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