Monday, July 17, 2017

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - July 2017

As a new fiscal year starts for us here at the American Red Cross, I’d like to thank each and every volunteer for all that you do for the Red Cross and our communities. We wish to continue our work and make this the best fiscal year yet by providing great service to all, and creating various and numerous opportunities for our volunteers. We always have volunteer opportunities available, but one event I’m particularly excited about is Sound the Alarm, Save A Life which will take place Saturday, September 23rd.  

The American Red Cross asks everyone to help Sound the Alarm and be part of the nationwide Red Cross effort to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by home fires. The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, the reason why the organization launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014. Please help us Sound the Alarm by volunteering to install smoke alarms on September 23rd, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires.

You can learn about Sound the Alarm in the Nashville Area by contacting our Disaster Program Manager, Kevin Watt, or by visiting

The greater Nashville area is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next several years. This growth will mean more opportunity for serving those around us. The Red Cross is all about neighbors helping neighbors. Join us in making a meaningful contribution to your community by applying to be a volunteer, today! Also, feel free to share our volunteer opportunities with your family and friends!
 We hope to see you volunteer with us soon!
Joel Sullivan

Red Cross First Aid App Can Help Save Lives

Emergency situations that may require first aid can occur anytime, anyplace. The American Red Cross First Aid App is an important tool everyone can download to their mobile device, putting free and simple lifesaving information at their fingertips.
This app gives instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, taking critical first aid information normally stored on bookshelves and in pamphlets and places it at the fingertips of millions of individuals – in order to help save lives.
Videos and interactive quizzes are also part of the app. Users who take quizzes can earn badges they can share with friends through social media to show off their lifesaving knowledge.
The Red Cross app also includes trusted Red Cross disaster preparedness information for a number of common situations.
First Aid App features include:
  • Simple step-by-step instructions for everyday first aid scenarios
  • Prioritized steps to take during an emergency, with a 9-1-1 call button
  • Sharable badges to be unlocked through interactive quizzes
  • Videos and animations to make learning first aid fun and easy
  • Safety and preparedness tips for a range of severe weather
  • Preloaded content that gives instant access to all safety information at any time.

  • The content is available in English and in Spanish. Downloading the app is not a substitute for training. To learn more about Red Cross first aid or register for a course, visit training information on
    From how to be safe and prepared in an emergency to help for the nation’s active military and veterans all the way down to how to take care of your pet, the Red Cross has a suite of apps for mobile devices that includes something for everyone. Find all of the Red Cross apps in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

    Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Vincent Carson - July 2017

    Vincent Carson is our June Volunteer Spotlight! Vincent is a retired fire fighter and EMT. After his son joined the military, Vincent had a lot of free time to fill. As soon as a friend mentioned volunteering with the Red Cross, Vincent knew that it was the right job for him. He began volunteering with the American Red Cross in March.

    Vincent is a member of the Disaster Action Team and has really enjoyed being a part of this group. He recently deployed to Memphis, TN during the widespread power outages. During this time, Vincent was willing to do whatever was needed to fulfill the Red Cross mission. He had a positive attitude and was excited to step up to do anything that he could to help. Vincent was in Memphis for over a week, and in that time he did a little bit of everything including case-work, logistics, and unloading trucks!

    Vincent’s favorite memory of volunteering with the American Red Cross comes from his time in Memphis. Vincent told us that he was incredibly nervous on his first morning in Memphis. He had never deployed before and wasn’t sure what to expect. “Every single person that I met that first morning was just so nice and welcoming,” Vincent said. He immediately felt more comfortable and at-home after talking with his fellow volunteers.

    Vincent has worked tirelessly from his very first moment with the American Red Cross. He is a dedicated and committed volunteer whose hard work and optimism are appreciated by everyone around him. He has had such an enormous impact on so many lives already, and we are all extremely grateful. Thank you so much for everything that you do, Vincent!

    Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, Deborah Dawson - July 2017

    The July 2017 Volunteer Spotlight is Deborah Dawson!

    Deborah joined the Tennessee River Chapter as a volunteer in the fall of 2016. For several years, Deborah had wanted to volunteer with the American Red Cross, so when she was invited by a volunteer to a Tuesday Volunteer Meeting and Potluck, she jumped at the opportunity. In less than a year, Deborah has volunteered in several areas which include Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, events, reception, and training. She has recently found her niche and settled in as the chapter’s Sheltering Lead.

    Deborah spent the greater amount of her life in Texas where she worked as a Caseworker for the aged and disabled. She moved to the Clarksville, Tennessee area to be closer to her family and has truly enjoyed being here. After moving to Tennessee, Deborah worked in real estate for some time.

    Deborah says that before she became a volunteer, she only knew what she saw on TV about the Red Cross.  “Now, a world of opportunities has been opened understanding the different lines of service the American Red Cross provides,” she said.  “I continue to volunteer because there are many different opportunities that are rewarding while helping the immediate needs of clients. That’s what motivates me.”

    Deborah has taken on the important role of updating all shelter teams throughout our twelve counties with necessary training. She continues to work hard and push through challenges that arise and all while increasing shelter partnerships.

    We are beyond grateful for Deborah’s work ethic and leadership skills. She has found a system that works and is putting it in action. Thank you for all you do Deborah, It’s astounding the difference one person can make, our chapter is reaping the benefits because of your work and dedication!

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

    Hello Mid- West TN Chapter volunteers! I hope that each of you are enjoying your summer and having a good time with your children as they are still enjoying summer break. Coming out of another July 4th celebration (but my first as the Director for our local chapter) I have begun to appreciate and celebrate the special relationship we share with the armed forces now more than ever.

    Each month, Executive Directors for each of the 8 Red Cross chapters in Tennessee come together for our monthly meetings in Nashville.  We were recently assigned to attend the planning meetings for different services of our organization (Disaster, Volunteer Services, Financial Development, Communications and Services to the Armed Forces). This is an attempt to further the Executive Director’s understanding and perspective on what each of the organization’s service programs provide and what the staff members of those respective programs are tasked with on a daily and weekly basis.

    My first assignment while in Nashville in June, was to join the meeting for the “Service to the Armed Forces” (SAF) program and to sit in among their discussions and brainstorming. I was very appreciative to be given an “inside” perspective on the amount of planning and preparation that goes into developing a strong partnership with the military bases across our state- and the commanding officers that we interact and correspond with. These strong ties allow for more effective results in our efforts to convey/ relay important family messages to military men and women in the line of duty, to provide family support (financial, emotional, mental, spiritual) when the soldiers are at home or abroad, and to more effectively organize and carry out the widespread collection and distribution of the letters and cards for the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program. These are all HUGE undertakings that require much planning and coordinating that I often take for granted (and I’m sure some of you do too). We have a tremendous volunteer in our local chapter who does SAF services on our behalf. His name is Dave Brumley and many of you know him personally. We are very fortunate to have Dave at the helm on our behalf!

    After having met with our SAF Tennessee staff/ team members (and serving with Dave daily), I can honestly say they are an exceptional group that not only provides a lot of know how (due to many of them having military backgrounds) but they also work well as a team in their collaborations for the sake of the SAF program. Next time you speak with someone who serves on your local chapter’s SAF service team, please take a moment to thank them for the time and effort they invest in such an important outreach for the American Red Cross! You’ll be glad you did!

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

    The annual meeting of the Southeast Tennessee chapter was held June 21st ,  but this was no typical gathering.  This year’s meeting highlighted the centennial celebration of the Tennessee American Red Cross and particularly, of our Southeast Tennessee chapter.

    Although none of the packed house in attendance could represent the founding year of 1917 or even very early times, several of our long time members recounted interesting and unusual experiences from their years of service. Storytellers, Rickie Pierce, Oscar Brock, and new volunteer, Robert Gould, made our event a very entertaining and educational one.

    Robert came on board about six months ago, following his move from New York where he was very active in the Red Cross in the boroughs of the city and associated counties. Robert's father, John Fleming Gould was the artist who designed the signature Red Cross posters in the mid to late fifties. His original work commands impressive prices by collectors today.

    Robert shared the original works by his father with us as part of the visual display he created. Complimenting this presentation were vital parts of our much greater historical archive in clippings, printed materials and pictures that tell the story.

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

    Recently there was a cartoon on social media stating that, as humans, we’ve come full circle.  The illustration showed hieroglyphics on the left and emoticons on the right! Emoticons (and emojis) speak for many of us in the land of short hand on texts, emails, and social media, but it’s the “icon” that caught my eye.

    Icon, from the word iconography, is itself a short hand word.  Not only are symbols icons, but people are too, and movies or books or art work may be iconic.  In this connotation, it means something that stands out or apart from the rest. It has import and meaning and sets a standard to be followed.

    Celebrating the nation’s birthday this month, we Americans take quite a few “icons” to heart.  We proudly wear flag pins on our lapels, we understand the relevance of the stars and stripes and sometimes we dress with them on our clothing. The Founding Fathers are icons, as are the men and women, active duty or retired, who dedicate their lives to preserving our freedoms.  The national anthem may be difficult to sing, but it is iconic.  For those of us living in today’s world, we may better appreciate Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American or Toby Keith’s American Soldier or even Billy Ray Cyrus’s Some Gave All.  We are unabashed in our patriotism. And, we wear those icons well.

    For those of us in service to our communities through the American Red Cross, we too, proudly wear our icon, the red cross.  This icon is universally understood and comes not only with pride and responsibility for those who wear it, but also with an understanding and expectation from those we serve.  The red cross icon radiates hope and help for those in need, it represents our desire to give back to our communities in the most difficult of times, and it represents a strong family bond for Red Cross volunteers and staff.  

    Who knows if we’ve really come full circle, back to a time when pictures could and did serve as a written language? I see the humor in that cartoon.  While we may be too busy to write the written word instead of symbols in our everyday world, we are not too busy to stand with our country as we wear its icons, and, we certainly are not too busy to don our red crosses and venture out to help others.  And that brings great pride and comfort. Those red crosses help us stand out from all others, setting a standard of excellent care.

    Katy Hagstrom | Executive Director
    American Red Cross

    East Tennessee Volunteers in the Spotlight, Joe Thompson and Melissa Sykes - July 2017

    Joe Thompson, Managing Director for Raymond James and Associates in Knoxville, TN became part of the ARC Board in FY16 after chairing the amazingly successful and impactful Medal of Honor event in 2015 for Knox County.  Joe immediately began working on our Lifesaver Breakfast honoring Governor Bill Haslam (2016), and the Pedal for the Red and Celebrate RED Centennial tailgating (2017).

    Joe has been instrumental in helping the local chapter with collaborative opportunities at the University of Tennessee, Visit Knoxville, Blackberry Farms, Pilot/Flying J, Regal Entertainment and the Raymond James Foundation. He has played a key role in bringing ideas and energy to our board and working to raise essential fundraising dollars to support our local chapter.

    Joe’s heart lies with our Service to Armed Forces (SAF) program. He serves on our local SAF committee as well as being an active member of ETMAC.

    Joe is a force to be reckoned with….he has the drive and passion and desire to grow our local chapter into a self-sufficient, fundraising team of community volunteers.

    Melissa Skyes is Adjunct Professor at Pellissippi Technical Community College and Former Vice President for Content Diversity (Retired) at Scripps Networks Interactive.   Melissa has served on the ARC Board since FY2014, and has been the co-chair for philanthropy for several special events: Red, White and Rock with Sara Evans (2014), Lifesaver Breakfast honoring Coach Phillip Fulmer (2015), Lifesaver Breakfast honoring Governor Bill Haslam (2016), and the Pedal for the Red and Celebrate RED Centennial tailgating (2017).

    Melissa brings an amazing resume of talent, time and energy to our local board.  Her integrity and professional compass, as well as her drive for success has created a PR and Marketing template that is to be rivaled.  She gives well above 100% of her focus and desire to serve our chapter, and has absolutely allowed us to grow and meet our fundraising goals each and every year.  She even manages to volunteer her husband, daughter and grandson in some of our team fundraising efforts.

    Melissa has a heart of gold and is a brilliant leader of our local philanthropy objectives!

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

    As another fiscal year comes to a close and new one begins, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each volunteer for your time and dedication to the Red Cross.  I have had the pleasure to meet many of our long time volunteers in the office and in the community, and I love hearing stories about why our volunteers engage with the Red Cross and our mission.  We have had a lot of activity while painting and cleaning up our building, serving the community and preparing for events, such as Pedal for the Red and Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.

    Last month, the East Tennessee Chapter for the American Red Cross opened for the National Championship Cycling Weekend with Pedal for the Red, a family friendly ride.  We partnered with Visit Knoxville, USA Cycling, Medalist, and Blackberry Farm.  It was a phenomenal weekend and very rewarding to form new partnerships in the community.  We also marked the weekend with our 100 Year Centennial celebration.  It was an incredible weekend for all who participated and volunteered.  This was the first year for Pedal for the Red and with a lot of sweat and hard work…the event surprised all.

    We are very grateful for our Presenting Sponsor, Phillips and Jordan, Event Chair Christy Phillips, Board Members Joe Thompson and Melissa Sykes, and former University of Tennessee quarterback, Heath Shuler.  Several of our board members and volunteers flipped pancakes, provided food, and a few of our volunteers rode the 4.8 mile course along closed Knoxville streets.  It was a great representation of the spirit of the Red Cross!

    With our Pedal for the Red behind us, we now shift our energy and focus to Sound the Alarm. Save a Life, a recurring national signature event this October tied to installing smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods.  This is a big step for us, and will get everyone involved in our mission, drive community connections, and most importantly—save more lives!  Our national goal is to install 100,000 smoke alarms—including our 1 millionth smoke alarm during the period from September 30 through October 15th.  Gary Dakolios and Kendra Taylor have already completed a lot of the planning, and I am thankful for this groundwork.   This event will require a lot of volunteer involvement to make it successful and we need your help.  If you have an interest in marketing, fundraising, and community outreach, please contact me.  We have many roles to fill, and I would love your support and participation in this incredible opportunity.

    Thank you,

    Sharon Hudson

    Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Wendy Bottomley - July 2017

    Wendy Bottomley is the Volunteer Spotlight and Volunteer of the Year for the Heart of Tennessee (HOT) Red Cross.  Wendy began her volunteer service with Caney Fork Chapter of the Red Cross and remained when the chapter merged with HOT.  She has been with the Red Cross now for 5 1/2 years.

    Wendy was born in Florida and attended the University of Florida (Go ‘Gators!) graduating with a degree in Nursing.  She then enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps spending 10 years on active duty and 18 years in the Army Reserves before retiring from the Army.

    After her Army career, Wendy worked for Healthspring in managed care for many years.  When she retired, she found she needed to be intellectually stimulated and began looking for areas in which to become involved.  In addition to the Red Cross she volunteers for the Lions Club, Military Officers Association and as a hospice volunteer.  She plays the piano, gardens and likes to stay physically active by biking and cross fit training.

    Wendy brings her many skills to the Red Cross and works for Volunteer Services doing intake for new volunteers.  The applications are done through a national process.  Wendy monitors the applications that are sent to Heart of Tennessee chapter and works to process new volunteers.  She also volunteers on a national level for volunteer services.

    Heart of Tennessee Red Cross thanks Wendy for her many hours of service each week in helping new volunteers get started in this rewarding volunteer field!

    Letter from Heart of Tennessee Regional COO, Greg King - July 2017

    Heart of Tennessee Chapter,

    Please join me in welcoming Kathy Ferrell as the new Executive Director for the American Red Cross Heart of Tennessee.  Kathy will assume her role on July 29th.   Kathy comes to us from St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital where she served as the Manager of Community Health and Benefit.  Kathy has, in her tenure with St. Thomas, managed the hospital’s volunteer program and secured a $500,000 grant to custom build a new Mobile Medical Unit.  Kathy is very active in the community, where she has received multiple service awards and served on the numerous boards.

    Prior to joining the St. Thomas staff, Kathy was a member of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, where she served as the Project Pass director.

    Kathy brings exceptional relationship building skills and field experience to our Executive team and I look forward to watching her lead the Heart of Tennessee team into our second century.

    On another note, the new fire detection system is currently being installed in the chapter office and should be the last hurdle, outside of the state inspection to be up and running.  Also, work is progressing on Broadmore Avenue and with some luck, hopefully we will have full use by August, making entry and exit easier.

    We are looking forward to a great summer and hope to see many of you in the field or in the office over the next few months.

    Greg King
    Regional COO

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

    A new year begins!

    The American Red Cross operates on an annual cycle that runs from July 1st to June 30th.  That means for us we are starting our second century of service to the residents of Northeast Tennessee.

    As we ended the month of June with our Annual Meeting, we took time to reflect on the milestones reached in our first 100 years and enjoyed stories that have been passed down to us -  the intrepid Red Cross worker travelling in a model T from Johnson City to Surgoinsville to provide disaster relief, the instructor training the first lifeguards in swimsuits that brought smiles to our faces, and the Red Cross home nurse travelling the back road to deliver health care painted pictures of our past with their stories.

    Looking forward to the next 100 years, we must leave our stories for the future volunteers and staff providing Red Cross services to Northeast Tennessee.  Do you have a story?  Of course, you do. I hear them every time we gather for a meeting, event, or training.  The volunteer listening to the elderly couple whose house burned as they relive their memories of the home they have lived in for 40 years has a story to share.  The instructor delivering preparedness information to 4th grade students who are sometimes entertaining, sometimes wise beyond their years, and always amazing.

    Maybe you are the volunteer who visits a veteran at the VA and takes a few minutes of your day to say thank you and deliver a smile to one who has earned our unending gratitude.  You have a story to make the statistics come alive.

    Whatever your role with the Red Cross, there is a story waiting to be told.  Help me save these stories for the next centennial celebration.  Take a minute and write your story down or send me an email saying you have a story to share.  One of us will call you to listen to your story and write it down.

    You are the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee and your story needs to be told.  Please help me build storybook of memories for the folks in 2117 to enjoy!


    Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Bill Page - July 2017

    If you live in Grainger, Hancock, or Claiborne County and become a Red Cross volunteer you will likely meet Bill Page.   Bill is currently the DAT (Disaster Action Team) Captain for those counties and provides local orientation to new volunteers – giving them the lay of the land so to speak – for their volunteer service.

    Bill has lots to share, as he has been a volunteer for the American Red Cross since 1972.  At the time he was in the US Army and assigned recruiting duty in Charleston, West Virginia.  He visited the Red Cross office in his role as the Army Recruiter and ended up as a life guard instructor. As often is the case with Red Cross volunteers – this role expanded and Bill was soon also a First Aid and CPR instructor.  In 1976 Bill was assigned to Korea and his Red Cross volunteer service followed him there.  His next assignment was in Kansas City where he became an Instructor Trainer.

    When Bill retired from the military in 1980 he ended up in Michigan filling another of his roles – as a minister.  But the Red Cross service continued and even provided Bill with a paid position as the Health Services Coordinator for a 3 person office.  There he learned how to do many jobs for the Red Cross and was soon handling Service to Military messages and occasional disaster calls. His time in Benton Arbor Michigan gave him a deep understanding of the role of the Red Cross in a community.
    From Michigan, Bill retired again and ended up in Hancock and then Claiborne County in Tennessee.

    Bill settled on working with the Red Cross in disaster services and proudly works as DAT Captain for several counties.  He also serves as the liaison with Emergency Management.  If you travel to any of those counties be sure to look up Bill!

    Heat Safety Tips

    Beat the heat this summer with our Red Cross safety tips for heat exhaustion and heat stroke!

    Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion.

    If you notice someone experiencing these symptoms, here are some helpful tips! First, you’ll want to move them to a cooler place. Next you’ll need to remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Try fanning the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Be sure to watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

    Heat Stroke Symptoms: Hot, red skin which may be dry or moist, changes in consciousness, and vomiting and high body temperature.

    In you find yourself or someone around you in this life threatening situation, here’s what to do: First, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. After calling 9-1-1, move the person to a cooler place. Next you’ll need to quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

    For more information on how to best beat the heat, visit our website at

    Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight, Rick Loyd - July 2017

    The July Volunteer Spotlight is Rick Loyd! After 40 years in federal law enforcement, mostly with the FBI, Rick retired from his career in 2009 and was looking for a way to serve the community when he came across the Red Cross.  Rick discovered that while conducting interviews and taking volunteer classes with the Red Cross, it was essentially everything that he had been doing during his career, so his volunteer position with Disaster Action Services worked out really well.

    Rick has now been with the Red Cross for 7 years, joining just before the 2010 Floods in Nashville. Since he began volunteering, Rick has deployed on several disasters.  His disaster role now includes follow-up case work for the Red Cross Nashville Area Chapter.

    In addition to volunteering with the Red Cross, Rick enjoys reading, hiking, target shooting, and volunteering with other non-profits in the area.

    Rick is a dedicated and passionate volunteer and we are so lucky that he spends his time volunteering with us!