Friday, November 6, 2015

Volunteers: Then and Now - Northeast Tennessee

Norma Nolen, Service to Military Families and Disaster Volunteer, 1978 – mid 1990s

Norma Nolen was a widowed mother of 10 children when she began her volunteer service in 1978. She was one of the first Red Cross volunteers in the clinic opening at Lamar School. She also became a First Aid and CPR Instructor training more than 5,000 individuals in 2,500 class hours.  In 1985 she became a disaster volunteer serving in Michigan, and Texas as well as during the John Sevier Hotel disaster in downtown Johnson City.  Many weeks after the fire was out of the headlines, Norma was still following up with displaced individuals to ensure they were adjusting to their new living situations.

Although she loved all her Red Cross volunteer activities, Norma especially enjoyed working with Service to Military Families. For many years she worked a minimum of one day a week; providing individual casework with local VA resident veterans as well as sending emergency messages for families of active duty military.  Once during the illness of a staff member, she filled in, working 5 days a week. 

In her later years Norma was diagnosed with cancer.  Her physician allowed her to return to her much loved volunteer service with the Red Cross as much as her energy allowed.  She continued in her volunteer work especially in her work with veterans for several years.    

Pat Barraclough – Currently Disaster Action Team member and Lead volunteer for Service to Armed Forces

Pat lives in rural Washington County near Jonesborough and enjoys her volunteer work. She says she is a “professional volunteer,” evident to many people she knows.   Pat served as a Peace Corp Worker in the Philippine Islands after college.  She then married and enjoyed being a military wife in a number of locations.  She and her husband were always Red Cross blood donors everywhere they lived.  When they settled here several years ago, she was looking for an organization to volunteer for - and we are lucky she selected the American Red Cross.

After training, Pat enjoys being a member of the DAT team, helping primarily with single family fires. Meeting a variety of individuals and providing assistance to families in time of great need is very satisfying for her.  

Pat also serves as the Lead Volunteer for Service to Armed Forces in Northeast Tennessee, organizing and supporting activities for Veterans across the region.  She helps organize activities at the VA and represents the Red Cross at meetings of the Tri Cities Military Affairs Council to coordinate the work of many organizations supporting veterans in the community.  Distribution of Holiday Cards for Veterans expands the reach of the Red Cross to touch veterans in Nursing Homes across the 13 counties of our Red Cross area. 
Pat enjoys her work and would love to have additional help – 13 counties cover a wide area – one or two volunteers in each county would ensure we reach more vets in our area.  If you are interested in making the days brighter for veterans consider helping. 

Want to volunteer? Call us at 423-765-4222, email to, or go online to

Article by Jane Harris

No comments:

Post a Comment