Monday, September 14, 2015

Letter from the Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - September 2015

 “We lost our home.  I never realized the Red Cross did so much.  Now, I want to be a part,” remarked Jeff, as he sat in my office two months after volunteers responded to assist his family following a fire.  Those volunteers, our partners working with us, and the donors providing resources, all came together to deliver the mission to Jeff’s family.  What a powerful team!

A few days ago, another aspect of our team’s impact was demonstrated when we participated in an event honoring and remembering military POWs and MIAs.  As we brought out some of our historical information to create a display, we were reminded again of the proud history of service our organization has.  One letter from a POW in Germany on August 27, 1943 was very powerful.  Sergeant Maynard Unger stated, “I am a prisoner of war and well and O.K.  I have enough to eat due to the Red Cross…”

Every day, businesses, schools and organizations are safer due to the education provided by Red Cross instructors and facilitators.  Whether teaching CPR at a business or facilitating the preparedness presentations at schools, the team is delivering our mission to the community.  A child attending a Pillowcase Project presentation spoke up about the lack of smoke alarms in his home.  Red Cross volunteers working with school officials contacted the family and installed the smoke alarms.  Once again, the team was there when needed.

Whether you are a volunteer, a donor, or a partner working with us, you have joined a team in service to our communities.  All that we do is tied together in one mission statement:
“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Thank you for your interest in the mission, people, and programs of the American Red Cross.  Thank you for being part of our team.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, September 2015

Fall and football are in the air here in East Tennessee!

That's huge in Vol Country, and even if you weren't born here, even if you didn't go to the University of Tennessee, you know that you have two choices: put on your Orange or get out of the way! (I know, I know! I secretly root for my Iowa Hawkeyes.)

I think most people know that over the past several years, the UT football program has seen some...changes. Some ups and downs. Some new leadership. Some new players. For the first time in a long time, the team has actually made the national rankings before the season. Most of this is due to Coach Jones rebuilding the team "brick by brick." It's been a tedious process, a process that has taken time and effort and care. Giving up has not been an option, even when things looked grim.

The Red Cross of East Tennessee has certainly seen its share of changes! We've had challenges and faced frustrations. But this past year we have been rebuilding, focusing on our most important part of our team: the volunteers. These are the people who talk to the military family to make sure their needs are met; these are the people who get rousted out of bed to go to a fire; and these are the people who show you how to save someone's life with CPR. We still need to recruit new volunteers and train and mentor existing volunteers into higher leadership positions. Person by person. Brick by brick.

This month, it just seemed appropriate as the Volunteers gear up for a season to give a shout out to OUR volunteers. Won't you join us?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

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

September is an exciting month here in Southeast Tennessee.  The kids are back in school, football season is here, and fall is just a few weeks away.   As exciting as all that is, I have even more great news. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of friends from Austria and Slovakia.  Mario Promintzer and Sandra Nestlinger from the Austrian Red Cross of Burgenland, and Michal Derzak and Miriam Hyllova from the National Emergency Center of Slovakia, will be arriving later this month to participate in a work study with the American Red Cross here in Southeast Tennessee.   They will learn about the operations of our local chapter as well as visit many of our community partners to gain knowledge about disaster response and preparedness and safety.  Their visit will include attending a Board of Directors meeting and a presentation at the All-Volunteer meeting on October 6th.  You will not want to miss this.

I have not quiet finished with the good news.  Please help me in welcoming Amanda Bisgaard, Volunteer Specialist and Jason Warren, Disaster Services Specialist to our team.  Amanda comes to us from the Ameri-Corp Vista program and brings a variety of disaster and volunteer management experience with her.  Jason Warren transferred from the Heart of Tennessee Chapter and has been working in Disaster Services for several years.  We are happy to have them both on our team in Southeast Tennessee.

There has never been a better time to be part of the American Red Cross.  If you want to find out more about how you can become a member of our great team, contact Amanda at 423-591-6879 or

Happy Fall!

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

September is National Preparedness Month. Disasters can strike at any time, and the most common disaster threat people face across the country is a home fire. The American Red Cross urges everyone to be ready for emergencies by creating a disaster plan for their household during Preparedness Month. Please review the steps below to assist you and your family in making your disaster plans.

It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), nonperishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks of emergency supplies at home.

Everyone in the household should help put the emergency plan together and know what they should do if something occurs. Household members may not be together when a disaster happens. 

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm and download the Red Cross Emergency App. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

Stay safe, you are important to us.  Thank you for being a Red Cross Volunteer.

Debra Roberson, Executive Director

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

Faye Anderson
Words from the Heart

I am always amazed at the spirit of volunteerism that flows through the Tennessee River Chapter!  I wanted to capture the thoughts of one of our dedicated volunteers, so I asked Charamagne Myers to share her experiences as a Red Cross volunteer.  So here goes…straight from her heart!

What does it mean to volunteer? There is no right or wrong answer, and it generates a different response from each individual. However, the common ground that unites volunteers is always the same. It is the spirit of giving back and doing something greater for the course of humanity. Despite the challenges and hardships, the spirit of a volunteer always rises to the occasion and perseveres. The American Red Cross truly encompasses the heart of a volunteer, and captures that spirit. A volunteer at the Red Cross can expect to be encouraged, challenged, and utilized to their full potential in order to fulfill the mission. Every day is a new adventure with a chance to impact another’s life in a truly positive way.

Since becoming a Red Cross volunteer, I am convinced that there is no better way to make use of one’s time. Initially, I chose to volunteer in order to explore a career and add experience to my resume. I expected to learn and grow both my life skills, as well as my career. What I did not expect was to be welcomed by a dedicated team of professionals who are willing to invest in a long term commitment for each volunteer that walks through their doors. The relationships that are developed among volunteers and staff, serves to further enhance the dedication to each of their clients. There is a reciprocating relationship that completes the process, enabling the American Red Cross to move forward with its mission of alleviating human suffering. Victims of disaster can be assured that the American Red Cross will show up to offer hope through a dedicated group of unified hands. As part of this group, I now see an opportunity to give back to others with the gifts and talents I have been given. The American Red Cross provides each volunteer that opportunity.

I am happy to say that my initial reason for coming to the chapter has been fulfilled, and yet, I am compelled to carry on in true volunteer fashion. It is about the mission, the relationships, and the need to help our neighbors that greatly matters. The spirit of giving back and paying it forward is truly what makes the American Red Cross a great organization in which I am proud to continually serve as a dedicated volunteer. 

Charamagne Myers

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

Your American Red Cross wants you to be prepared for the next disaster.  Emergencies and disasters usually happen very quickly and most of the time we only have minutes to react.  Planning ahead can keep most households safe.

Do you and your family have a disaster plan?

This plan will make life a lot simpler in the event of an emergency or disaster.  More importantly, it is a must that everyone, including your children, understands what to do and where to go when something happens.  Things you may want to think about are:

•    2 designated locations to meet if you get separated
•    What types of disasters are common in your community
•    Evacuation routes
•    Phone numbers memorized of family and friends who you can reach easily
•    Remember your pets, because they’re your family too

Do you have a disaster kit?  These are very simple to make and should contain basic items that will help you for 3-5 days.  The items you choose to include are up to you, but some recommendations are listed below.

•    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

Do you have the American Red Cross applications downloaded on your cell phone?
Our applications contain a wealth of information on what to do in a particular scenario.  The apps are free and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Plan Store for Android by searching for the American Red Cross. 

•    Tornado app
•    First Aid app
•    Flood app
•    Earthquake app
•    Pet First aid app
•    Emergency App

Do you have lifesaving training?

It is as simple as 1-2-3 to get the necessary training to save a life.  During an emergency or disaster it only takes moments for someone’s life to be in danger and being trained could be a matter of life or death.  The American Red Cross encourages you to take lifesaving courses to ensure that our community is prepared.  You can contact your local red cross at 615-893-4272 to see when and where the next class is available.


By following some of these simple steps, you can rest assured that your community will be better prepared for an emergency or disaster.  It takes all of us working together to make our lives better and to have a resilient atmosphere and we owe it to each other to do just that.  I appreciate what you do for your fellow neighbors and for the Red Cross.  As always, please feel free to visit our office - you might even walk away finding that special place you can fit in amongst the greatest volunteers on earth.


Students Prepare for Disasters through The Pillowcase Project

As part of National Preparedness Month this September, the American Red Cross and Disney renewed their commitment to help teach disaster preparedness to children and families through the Pillowcase Project initiative. The Pillowcase Project will expand across the country while continuing to support in-school and after-school curriculum to help 3rd to 5th grade students learn how to prepare for and cope with emergencies.

The Pillowcase Project curriculum is structured by three core principles: Learn, Practice and Share. Students will learn about hazards, how to prepare for emergencies, enhance coping skills, practice what they have learned and share their knowledge with friends and family. The program emphasizes the importance of developing an emergency communications plan, fire evacuation plan and emergency contact cards.

The program also teaches students how to create their own emergency supply kits by packing essential items in a pillowcase for easy transport during an emergency. Students will have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcases during the presentation, and are encouraged to take them home to create a kit.

Created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project was inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Through the program, the Red Cross aims to incorporate preparedness education into elementary school and after-school curriculums nationwide. The program is sponsored by Disney.

“Kids are at a much higher risk of being hurt in a home fire or other disaster,” said Russ Paulsen, executive director, Community Preparedness Programs for American Red Cross. “The Pillowcase Project helps them learn to prepare and protect themselves from emergencies in a fun way.”

For more information about The Pillowcase Project, visit

It’s National Preparedness Month - Make Your Emergency Plan

Disasters can strike at any time, and the most common disaster threat people face across the country is a fire in their home. The American Red Cross urges everyone to be ready for emergencies like home fires by creating a disaster plan for their household during National Preparedness Month.

HOME FIRES As part of its Home Fire Campaign which aims to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years, the Red Cross urges households to develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in their home.

National Preparedness Month is a good time to develop the fire escape plan and practice it with everyone in the household. When developing the plan, walk through the home and look at all exits and possible escape routes, including windows. List two ways to get out of every room in case fire blocks one of the paths. Pick a place to meet outside, a safe distance away and – no matter the circumstances – stay out of the home until fire officials say it is okay to go back inside. All households should practice their plan at least twice a year.

People should also install smoke alarms on every level of their home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. They should test the alarms monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year and replace them every ten years. Need help developing your plan? View our charts for single, multiple and high rise dwellings.

MAKE A PLAN Everyone in the household should help put the emergency plan together so they know what they should do if something occurs. Because everyone may not be together at home when a disaster happens, the plan should include ways to contact one another and two places to meet – one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. The plan should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

Any emergency plan should also include decisions about where to go if ordered to evacuate and what route to take to get there. It’s a good idea to include alternate routes in case roads are closed. Don’t forget family pets. Make sure to include plans for them such as pet-friendly hotels and animal shelters along the evacuation route.

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY The all-inclusive Emergency app combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe, including information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and more. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

For more information on how to prepare for all types of emergencies, people can visit the getting prepared information on the Red Cross site.

Red Cross Offers Emergency Preparedness App for Children

A Red Cross app helps children between the ages of 7 and 11 learn emergency preparedness while playing a game as different monster characters. The free app, “Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies,” is a game to learn how to prevent emergencies, such as home fires, and what to do if severe weather or natural disasters occur.

Set in the ‘Monster Guard Academy,’ the young app user is a recruit who trains to prepare for disasters and practice what to do if one happens. Users can role-play as various monster characters, go through the initiation and engage in interactive training episodes for different hazards. As children direct the monsters to identify fire hazards, locate a safe room in a house and select items needed for their emergency supplies kit, they learn how to prepare for emergencies. If a player completes all of the episodes, he or she will graduate and become a member of the ‘Monster Guard.’

The best user experience is playing the game on a tablet, but it also works well on other mobile devices. Monster Guard runs on iOS 7 and 8 and Android OS 4x and up. People can go to or text ‘MONSTER’ to 90999 for a direct link to download the app. Children should ask a parent or guardian for permission to download the app.

The Monster Guard App game is a complement to The Pillowcase Project, a free Red Cross youth preparedness initiative, for 8- to 11-year-olds, designed to increase children’s awareness and understanding of natural hazards and reduce their fears. Participants learn safety and emotional coping skills, and personal emergency preparedness skills. Information on The Pillowcase Project is available at The app and The Pillowcase Project are both sponsored by Disney.

The Red Cross offers a series of apps that give people instant access to expert guidance on what to do before, during and after emergencies and disasters. People have used these award-winning apps to save lives and help protect their pets and property. Localized weather alerts and warnings from the apps have allowed people to get themselves and their loved ones to a safe place before severe storms came through their area. People can download the apps by searching for Red Cross in their mobile app store or by going to