Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, Debra Roberson - February 2016

The Mid-West Tennessee Chapter is officially moved to our new location at 19 Stonecreek Circle in Jackson. Several of our volunteers worked very hard to make this move happen in just a few days. I greatly appreciate each of them and could not have done it without them. I hope that everyone will take time to stop by and visit us at the new office.

The Mid-West volunteers had another call to action earlier this month.  A tornado touched down in Alamo, TN leaving a huge impact on the community. Some homes received minor damage, yet others were a total loss. Once again, our great volunteers were on the scene quickly providing meals, snacks, water and clean up supplies to these families.  The High School received major damage and meals were also served to the workers who were assisting at the school. Crockett County Mayor, Gary Reasons, expressed his sincere appreciation for the Red Cross and the services we provide.

We continue to participate in the Home Fire Campaign to educate people about fire safety and install smoke alarms in homes that need them. There are future events scheduled and we want to invite you to join us as we go out into the areas of greatest need to install smoke alarms. You may call our office at 731-427-5543 for additional information.

As always, thank you for your support of the Mid-West TN Chapter. I want to wish everyone a “Happy Valentine’s Day” on February 14th.

Debra Roberson

Executive Director

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - February 2016

February is one of the coldest months of the year, and with a decrease in temperatures, comes an increased risk of home fires. Heating sources are the second leading cause of home fire deaths, and fatal home fires increase during the winter months. Since November, the Red Cross in Tennessee has served over 400 families affected by devastating home fires.

While the numbers are staggering, the good news is that there are steps you can take when using heating equipment to reduce your risk of a home fire. We are urging everyone to use caution when using space heaters and other heating sources, and to make a plan in case of a home fire.

To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends the following tips:
  • · All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • · Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. 
  • · Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • · Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • · Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
  • · If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
You can visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect yourself and your loved ones homes from fire.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, February 2016

February is the month we think of hearts and flowers and love. 

But at the Red Cross, it’s also the month that has the highest incident of fires. For such a short month, it packs a punch with storms and ice and wind. You can help your community get through February and the coming months in three simple ways:
  1. Volunteer. Sign up for trainings that teach you how to do something new like run shelters for those who have lost power to heat their homes during the coldest days of the year. Learn how to do casework for a family who has lost everything. Find out how to plan the logistics of getting supplies where they’re needed in a disaster.
  2. Advocate. Help your Red Cross and local fire departments get smoke alarms installed in every home across our country. Think of the lives you will save when you teach a child and his parent about how to plan an escape route before a fire starts.
  3. Give. Whether you have a few dollars or a lot, everything makes a difference. Imagine that your dollar bill is what makes it possible to give a bottle of water to someone who is in distress. Imagine that your $100 has helped a family stay a night in a hotel after a fire. Imagine that your $1,000 just made opening a shelter after an ice storm possible.
There’s a lot of heart in East Tennessee! I see it every day in our volunteers and donors! Thank you!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright-February 2016

It’s February and hearts are everywhere; on cards and boxes of our favorite candy- even balloons are shaped in hearts.

At the Red Cross, we are thinking about hearts in a different way.  Heart attacks and cardiac arrest are major causes of illness and death in the United States. Every day in U.S. homes, parks and workplaces someone will have a heart attack or go into cardiac arrest. Performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) immediately after a person goes into cardiac arrest can greatly increase his or her chance of survival.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

·       Chest pain, discomfort or pressure
·       Discomfort in other areas of the upper body in addition to the chest
·       Trouble breathing
·       The person’s skin may be pale or ashen (gray), especially around the face

You can learn more about by taking our “ Save a Coworker” quiz at  http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/workplace/quiz-save-coworker
Download our First Aid app by texting "GETFIRST" to 90999 or take an American Red Cross First Aid/CPR course at your local chapter by registering at http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/program-highlights/cpr

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik-February 2016

Earlier this month, 34 Red Cross volunteers and staff toured the National Weather Service facility in Morristown.  The Chief Meteorologist, George Mathews, and his team gave informative and interesting presentations while showing us the equipment and methodology used to forecast the weather.

All of the information made the event interesting, but what was really special was listening to the people in our group interact with each other.  We are a very diverse crowd!  The one thing that runs through all the conversations like a common thread is the interest in and desire to help other people.  

Another observation is that most of the group has a talent for relaying stories and experiences.  Funny how when asked to talk to the media or speak to a group everyone becomes speechless!
This tour was our All-Volunteer meeting for February.  Meeting each month we are working to improve communications and develop relationships so that our team is even stronger. Someone, not a member of the team, asked me why we have these meetings.  There are multiple answers, but the main reason for me is so that we can get to know each other.  When we need to provide service to the community, we will be more effective and more efficient because we know and understand each other.  Yes, it was fun learning about the National Weather Service and it was entertaining playing trivia in July and learning about the first 24 hours following a disaster when we met in January, but the real win for me comes with the open sharing of information that we have achieved.  Is it enough?  Not yet, but we are moving forward.

Our average attendance for the nine months we have had meetings is 28 people.  That is great, but leads me to wonder about communicating with the over 300 volunteers who are unable to attend.  In the weeks ahead, we will explore ideas for increasing the sharing of information not only with volunteers but our donors, partners and the community as well.  If you have thoughts on this, please let me know.  We have a story to tell.  We need to share it with others.

As for the weather, it is going to continue to be a fairly typical February.  For more details, check out the National Weather Service forecast at weather.com.


Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Faye Anderson-February 2016

Hearts Open, Arms Outstretched

February is known as the month where everyone stops for one day to recognize that special someone in their life.  Men feel the need to send lavish flowers and chocolates to their special someone and we (women) delight in the attention.   Many times we watch the door in anticipation to see if the next bouquet of flower delivery has our name on it.

In this organization, every day is Valentine’s Day.  Our volunteers share their heart and their hugs with complete strangers.  Walking onto a scene where a family has lost everything inspires a hug and is just what is needed in that moment.  I have watched the Tennessee River volunteers give away pieces of their heart almost daily to someone who needs to be encouraged and helped along this journey we call life.  They show up just in time and they stay well beyond to make sure the family is well taken care of.

When we lead and respond with our heart, the mission of the Red Cross comes full circle.  We get up every day thinking “who can I help today?”  Sharing our hearts as a volunteer as well as a staff member of the American Red Cross is something that happens naturally…always without being asked to do it….it’s just part of who we are as an organization.

During this month of hearts, candy and flowers may we all remember that the true value of our hearts is how many times we can share it with those in need.