelter here and fewer volunteers to help.  Everyone has a story to tell and is very eager to share it.  We did a great deal of listening and looking at amazing photos clients had taken with the cell phones.  We heard story after story of water rescues in airboats and of flood waters rising by the foot in an hour’s time.  We did whatever needed to be done, alternating between helping out with general shelter duties to manning the nurse’s station.  We did everything from bandaging wounds, delivering meals, disinfecting cots, interfacing with the local Health Department, to security, and washing and drying wet clothing. I am very tired, but feeling great about what we are doing here.  Love Mom

And then came October.  Drex and I were actually taking a week of much needed vacation spending a week on St. George’s Island in Florida.  In the evenings, we would switch on the TV and weather sources began to speak of a possible “Super Storm” that was brewing in the Atlantic.  Projections looked ominous and we began to worry.  As the days wore on, it began to look like the worst case scenario would become a reality.  On October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall affecting 24 states and slamming the most populated region in the United States.  The phone rang once again asking if both my husband and I could deploy as nurse volunteers.  This time we deployed separately; I went first on November 1, and Drex followed on December 2.    

I flew into White Plains, New York because LaGuardia and JFK were both closed due to flooding.  When I landed, the airport was on emergency power.  It was a bit of a challenge to find my rental car in a dark parking lot.  There was hardly any traffic on the road to my staff shelter, which was located in a high school gymnasium.  That night, I slept on a cot as did several hundred other volunteers.  The next morning, I arrived at Red Cross headquarters in White Plains to get my assignment.  I was told I would be working in Staff Wellness, which is taking care of our Red Cross volunteers, who are working on the operation.  Over 15,000 Red Cross volunteers mobilized from across the U.S. to respond to Sandy.  The majority found themselves in New York and/or New Jersey.  I had only been on the job an hour when I found myself already taking an ill volunteer to the hospital.  Tests revealed he had pneumonia and needed to be admitted.  I stayed with him until 1 a.m. speaking with his daughters, scared for their father and hundreds of miles away back home, via telephone and keeping them updated of his condition.  When I returned to headquarters, I was told that I was to be the Lead Nurse for a team of nurses going to New York City to take care of our volunteers on Staten Island and Brooklyn, which were two of the hardest hit areas.  I was at once both honored and anxious and I hoped I was up to the task.  Then my worst fear was realized…..I was handed the keys to a very large SUV and told to drive to New York City and find my staff shelter before it got dark.  It was around 3:00 p.m. and rush hour rapidly approaching.  I was now officially scared.  I live in a very small town in rural Tennessee with a population of around 1,500 people and drive a Toyota Prius.  The thought of driving an enormous SUV, full of people, through New York City during rush hour seemed far more daunting than my worst nursing assignment.  But, I took the keys, gathered my team, grabbed the GPS that I was so grateful that Drex INSISTED I bring with me and headed south.  I drove through Manhattan, by the Battery Park area, and sometimes the GPS faltered because it didn’t know which roads, bridges or tunnels were closed but we made it.

 The next two weeks were full of long days and hard work.  When we weren’t caring for volunteers, we were visiting shelters checking on conditions there, following Red Cross truck drivers delivering supplies to remote areas hardest hit, and in some cases we were flying volunteers home who were too weak to travel alone.  We were on call 24-7, which meant there were times we worked many hours straight.  

I finally returned home on November 16th.  Drex deployed on December 2, and he, too, went to New York.  By this time the mission had shifted into recovery mode and many of the shelters that were open on my deployment had closed.  He also was assigned to Staff Wellness and worked in both New York and New Jersey helping to ensure the health of our volunteer workforce.  The statistics regarding Red Cross Support during Hurricane Sandy are staggering:

11 million meals and snacks served
7 million relief items distributed
81,000 overnight stays in shelters
109,000 health and mental health contacts

But, you don’t have to hop on a plane and travel across the country to put your nursing skills to good use for the American Red Cross.  There are ample opportunities to help right in your local community.   My husband and I are active on our community’s local Disaster Action Team.  In this capacity we respond to local disasters on a smaller scale such as single family fires, apartment fires, local flooding and weather events.  You can become a Red Cross instructor and teach a multitude of courses designed to promote preparedness, health and safety.  There are opportunities to support the armed forces community as a nurse volunteer, and even occasional opportunities to volunteer internationally.

This is only a small piece of my Red Cross volunteer experience but I frequently find myself wondering what my next volunteer “adventure” will be.  Of course, I feel confident that whatever the future holds, a Red Cross nurse will be there to answer the call for help.  It may be me or my husband, Drex, but my bigger hope is that it might be YOU……the person reading this article.  Or, better still, that it will be you and I together working side by side putting our nursing skills to good use and forging a new and lasting friendship.

Our mission for the future is to have a Red Cross Nurse in every community; every day.  Disasters strike without warning and having a cadre of nurse volunteers is vital to accomplishing our mission of alleviating human suffering.  I know the challenges are always great, but so is the need.  I hope that any nurse reading this article will consider volunteering.  I hope that anyone who knows a nurse will share this article with them.   

If you are a nurse, with an active license, I hope you will support us in our mission.  We need YOU, so that we can respond to local fires and be with families when they need help the most.  We need YOU to teach lay persons CPR and First Aid so they may someday save someone’s life.  We need YOU to help meet health needs of families in shelters where they can have a warm, safe place to sleep and a hot meal to eat.  We need YOU to help teach our community’s children and grandchildren how to swim and become safe and responsible babysitters.  We need YOU to help reach out to help military families or help with blood drives so vital to saving lives.  

For more than a century Red Cross nurses have brought care and comfort to people in need.  If you would like to join the more than 20,000 nurse volunteers and become part of this proud heritage or find out more about becoming a Red Cross nurse volunteer, then please contact your local chapter.  You can find out more about Red Cross nursing, as well as locate your local chapter by visiting  or you may email me directly at

I AM TNA, I Am A Red Cross Nurse!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

DAT+GRAM - Nashville Area Chapter - 2/6/14

Red Cross Announces Tom Ridge as Lifesaver Breakfast Keynote Speaker

NASHVILLE, Tenn., February 6, 2014 – The Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross is pleased to announce The Honorable Tom Ridge as this year’s keynote speaker for the 12th Annual Lifesaver Breakfast on Tuesday, March 11th at 7:30 am, at Lipscomb University in Allen Arena.

Tom Ridge is the CEO of Ridge Global.  A Vietnam combat veteran, former U.S. Congressman, the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania, and the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Often noted for his instrumental role within Homeland Security, Ridge leads a team of international experts that help businesses and governments address a range of needs throughout their organizations, including security and infrastructure protection, emergency preparedness and response, energy, strategic growth, maritime management and other issues that encompass a diverse portfolio. 

 “We are honored to host Tom Ridge as our keynote speaker, as he will share with Middle Tennessee business and community leaders his personal experiences working with the American Red Cross,” said Joel Sullivan, Regional CEO for the Tennessee Volunteer Region of the American Red Cross.  “As Secretary of Homeland Security, he worked on the front lines promoting public and private sector partnerships that served to strengthen community resiliency after natural and man-made disasters.”

 Jan and Harry Jacobson will serve as event Chairpersons.  The Jacobsons have had tremendous impact in our community and beyond with their charitable involvement with non-profit organizations including Family Foundation Fund, Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Shoot for the Future, and Hospital Hospitality House. 

 The Jacobsons are working in coordination with a volunteer event committee that is comprised of our community’s most dedicated leaders, including:  Bill Andrews, Joe Crace, Kari Johnson, Bill Krueger, Roland Lundy, Rob McCabe, MaryEllen Rodgers, Peter Rousos and Gary Wilson.

The Lifesaver Breakfast hosts Nashville’s most influential business and community leaders, sharing the mission of the American Red Cross and raising the financial funding resources necessary to provide their core humanitarian services.

For more information on the Lifesaver Breakfast and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Mandy Peebles at 615.290.6804 or visit to to reserve your tickets.  Seating is limited.

 About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.