Monday, April 11, 2016

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobolink - April 2016

April is National Volunteer Month, so as I started to write I thought about what a volunteer is and what it means to volunteer.  That led me to the dictionary to look up the “official” definition.

Volunteer: noun – a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or          undertake a task; verb – freely offer to do something

Wait a minute!  Something is missing.

Where is the kindness shown to those who need a helping hand?  No mention of the dedication that brings you out on a stormy evening to respond to a call for help.  What about the tenacity it takes to schedule a preparedness presentation?  I can’t find a mention of the generosity that moves you to give your precious time to teach others to cope with emergencies.

332 volunteers are the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee.  I wish it were possible to list each of them so you could understand the need to expand the dictionary’s definition of volunteer.  Let me give you just a few examples.

Courtney – Coordinates our Pillowcase Project by scheduling presentations to schools and youth groups as we teach preparedness skills to young people.  She also is an administrative assistant in our office. 

Rena – Data entry is critical if we are to have reliable, complete information for our constituents including donors and the community. 

Bryan & Peggy – A husband and wife team who work on providing quality services to military members and their families, retirees and veterans.  They are also active disaster responders.

Jim – Manages our fleet of vehicles and trailers making sure we can get to people who need our assistance.  He is also a disaster responder focusing on Mass Care feeding.

Powell – Need to learn CPR/FA?  Powell is one of the volunteer instructors who teach us the correct way to respond.

Sid – Provides experienced leadership in Disaster Cycle Services, leading the team that provides guidance and planning for our disaster program.

Stewart & Deb, Ron & Ray – These two teams of volunteers just left to go to two fires and assist families who need food, clothing, and shelter.  The backbone of our disaster response, the Disaster Action Team members are the first Red Crossers to respond.

Jeff – A member of our Board of Directors, he is working to increase our Community Outreach by leading a “Ready Rating” lunch and learn this month.  This program gives tools to small and medium businesses so they can be prepared for emergencies.

Vince, Sara, and Ellen – This rotating team answers our phone between 5PM and 8:30AM and on weekends and holidays.  They deploy our response teams and answer lots of questions while the rest of us sleep!

These 15 along with their 317 co-workers are very special people.  As the definition states they freely offer to serve our community by providing Red Cross services. They are volunteers and so very much more.  Together, they are the heart and soul of our organization.

Thank you to each of our volunteers!  For me, you are the definition of “volunteer”.


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