Thursday, December 14, 2017

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - December 2017

1917 -2017:  100 Years of Serving the Nashville Area Community

This year marks 100 years of service to the Nashville area community. As our Centennial year comes to a close, let’s reflect on what we have accomplished together so far in 2017:

(Numbers are from January 1, 2017 through October 31, 2017)

1,042 volunteers have served our community.
348 families assisted after 185 disaster incidents. Volunteers on our disaster action team (DAT) provided emergency assistance for immediate needs such as shelter, food and clothing.
111 volunteers from the Nashville Area Chapter made 239 deployments around the country to help people affected by the hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters.
651 third through fifth graders who are now prepared for a disaster through The Pillowcase Project.
1,027 free smoke alarms installed in homes.
9,967 community members trained in life saving courses like CPR, First Aid, and AED.
285 services provided to military members, veterans and their families to help them prepare for, cope with, and respond to, the challenges of military service.
3,990 Red Cross mobile app downloads to help you prepare for a disaster, receive important weather alerts, learn first aid techniques, and more.

And, the year is not over yet. Our Red Cross team is hard at work to serve our mission.

Thank you all for your support (time, talent and treasure). Here’s looking forward to 2018 and the next 100 years!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Safely Heat Your Home This Winter with Tips from the Red Cross

Cold temperatures have settled in. Almost half of the families in the United States use things like space heaters, fireplaces, or coal or wood stoves to stay warm. These supplemental heating sources can be dangerous if not used properly. Heating a home is one of the leading causes of home fires and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to heat their home safely:
1. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
2. Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
3. Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
4. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
5. Place space heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes.
6. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
7. When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
8. Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
9. Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.
10. Other safety steps - Check electrical appliances before you leave home. Do not leave food cooking on the stove. Blow out candles before going to bed. Do not overload electrical outlets.
Make a fire escape plan and ensure all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home. Set up a meeting place outside in case of fire. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Teach household members to stop, drop and roll if their clothing should catch on fire.
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check monthly that smoke alarms are working properly by pushing the test button. Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year or as directed by the manufacturer. Replace smoke alarms every ten years.

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

With the Holiday season upon us, we look forward to spending time with one another and reflect upon the last year. This year there is much to reflect upon with the recent disasters and the growth of our chapter through outreach and new volunteers. The winter season is also a time where we focus on our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign as the rate of home fires increases during cold weather.

There are many ways you too can reduce the risk of home fires in your own home:
- At least twice a year, practice your fire escape plan with all family members.
- Practice makes perfect! After each fire drill, mark down your escape time and make sure everyone can get out in two minutes or less.
- “Keep an eye on what you fry.” Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or using an open flame
- Never smoke in bed
- Matches and lighters are locked away
- “3 feet from the heat.” Furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire are at least 3 feet from any type of heat source.
- Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.
- Change smoke alarm batteries every year unless it has a long-life battery.
- Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
- Test your smoke alarms each month. If they’re not working, they can’t get you out the door.

We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!
Katy Hagstrom

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Pete Galanos - December 2017

The Southeast Tennessee Red Cross counts on Pete Galanos.

Last year, Brooke Powell, Southeast Tennessee’s Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist, discovered that volunteer Pete Galanos, a 71-year-old retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, was a military logistics specialist. So, she showed him her shelter facility file drawer. “It looked like somebody had taken a fistful of papers and shoved them inside,” Powell said. “When Pete saw it, his head exploded.”

Galanos, a retired pharmacist and East Brainerd resident, is this month's Southeast Tennessee Red Cross Volunteer Spotlight. “He is a very serious and hard-working volunteer that we love working with at the EOC in Meigs County,” one nominator wrote. “We had the expert with us.”

This year, Galanos worked tirelessly to turn a jumble of papers into a tidy regiment of color-coded folders. He created an easy-to-use spreadsheet, and updated Southeast Tennessee’s information with the National Shelter Service.

“I love a challenge,” Galanos said. “The harder the better.”

Galanos and his team spent many hours calling or visiting all 60-65 Southeast Tennessee Red Cross shelters, filling out 8-page inspection forms, updating contract and contact information, insuring ADA compliance, measuring square footage, and, along the way, discovering closed-down churches and large, new gymnasiums.

“He’s a workhorse,” Powell said. “And he’s an awesome person, and a real joy. I can always count on him.”

This summer, he also tallied residents, demographics and special needs for twice-daily calls to dozens of shelters during the recent Hurricane Irma operation. Such information is vital to efficient Red Cross operations, he explained. “You need to know if you have lots of children; if you have lots of infants, you can’t feed them fried chicken, right?”

During Vietnam, Galanos flew helicopter gunships. He was a military flight instructor, then a pharmacist. He and his wife moved to Chattanooga three years ago to hike, bike, sail and enjoy the outdoors.

The commitment he learned while serving in the military led him to spend many hours indoors, sorting files, filling out paperwork, drafting spreadsheets.

Galanos added that his philosophy of volunteering also grew from his military experience. “I say you’re a volunteer until you volunteer to do something,” he said. “Once you volunteer, you don’t have a choice; it means you’re going to do it. Because a lot of people and their lives, and their welfare, depend on you doing a good job.”

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

2017 is truly a monumental twenty-first century page in American Red Cross history. As the Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee takes its collective breath to reflect on the accomplishments through the work of its volunteers, we close on a year in the happiness of renewal, lives changed and lives saved, while we are sorrowed by lives torn and lives lost.

Our April brought much happiness in the Military Kids Serve Too campaign. In June, we celebrated one hundred years of service in Southeast Tennessee. August saw a major impact success on our chapter in our first association with the Transmission Employee Charity Golf Tournament.

Wildfire was already scorching the Los Angeles highlands when the calm of the Atlantic hurricane season subsided and in with rage came Harvey, Irma and Maria. We opened a shelter for evacuees of Irma and almost simultaneously in-processed over 150 new prospective volunteers while deploying over 50 volunteers to help our neighbors in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, California and Puerto Rico.

In October, we honored our local heroes at the Annual Heroes Luncheon. Over the course of 2017, the Southeast Tennessee Chapter has responded to over 200 home and apartment fire and provided over 1,000 services to our military members and their families. Over 23,000 volunteer hours have been provided to the community in training and life saving skills such as first aid and CPR in the last twelve months.

2017 was an especially challenging year for all of us everywhere in the Red Cross. Fires, earthquakes, floods, storms: all in such a short span of time. This is when human beings are at their best. Always, it is our honor to be there.

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

Happy Holidays, Mid-West Tennessee team! I hope each of you are enjoying the holiday season. As this time of year usually causes me to do, I’ve been reflecting back over the past year and all the AMAZING things we’ve experienced (individually and collectively)! It’s truly been a banner year for our chapter and the services we’ve provided throughout the 14 counties in our coverage area.

We couldn’t have even begun to accomplish all this year included without the tireless work and effort of the “Coordinators” in each of the respective areas of service in our chapter! Please take a moment with me to celebrate their numerous accomplishments and commitment. They are as follows:

*Dave Brumley - Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Coordinator
*Derrick Byrum - Logistics Coordinator
*Dawn Duke - Engagement Coordinator
*Brian Hogeland - Transportation Coordinator
*Carl Jones - Feeding Coordinator
*Chuck Mosele - “Sound the Alarm” Coordinator
*Mary Lee - Casework Coordinator
*Sandee Potter - Disaster Mental Health Coordinator
*Meaghan Smith - Disaster Action Team (DAT) Coordinator
*Travis Smith - Disaster Assessment Coordinator
*Sue Vegors - Health Services Coordinator
*Haley Warwick - Community Partnerships Coordinator
**Wendie Carlson - Leadership Board Chair

When I consider how proud this chapter makes me as an Executive Director, I also immediately think of our Disaster Action Team and all it’s members. I take tremendous pride in the work that you do- and the outstanding way in which you represent our chapter in each town and community. You are truly the “boots on the ground” and the “hands and feet” of our volunteer community. The level of commitment you demonstrate by your willingness to disrupt your individual (and family!) schedule to respond at a moment’s notice to meet the needs of those affected by disaster never ceases to amaze and impress me!

So, 2017 will be a hard act to follow because it set such a high standard for our chapter and it’s disaster response performance! However, I know that we have even more achievements in our future on behalf of the Mid- West Tennessee section of our state. Now, let’s go do even more selfless service in 2018 on behalf of the American Red Cross! Who’s with me?!

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Derrick Byrum - December 2017

Derrick Byrum serves as the Logistics Coordinator for the Mid-West Tennessee chapter. He is the volunteer spotlight for December 2017!

Derrick did an outstanding job assisting with the recruiting of additional sheltering and feeding partners during our “blitz” effort to prepare ourselves for the Mass Care project assigned to our chapter. It was impressive to watch the passion and tireless effort that Derrick contributed (especially considering that Derrick came aboard as an official volunteer in our chapter as recently as July 2017!). He was a leader by example throughout the entire process.

Derrick is proud to say he was recruited to the Red Cross by one of his best friends: Brian Hogeland. Brian serves as the Transportation Coordinator for our chapter. Derrick’s journey with us began when he was invited by Brian to assist with a work project being done at the chapter office by a group of local high school students. Derrick also serves with the local Youth Town service organization and Brian knew Derrick would be very comfortable (and effective) interacting with the students and keeping them motivated during the service project. Derrick still talks about how much he enjoyed helping out that day (and he continued to help for the next three days!). He said he was drawn to our chapter and it’s family-like atmosphere. In Derrick’s own words, “I was welcomed the very first day with open arms and given a job to do as a team player. I loved it!”

He says his favorite part of serving our chapter is when he is given the opportunity to do community events like The Pillowcase Project. He sums it up by saying. “The intensity on the face of the children staring at you while you’re talking and explaining things to them, that's real. It also serves as motivation to be there for the next 100 Pillowcase Projects to make sure kids are as prepared as possible!” That’s certainly the kind of passion and commitment level that makes volunteers like Derrick such a pleasure to work with and serve alongside. Keep up the good work, Derrick!

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Marilyn Rasmusson - December 2017

Marilyn Rasmusson is our “Volunteer in the Spotlight” for the month of December.

In her work with Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (commonly referred to as SAF), Marilyn is responsible for volunteer casework training for chapters in East Tennessee, Southeast Tennessee, and Northeast Tennessee. She does an outstanding job communicating and collaborating with new volunteer caseworkers to answer any questions and make sure their training is supported. She is the SAF volunteer partner for Jess Hernandez, our Regional SAF Director.  In addition to training other volunteers on casework, she monitors the casework queue daily and issues new emergency communication/financial family follow up cases to all SAF casework volunteers. Marilyn has created an MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and new casework training manual for SAF caseworkers in East Tennessee and the Tennessee Region. She has spent extensive hours on creating these manuals. Marilyn also interacts with Tennessee Region SAF staff and volunteers through out the state regarding SAF casework and MEPS issues.

She does an outstanding job working with Tennessee Region SAF staff and volunteers. Marilyn was recently asked by SAF national headquarters to be part of a special committee (a small number of staff and volunteers from across in the US and overseas) to modify the SAF staff/volunteer manual. Marilyn also assists with holiday mail, veteran nursing home and SAF events and much more.

Marilyn works closely with East Tennessee SAF Points of Light Frontline Families Americorp Representative. Marilyn is very, very committed working with SAF volunteers, staff and especially Military members and their families.

The reason why we are successful in East Tennessee and in the Tennessee Region is because of Marilyn's hard work, dedication and committee to SAF and the mission. She has been a volunteer for quite a few years and not only works with service to armed Forces, but she is heavily involved with Disaster Services as the training (EDGE) volunteer and a member of the FAST (First Aid Station Team).

Marilyn is a volunteer that is always eager to help in any area needed and does it with an everlasting smile. We are proud to have her as an active volunteer in all of her roles.

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

1917 -2017:  100 Years of serving the people of Northeast Tennessee!

We have spent the year celebrating this remarkable accomplishment by our Red Cross team, past and present.  As we look back to last January, it is a good time to take a minute and reflect on all we have accomplished together.  So, here are some Memories from our Centennial year:

Families were assisted following 255 disaster incidents.  Disaster Action Team members provided emergency assistance for critical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.  Most of all, they provided hope.
Successfully held our first Humanitarian of the Year Breakfast honoring Scott Niswonger with Dave Sanderson as our guest speaker.  We also saluted the volunteers and staff who made the 100 years of service possible through their dedication.
Responded to the record-breaking hurricane relief effort.  51 team members travelled to Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and California.
Operated a shelter for evacuees from Hurricane impacted areas for seven days in Johnson city.  Meals, cots, first aid and health support, were all provided along with information and hope.
Participated in Veteran’s Day events in Hamblen, Washington, and Johnson counties and distributed “Thank you for your Service” cards in all thirteen counties we serve.
Celebrated the volunteers who are the heart of our team with an afternoon on Bays Mountain.  People rode the barge on the reservoir, viewed the Planetarium show, visited the animals, walked the trails, and zipped through the trees!
Provided ongoing support to veterans at the VA Medical Center.  Daily, weekly and monthly activities to support veterans.
Installed smoke alarms in homes in Kingsport, Morristown, Bean Station, Thorn Hill, Rutledge, Blaine, Greene County, Johnson City, and Church Hill.  More to be added in December.
Presented preparedness information to youth in Greene, Washington, Claiborne, and Hawkins,  Counties through the Pillowcase Project
Supported the Fire Department’s “Fire Safety House” presentations in Cocke County
Welcomed 84 new volunteers to our Northeast Tennessee Red Cross team.

And so much more especially as we continue our work through December.  In fact, too much to mention here, however, we know the many accomplishments achieved.

It has indeed been a memorable year.  Thank you for all the support, time, talent, and inspiration that you have provided.

Happy Holidays!

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Dan Blair - December 2017

Dan Blair currently serves as chairman for the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee Chapter Board of Directors.  Dan says he has enjoyed his seven-year association as board member of the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee.

In “real life” Dan is manufacturing manager for Arconic in Morristown.  Arconic is a company specializing in lightweight metals’ engineering and manufacturing.  The parts made are often used for turbines in jet engines.  Just think whenever you see planes flying through the sky or at an airport – there is a good chance some of Dan’s parts are in use!

Dan enjoys his work as a board member in chapter governance and fund raising.  He was involved in the beginning of the Run for the Red fundraiser which is usually held in April. (This year the event will not take place for scheduling reasons.)  Another high visibility event he participated was the Veteran’s Day event working with the VFW in Morristown.  The Red Cross had 2 vehicles in a parade and also fed about 100 individuals.  Another fund and friend raising event Dan enjoyed was the Heroes Breakfast held last spring at the Millennium Center in Johnson City.   He says the board is actively involved in planning for the second Heroes Breakfast to be held in the spring of 2018.

One of Dan’s favorite experiences has been working with the smoke alarm distribution program.  Last year, across our 13-county area, the Chapter installed a total of 1,400 alarms.  In Morristown for our 4th annual event, we recently partnered with the local Fire Department to install 84 smoke alarms.  This event honored recently deceased Fire Marshal, Euel Noah, one of the first Fire Marshals in our area to host a smoke alarm installation event with us.  Dan said the feeling you get when you know you have successfully installed an alarm in a home with no detector and several small children is very satisfying.

When asked what he would like to say to the local chapter volunteers, Dan says a huge message of appreciation for all they do. Each volunteer gives unselfishly of their time and shares so much of themselves in support of the Red Cross Mission.  Dan says we have an outstanding, hard working and dedicated staff of 4 individuals but without the volunteers we simply could not provide the services needed across our 13-county area.  Our volunteers are the HEART of the Red Cross.

To join us as a volunteer contact Angela Morris 423-765-4218 or

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Reina Teems - December 2017

Reina Teems is in the Volunteer Spotlight this month.  Reina knows first hand how important Red Cross presence and services are to those who have lost everything.  She and her family are survivors of Hurricane Katrina. They had nothing but the clothes on their backs.  The Red Cross was the only agency to give them clothes, food, and help finding a place to live.  Along the road to recovery, Reina and her family (including two-month-old twins and a son) left everything behind, and 12 years ago moved to the Murfreesboro area.  She stayed home to raise her children and four years ago, she was looking for something more.

It was time for her to give back to the Red Cross.  Reina first became involved with volunteer services and then became a disaster responder. For a time, she did both until she devoted all her energy to disaster response, first for the Heart of Tennessee Chapter and then moved to a regional disaster position.  In this position, she helps the entire state of Tennessee but her first love is the Heart of Tennessee Chapter.

Reina describes herself as a jack of all trades.  She has taken training in all areas of disaster response.  She feels this is the best way for her to know exactly what the volunteers are being called upon to do.  For instance, if someone will be doing shelter service, she knows exactly what that entails.

In her position, Reina helps people to be able to get out and do what they need to do better.  She makes sure they have the correct training, and any necessary paperwork for deployment is completed.  Reina is available to those deployed if they need her.  Often it means just a phone call from someone deployed in a disaster area, just needing to talk when they become overwhelmed.  She facilitates the travel arrangements for both staff and volunteers when disaster strikes.

Reina helps people do their best.

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - December 2017

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

Happy Holidays to each of you!

As I reflect on my first four months with Red Cross, I’m grateful for the “baptism by fire” as many of you have said.  The opportunity to see our Mission lived out so well in the large scale hurricane response, but also to watch each of you quietly live out our Mission serving our communities at home has been remarkable.  I just returned from a training in Washington, DC, at our headquarters.  On a dedication plaque in the lobby, the inscription reads “Dedicated to the concept of Mercy in Memory of the Heroic Women of the Civil War.”  Mercy.  What a powerful word that continues to embody this work we carry out together.

Thank you for your continued commitment to serve.  I hope we say that enough; your most precious asset is your time and you freely share that in service with us.   You love this work and I encourage you to share this opportunity with your friends and neighbors.  We need to grow our team and you are the best equipped to share your story and encourage others to serve alongside us.  I challenge you to recruit two new volunteers as we begin 2018!

Know that you are valued and you are welcome in this place.  Wishing you the best Holiday Season spent with those you love.

With gratitude,
Kathy Ferrell
Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter

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

As this calendar year ends, I want to thank you for your time and talent.  Our volunteers are a treasure to the American Red Cross.  This has been a year like no other.  We had three historic back-to-back hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – which caused tremendous heartbreak and destruction across affected communities, from Texas and Louisiana to Florida and other parts of the Southeast to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The East Tennessee Chapter sprang into action, working around the clock with partners to deliver shelter, food and comfort.  Thank you!

In East Tennessee, we are blessed with the best volunteers in the country.  We are a social group who rise to the occasion for humanitarian relief.  Many of our volunteers have been working in our chapter after returning from deployment to help with our office renovation.  East Tennessee volunteers welcomed each other home by cooking meals, cleaning, organizing, and sharing their deployment stories.  I would like to give a special thank you to our facilities and fleet committee.  These volunteers have worked very hard (after deployment) to renovate our facilities and brighten our working environment – creating a wonderful place for volunteers and staff.

Please be sure to thank Louie Keeling for tackling our electrical issues to ensure our parking lot is lit, especially late at night when our Disaster Action Team (DAT) responders return from a home fire or deployment.  Ken Curry has also repaired our internal lighting fixtures to light our hallways.  Our fleet lead, Dan Bowser, has worked for several months to ensure our fleet is maintained and clean.  Our facilities committee renovated our board room with donated carpet tiles from Broadway Carpets.  Please be sure to thank our volunteer installers for carpet and floor boards: Dan Bowser, Fritz Walker, Alan Sheets, Jean Chellino, Gary Dakolios, Louie Keeling, Lloyd Pitney, and Jordan Daniel.  John Carrell has trimmed our roses and washed windows.  A big thank you to Dottie and Richard Ettensohn; they completed the tedious task of curating facility keys and designing an efficient system.  Nettie and Dave Mounger hung our collection of historical photographs in a chronological order.  Also, the United Way Young Professionals gathered one evening to finish painting hallways and bathrooms.  We are excited to have our office so inviting, and we have enjoyed the fellowship with all the volunteers.

With the electrical work complete, a fresh coat of paint, and a new logo in the lobby, we have decorated for the holiday season. Thank you to Donna Keeling who decorated our donated nine-foot Christmas tree in our lobby…it’s gorgeous!  Donna also worked with Barbara Morgan and Marty Pryor to decorate a Christmas tree for the Red Cross in McGhee Tyson Airport.

Once again, thank you for your dedication to our humanitarian mission.  I am very proud and honored to represent the Red Cross East Tennessee Chapter.  Together, we are making a lasting difference for people in our chapter, communities down the street, across the county and around the world.

Happy Holidays,
Sharon Hudson

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight: Judy Link - December 2017

The Nashville Area Red Cross volunteer spotlight for December 2017 is Judy Link. Judy has volunteered with our fund development department for nearly a year. She comes in twice a week to help with a variety of tasks around the office like processing donations, thank you letters, data entry, and Lifesaver Breakfast table settings. “We couldn’t do it without her,” said Lyndsie Mobilia-Brenan, development specialist.

Judy is always willing to lend a hand and is well-loved by our fund development staff. The feeling is mutual. Judy said, “I love to volunteer. I really like this group. They make it fun.”

A Nashville native, Judy lived in Boston for 25 years before returning to Nashville. She’s no stranger to volunteering, and has served several volunteer organizations in different roles. She describes herself as adventurous, and enjoys playing golf, listening to music, gardening and traveling in her free time.

We are thankful to have Judy as part of our Red Cross team!