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

Letter from East Tennessee RCOO, Greg King - April 2017

Dear East Tennessee Chapter Volunteers,

One of my favorite times of the Red Cross year is quickly approaching.  On June 1, we will be gathering to celebrate the service of our volunteers.  This year we are going to try something different and a little more laid back than previous years, and hopefully a lot of fun!

After surveying volunteers on how they’d like to be recognized, the consensus was to keep it simple.  So this year, we are going to cook out and spend time playing what I believe could be considered our true national pastime - Corn Hole.  That, along with some other fun activities will be how we enjoy a beautiful June evening.

The main purpose of gathering will be to take time to recognize our incredible volunteers who give so much of themselves to help friends, neighbors and strangers in times of need.  We have a lot to celebrate this year.  This chapter performed magnificently during the wildfires in the fall and delivered HOPE to so many who had lost everything.

We, the American Red Cross, are our volunteers.  Without you, we could not function and deliver comfort to those in their time of need.  Mark your calendar for June 1st and look for more details in your inbox soon.

See you then!

Greg King
Regional Chief Operations Officer

American Red Cross Honors Volunteers during National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month and the American Red Cross Tennessee Region is honoring its volunteers who give their time to help people in need.

Nearly 314,000 volunteers serve the organization, 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 Tennessee Region, more than 4,600 volunteers help the community.

“We want to take this time during Volunteer Week to thank our volunteers for their service,” said Joel Sullivan, Tennessee Region CEO. “They help us fulfill our lifesaving mission every day, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for their service.”

Last year, Tennessee Region Red Cross volunteers provided food, shelter, comfort and hope to 2,785 local families who faced emergency situations. They trained 71,851 people in lifesaving skills and provided 13,523 services to military members, veterans and their families.

The Red Cross invites the public to be a part of the lifesaving work it does and to sign up to volunteer. People can go to to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.

Monday, April 10, 2017

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Jacqueline Bridgeman - April 2017

Jacqueline “Jackie” Bridgeman is the April “Volunteer in the Spotlight” for the East Tennessee Chapter. She been a Red Cross volunteer in the East Tennessee Chapter for 5 years and has logged over 1,640 hours working with veterans and families of active military. Jackie has served in the role as SAF Volunteer Lead for going on three years. She is in responsible for supporting East Tennessee SAF Volunteers and follows up with new potential SAF volunteers, as well as distributing a monthly calendar of all SAF events.

Last year, Jackie attended and supported over 100 military/veterans events, family days, yellow ribbon, pre deployment and post deployment events within the community. In addition, she regularly leads volunteers that attend our monthly Ben Atchley Veterans Nursing Home event. Jackie also represents the Red Cross at the monthly East Tennessee Military Affairs Council meeting that usually takes place at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce office.

Jackie recently represented the Red Cross by joining East Tennessee Vietnam Veterans for 7-10 trip to Vietnam.

The East Tennessee American Red Cross, along with every military family in the region, is incredibly fortunate to have a volunteer of this caliber whom is so dedicated to making a difference to those that have served and currently serve this country.

Thank YOU, Jacqueline, for your dedication and service to this community!

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight, Paula Merrifield - April 2017

Paula Merrifield has a passion for volunteerism.  She volunteers with several organizations around Nashville, and we are lucky to have her as a dedicated Service to the Armed Forces volunteer with the Red Cross in Nashville.  Katie Schafer, the Service to Armed Forces Specialist for Middle Tennessee, says that she is appreciative of how Paula is always available and even makes a point to check in to see if she can provide help.  “I can always count on her,” said Katie.

Paula began her passion for the armed forces in 1985 when she became a military spouse. Now, she is the mother of a military member.  Joining the Service to Armed Forces has had a tremendous impact on Paula.  It has given her the avenue to serve the military in a different capacity.  Paula works a full-time job, so her role as the casework lead volunteer offers her the opportunity to volunteer from home at night and on weekends to follow up on emergency casework.  She also volunteers in military briefings, as well as education and presentations at community events and meetings.

Representing Service to the Armed Forces means a great deal to her.  Paula’s volunteer work means a great deal to us and the military families we serve.

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Meaghan Smith - April 2017

Meaghan Smith serves as the DAT Engagement Lead and DAT Dispatcher for the Mid-West Chapter.

Meaghan coordinates fire calls, works with DAT Trainees to get them through the training process, and works with DAT members and Captains to make sure they stay up to date on training and chapter happenings. She is also in the process of developing a mentorship program to get new DAT trainees quickly integrated with a team. Meaghan’s entire family has become leaders at the Mid-West Chapter due to her leadership.

Thank you, Meaghan for your dedication and leadership!

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Carolyn Doerfert - April 2017

Volunteers are our workforce, our energy, and our heart.  Each month we will be spotlighting a volunteer so that you can learn about the many and varied people and activities that make the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee a success.

This month, we want to introduce you to Carolyn Doerfert.

Carolyn uses her nursing and mental health knowledge often for the Red Cross.  She may be preparing materials for an upcoming class or presentation or conferring about a current disaster case with other volunteers and staff.

Carolyn loves sharing her professional skills with the Red Cross and has been doing so for many years.  She graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in psychology, married her husband Gunther and came to the Kingsport area.  Soon after settling in Kingsport she attended ETSU where she received an Associate Degree in Nursing. She then began a career in psychiatric nursing.

One day at a business dinner, Carolyn met a gentleman whose experiences as a Red Cross disaster volunteer intrigued her.  A call to the local Red Cross office led her to what would become very much a “win-win” for both Carolyn and the Red Cross.  She took basic disaster training classes and accepted her first assignment in 1998 – Hurricane George in Puerto Rico. She was hooked!

Carolyn has no idea how many disasters she has served on - too many to count she says – locally in northeast TN, across TN, or in states from west to east and north to south. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, airline crashes and tornadoes are among the many disaster assignments she has accepted.  
Carolyn loves feeling she has helped people in a time of great need, enjoys working with volunteers who share the same values, appreciates the high standards of our organization and loves continuing to learn.  

Not only does Carolyn enjoy learning, she loves sharing her knowledge and love of Red Cross disaster with others. She has trained not only many of our current volunteer nurses in northeast Tennessee; but others across Tennessee and in many other states.

To join the Red Cross volunteer team, go online to or email

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

Earlier this month, my husband bought a new gas grill.  As we put it together and I read the instructions, we were also enjoying the weather as it was a beautiful spring day.  One the grill was put together, a friend situated it on our deck close to the house.  It was a great location if you are only concerned with how it appears.  I surprised the group with my strong objections.  I have seen too many devastated families after their homes burn due to grills placed next to homes.  The grill was moved to a new location far enough from the house for safety.

Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
These steps will help to make your grilling experience a success.  Just in case an accident happens anyway, take a minute and download the free Red Cross first aid or emergency app on your mobile phone so that you can respond effectively.

So, as we head outside to enjoy spring, let’s take a minute to think about safety.  Grills, lawnmowers, pools, hiking and so many more activities can be exciting and fun but also have hazards for those not focusing on safety.  We are fortunate to have the great tips and guidelines available on

Take a little time and review the safety tips available and then take the next step and share them with your friends.  Let’s all have a safe and fun spring!


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

April is a busy month at the American Red Cross.  This month we will celebrate National Volunteer Month, and I am extremely proud of the dedication and hard work of our Southeast Tennessee volunteers.  We are excited to have so many enthusiastic new folks on board. On April 6th, we honored our volunteers at the annual volunteer recognition event, highlighting their dedication to the mission of the American Red Cross. The celebration doesn’t end there, as we will be highlighting our volunteers throughout Volunteer Appreciation Week April 23-29th.  There isn't a single day that we are not thankful for the service each and every one of you provides day in and day out.

Since July 1st, our volunteers have collectively logged 13,591 hours!!! The Tennessee average of how much money is donated to nonprofits based on hours is $22 per hour, so if you break that down the volunteers of Southeast TN have contributed $299,002 to the American Red Cross. That is beyond outstanding.

To find out more on how you can become part of #TeamRedCrossSETN  you can contact our local office at 423-265-2455 or register to become a volunteer at

Southeast Tennessee - Preparedness Tip - April 2017

A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep you and your family safe during thunderstorms:
  • Learn about your local community’s emergency warning system for severe thunderstorms.
  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm.
  • Make trees and shrubbery more wind resistant by keeping them trimmed and removing damaged branches.
  • Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home.
  • Consult your local fire department if you are considering installing lightning rods.
  • Get trained in first aid and learn how to respond to emergencies.
  • Put together an emergency preparedness kit .
  • Review the Be Red Cross Ready - Thunderstorm Safety Checklist at

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

Hello Mid-West TN volunteers,

Throughout the month of March, I heard of some fantastic opportunities that many of you participated in throughout your communities on behalf of the Red Cross. As your Executive Director, I am also privileged to go out and serve as a mouthpieces to help expose our services and programs to more of our chapter territory. Together, we were able to strengthen relationships and partnerships in some of our counties with EMA Directors, Fire and Police chiefs, and first responders. That will benefit us going forward throughout 2017 and into 2018.

As we move forward into this month, I’m so excited that we are celebrating Red Cross Volunteer Appreciation in the month of April! I hope that each of you have made plans to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Night at The Ballpark in Jackson scheduled for Friday night, April 28th. This will be a great night of fellowship wrapped up in food, fun and Friday night baseball! I know you will not want to miss the opportunity to rub shoulders with your volunteer peers and celebrate the “year that was.”

As you consider your Red Cross service and those who’ve helped you along your journey, please take a moment during the next couple of weeks to reach out to any Red Cross volunteer “mentors” you have been blessed to have. Make a concerted effort to express your sincere appreciation to them and then look for other new faces in the volunteer crowd of our chapter to “pour into” in the same manner. That’s the ultimate expression of appreciation you can show for those who’ve helped you along the way!

Thanks for all you do!

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - April 2017


Is spring really here?  It’s hard to tell as the weather is warm one day and cold the next!  As we all know, this is the time of the year when the trees and flowers are putting on buds, the birds are singing a little earlier in the morning, the days are getting brighter, kids are on Spring Break and storms are more likely to appear.  Are you prepared?

I encourage you to put together a disaster kit with items like flashlights with fresh batteries, bottled water, a small amount of snacks, a first aid kit, sleeping bags, propane camp stove, utensils, etc.  No matter how prepared you are, there is always something we forget and I encourage each of you to take time this spring to put a kit together that will help you in case of emergency.

Know where the safest place to be in your home is, and if you have children, show them where to go before and after the storm.  Make sure you know where your pets are and educate you neighbors on being prepared. I have made it a point to ensure my neighbors know who we are and vice-versa.  Our kids feel safe knowing that if “Mom and Dad” are injured or trapped that they can go find a neighbor than can help.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and the community is to know your surroundings and to always be prepared for the unexpected.  Take some time this month and stop by our office and let us talk to you about the Red Cross and all the opportunities to be one of us.

Finally…  A big thanks to all who attended our Heroes Breakfast last month. We had a record crowd of 355 guests who had a chance to honor John Hood who has given a lifetime of service to his community, state and family.  Dave Sanderson, who was a passenger on the flight that landed on the Hudson River, shared his miraculous experience and kept everyone attention.  The Heroes Event helps support those who need our help during their darkest hour.  Thank you for what you do!


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

Hello Tennessee River Volunteers!

The month of March brought incredible change to the Tennessee River Chapter. We welcomed Philip Barletto as the new Disaster Program Manager and one week later I began to serve as the Executive Director. Our chapter is unique as Philip and I were previously Tennessee River volunteers and have served alongside our dedicated volunteer base for some time. Together, he and I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to those before us who paved the way and lead the chapter through its transition.

Despite the changes our chapter has undergone, we continue to grow! Week after week new volunteers are present at our volunteer meetings ready to serve the Red Cross mission. I’m always amazed by Tennessee River volunteers and their dedication to the community. While the severe weather didn’t show up at the end of March as expected, together, new and seasoned Tennessee River volunteers did.

I’m looking forward to being out in the community and meeting all of our team. Thank you for allowing me to serve alongside you as a volunteer and with you as staff.

Katy Hagstrom

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Know the Difference: Tornado Watch Vs. Tornado Warning

Know the Difference!

Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - March 2017

Hello, Nashville Area Red Crossers!

Our team of dedicated staff and volunteers is gearing up for our annual HCA/Tristar Health Lifesaver Breakfast. The breakfast is an event which brings together our greatest supporters to recognize the work of the Red Cross in our community and to raise the financial resources necessary to carry out our mission. The event will take place on Friday, March 31, at 7:30 a.m. at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville.

Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports will be the keynote speaker for the breakfast this year. As Chairman and CEO of NBC Broadcasting and sports, Lazarus is the primary relationship between NBC and the NFL, NHL, EPL and NASCAR. He is responsible for all of NBC’ sports programming and that of their 29 owned stations, as well as all business operations for the PGA and the Olympic Committee. He has overseen production of 3 Olympics and untold football, hockey, golf and NASCAR telecasts.

The 2017 event is especially monumental for the Red Cross in that it will mark 100 years of service in Tennessee.

If you or someone you know would like to learn about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Whitney Lee at or 615-250-4262 or visit


Monday, March 20, 2017

American Red Cross of East Tennessee Announces Pedal for the Red Bike Event

The American Red Cross of East Tennessee announced last week Pedal for the Red, a fun, friendly, bicycle ride to support the lifesaving work of the American Red Cross.  In partnership with Visit Knoxville and USA Cycling, Pedal for the Red will kick off a major cycling weekend in Knoxville, as the 2017 USA Cycling Pro Road and Time Trial Championships take place on June 24-25.

Pedal for the Red, presented by Phillips & Jordan, will provide amateur bicycle riders the unique opportunity to ride the same closed time trial course that will be used by the top professional cyclists in the USA Pro National Time Trials. The 4.8 mile course will start in the Old City and includes a stretch down Neyland Drive.  Following the ride, participants will be in position to watch the start of the National Time Trials, where the best cyclists in the country compete for the national championship.

Riders can participate in this exciting weekend and support the humanitarian relief work of American Red Cross at the same time.  It’s a feel good ride, for a great humanitarian cause.

Riders and spectators of Pedal for the Red can make a valuable contribution to the American Red Cross through Pedal for the Red, Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.  One hundred percent of the funds raised through peer-to-peer will go directly to the American Red Cross of East Tennessee.

 “We know how deeply committed the Red Cross and its volunteers are to serving our region whenever we need them,” says Christy Phillips, Chair of Pedal for the Red.  “This is an exciting opportunity to come together as a community, have fun with family and friends and support the work of the American Red Cross in East Tennessee.”

This first Pedal for the Red marks the centennial (1917 – 2017) of the American Red Cross in Tennessee.

For information visit: and or contact Melissa Sykes at

Friday, March 17, 2017

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, March 2017: Tom Mainor

Congratulations to Tom Mainor, our March Volunteer of the Month this month!

Tom is a very dedicated volunteer that covers not only response in his community, but often neighboring communities.  Tom is extremely humble and kind to everyone.  He works with new volunteers to help them learn the ropes and is willing to help however he is needed.

After Tom retired as a forester, he wanted something worthwhile to do and started dedicating some time to the Red Cross. He has now been a volunteer for about 5 years! Tom is the Disaster Action Team (DAT) captain for Ray County. On the DAT team, he tag-teams with other volunteers, including his wife, responding to home fires. His responsibilities include delegating resources to help disaster victims buy food and clothing, assist in arranging a place to stay if needed, writing referrals to charitable groups for additional supplies, and giving comfort items. He has participated in local community service events such as smoke alarm installation in the county, the home show in Chattanooga, and keeping shelters established in his county.

Tom has also been on several deployments: three hurricane deployments (Isaac, Sandy, Matthew), Gatlinburg wildfires, and the Athens tornadoes. Tom’s his willingness to assist those in need at all hours is so appreciated! His kindness in heartbreaking situations helps everyone. Thank you, Tom!

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

Hello Mid- West TN. Volunteers! I hope that each of you had a good start to the first quarter of 2017. I know that it’s been a busy 3 months for all of us in the chapter- and it doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down!

As many of you are already aware, March is National Red Cross month. Many of you have been requested to speak in your local communities on behalf of our organization (churches, schools, civic clubs, etc.). We appreciate each of you for your willingness to use these platforms to advance the cause and raise awareness in our communities of our ongoing need for additional volunteers! If our staff can be of any help with your various programs/ presentations please let us know.

I want to take the opportunity to give special recognition to our Disaster Action Team (DAT) members and the amazing services they provide on behalf of our chapter. They serve under the excellent leadership of our Disaster Program Manager- Heather Carbajal. The past month has been an especially difficult stretch for our DAT team members. They’ve responded to fires that have included fatalities, long travel distances, less than ideal circumstances, etc. We are so proud of each and every member and the way in which they represent the organization well during the most trying and tiring times. If you’re an active member of the DAT team (or a former member as well), we salute you and are indebted to your sacrifice!

Lastly, please make note that we will be hosting our annual “Heroes Luncheon” on Thursday, May 11th from 11:30am- 1pm in the Carl Grant Community Center on the Union University campus in Jackson. Our keynote speaker will be Senator Mark Green. Many of you are hearing his name mentioned in the national news due to the fact he is one of the leading candidates to be appointed Secretary of the Army by the President. We look forward to hearing him share some of his military accomplishments with us (as well as catching us up on the exciting current governmental affairs he is involved in).   WE hope you’ll mark this date on your calendar and join us for this special annual event.

With thanks,

Monday, March 13, 2017

Letter from East Tennessee Interim Executive Director, Greg King - March 2017

Dear East Tennessee Volunteers,

With Michelle’s departure, I’m serving as the interim executive director and I have enjoyed getting to know many of the volunteers in the East Tennessee Chapter already.  In my normal day to day duties, I deal with items like the budget, bill payment, fleet and facility operations, as well as work with our executive team, so I don’t always see our mission in action on a regular basis.   I recently had an experience though that caused me to pause and reflect on how important our working with the military and their families can be.

I have an almost 21 year-old son named Alex who is majoring in engineering at Tennessee Tech. The summer before last, he decided to join the Tennessee National Guard as part of the ROTC program at Tech.   He successfully completed basic training and advanced infantry training at Ft. Benning two summers ago (one of the proudest moments of my life).   He has settled into a regular routine with school, monthly drill and all is normal.  A couple of weeks ago, he was in town after a night drill at the Smyrna base where they were doing physicals, updating paperwork and completely other mandatory duties.

If you’ve been around the Red Cross for a while, you have probably heard people talk about their Red Cross story.  Even though I have worked for the Red Cross for 10 years, I have never been in a position to truly understand how valuable our emergency communications and other services for military families can be.

My approached me following drill in Smyrna and said “Dad, we had to update our paperwork this weekend and you are my sole beneficiary if I get killed while serving or deployed.  I wanted to make sure you won’t have to pay for my burial if something happens.”

Not exactly the type of thing you expect to hear or think about on a Sunday afternoon.  To say the least, his words impacted me heavily and caused me to reflect on how many military families in our community and around the country have that conversation on a regular basis.  I truly did not fully grasp the sacrifice our military families make until I heard the words come out of my son’s mouth.  Later that evening as I reflected on our conversation, I gave a great deal of thought to the incredible work our Service to the Armed Forces volunteers and staff do with pre and post deployment briefings and the many other services the Red Cross provides.  It is great to know the Red Cross is there for those families, to bring their service members home during life events, to do workshops such as Coping with Deployment for families and to facilitate emergency loans  just to mention a few.  
Even though my son is 90 miles away in college, it dawned on me that I am a military family and the organization I work for is here to support my son and my family.   What a great feeling to know you’re not alone.  I want to thank those selfless volunteers and staff who give their time to serve military families like mine.  You will have my family’s gratitude forever.  Thank you for what you do.   You make a difference.


Greg King
Regional Chief Operating Officer

Letter from Tennessee River Chapter: Greg King, Regional COO - March 2017

I have had the privilege to serve in the not for profit world for more than two decades.  One common theme throughout my career that has never ceased to amaze me, is the power of volunteers.  As we all know, we went without a  Disaster Program Manager and Executive Director in the Tennessee River Chapter for several months.  In most chapters, this would paralyze the local operation.  Not true in the Tennessee River Chapter.

I have witnessed and had the pleasure of working with an extraordinary group of volunteers.   The volunteer leadership team of the Tennessee River Chapter is an amazing group.  They exemplify the volunteer spirit this state is famous for.  See it, own it, do it, is their mantra.  Our volunteer base has fully run the chapter and accepted complete ownership and responsibility.  What an amazing thing to see!  The chapter has not missed a beat due to the dedication and power of our volunteers.

There are two volunteers in particular I want to recognize.  Ron Lanfear and Jan Thompson.  Ron and Jan have gone above and beyond the call of duty for volunteer.  Both have taken on huge amounts of responsibility and performed magnificently in running our chapter.  Thanks Ron and Jan for your leadership!

A motivated group of volunteers is one of the most powerful forces on the planet.  One of the strongest groups, is based in the Tennessee River Chapter.   I am humbled to work alongside each of you.

With Appreciation,

Greg King
Regional COO

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

In 1986, U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger designated each April as month of the Military Child, recognizing the contribution the child makes as a parent or parents serve our nation. This recognition has continued as Governor Bill Haslam has declared April as month of the Military Child in Tennessee. The American Red Cross is proud to recognize military children and the special contribution they make as their parent or guardian is called to serve.

Sunday, May, 7th the American Red Cross of Southeast TN is hosting its 3th honorary event, Military Kids Serve Too. This year's location is the Creative Discovery Museum. This very special occasion is meant to recognize the strength and sacrifice displayed by the children of Tennessee’s military and veteran community.

At Military Kids Serve Too, each child will be honored with a customized challenge coin commemorating their special designation as our nation’s youngest patriots. Commander Tim White will be presenting challenge coins to the children of local military members and veterans.

The 2016 success and participation among several partners, leaders, and members of the community was a promising indication of the growth and interest in this unique celebration. This year, we are expecting an even greater response and the opportunity to promote more awareness for the military children’s distinguished role in our community.”

Children who have parents or guardians currently serving in the US Armed Forces, Active Reserve and Guard as well as military veterans, are invited to attend Military Kids Serve Too.

Military Kids Serve Too is made possible through the generous contribution of partners like the Creative Discovery Museum and the TN National Guard Child and Youth Program.  To register, visit:

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

What a wonderful time of year!  As we move through March and into April, we are watching the renewal of the world around us.  The sunshine feels warm, the flowers bring a smile, and challenges seem to become manageable.  At the Red Cross, we add the enjoyment of celebration brought by March as Red Cross Month and the Volunteer Appreciation events of April.

I often feel that the celebration of both Red Cross Month and Volunteer Appreciation Month perfectly align. Without the wonderful volunteers who give their time so selflessly, we would not have a Red Cross to celebrate.

Thanking a group of volunteers for their service a few days ago, I felt once again that my words seem so inadequate.  How can I express the amazement I feel as I look at the generous people who give so much to help other people? I have decided that there are no words more impactful than the simple “thank you” that I offer now.

Thank you for making our organization one that cares.

Thank you for giving your time to serve others.

Thank you for getting up when you are tired and cold to go help someone in need.

Thank you for listening to a veteran tell their story of service.

Thank you for teaching a 10-year-old the magic of a Pillowcase Project.

Thank you for giving your Saturday morning to install smoke alarms and build a safer community.

Thank you for answering the phone and helping someone find the assistance they need.

Thank you for presenting preparedness tips to a civic club.

Thank you for maintaining our equipment so that we are ready to respond.

Thank you for building relationships in the community so that we can work cooperatively with others.

Thank you for delivering thank you cards to veterans in nursing homes.

Thank you for teaching CPR/First Aid skills to our community.

Thank you for all that you do to deliver the services of the American Red Cross to the residents of Northeast Tennessee.


March is Red Cross Month

March is Red Cross Month, a time when the American Red Cross honors our nation’s heroes who help people in need in their community, across the country and around the world. 

During Red Cross Month, become a hero too. Join the Red Cross.
1. Become a Red Cross volunteer. You can help in your local community.
2. Give blood and help a patient on their road to recovery.
3. Take a class; be able to help during an emergency.
4. Make a plan. Develop a preparedness plan with members of your household.
5. Make a financial donation. Your support will allow us to help those in need.

A LITTLE HISTORY For more than 135 years, American Red Cross workers have been an essential part of our nation’s response to war, natural disaster and other human suffering.Read about the Red Cross in American history here.
Since 1906, the office of president has been part of the structure of the American Red Cross. United States President Woodrow Wilson agreed to serve in this position in 1913, establishing a tradition followed by all subsequent presidents to become Honorary President of the American Red Cross. That title was changed to Honorary Chairman in 1947.
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated March as Red Cross Month. Since that time, all of our U.S. presidents have designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how our organization helps people across the country and around the world. Read the Presidential Proclamation for American Red Cross Month.
The Red Cross provides help and support in many ways to people in this country and around the world by:
  • Responding to as many as 64,000 disasters big and small in this country every year.
  • Providing 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world.
  • Collecting and distributing about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.
  • Training millions of people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills.
  • Helping millions of people around the world through disaster management and disease prevention activities.
During Red Cross Month, become an everyday hero, become a part of the Red Cross. More information is available on how you can help through your local Red Cross chapter or by visiting the Red Cross “Ways to Help” information.

Friday, March 3, 2017

After a Disaster: What Happens Next?

If your neighborhood or home was damaged by a tornado or severe storm, Red Cross has some tips to help start your recovery.

Immediately after the disaster, continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so. As you approach damaged structures, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes. This will not only help shield you from any lingering weather, but also help to protect you from hazardous debris.

Specific things to do or look for as you approach damaged areas include:

  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately. Do NOT approach or touch them.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out of the building quickly and call the gas company or fire department.
  • Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
  • Clean up spilled medications, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids that could become a fire hazard.
  • Taking care of yourself.

Even if your home wasn’t directly affected, a looming tornado can wreak havoc on even the steeliest of nerves. This leads to one disaster response aspect that often gets overlooked: emotional recovery.

Disasters can be upsetting and stressful, and reactions like frustration or anger are common. If you’ve experienced a disaster, there are a few things you can do to recover mentally and emotionally knowing that this process (like many things!) will take some time.

To start, focus on the basics. Make your top priorities a well-balanced diet, plenty of water and sufficient rest. Try to limit exposure to the sights and sounds of the disaster in the media, and just focus on your family’s needs. Maintain a support network of family and friends, and be patient with yourself and others through the recovery process.

Find more advice on recovering emotionally on, and know that we’re always available if you need some extra help. To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Severe Weather Preparedness – Use Red Cross Safety Tips

The American Red Cross has safety tips to help prepare you for severe weather.
You can download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information at your fingertips. It features emergency weather alerts so people can head to a safe place if needed, and provides information about what to do in case of various disasters. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to
TORNADO SAFETY A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area. Prepare to act quickly if a warning is issued or someone suspects a tornado is approaching. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar. Go underground to a basement, storm cellar or interior room of the house.
Some signs of a tornado include dark, often greenish clouds, a wall of clouds or cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise. Steps to remember if a tornado warning is issued include:
  • Go to an underground shelter, basement or safe room if available. A hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is also a safe alternative.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home. If you have access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, get out of the mobile home immediately and go to either.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
  • If you can’t walk to a shelter quickly, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If debris is flying while you are driving, pull over and park. You can stay in the car with the seat belt on, putting your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket if possible.
  • THUNDERSTORMS If you can hear thunder, you are close enough for lightning to be a threat. If thunder roars, go indoors and stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the thunder stops.
  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is falling.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use running water.
  • If driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If outside and unable to reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
  • More information on what to do before, during and after all types of emergencies is available in the Preparedness section of

    Friday, February 3, 2017

    Don't Let a Kitchen Fire Sideline Your Super Bowl Party

    Don't let a kitchen fire sideline your Super Bowl party this weekend! Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries, with home fires more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home.

    We have four kitchen tips to help you "advance" your fire safety skills while preparing food for yourself and your party guests:

    1. Keep your eye on the ball. Do not leave the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even to quickly catch that instant replay, turn off the stove first.

    2. Sideline flammable items. Keep your guests and anything that can catch fire—like foam fingers, pom-poms, paper football plates and jerseys—away from the stove.

    3. Run pet interference. Keep furry friends off cooking surfaces and counter tops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

    4. Stay in the game. Remain in the home while simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer (not the game clock) to remind you that food is cooking.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, January 26, 2017

    TN Red Crossers Continue to Help Those Affected by Southern Storms

    Here are some photos that were taken yesterday of the devastation in Albany and Ashburn, Georgia, two of the many Southern communities hit by last weekend's storms and tornadoes. Reports indicate more than 1,100 homes have been affected across Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. This number is likely to increase once all inaccessible areas are accessed.

    Over 130 people in Georgia and Mississippi are still seeking refuge in 7 Red Cross and community shelters. Several Tennessee Red Crossers have deployed to Georgia and Mississippi this week to help,

    The Red Cross depends on donations to provide immediate relief. Help people affected by Southern Tornadoes and Storms by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word TORNADO to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to, and help people recover from this disaster.

    Photo Credits: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    TN Red Crossers Deploy to GA & MS to Assist with Storm Relief Efforts

    Update: New deployments added

    In response to the weekend's devastating storms in Georgia and Mississippi, responders from several Red Cross chapters throughout Tennessee have headed or will be heading to help those affected in those states. Along with the 15 who've deployed, 12 more responders are headed out tomorrow. Additionally, six Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles from our state are deploying. 

    Thanks to all of those deploying to help folks affected by the storms.

    Friday, January 13, 2017

    Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - January 2017

    Happy New Year!

    The year 2016 was one of the busiest years in recent history for the Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross.  From home fires and floods, to tornadoes and wildfires, our volunteers showed up when our neighbors needed us most.  Our volunteers were deployed across the Nation to share their time and talent in large disasters. These deployments were in addition to the home and apartment fires we respond to every day.

    We provided help and hope to service members and their families in their time of need and prepared them for deployment, as well as, welcomed them home.  We taught lifesaving classes in CPR and provided critical blood to patients who needed it.

    Our fabulous donors also shared their treasure to ensure that the resources were there to accomplish our mission.  Here’s a look at some of the services we provided together in 2016:
    (January 2016 – November 2016)

    2,596 home fire responses
    8,277 smoke alarms installed
    5,731 children prepared for disasters and emergencies through the Pillowcase Project
    71,192 blood donations
    4,339 services provided to military members and their families
    5,511 volunteers

    These numbers are very impressive.  I am very proud of our Tennessee volunteers sharing their time, talent and treasure in ways much greater than I could have imagined.

    Thank YOU, for continuing to serve the great State of Tennessee.  I look forward to another great year serving with you in 2017!

    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Southeast Tennessee Volunteers of the Month, Jan and Larry Turner - December 2016

    Jan and Larry Turner were our December Volunteers of the Month.  The Turners have been American Red Cross volunteers in Southeast TN for six years and have worked with multiple positions including, Disaster Assessment, Sheltering, and most recently, Disaster Action Team. Disaster Assessment has become their favorite GAP because they are able to go into disaster affected areas and really see what the clients have gone through.

    When asked why they volunteer Jan said “I have had a very blessed life, from my childhood, to my marriage, to my daughter- I felt like I have a lot of payback to do.” She went on to say that she really appreciates how group oriented the chapter in Southeast TN is and enjoys the team effort.

    Jan and Larry have deployed three times, with their most recent deployment to Gatlinburg, TN for sheltering during the wildfires. They received a call at 10:00 p.m. the night the fires occurred and started to head that way immediately. After a long night of unloading trailers and preparing shelters Jan and Larry continued to work through the next day. By evening all hotels in the immediate area had filled up, so they ended sleeping in a shelter that night.  Jan was very thankful for the experience of not having housing for her first evening of the deployment. She said that being able to walk into a shelter and know what other families were going through really put into perspective why they volunteer with the American Red Cross.

    The Turner’s have met some incredible volunteers along the way and have had great experiences both in the chapter and while deployed. When asked what their favorite memory with the Red Cross is, they shared about a deployment in Florida when they had stopped at a restaurant to get food and the people around them started applauding. Jan and Larry didn’t initially know the applause was meant for them and the work they were doing for Hurricane Matthew until someone told them. This showed them how much the community cared about the work they were there to do.

    Jan and Larry Turner are quick to respond if needed without a second thought. We appreciate their flexibility, warm approach to any situation, and willingness to help in all circumstances.

    Nashville Area Volunteer of the Month, Joyce Page - January 2017

    Joyce Page has a spirit of giving. She volunteers for multiple volunteer agencies in Nashville and is actively involved in her church. She stops by the Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter every Monday to help with various projects and answering the phones. She’s been a tremendous help in the year she’s volunteered with us, and is the January 2017 volunteer of the month.

    Joyce started out volunteering with the Red Cross as a community events volunteer. She attends numerous health fairs and events around town on behalf of the Red Cross. Many people aren’t aware of all the services the Red Cross provides to the community, so Joyce helps inform people about the Red Cross lines of service. She first learned about the assistance the Red Cross offers to home fire victims after having a home fire of her own decades ago. With the Red Cross mission close to her heart, she decided to become a volunteer after her retirement.

    Recently, Joyce hand wrote over 500 cards to donors to thank them for their donations that enable her to volunteer. She also answered phones at the WKRN News 2 phone bank telethon to raise funds for disaster relief.

    Kind. Sweet. Gentle. Conscientious. Thorough. A pleasure to work with. Always willing to help. This is how Joyce is known around the chapter office.

    “I’d love to have a bunch more of her!” said Sherry Ricketts, Volunteer Specialist.

    When asked what her favorite part of volunteering is, Joyce said, “Giving back!” We are extremely grateful to have Joyce as a volunteer at the Nashville Area Chapter.

    To learn more about our lines of service, visit
    If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit

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

    Happy New Year!

    I hope that each of you and your families had a wonderful holiday season and enjoyed some relaxing, quality time with your friends and loved ones. I can’t believe we’ve celebrated the New Year and are already knee deep in January!

    It’s important to take a look at the past several months and truly celebrate the accomplishments that you personally had a hand in. I think we would all agree that 2016 was a TREMENDOUS year for our chapter and the Red Cross organization! Let’s consider what your hard work as volunteers helped our chapter accomplish from January- November 2016. It included:

    193 Home Fire Events (Cases Opened)
    1,874 Smoke Alarm Installations
    368 Pillowcase Project Participants/ Recipients

    These statistics don’t even begin to tell the story of the impact made on the locations many of you were deployed to over the last 12 months.  From California and Texas to Mississippi and Louisiana and eventually to the east side of the state in Gatlinburg, you represented our chapter WELL! You not only helped change lives through your dedicated and compassionate service, but your own lives were changed as well.

    With all of the above in our rear-view mirror, we can now begin to turn our chapter’s full attention to 2017. We can answer the call of a new year to our Red Cross organization (and chapter) to continue to provide disaster relief and assistance to our 14 counties and other areas in need around the country. Many of you will help us write the script of the year to come! When we look back a year from now, you will read 2017’s accomplishments for our chapter and you’ll be able to take pride in the fact that you personally played a significant role.  Who would want to miss out on the opportunity to impact the lives of others (and your own) in 2017?

    I feel confident each of you will “answer the bell” in 2017 as you have over and over this past year. Who’s with me?!

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

    Here we are in 2017!  This is an exciting year as we celebrate 100 Years of Service by the American Red Cross to the communities of Northeast Tennessee.  If you missed our All Volunteer Meeting on January 5th, please stop in when convenient and check out our historical timeline.  Jane Harris did an exceptional job developing a snapshot of our history from 1917 to today.

    Across the years, our focus has remained the same:  Assisting people by preparing for, responding to or recovering from emergencies.  For example, volunteers have been in the community teaching first aid for 100 years and when the skills for CPR were added in the 1970s, courses were adapted and we continued to teach the skills that make our community safe for us all.  Today, many of our courses include an option to train online.  Our methods take advantage of the many advances that occur in our society but our focus remains the same.

    History shows us disasters in the 1930s that involve volunteers from counties across Northeast Tennessee coming to the aid of their friends in Kingsport when a tornado hit.  In 2016, we saw volunteers from those same counties travelling to the aid of our neighbors in Sevier County when the wildfires struck.  Some early stories tell of volunteers riding horses to deliver assistance while today we drive on interstates in cars to deliver aid.  Methods have changed but the giving hearts and dedication of Red Cross volunteers stay the same.

    During World War II, thousands of servicemen travelled by train through Northeast Tennessee stopping in Morristown, Johnson City or Bristol where they were met by smiling Red Cross volunteers operating canteens to provide food and drink.  These dedicated volunteers were at the train stations all day and through the night.  Today, we are still supporting our military population with services to active duty military, their families, and the many veterans in our communities.  Needs have changed but our commitment to those who serve remains the same.

    Stop by the office and learn about our history, sign the timeline, and share your memories as well.  We have a Century of Service to celebrate along with the excitement of beginning a Second Century of Service to Northeast Tennessee.  Together, let’s tip our hats to the past and join hands as we face the promise of the future.