Friday, June 16, 2017

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Sam DiNicola - June 2017

Meet Sam DiNicola, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter volunteer spotlight for June 2017.

Sam was born and raised in Utica, New York with southern roots from his mother.  When the time came to go to college, he chose Vanderbilt.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Tennessee.  For 37 years he worked for the Tennessee Department of Correction in various positions such as in the correctional office, administration, and lastly as the Superintendent of the Tennessee Correction Training Academy.  While in this last position he also took a position on the local Red Cross Board.  In June 2013, after retiring, he joined the Red Cross as a disaster action team volunteer and has been extremely busy ever since.

Sam keeps track of the disasters he has responded to for the Red Cross.  Since June 2013 he has helped at 147 disaster responses (averaging 4-5 a month), helping 463 people who were left homeless due to a disaster of some type.  These disasters have included single family home fires, apartment fires, tornadoes, and trees falling on houses.  He regularly responds to disasters in Coffee, Warren, Franklin, and Lincoln Counties and on occasion in Bedford, Marshall, and Rutherford Counties.

In addition to being Disaster Action Team (DAT) Captain, Sam also  fulfills duties with Disaster Cycle Services, and as Disaster Responder, and Home Fire Preparedness Campaign Member.

Sam is motivated by the satisfaction of helping those in need. He gives credit to the wonderful leadership of the Heart of Tennessee Chapter.

From the Heart of Tennessee Chapter: Thank you, Sam for the countless hours of helping the people of Middle Tennessee.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, Janet Caperton - June 2017

The Tennessee River Chapter Volunteer Spotlight is Janet Caperton!

Janet has been a volunteer with the Tennessee River Chapter since 1996. Her journey started as a CPR and First Aid instructor and has flourished since the day she started. Janet is now heavily involved with Disaster Cycle Services as a Disaster Action Team Captain in Stewart County, Disaster Assessment, Co DAT Coordinator, and HAM Radio Operator.

Janet has always believed in volunteerism, and she considers herself a career volunteer. Over the years, Janet has worked as a volunteer EMT Firefighter in Stewart County and led a Girl Scout troop for twenty years. She found the Red Cross because of a need she saw in her community and has been an asset to the team ever since.

Janet comes from a military family and says while Stewart County is not where she is from, it has become her home. Together, Janet and her husband have one daughter. They now live on land within the county that has been passed through eight generations and is on the highest hill in Stewart County, “perfect for Amateur Radio”!

Through her endeavors, Janet recalls several memorable moments. During the Clarksville tornadoes, Janet worked tirelessly from the office to coordinate supplies and resources for those in the field. At the same time, she was coordinating food and shelters for members of Stewart County. Because of her superior work, Janet received the Above and Beyond Award. Most recently, Janet has worked the Big Rock flooding and flooding in Sumner County. She also set up a booth for Eagle Fest in Stewart County.

“I am honored to work with the chapter and watch it continue to grow; it seems to get better every year”, said Caperton. “The chapter is evolving for the good”.

We cannot express our depths of gratitude for Janet and the work she continues to do for our chapter. It would be an understatement to say she is an asset to the team. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. It is because of individuals like you that our chapter continues to develop.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Dean Sparks - June 2017

Congratulations to Dean Sparks, this month's volunteer spotlight! “Dean has really stepped up over the past few months as the Mental Health lead. He shows great passion for helping others and great leadership in engaging our Red Cross chapter in the community around disaster mental health needs.”

Dean has worked as a disaster mental health volunteer with the Red Cross since 1993. He is a social worker by training; he retired about 2 years ago, and moved to Tennessee from Ohio. His role has evolved over time from a support for the volunteer teams and staff, to now also responding to the local victims. Dean provides support, does assessments, and connects those in need of further services to local help. He believes that volunteers and victims must take care of themselves before, during, after trauma, and his contribution to the Red Cross stems from his values that if one has skills, knowledge and ability, they are obligated to help. He feels he has professional, religious and moral commitments to respond.  As the team lead, he is now trying to build a team of other qualified volunteers.

In the first several years of his volunteer work, he mainly participated in deployments. His first deployment was to the Northridge earthquake in 1993. Throughout his 24 years, he has assisted in many major events nationally such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina. Dean now also participates locally and is called whenever there are fatalities like in fires, local plane crashes, accidents, etc. Here in Chattanooga, he was essential in dealing with the tornadoes and bus crash.

His most memorable experience was responding to Hurricane Katrina. For two weeks, he worked 20 hours a day in charge of the spiritual needs, mental health, recreation, and assisting of other volunteers. He slept on a concrete floor with thousands of other people and said of the experience, “It was hard work, but best work I’ve ever done.”

Thank you, Dean, for your valuable contribution over the many years, and your time in the Chattanooga area!

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Mary and Francis “Fritz” Walker - June 2017

This month I wanted to spotlight two volunteers in the East Tennessee Chapter. Mary and Francis “Fritz” Walker are two volunteers that make this chapter function. They are a “powerhouse” at home as the sweetest couple and they are a “powerhouse” at the chapter doing every job there is to do.

Mary has been a volunteer with the East Tennessee Chapter since 2015. She holds a position in disaster as a disaster responder with a concentration in casework, Fire Safety House, the Pillowcase Project, and staff services. She is also the lead engagement volunteer for disaster and is responsible for engaging and on-boarding volunteers that are new to the chapter and this line of service.

She selflessly takes the time every month to cook for 100 attendees of the “All Disaster” meeting, then stays until it is over to clean up afterwards. All the while, she has a smile on her face. Mary has deployed four times, with the most recent being the East Tennessee Wildfires in Gatlinburg where she was a pivotal part of staff services and the success they had.

Mary jumps in whenever it is needed, whether it is a disaster response and the days are 12-14 hours long, or on a “day off” when she had other plans. I know that she is one of the most selfless volunteers that we have and is always looking out for others.

And then there is Fritz….

Fritz also has been a volunteer with the East TN Chapter since 2015 along with his wife, Mary. He holds a position of disaster responder, with a concentration in emergency response vehicle driving, logistics, mass care, disaster action team, and Home Fire Campaign. He is always even keeled and there is nothing that gets him stressed or worked up, not even a disaster response.

Fritz has deployed seven times since becoming a volunteer and has made an amazing impact each time.

If disasters are not enough to keep him busy, he comes to the chapter to do any and all sorts of maintenance.  He is crucial in the painting of our building, removing wallpaper, fixing whatever is broken and problem solving when needed. He always has a smile on his face and makes it a point to say “hello” to everyone around.

I can’t say enough about these two volunteers and all they do for the East Tennessee American Red Cross. All I know is that my day is better the moment they come through the door.  I am proud to call them volunteers, but even more privileged to call them friends.

Kristin Manuel
Sr. Volunteer Services Specialist

Tennessee River Volunteer Submission - June 2017

Spring is a time of renewal, and for some, cleaning. As in, it’s time to deep clean the house, its contents, wash windows, and beat a few rugs outside to remove the dirt and grime and staleness of winter, and to enjoy the fragrant clean air and warmer weather of spring. I’m not sure how much actual “spring cleaning” occurs in today’s world since heating with sooty coal furnaces is mostly a thing of the past. Yet using spring as a time to gear up for summer applies to what we do in the American Red Cross.

In a little less than five weeks, the current fiscal year ends and a new fiscal year begins. The month  of June will be spent reviewing goals to see if they were met, setting goals for the new fiscal year, completing year end Client Assistance Cards inventory, creating or renewing spreadsheets to use in the coming months, renewing service agreements at the chapter level, and generally tying up all the loose ends.

It’s a time of closure and a time of renewal. For the non-organized individual, it may also be a time of stress and trepidation, but it doesn’t need to be. Make a list of what needs to be completed by the end of June, and tackle the items daily, a little at a time. And, yes, there is gratification in crossing “chores” off the proverbial to-do list.

So, while Spring itself makes an early appearance (relative to, say, Maine) in this region, and while we “spring ahead” with Daylight Savings Time, we can still count June as a spring month as a time to get our American Red Cross house ready for the new year.

-Submitted by Jan Thompson, Tennessee River Volunteer

Red Cross Urges Everyone to Get CPR/AED Trained

Sudden cardiac arrest claims thousands of lives every year and knowing what to do can help save lives. The American Red Cross urges everyone to get trained on how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) so they can help during an emergency situation.

Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.

Interested in getting trained?  Find information on Red Cross classes here. Take classes online, or in person.

The Red Cross recommends that households, businesses and schools receive training in CPR and proper use of an AED. This training can give you the knowledge and confidence to respond during an emergency situation with skills that can help save a life.

Whether you want to be able to help keep your loved ones safe or help someone in your work place, or use your training professionally, Red Cross can give you the knowledge and skills to be able to help. Red Cross training is OSHA compliant so if your training is mandated where you work, certified Red Cross instructors can help.

The Red Cross offers several different opportunities to receive training. One is to attend in-person classes held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. Online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning offerings are also available. Check with your employer as to what class you need if you are taking training to fulfill a job requirement.

You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at

Get Ready to Pedal for the Red!

Bring your family and friends and join us for a fun bike ride on June 24 in Knoxville that benefits the American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

Pedal for the Red is a family-friendly way to be part of the USA Cycling National Championship Weekend. Amateur cyclists of all ages and levels can ride the 4.8 mile championship time trial loop BEFORE the pros start.

The ride starts in the Old City, (East Jackson Ave.) and the route is open only to Pedal riders from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 am. Two great hours to ride as many laps as you’d like.

Top off the ride with a free pancake breakfast at the finish line.  It’s the perfect spot to watch as the pro competition begins.

It’s a great ride - for a great cause!  Help us celebrate the American Red Cross Centennial.  100 Years of Service in Tennessee!

Visit to register or volunteer.

Register by June 18 to receive special pre-event registration rates.

Nashville Area Chapter Annual Meeting - June 27, 2017

The Nashville Area American Red Cross will conduct its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 4:00 pm at the American Red Cross, 2201 Charlotte Ave., 37203 in the ground floor auditorium. The purpose of the meeting is to recap successes of the Red Cross in the Nashville area and to recognize volunteers and board members. Join us as we celebrate 100 years of service in the Nashville area.

Please RSVP to

Red Cross Responds to Memorial Day Weekend Storm

On Memorial Day weekend a massive storm front pushed across the State of Tennessee leaving destruction in its wake. Memphis received the most damage, but the storm continued across the state ultimately causing destruction in 10 counties. The Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross, after assessing the hardest-hit communities, mobilized its disaster workforce to respond. Ultimately, staff and volunteers from all eight Red Cross chapters in Tennessee were involved with the response.

Memphis experienced torrential rain, hail, straight-line winds greater than 100 mph, and reports of tornado activity. The winds were the most damaging, bringing down many of the massive hardwood trees that dot the Memphis landscape. The downed trees damaged and destroyed homes and tore out huge portions of the infrastructure supporting electrical power. The resulting power outage was the third largest in Memphis history, with 188,000 customers left without electrical power. Full restoration of power after the Memorial Day weekend storm took eleven days.

The American Red Cross of the Mid-South, already alerted to the possibility of destructive storms by the National Weather Service, immediately responded. As calls for help from people whose homes had been damaged by falling trees began to pour into the Red Cross 24-hour disaster phone lines, the Mid-South disaster team headed into the chapter offices.

“I left home about 4:30 am. A trip that normally takes me 20 minutes took over an hour, as I kept working to find a way to the office. Trees were down everywhere blocking roadways, and many of the traffic lights were not working. It was clearly going to be a rough day,” said Abigail Okui, Disaster Program and Recovery Specialist at the Mid-South Red Cross.

The disaster team quickly recognized that many people in the community were hurting due to their homes being damaged or destroyed and many more were without electrical power. Assessment of the community’s needs was a huge undertaking because the storm damage was spread over such a large area. Many housing areas would have a few homes damaged while all the others were left intact. Ultimately, the Disaster Assessment Teams determined that 322 homes in the Memphis area had received major damage or were destroyed.

Many people would need a safe and secure place to stay until their damaged home situation stabilized or until other accommodations could be found. By 1:00 pm on Sunday, The Red Cross, in coordination with the Shelby County Office of Preparedness and the Memphis Office of Emergency Management, had a shelter open at the Orange Mound Community Center. That community center was selected because it still had power in the aftermath of the storm and because of its central position in the city. The shelter remained open for 10 days and had a total of 249 overnight stays.

By the Monday after the storm, additional Red Cross volunteers arrived in Memphis from across the state to assist with the disaster response, and later, one volunteer came from West Virginia. Red Cross Emergency Vehicles arrived from Jackson and Nashville, and were used to circulate through neighborhoods hard hit by the storm to provide food, snacks, water and cleanup supplies to residents who were still without power and unable to cook as well as those busy cleaning up in the aftermath of the storm. By the end of the disaster response, two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had provided almost 9,500 meals, 17,000 snacks, and over 7000 bulk items such as gloves, cleanup kits, and personal care comfort kits.

Almost a week after the storm, a call was received from a concerned citizen who had been working in an apartment community where elderly and disabled residents live. The caller relayed that the residents had been without electrical power and unable to cook since the storm. The apartment complex had one generator being used to power a community room kitchen. Residents had pooled their food stocks and meals were being prepared for sharing. However, they had run out of food and did not have the resources to purchase more. Immediately, the Red Cross dispatched emergency vehicles with meals and contacted Catholic Charities, which delivered approximately 50 pounds of canned fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Red Cross caseworkers met with people whose homes had been damaged by the storms to work with them on a one-on-one basis. Emergency financial assistance was provided to more than 150 families, 526 individuals, across Tennessee whose homes suffered major damage or were destroyed. Although most of the casework involved Memphis families, Red Cross workers located in other areas of the state did much of the follow-up for those cases. The bulk of the damage was focused in Memphis, but the Red Cross truly had a regional response.  

At one point during the response, misinformation about availability of financial and food resources available from the Red Cross, along with the Mid-South Red Cross phone number, began to circulate on social media. The resources described in the posts were beyond the ability or authority of the Red Cross to provide, but nevertheless, the Mid-South Chapter was overwhelmed with calls. The Red Cross National Call Center stepped in to assist and received in one day more than 5,000 calls, which was a record number for them. A call center was also set up at the Knoxville, Tennessee, Red Cross offices. Overall, more than 10,000 calls were received due to the misinformation. The call centers had a herculean task of correcting the misinformation and directing callers to community and state resources to assist with their needs.

“I am so thankful for our dedicated staff and all the volunteers—those local, those from across the state, and one who came from West Virginia—who immediately stepped forward to help with this disaster response. It goes to show that our Red Cross Tennessee region is strong, resilient, and able to stand tall in adverse times,” said Jeana Bailley, Disaster Program Manager for the Mid-South Red Cross.

In Memphis, the Memorial Day weekend storm has been dubbed the Tom Lee Storm because straight-line winds toppled and destroyed a large granite obelisk in the midst of Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. The obelisk and the park are dedicated to an African American man, Tom Lee, who in 1925 rescued single-handedly 32 passengers from the steamboat M.E. Norman that was sinking in the Mississippi River.

After repairs, the Tom Lee obelisk will once again sit in wait for the next storm to rage through Memphis and possibly move it, once more, off its foundation. The American Red Cross, on the other hand, will stand ready to respond but will not be toppled, as it staff and volunteers from across the state prepare for and respond to the needs of our communities in the aftermath of disaster.

Story Credit: Bob Wallace for the American Red Cross

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its crucial mission. Help people affected by disasters like floods, wildfires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. These gifts enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Please make a donation today by visiting calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift. is also the place to go to learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer and submit a Volunteer Application.

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight, Bob Stafford - June 2017

The volunteer spotlight for June 2017 is Bob Stafford! Bob is a kind-hearted, and fun spirited individual who has donated a great amount of time to The Red Cross both locally and statewide. Bob has been a Red Cross volunteer for eight years and is a Disaster Action Team Captain, as well as a Disaster Instructor, Home Fire Campaign Member, and a Logistics Lead for the Nashville Area Chapter.  Since 2013, he has served on over 14 deployments here at home and across the country.

When asked what made him interested in volunteering for the Red Cross, he said, “I had a good life and a good job and so once I retired, I just figured I’d give back. I decided to help the Red Cross because they helped my family.”

When Bob was growing up, his family home was affected by flooding that occurred and his family received help, as well as furniture donations from the Red Cross. Bob said his brother actually still has one of the dresser drawers his family received back from when they were both children.

When Bob is not volunteering for the Red Cross, you can find him fishing, hiking, and cheering on the Tennessee Vols. When asked if there was a message Bob would like to share with anyone, he added, “I think when everyone retires, they should give back to the community and I think the best way to do it is the Red Cross.”

Bob is a hardworking and valued volunteer that we, as well as the state of Tennessee, are so lucky to have!

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - June 2017

Hello Mid- West TN chapter volunteers!

I hope that each of you had a good start to the summer and are looking forward to vacations, cook outs, trips to the lake, etc. As each of you determine your family plans and community events, we want to thank those of you who stay invested in our Red Cross programming and disaster response. As each of you are aware, disasters can occur during any month and do not take breaks for the summer (as many of us do!).

I wanted to take this time to share with each of you the opportunity I was given last month to visit Washington, D.C. and attend the national training for Executive Directors. I participated in the course from Tuesday, May 23rd through Thursday, May 25th. It proved to be a very meaningful and beneficial time for me and the other Executive Directors from chapters all across the nation. There were attendees in the class from states such as Arkansas, California, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Florida, Texas and I was the only representative from Tennessee.

While there, we had the opportunity to hear from each of the respective departments that comprise the American Red Cross National Headquarters (Blood Services, Communications, Disaster, Finances, International Services and Services to the Armed Forces).  I’m proud to say that each of those who presented to our class were very impressive. Every presenter was willing to answer any and all questions that we had as Directors trying to learn even more about our roles and our capacity to lead our respective chapters to even greater successes. Most impressive of all was the President and CEO of our organization- Gail McGovern. Gail was not only an inspiring and motivating speaker, but she also shared some valuable insights in regard to cultivating leadership in our chapters through “you”- the volunteers. One valuable takeaway that she shared was her recommendation that in leadership roles we should always recruit people around us that have the primary qualities of being intelligent AND nice. I can honestly say the national staff members we met during our training had both of those qualities without exception!

I also want to take this opportunity to thank our leadership for giving me the privilege to attend the training and learn even more about the role I play in the leadership of our local chapter. It was time well spent and I look forward to implementing much of my new knowledge into my leadership of our chapter. I hope that each of you have a fantastic summer and I look forward to seeing you around the chapter office and out in the community!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - June 2017

1917 was a year of amazing events. Albert Einstein applied his theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole. Harry Houdini performed his first “buried alive” stunt. A young Al Capone was working at Coney Island and got into a knife fight, earning him the immoral gangster name, “Scarface.” Woodrow Wilson took his second term in office while the world was engulfed in the Great War.

1917 also saw The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland given a mandate to protect the victims of worldwide conflicts.  Victims included war wounded, prisoners, refugees, civilians, and other non-combatants.

And finally, 1917 was the year the American Red Cross was officially chartered in Tennessee. Proudly, we celebrate the birth of the American Red Cross in Tennessee and our Southeast Tennessee Chapter in its one hundred year history.

On June 21 at 11:30 A.M, we will host our Annual Meeting. This very special commemorative celebration will feature a display of historical items and conversations with board chair from the past who will share their experiences.  The event is open to the public. Please RSVP me at  if you plan to attend.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - June 2017

It’s summertime!

With so many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams in Northeast Tennessee summer just seems to draw us to the water. There’s an endless amount of fun to be had while swimming, fishing and canoeing. And then, of course, there is the beach trip as well.

With all our opportunities to enjoy the water, we need to be sure to follow the safety tips
that keep us safe:
Do your part, be water smart! Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well.
Adults: actively supervise children; stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. And kids: follow the rules.
Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
Don’t just pack it; wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level. Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and adult supervision.
Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair - everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards.
Reach or throw, don't go! Know what to do to help someone in trouble, without endangering yourself; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR.

Once we get out of the water, it’s time to grill!  Again, in order to have those great memories of summer fun, we need to follow some basic safety rules:

  • ·         Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • ·         Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • ·         Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • ·         Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • ·         Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • ·         Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • ·         Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

I hope you will take a few minutes and share these tips with friends, family, and co-workers.  Let’s stay safe while enjoying the fun of summertime!


Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Ashlee Lynch - June 2017

Many people wonder if they have time to volunteer or give blood to the Red Cross. Ashlee Lynch was one of those people until about two years ago.  A resident of Greene County, Ashlee says she often drove by locations where a blood drive was in progress thinking – “I should stop and give blood – but I’m busy and can give next time”.

As a young mother with a 19 month old child, two part time waitress jobs, and her own photography business to manage,  Ashlee now finds the time not only to give blood but to organize blood drives! Her young child required 6 blood transfusions between 5 months old and 12 months old.  In the future her child may still require more blood transfusions when he becomes ill – even with a cold.  She quickly learned first-hand that you never know when you may need a blood transfusion.   Ashlee organized a very successful blood drive in Greene County soon after her experience hoping to “give back” to the Red Cross. After the successful drive she was asked by Tom Hensley to be the hostess for community blood drives held about every 56 days at the East View Recreation Center in Greeneville.  Ashlee is happy to provide this service for the Red Cross in Greene County because as she says – you never know when you might need blood.

This summer, Ashlee plans to begin a second Red Cross volunteer project.  She plans to educate Greene County residents in disaster preparedness – particularly developing a personal response and home evacuation plan.  After the 2012 tornado in Greene County, it was obvious that many residents needed more planning.

Ashlee is an example of the old saying – “if you want a job done ask a busy person!”   Thanks Ashlee for all you do to help your community.

When asked what message she might have for other Red Crossers – it is to never put off giving blood or developing a personal disaster plan. She says you never know when you may need one or both.  If you’d like to become a member of our team contact the local Red Cross at 423-765-4222.  

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - June 2017

It is an honor and a pleasure to be working for the best humanitarian organization and serve as the new Executive Director for the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross.  I have been inspired by the humanitarian work our volunteers, board, and staff do every day.  My vision is simple: Mission, Money, People and Team because it takes all of these pieces working together for a successful chapter. During my first few weeks I have experienced this vision each day!

During my first week, the East Tennessee Chapter Lead Volunteers provided a check to our Board for $846,203 and the monetary equivalent of their volunteer time.  This was volunteer time donated on a regular basis.  The personal sacrifice when someone in their worst hours lost everything to a home fire, and our volunteers were there; time welcoming home military members and their families; providing first aid for the University of Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis; and for those volunteers that supplement our staff with raising money, teaching skills that save lives, answering phones and coordinating the mobilization of our volunteers, they are Always There!

Memorial Day storms hit our area, and our East Tennessee teams sprang into action opening two shelters in Roane and Blount counties.  We assisted thirteen families whose homes were destroyed by those storms.  We also provided emergency supply distribution in Cumberland, Loudon, Blount, and Roane Counties.  We are neighbors helping neighbors.  This past week, we mobilized a pop-up phone bank for National Dispatch Center to receive calls from the Memphis area after the storms.  We have had an incredible bee-hive of activity and our volunteers have mobilized, socialized, and taken on tasks to ensure work is done and phones are answered.

Also in these first few weeks, I am proud to share that our own Jess Hernandez recently accepted an award from the Knoxville American Legion for his team's community support.  Mary Franklin, our Aquatics lead volunteer, will be going to the Asian country of Burma to teach the National Red Cross Society water safety.

My first month as Executive Director has been very busy, but it is a good busy.  I have been on-boarding with the absolute best of the best! I have seen our volunteers in action every day in this office, and we have had an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm in the halls.  I am thrilled to be here everyday living our mission and getting to know our volunteers.  I am in the right place, at the right time, feeling incredibly blessed.

Sharon Hudson
Executive Director

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - June 2017

Hello, Nashville Area Chapter!

Summer is here and for many of us, that means lots of time in and around the water. Join the Red Cross in keeping vigilant watch over our family, friends and neighbors this summer - and for life. The following tips are layers of protection that will help people stay safe in and around the water:

Do your part, be water smart! Ensure that all family members learn to swim well.
o Children and adults should be able to perform all five steps of water competency. If you can’t, look for Red Cross Learn-to-Swim classes.

Adults: actively supervise children. And kids: follow the rules!

Don’t fool with a pool: fence it in. Enclose your pool and spa with four-sided, four-foot fencing and use self-closing, self-latching gates.

Don’t just pack it; wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket – always on a boat and if you are in a situation beyond your skill level.
o Inflatable children’s toys and water wings can be fun, but they are no substitute for a life jacket and adult supervision.

Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair - everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards.

Reach or throw, don't go! Know what to do to help someone in trouble, without getting yourself in danger; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR.

People across the country can take steps now to become competent swimmers and make sure their children learn to swim. We're asking every family to make sure that both adults and children can swim and that parents make water safety a priority this summer.

Adults need to know how to be safe in the water before they can protect their children and can take a Red Cross swim course designed for adults. Just as importantly, parents should learn about water safety and know how to respond to a water emergency.

Swimmers who want to help protect lives can think about becoming a lifeguard or a swim instructor.

To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming.

I hope you all have a fun and safe summer!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Red Cross Urges Everyone to Get Trained During National CPR/AED Awareness Week

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Claims Thousands of Lives Every Year; Knowing What to Do Can Help Save Lives

It’s National CPR/AED Awareness Week and the American Red Cross Tennessee Region urges everyone to get trained on how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) so they can help during an emergency situation.

Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.

Interested in getting trained?  Find information on Red Cross classes here. 

The Red Cross recommends that households, businesses and schools receive training in CPR and proper use of an AED. This training can give them the knowledge and confidence to respond during an emergency situation with skills that can help save a life.

Whether you want to be able to help keep your loved ones safe or help someone in your work place, or use your training professionally, Red Cross can give you the knowledge and skills to be able to help. Red Cross training is OSHA compliant so if your training is mandated where you work, certified Red Cross instructors can help.

The Red Cross offers several different opportunities to receive training. One is to attend in-person classes held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. Online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning offerings are also available. Check with your employer as to what class you need if you are taking training to fulfill a job requirement.

You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at

Friday, May 12, 2017

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Regional Chief Operating Officer, Greg King - May 2017

Dear Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

As most of you are aware, Mike Cowles, our Executive Director, has left to reconnect with his passion of farming as a career and will be managing a large farming operation in Murfreesboro.  He will be missed by our staff and volunteers.  We have assembled a panel of volunteers to work with me in interviewing candidates for the executive director role.  We plan to start interviewing in late May.

I am sure many of you have noticed the construction projects going on in and around our chapter.  I promise you we are working to complete our elevator project as quickly as possible.  Parts had to be custom built for the elevator rebuild and that has slowed our progress.  Also, due to elevator rebuild, we are having to bring all fire systems up to 2017 code and that is also some delay to us wrapping the process up.  We are on the home stretch and once completed in early June, we should be good for another 25 years.

The bridge construction is progressing rather slowly and we appreciate your patience when trying to access our office.   I can say they are paving Broadmoor in front of our office and pouring sidewalks and curbs.  While there is still a long way to go on the project, we can see our portion being completed by early this summer.

I am excited to announce that we are implementing open house meetings for prospective volunteers at the chapter office the 2nd Tuesday at 6 pm and the 3rd Saturday at 9 am each month. Our first open house will be Saturday, May 20th from 9:00 am- 1:00 pm. We will have staff and volunteers available to talk with prospective volunteers.  Please check our Facebook page for more details.

Thank you for all you do to help us deliver our mission to those in need.

Greg King

Regional Chief Operating Officer

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight, Mike Chandler - May 2017

After spending his childhood growing up in Illinois and Florida, Mike Chandler joined the Army at 18 in order to learn how to fly.  Now retired from the military (and military consulting), he spends his time with his wife of 39 years, his two sons, and grandchildren as well as golfing and enjoying photography.

Luckily for the Red Cross, Mike also spends his time as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Trainee: Montgomery County, Disaster Responder, and Disaster Workforce Engagement Lead: Nashville.  His interest in volunteering with the Red Cross blossomed when he met a volunteer traveling to a disaster response operation.  Mike said he knew the Red Cross through the blood services and Service to the Armed Forces, but did not know about disaster response.  After hearing the volunteer share his experiences, Mike decided he wanted to do that one day.  He admitted that volunteering began to fill a need for him, but now he knows that when clients see the red vest it means hope.  While Mike was “thrown in the deep end” his first month as a volunteer, he said he really loved deploying to a disaster response and distributing meals.  When there is no opportunity to deploy to a disaster, he also volunteers in Disaster Services as an engagement volunteer.  He is heading up a new team of volunteers to assist in the transitioning of new volunteers to trained disaster volunteers.  We are very glad to have Mike on our team!

Mid-West Tennessee Heroes Luncheon

The annual Heroes Luncheon took place Thursday, May 11 at the Carl Grant Center at Union University.  Each year, the Mid-West TN Chapter of the Red Cross recognizes local heroes for their service to the community at the luncheon.  This year’s heroes are:

Humanitarian of the Year Carl Rudd, Interim CEO The Jackson Clinic
Uniformed Hero of the Year Chaplain Chris Young Henderson Co. Fire Department
Volunteer of the Year Travis Smith Jr.
Distinguished Service Award Dennis and Mary Lee

This year’s event was especially significant in that the chapter celebrated 100 years of service at the event.  Keynote speaker, Senator Kerry Roberts, was a big hit, talking about unsung heroes.  “Often in our life you don’t know at that moment that you are at the right place at the right time to make the right decision,” Roberts said. “You never know when you are going to be the person who provides the encouragement to that person who is in the position to make the decision.”

Through the generous donations of our attendees and sponsors, the Heroes Luncheon raised funds which will allow the Mid-West TN Red Cross to continue to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small in the area.

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - May 2017

Greetings Nashville Area Chapter!

Our 2017 HCA/Tristar Health Lifesaver Breakfast was a huge success!  Thank you to all the volunteers, staff, Board and committee members who made this success possible.  As you know, the Lifesaver Breakfast is our ONLY fundraising event for the Nashville Area Chapter each year.  Your time and commitment to the American Red Cross and the clients we serve allowed us to present yet another successful breakfast.

This year was especially significant in that our Chapter celebrated 100 years of service at the event.  Our Centennial was commemorated by a special Centennial video and moving performance by the Mt. Zion Baptist Church choir.  Our keynote speaker, Mark Lazarus, was a big hit, talking about his experiences over the years in working with NBC Broadcasting and Sports.  And, our Tennessee Region Tiffany Circle was recognized for their 10 year anniversary and special contributions to the Red Cross.

Through the generous donations of our attendees and sponsors, the Lifesaver Breakfast raised $857,655!  The money raised will allow us to continue to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small in the Nashville area.

Thank you to our 2017 Lifesaver Breakfast sponsors. View a full list of our sponsors at

Our Nashville Area Chapter has an amazing team!  Together, we ensure the community is prepared and ready to respond to disaster at a moment’s notice.

Thank You!

Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, James Cauthen - May 2017

James has been a volunteer with the Tennessee River Chapter since April 17th, of this year and has already logged nearly 100 hours!

James came to the Red Cross interested in logistics and has since taken leadership over facilities. When Don Bledsoe, a Tennessee River Chapter volunteer of over 10 years, asked James to join the team, James says he knew it was something he could get behind as he enjoys a good challenge and helping others.

James was born and raised in Arizona and recently moved to Clarksville, Tennessee to be with family. Together, James and his wife have eight children, four girls and four boys. While working with James you can see just how important his family is to him and how much he genuinely wants to be there for them. For forty years, James worked in the trucking industry. His roles included driving, managing freight, and seeing to the safety of over 200 other drivers. It is because of his background that he was so interested in logistics for the Red Cross.

When asked about his prior knowledge or experience with the American Red Cross, James said “I have seen them in action before, and was drawn to the Red Cross because there are no strings attached, just assistance given.”

From everyone at the Tennessee River Chapter, we want to thank James! At every available opportunity, James strives to learn more in turn helping the chapter grow. His dedication, hard work, and positive outlook is inspirational to everyone around him. James is the definition of a Red Cross Volunteer, someone who gives themselves in the face of serving others!

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - May 2017

Looking back on the month of April as National Volunteer Month, The Tennessee River Chapter had a great time celebrating volunteers. Our chapter began the tradition of recognizing a Volunteer of the Month, with Jack Hunter as the chapter’s first recipient. This month, we recognize James Cauthen. Tennessee River also held our annual volunteer appreciation picnic and enjoyed the company of one another. Several awards were given for remarkable leadership:

Clara Barton Award- Don Bledsoe
Volunteer Leadership Award- Ron Lanfear & Jan Thompson
Exceptional Service Award- Michelle Balsley
Disaster Services Award- Mary Lockett
Disaster Communication Award- Jack Hunter
Rising Star Award- Foster Montgomery

At the appreciation event, volunteers with an incredible number of hours logged were also recognized.

Ed England- 6, 834 on call hours & 401 worked hours
Shirley Connolly- 559 worked hours
Foster Montgomery- 703 worked hours
Ron Lanfear- 1,052 worked hours

In 2017, Tennessee River Volunteers worked a total of nearly 15,000 hours.

A special thank you is deserved to Tennessee River volunteers. Your dedication, hard work, and commitment is reflected by the hope you have given to so many families in the past year.


Tennessee Region Hosts First ERV Rodeo

The Tennessee Region hosted its inaugural ERV Rodeo, a full-day event centered around Emergency Response Vehicles. The April 29th event had an attendance of over 50 volunteers. New and experienced drivers alike had an opportunity to put their driving skills to the test by going through a competitive driving course. In addition, volunteers were able to learn about proper trailer pulling procedures, yard dog operations, ERV inspections, and tour the Next Generation ERV. The event was designed to engage existing drivers and recruit new ones through meaningful training and individualized coaching in a fun, team-building environment.

ERV drivers are crucial to the disaster response mission. They are usually the first ones that communities see after devastation strikes and the ERVs are recognized as beacons of hope; bringing relief supplies and/or food. We were happy to have such a successful turnout and to crown a brand new volunteer as our ERV Rodeo Winner – Anne Rowland, from the Heart of Tennessee chapter.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - May 2017

Heroes make the world a better place. Heroes touch lives. They save lives. They help when help is needed. They are your family, your neighbor, your friend, your co-worker.  These ordinary people make extraordinary contributions by putting their needs aside to help others in our community. Many of these people go unrecognized for their courageous acts. Now is your chance to honor them.

For the 10th year, the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee is honored to salute these heroes at the 2017 Heroes Luncheon. We are seeking nominations from our community aiming to spotlight people who make a difference in the lives of others through a singular act of extraordinary heroism, or through their continued commitment to putting others first.

Nominate an individual or group in an appropriate category at  Winners will be selected and recognized at the Heroes Luncheon this fall.

Thanks to all our Heroes who serve!


Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Ken Cox - May 2017

This month’s volunteer of the month is Ken Cox! Ken has been a consistent reliable volunteer for multiple disaster services positions. One of the volunteer’s that nominated Ken said “Ken is a very faithful volunteer and always so eager to help in any way needed.  He's more than happy to wear many hats and that is so appreciated.”

Ken is very enthusiastic to help where he is needed and is a great asset to our volunteer team.
When asked why he volunteers, Ken said “I think that it’s important to be able to give back to people and I enjoy being able to help people. Red Cross gives me that opportunity and it’s a very gratifying job.”

Ken just recently retired and joined the Red Cross in September 2016.  Although he is still fairly new to the volunteer team, he jumped right in and became involved immediately. Since starting 6 months ago, Ken has deployed to Hurricane Matthew, the Gatlinburg Wildfires, and the Chattanooga tornadoes, working with various positions. Deploying is one of his favorite parts of volunteering with the Red Cross.

One of Ken’s favorite memories was deploying to Hurricane Matthew, where he met another volunteer who was also new and they were able to learn quickly together how to set up and work a shelter. He talked about how relieved the fellow Red Cross volunteer was when Ken and his ERV partner showed up to the shelter location.

Ken supports the Red Cross because everyone needs help and he enjoys being able to help people through the Red Cross.

We appreciate all you do, Ken, and we are so thankful for your willingness and dedication. You are a very important part of our volunteer team in Southeast TN!

East Tennessee: Pedal for the Red - May 2017

The American Red Cross has partnered with Visit Knoxville, USA Cycling and Medalist Sports for a weekend of national competition for the elite of the elite cyclists in the United States June 24-25. Participating in this event will be Olympic hopefuls and Tour de France riders as well. Cyclists will compete in time trials and a grueling road race through Knoxville on a closed course in late June.

On Saturday, June 24th the Red Cross will be holding the Pedal for the Red family-fun bike ride.  This is a time for families and friends to come out and ride on the same course the pros will ride during their time trials along the river front. Pedal for the Red participants will get to ride with local celebrities like Lori Tucker and former UTK quarterback Heath Shuler.  After the ride is a pancake breakfast for all participants.  To register for this family fun event, visit Participants are also encouraged to create a fundraising team at  All proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

If you can’t ride in the Pedal for the Red, come and volunteer! Volunteers are needed for all shifts on BOTH Saturday June 24th and Sunday June 25th.  We need volunteers for course marshals, packet pick up, hospitality tent, set up and a lot more. Visit and click on volunteer to sign up.  We look forward to seeing you there!!!

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Sandra Mulsand - May 2017

The East Tennessee Chapter is fortunate to have the best volunteers around.  After all, the area serve is considered “Volunteer Country.” Sandra Mulsand is no exception. Sandra has been an active volunteer for the Red Cross for 10 years alongside her husband Lou. She dedicates her time in the area of disaster while fulfilling the position of Disaster Responder with a concentration in logistics, mass care and technology. In addition, she is a certified emergency response vehicle (ERV) driver when the need arises.  If that isn’t enough, she spends countless hours in Casework and Recovery where she makes the biggest difference for those she comes in contact with.

Last November, the East Tennessee area was hit with a Level 4 disaster when the wildfires spread so quickly in the Gatlinburg area.  The wildfires damaged or destroyed 1,684 structures, caused 14,000 residents to evacuate, injured over 130 people and claimed 14 lives.

Sandra Mulsand, left and Kathy Donaldson, right
From that disaster, our Casework and Recovery volunteers, including Sandra, assisted those affected and opened about 450 cases for the victims.  Once the disaster response was “closed”, Sandra took over the remaining effort. Since that time, she has spent over 1,000 hours connecting with clients, closing cases and following up with additional needs that have come to light. If working more than 60 hours a week on the case work wasn’t enough, Sandra has formed a small team of 4 follow-up caseworkers, trained a new volunteer, overseen the workings of the others and just recruited yet another new volunteer.

Red Cross volunteers always put the client first. For example, outside of all of the hours doing the work directly for the Red Cross, Sandra has collaborated with numerous organizations for a particular client from the wildfires to help with the filing of permits, paperwork and all that is required to start the rebuilding of her home (see pic).

There are two things that we are sure of. First, Sandra Mulsand eats, breathes and lives the American Red Cross. Second, the Tennessee Region, especially the East Tennessee Chapter, is easily better for having her as a volunteer.

Thank you Sandra for all you do to make a difference in the community.

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - May 2017

As I started to write this month’s letter, I received an email that changed my intended focus.  The message came from Neal Litvack, Chief Marketing Officer for the American Red Cross.  He shared the exciting news that the American Red Cross ranks highest among brands in the social services sub-category of non-profits in the 2017 EquiTrend report.

My reason for sharing this with you is that you are the ones responsible for this high ranking for our brand.  The quality of your work drives the opinion of the American public regarding our organization.

Thanks largely to your efforts, this is the first time we have ranked #1 since 2013. We were #2 in 2014 and 2015, then fell to #3 in 2016. But we’ve now reversed that trend and are #1 again this year.

EquiTrend measures brand equity based on three factors: familiarity, quality and purchase consideration. Rankings reflect the assessment of more than 100,000 U.S. consumers evaluating over 4,000 brands. Rounding out the top five in our Social Services Subcategory were, in descending order, Habitat for Humanity; The Salvation Army; Ronald McDonald House Charities; and the United Services Organization (USO).

Our brand is a function of many things. While it takes a sustained effort of our local communicators, and our national Marketing and Communications teams, this poll result is really a testament to Red Crossers in large and small communities nationwide, including here in Northeast Tennessee. When you respond to a disaster, answer the chapter phones and provide information, or give a presentation and make a positive first impression with the public, that resonates and boosts our brand. Telling our story in the community as volunteer leaders, fundraisers and communicators is essential, but ultimately, it’s how we deliver on our mission that sticks over time, and that is reflected in our #1 EquiTrend brand ranking for 2017.

So thank you for all that you do to embody the mission and values of the American Red Cross. You represent this organization well and the public has noticed!

Thank you,

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Pat Barraclough - May 2017

This month our Volunteer Spotlight takes you to rural Washington County near Jonesborough to meet Pat Barraclough.  Pat says she is a “professional volunteer”.   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 where they could volunteer - and we are lucky she selected the American Red Cross.

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, particularly around holidays and for monthly birthday parties.  She represents the Red Cross on the Tri Cities Military Affairs Council which meets monthly to coordinate the work of many organizations supporting veterans in the community.  The Red Cross often provides canteen services at community veteran events.  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 joining Pat by making the days brighter for veterans,  call  423-765-4222, email, or go online to

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, Jack Hunter - April 2017

Jack Hunter has been a volunteer with the Tennessee River Chapter since 2013. He came to the Red Cross interested in Disaster Services Technology (DST) and over the past year has lead the way for DAT dispatch. He joined the Red Cross when John Freed a fellow Amateur Radio member encouraged him to be a part of DST.

Jack says, “John found me at the right place and the right time as I was looking for something to do to give back to the community.”

Jack is originally from Texas, although he says he’s lived everywhere except there. His military career in the Army took him around the world to a new location every eighteen months. While in the Army, he worked in both communications and counter intelligence until he retired after twenty years of service. In addition to his military career, Jack has a background in computers, radio, telephone, and technical support. After retiring, Jack went on as a contractor with the State Department and then to work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).

When asked about his experience with the American Red Cross throughout his military career, Jack states “I was fortunate enough to not need the services, but came across those that did, and the Red Cross did a fantastic job at issuing emergency calls for those people.”

Here at the Tennessee River Chapter, we have been so grateful for Jack’s expertise in DST! When our chapter was introduced to the DAT dispatch program, Jack didn’t hesitate when asked to lead the way. For over a year, Jack’s work provided vital feedback in progression of the dispatch system.
Jack has been deployed one time for the Texas floods. On his deployment he was tasked with network support and maintaining the ERV radios. Jack says the scope of the disaster was truly an eye opener as it covered such a large area. He was on a team with 22 other DST volunteers at a one of three disaster operation centers comprised of 200 people.

Unfortunately for our chapter, Jack will be moving to Pennsylvania to live with his daughter in the near future. Luckily for the American Red Cross, Jack says he plans to continue volunteering with the local chapter in Pennsylvania because it’s a way to support something he believes in and that he feels he has a service he can provide to the American Red Cross.

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - April 2017

April is National Volunteer Month, and we are honoring our amazing volunteers who give their time to help people in need.

Thousands of volunteers serve the Red Cross, helping staff blood drives, volunteering at veterans hospitals, teaching people lifesaving skills such as First Aid and CPR, responding to home fires in the middle of the night and so much more.

Here in the Nashville Area Chapter, volunteers have served in all of these capacities, while also deploying to national disaster relief operations on numerous occasions. From Gatlinburg to Louisiana and beyond, our volunteers always show up with their sleeves up and hearts open. Our volunteers also help raise the funds necessary to fulfill our mission and provide leadership and feedback to our teams through committees and board involvement.

Please save the date for our Volunteer Recognition celebration Saturday, April 29 from 5:00 – 7:15 p.m.  This is your time to leave the vest at home and be honored for your time commitment to the Red Cross.  We have a great evening planned, so be on the lookout for more information about this exciting event.

Thanks for continuing to provide comfort and hope to our neighbors in need!


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Red Cross Honors Military Children during Month of the Military Child

This April, the American Red Cross is proud to celebrate the “Month of the Military Child”.  This month is set aside to recognize the special contribution that military children make as their parent or parents serve our nation.

The Mid-South, Nashville Area, Southeast TN and East TN Chapters of the Tennessee Red Cross will be hosting a special event called “Military Kids Serve Too” to recognize the strength and sacrifice of Tennessee’s military and veteran children.  Each child will be honored with a customized challenge coin commemorating their special designation as our nation’s youngest patriots.

“We looked forward to celebrating our military children each year during Month of the Military Child,” said Joel Sullivan, Regional CEO. “Military children are faced with unique demands of military life, and we look forward to hosting them as we recognize their strength and sacrifice each day.”

Month of the Military Child was designated by the Secretary of Defense in 1986.

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, Joe Brzezowski - April 2017

The Southeast Tennessee Volunteer of the Month is Joe Brzezowski! A fellow volunteer nominator said, “Joseph continues to excel in his volunteering experiences with the American Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee. His willingness to respond day and night as well as teaching other DAT responders on what DAT responders do when out in the field responding to local house fires is of great importance to our Chapter. Even when the recent tornado swept through our southern counties in McMinn and Polk, Joseph was not only there for Sheltering in McMinn County,  he also served very closely with the McMinn County EMA Director making sure the requested needs were met for McMinn County from the American Red Cross. Joseph deserves and should be recognized for his willingness to represent our Chapter and the community families that needs our services when disasters occur.”

When talking to Joe he said that he is incredibly thankful for the McMinn volunteers.  “It’s not me, it’s all of us. We are a team, we work really well together. It is an amazing group.”

The group of McMinn volunteers continue to amaze the staff and volunteers of Southeast TN. They are a tight-knit group of people who love to give back and are always ready to respond in time of need with Joe.

During a recent fire call Joe responded to, he was able to give a little girl a stuffed bunny rabbit. The whole family was having a hard time with the fire, especially the little girl. He went to his car and brought the bunny back and told her that when anything goes wrong to give the bunny a hug and everything would get better. That was a very emotional and rewarding moment for Joe and is just one of the reasons that he loves what he does as a disaster responder.

When asked why he wanted to become a volunteer he said that he saw the ad in the paper and it just seemed like something that he wanted to do. “I am glad I did, it’s very rewarding. I wish I did it years ago.”

Southeast TN is so appreciative of you and the rest of the McMinn team, Joe!  Thank you for all your hard work and for representing the American Red Cross so well!

ERV Road-E-O

Saturday, April 29, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (CST)

Metro Fire Training Academy
2601 Buena Vista Pike, Nashville, TN 37218

New and experienced drivers alike will have an opportunity to put their emergency response vehicle (ERV) driving skills to the test!

Join us for a fun-filled day of:
Competitive Course Driving
ERV Inspections
Trailer Pulling
Yard Dog Simulation
Next Generation ERV Driving
ERV: Ready, Set, Roll (for new volunteers)

Will you be crowned our ERV Road-E-O winner? 

Registration is required. Registration will close on 4/21/17 at 5 p.m.

To register, visit

For more information, email