Friday, August 7, 2015

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - August 2015


Wow!!  Is it me or did summer just fly by?  I cannot believe that my boys are back in school, and even harder to believe is that I have a kid in high school now.  Time sure does fly by quickly. 

You know what else happens quickly?  A disaster.  Are you prepared?  The American Red Cross encourages everyone to have a plan on how you will survive a disaster.  Whether it is a natural disaster or manmade disaster, you should be prepared for the worst hoping for the best.  Below are few items you should have in the event of an emergency.

•    Rubbermaid box for storage of supplies
•    Bottled water
•    Flashlight with extra batteries
•    Nonperishable food
•    Gloves
•    Paper towels
•    Lantern
•    Wind up radio
•    Extra money
•    First aid kit

It is not a bad idea to keep a kit offsite as well, because your home and belongings could be destroyed.  I have a disaster kit at home as well as at my mini-storage unit.  Downloading our free Red Cross apps could also make a difference when disaster strikes.

As summer comes to a close I would like to remind you that school has begun.  Please be aware of your surroundings and take extra precautions around school zones.  Drive the speed limit, watch for crossing guards and be cautious when around school bus stops and school sporting events.  I would be remorse if I didn’t encourage you to recommend our Babysitting Training Courses here at the Red Cross to those young folks who take care of our children.  As always, I invite you to stop by our office and see where you fit in amongst the finest volunteers that continue to make a difference in the lives of others.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Red Cross Response in Southeast Tennessee

On Thursday, July 16, a deadly shooting occurred in Chattanooga, Tennessee that took the life of four Marines and a Navy sailor and injured a police officer.  The American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee quickly took action by providing canteen services and mental health support to bystanders and the local police department.  In the days that followed, forty-four American Red Cross volunteers spent hundreds of hours providing food, water and snacks to support the military and law enforcement personnel at the Navy and Marine Corp Reserve Center as they worked tirelessly.  Red Cross volunteers were also stationed at memorial sites as well as the Chattanooga National Cemetery providing hydration and support.   Through the generosity of community partners, the Red Cross was able to provide over 1,600 meals and 6,300 water/snacks during the difficult days following the shooting.     

Thank you to all those who continue to serve our mission and allow us to “alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.”

Talk with Your Children About Fire Safety

According to a recent Red Cross survey, most parents (69 percent) believe their children would know what to do or how to escape a burning home with no help. However, less than half of parents have talked to their families about fire safety and less than 10% of families have actually practiced home fire drills. That false sense of security can put families at risk. The Red Cross recommends that adults:

• Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of the reach of children.
• Always dress children in pajamas that meet federal flammability standards. Avoid loose-fitting, 100-percent cotton garments.
• Develop and practice your home fire escape plan with your children at least twice a year.
• Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm and teach them what to do when they hear it.
• Teach your children not to be afraid of firefighters. Take them to your local fire department to meet them, see the gear they wear, and learn about fire safety and prevention.
• Teach your children to tell you or a responsible adult when they find matches or lighters at home or school.
• Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches; evidence your child may be playing with fire.
• Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Having a working smoke alarm reduces the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly half.

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, Debra Roberson - August 2015

It’s Back To School time, and some of our volunteers are getting ready for their children and grandchildren to return to class. Many children will take with them personal devices such as smart phones, laptops and tablets. These devices have become indispensable tools in education and communication, but they also contain some risk if not used properly and securely.

Since these devices commonly have personal information on them, it is important to follow good safety practices to protect these devices. Please review these tips and share them with your family to promote the secure use of personal devices.

Back To School Tips for Device Owners:
■Use password protection on all personal devices such as iPads, iPods, tablets, laptops, and smart phones.
 ■Never leave your personal device unattended, especially in public areas.
 ■Do not share passwords with friends that could give them access to your personal information and social network accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).
 ■Avoid saving or sending unflattering or personal pictures of yourself or someone else on your personal devices. Once on the internet, these will live on indefinitely.
 ■If using someone else’s computer or personal device make sure you log off of all of your social networking accounts when finished and always respect their privacy as well.
 ■Familiarize yourself with and enable applications for locating lost or stolen devices, like Apple Find My iPhone and Google Device Manager. If your personal device is stolen, report it to your local police department.

At the Mid-West TN Chapter, we began a new fiscal year on July 1st.  We have numerous events scheduled in our 14 counties and hope all of our volunteers will participate in them.   If anyone has an event they would like for us to be a part of please give me a call.  We will send reminders and notifications through email.

Our August Monthly Volunteer Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 11, 2015 @ 5:00 pm @ the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department, 7951 Highway 22, Dresden, TN.   See you there!!!

Debra Roberson
Executive Director

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Faye Anderson - August 2015

"Moving Forward."

How many times have we said these words and used them to create some kind of change in our lives?  Movement always creates some type of motion and in turn some type of change.  Change is a way to prove that there is excitement in the air…that something out of the ordinary is going to happen.

So many times things happen that will make us act, make us change, and in turn create a sense of urgency.  For our chapter this urgency came in the wee hours of the morning when we lost two precious children in a house fire.  Plans for a home fire campaign began to fall together at a greater pace. Before we knew it we were out in the same neighborhood where these children lived and played going door to door offering free smoke alarms to those who needed them.  Our volunteers and partners not only installed new detectors but they spoke to the families about a plan to get out of the house in case of an emergency.  From the time a fire begins we only have two minutes to react. Two minutes to move, our lives and the lives of those we love depend on this movement.

Moving forward, our chapter will make it our mission to install smoke alarms in homes all across the twelve counties that we serve. There are lives that are being saved all across this nation due to this campaign.  Our volunteers will put on that distinctive red vest and hit the streets!

Pictured are some of our volunteers that came out that day and played a huge role in the beginning of a campaign that will keep our chapter in constant movement all year.  Our goal?  To change our urgency and move forward with all the love and compassion that every volunteer has inside of them.  You better believe that the Tennessee River Chapter will continue to “move forward” in our mission of saving lives in these communities!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - August 2015

On July 16th, 2015, the Chattanooga community experienced what most of us never thought possible.  The senseless act of violence that took the lives of five service members shocked and saddened our community, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed: Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and Petty Officer Second Class Randall Smith. We continue to pray for the speedy recovery of Chattanooga Police Officer Dennis Pedigo, who was injured in the attack. 

In the days that followed, our community came together like never before.  We visited memorial sites, attended funerals, lined up along the streets with flags, and held Chattanooga Strong signs in support.   Forty-four American Red Cross volunteers spent hundreds of hours providing food, water and snacks to support the military and law enforcement personnel at the Navy and Marine Corp Reserve Center as they worked tirelessly to gather evidence and clear the scene. Red Cross volunteers were also stationed at memorial sites as well as the Chattanooga National Cemetery providing hydration.  

We have received an outpouring of support from local partners providing water, sports drinks, ice, snacks, and meals.   Their generosity ensured we were able to provide over 1600 meals and 6300 water/snacks during the difficult days following the shooting.     

As I reflect over the past few weeks, I continue to be amazed by the work and commitment of our staff and volunteers. I have truly seen our mission of “alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors” in action, and am proud to be part of such an incredible team.  Thank you – to our staff, volunteers, partners and donors, for your continued support of our mission.

Julia Wright
Executive Director

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - August 2015

I was reminded yesterday morning how quickly summer is flying by when a friend mentioned her child starting back to school.  It is amazing how fast this busy time of year goes by.

Then last night, I was reminded again of how quickly time flies as we had our All-Volunteer meeting and kicked off our Home Fire Campaign.  National Fire Safety week is October 4 – 11 and is quickly approaching! 

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire.  Four times, in the last three months, someone in our area has died in a home fire.  Smoke alarms cut the risk of death in a fire in half.  It is time to take action!

The American Red Cross has launched a five year campaign to lower the number of deaths due to fire by 25%.  We are joining fire departments and community groups to canvass neighborhoods, install smoke alarms, and deliver fire prevention information.  The Tennessee State Fire Marshal is partnering with us so that our efforts are directed to the areas of highest risk.

As we go door to door through our communities asking our neighbors to install smoke alarms, test existing alarms and practice preparedness plans, we also need to take time to check our own homes, update our plans, and get prepared! 

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home.  Fire experts state that you have as little as two minutes to escape a home fire.  Many people believe they have as much as 10 minutes!  That is a dangerous misconception.  Practice your plan to exit your home and get the time below 2 minutes. 
Last fall, volunteers in Northeast Tennessee joined with fire departments and installed 208 smoke alarms.  This year, our goal is to install 800.  We are committed to reducing the loss of life in our communities and we need your help.  First, check your home and be sure you have smoke alarms and a plan.  Second, watch for dates and times of when volunteers are needed to distribute smoke alarms.

Join in the Home Fire Campaign!  Be part of making our communities safer.


Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, August 2015

Ami Anderson
This month I’d like to share a story with you all about a Red Cross volunteer from East Tennessee.  Ami Anderson is the Disaster Action Team Captain for Blount County, has gone on several deployments, and conducts Disaster Cycle Service trainings for our chapter.

She has also saved the life of a stranger.

At the end of July, Ami was at a local car dealership considering a new vehicle.  While in the office, she heard a commotion and ran out to find one of the dealership employees slumped and his co-workers standing around not sure what to do. Now, Ami could have decided that it wasn’t her place to step up.  She could have waited for the ambulance to arrive.  But instead she did step forward.  “I was scared.  I’ve been trained in CPR but have never had to use it before,” she told us. “But it was me or nobody.”  Ami followed her Red Cross training and positioned the man on the floor, clearing his air ways and began chest compressions. Thankfully, he quickly revived and is recovering at the local hospital.

Executive Director, Michelle Hankes
No one (except medical professionals) wakes up in the morning and decides today’s the day he is going to save a life. We don’t know when the call to be a hero will come to us. All we can do is be prepared by keeping our certifications up to date. 

This is a very personal issue for me as my husband saved our oldest son’s life fourteen years ago.  Our son was a toddler when he choked on a piece of fruit, and my husband, who had taken infant CPR just a few months before, knew what to do. 

Being trained is the first half of being a hero.  The second half is the willingness to act; the willingness to try to save a life even when you’re afraid of failing. Ami Anderson is an example of a true Red Cross hero, and I know a family in Blount County who believes that, too.

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - August 2015

Reflecting On Great Work

As the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross begins a new fiscal year, it is important to recognize our numerous successes of the past year.  In Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15, July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015), our team responded to tornadoes, ice storms, train wrecks, apartment fires and managed numerous community and fundraising events across the Region.  We deployed staff and volunteers to communities affected by storms and floods across the country – truly putting the “Volunteer” into the “Volunteer State.”

In FY15, the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross assisted 2,653 families after they experienced a disaster like a home fire or tornado. 92,410 people in our Region were taught lifesaving skills in CPR, First Aid and other Health and Safety courses. 12,854 case services were provided to military members and their families. These successes were not left to chance.  The success was because of you – our dedicated staff, volunteers, board members and donors.

On July 29th, we kicked off FY16 with an all staff meeting for the Tennessee Region, where we shared our FY15 successes and our goals for the new year.

Our main goal for FY16 is simple…continue to serve the mission of the American Red Cross in communities across Tennessee and the Nation.  We have many exciting initiatives taking place, including the Home Fire Campaign, where we plan to install smoke alarms in thousands of homes across the region with a goal to reduce the number of home fire deaths by 25% over a five year period. 

We are grateful for our volunteers who help us carry out our mission every day. In FY15, our volunteers contributed 157,370 volunteer hours, which equals $3,630,526 in volunteer time! A big thank you goes to our donors and partners as well.  

Thanks to your generous contribution of time, talent and treasure, you helped us help others when the need was greatest.  We look forward to another excellent year working with you in the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross!

Volunteer with the American Red Cross


Become a Red Cross volunteer today and start changing lives tomorrow!

Volunteers lead the Red Cross mission in preparedness, prevention, and response to emergencies. No matter your interests, skills or schedule, you can make a significant contribution to your community and help people in their moments of greatest need. Find out how rewarding giving your time and efforts can be, by exploring the specific volunteer opportunities now available.


  • CPR and First Aid Instructor
    Teach First Aid and CPR at the local chapter. All training required to become an instructor is provided. Must be available to teach one class per month.
  • Disaster Relief Volunteer
    Provide immediate assistance to victims of local and national disasters (such as fires, floods, tornadoes, etc.) through interviewing families and issuing individual assistance, providing mass feeding and sheltering. You may also work behind the scenes in logistics and reporting functions.

  • Disaster Action Team Member
    The American Red Cross prepares for and responds to disasters of all sizes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through its Disaster Action Teams (DAT). Always on call, DAT volunteers provide disaster relief to meet the emergency needs of people affected by house fires, storms, tornadoes, floods, transportation accidents, and man-made disasters. Assistance needed by clients is evaluated by case workers and may include shelter, food, clothing, emotional support, household items, prescription medication, and other critically needed items.
  • Emergency Communication Caseworker
    Follow-up with local families who have received military emergency communication services from the American Red Cross to ensure that their needs were met.

  • SAF Briefing Volunteer
    Help ensure that military members are aware of Red Cross services available to them by speaking to groups and at meetings.
  • International Tracing/ Family Linking Caseworker
    Help local residents make connections with family members around the globe! As part of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, our chapter assists clients with making connections with missing family members and acquiring important documentation.
  • Communications Volunteer
    The Communications Department has a number of opportunities to work in media relations, Disaster Public Affairs (DPA), public speaking, graphic design and photography.

  • Social Media
    Be an online advocate and tell the mission of the Red Cross.

 To get started, please click on the volunteer application below that best describes you.