Monday, February 12, 2018

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - February 2018

Sudden Cardiac Arrest claims thousands of lives every year. National Heart Month is a perfect time to learn how to perform CPR and use an AED in order to save lives.
Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital - so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.
American Red Cross training courses can give you the knowledge and skills to help in an emergency. A variety of options are available. One option is to attend in-person classes held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. Online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning offerings are also available. Several courses are OSHA compliant. Check with your employer as to what class you need if you are taking training to fulfill a job requirement.
You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips.

Nashville Volunteer Spotlight, Kelly Rinehart - February 2018

The February volunteer spotlight recognizes Kelly Rinehart of Cross Plains. Kelly is originally from Southern California, and moved to Tennessee two years ago when her husband retired. She started volunteering with the Nashville Area Chapter in September 2017. She serves as a disaster action team member, does disaster assessment, and is also a Home Fire Campaign lead.

Kelly’s husband, Rick, heard on the radio that the American Red Cross needed volunteers to respond to Hurricane Harvey. The couple called the same day to sign up to volunteer. On the day of their volunteer orientation, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey moved through the Nashville area and some communities were affected with flash flooding. The next morning, Kelly and Rick helped with disaster assessment. “[Red Cross] called me the next day and I was off and running again,” Kelly said.

Kelly went on her first deployment to help with the wildfire relief efforts in California in October 2017 and is willing to deploy again when needed.

As a member of the disaster action team, Kelly is on-call to respond to disasters, like home fires and floods, to offer Red Cross assistance to meet victims’ immediate needs like shelter, food, and clothing. Kelly recalls a memorable response: Kelly and Rick responded to a mobile home fire that displaced a couple that had been married for 20 years. They gave them warm blankets and started the process for the couple to receive assistance. Kelly said, “They both gave me a hug, and thanked me for everything I had done for them. It was cold outside. They didn’t have a warm house anymore or a warm meal. All they really had was each other, their kitty, and the blankets that meant so much to them. That was a turning point for both Rick and me.”

When asked what keeps her coming back to volunteer with the Red Cross, Kelly said, “It makes me feel good to give back to others. Even when you don’t have the funds to give, you have time that’s free to give.”

Thank you, Kelly, for your dedication to the Red Cross mission! 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Steven and Kaden Cox - February 2018

Have you ever thought about volunteering with family members?  While different things motivated Steven and Kaden Cox to become Red Cross volunteers they have continued to volunteer for many of the same reasons for the past 4 years.  Steven in “real life” works for State of Franklin Health Care Associates in Washington County. In his job, he gathers data and then develops reports providing service delivery information to the medical professionals. These reports enable them to provide better care for their patients.  When asked how he first came to volunteer for the Red Cross, Steven says he just walked in the door to find out what he could do to give back to the community.  Kaden, first a student at Science Hill and now at Northeast State, got involved initially with the Red Cross because he needed community service hours for school.

Once the entire Cox family, Steven, his wife and their 5 children, volunteered together.  They helped complete the Chapter inventory – even the young children helped with counting things like tubes of toothpaste!

Primarily Steven and Kaden volunteer in Disaster Services for the Northeast TN Chapter.  Steven primarily works as a DAT (Disaster Action Team) volunteer in Washington County. He assists families who have lost their home to a fire or other disaster.  Volunteering on call primarily evenings, nights or weekends - the schedule fits well with his full time day job.  Kaden volunteers to install fire alarms in homes and educate individuals about fire safety. Kaden also assists his father providing assistance to families when needed as the second Red Cross volunteer.

Steven submitted an entry in a statewide contest to design the Tennessee regional pin for use across the state.  His design won and is now worn by Tennessee volunteers from Memphis to Mountain City!

What does Steven think is great about volunteering for the Red Cross?  First, Steven says it is a great way to meet really good people.  He says there are three additional reasons he continues with his volunteer work.  He says in the world today often there is so much emphasis on self that he feels it is very important to experience “doing for others”.  By helping others you have a sense of purpose. In addition to knowing you have helped others, you gain a personal feeling of accomplishment.  His third reason for volunteering is that many hands make light work – the more people volunteering the easier the job is for the staff and volunteers at the Red Cross.

If you are interested in personally volunteering for the Red Cross or want to discuss family volunteering contact Angela Morris by calling 423-765-4218  or email at

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - February 2018

As part of the American Red Cross, we are aware of the devastation a family feels when they have a home fire. We need your help to get word on safe steps our friends and neighbors can take to reduce the likelihood of a home fire.

Since January 1, 2018, we have responded to 60 home fires in Northeast Tennessee. That is a 58% increase over the same time frame last year. We need your help to get the information below to as many people as possible.

The cold weather has settled in Northeast Tennessee and we all know that February is often our coldest time.  And who can forget those huge March and even April snowfalls?  Today, people are resorting to alternate methods to keep their homes warm, sometimes leading to disastrous results.

We have been working to reduce that number through our Home Fire Campaign, which focuses on installing free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching people about fire safety. Your fellow volunteers have been out installing smoke alarms every Saturday this month.
To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these 5 steps:

1. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
2. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets - never into an extension cord.
3. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
4. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

There are two things everyone can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire and protecting their home.

• Create and practice a fire escape plan. Include two ways out of every room. Pick a spot to meet outside. Practice the plan at least twice a year with everyone in your household.

• Install and maintain smoke alarms. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms. Test smoke alarms once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year - if your model requires it.

Remember the Apps?  We have talked about this before but it is worth repeating. The Red Cross has some amazing, free, highly rated Apps for smart phones. People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. They can use the app’s Family Safe feature to help stay in touch with loved ones. Children can earn points and incentives in a fun, gaming environment while learning how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at

Take a minute to follow the steps above to make your home safer.  Then, please, share this information with your circle of friends, family and co-workers.  Let’s make Northeast Tennessee a safe place to live.


Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - February 2018

What will be your legacy?  Good or bad, each of us will leave a legacy. Your legacy is about how you want to be remembered and what lessons you can pass onto the next generation.  

So where do I start to building my legacy?  Like most things, it starts with a plan.  The Red Cross has made it easy.  You can download a free Guide and Workbook for Will Planning and Charitable Giving at  to get you started.  It has a 4 step plan that walks you through the process and prepares you to meet with your planner. The guide will help you understand the importance of a will; gather information you need to write or update your will; discover ways to minimize taxes and liabilities for your family; and explore the benefits of making charitable gifts in your will or other gift plan.

Absolutely one of the most effective methods of gifting is a legacy plan. The most popular way is to remember the Red Cross in the giver's will. It is surprising how many people think this is only something for the wealthy. This is where our advisers do their best work.

It isn't easy to find advice for the “right thing to do” for each person and one size does not fit all, but every gift counts.  You can contact our local gift adviser, Gary Key at 1-404-556-6660 who can share with you the many options the Red Cross has available. He can assist you in meeting your individual goals in building your legacy. There is no cost for these services and just having someone qualified to answer all questions and tailor a plan to your fit budget and long term goals is invaluable in taking the stress off making such an important decision.

One of the biggest questions everyone is asking is how do the new tax laws effect charitable giving and the way in which they do it to make it count for them and for the Red Cross. The Red Cross giving advisers will also help callers understand the changes in the new tax laws to formulate the best plan for them.

This is a wonderful way to help the community we live and work in, and to possibly put them in a better position tax-wise at the end of every year. There are certainly many organizations worthy of charitable gifts but the reach and scope of American Red Cross services is so encompassing that a gift of support covers so much more than most people ever think.

Spread the word that giving to the American Red Cross is an easy and very rewarding experience.

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Charlie Cranmer - February 2018

The Volunteer Spotlight is on Charlie Cranmer this month. Charlie came here from Hood River, Oregon where he was born and raised. He attended Chemeketa Community College where he studied hospitality and tourism. Looking for a fresh start, Charlie relocated to Murfreesboro in July of 2017. Charlie applied to become a Red Cross volunteer in October and officially began volunteering in November. The day he came for his interview was the day of a large apartment fire in Smyrna affecting 14 families. Before his interview, Charlie helped the disaster staff load the American Red Cross vehicles with supplies that were needed for the response to the apartment fire. That same night Charlie helped staff around the office with the monthly volunteer meeting. Charlie hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped.

Charlie mainly works with Disaster Cycle services helping in the office behind the scenes. Charlie helps where he is needed, it can be anywhere from administrative to transportation. Charlie is always willing to give a helping hand.

His favorite activity is meeting people in the office and helping whom is there. Charlie also went to culinary school. During the Thanksgiving season, he prepared a feast for those in the office. He wanted to thank everyone. When asked why he cooked the meal he said, “Thanksgiving and thanks giving.”

He imparts this wisdom for new volunteers “to engage a new volunteer, get them to do one thing - one fire call, install one alarm, one veterans event, and they’ll want more!”

Charlie marched in the Veterans’ Day Parade during his first official week. He was moved by the hooting, hollering and words of thanks from the people watching the parade as American Red Cross workers passed. As a new volunteer, Charlie accepted the thanks.  Now, he wants to earn it.

The Heart of Tennessee Chapter thanks Charlie for his enthusiasm and willingness to do whatever is needed for the American Red Cross.

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, T. Arnold Ferguson - February 2018

Over the last 58 years, T. Arnold Ferguson has stuffed envelopes, taught CPR and served on dozens of task forces, boards and committees. Recently, he’s become a national Red Cross information technology expert.

In recognition of his skills, service and dedication, the Southeast Tennessee chapter has named Ferguson its Volunteer of the Month.

“Without his help, we could not bring in volunteers seamlessly, coordinate and talk with volunteers easily, manage needs and positions, and easily work disaster response,” said Amanda Bisgaard, Senior Volunteer Services Specialist for the American Red Cross’s Tennessee Region. “And his expertise in the system makes him one of the top in the nation.”

Besides being Southeast Tennessee’s top “I.T.” guy, Ferguson fills several positions remotely for the Connecticut-Rhode Island chapter. He also helps the Crossroads Division crunch data, and enjoys “pestering” (as he calls it) the national Red Cross staff on the Humanitarian Information Technology Services team.

Ferguson joined the Red Cross while in high school in Providence, R.I. He became a metallurgical engineer while continuing to volunteer in the Red Cross in Newton, Mass., and Cleveland, Ohio. Ten years ago, he and his wife moved to Cleveland, Tenn.

In recent years, Ferguson has faced some mobility challenges. Yet he still does all he can to help people in distress. “Anything I can do sitting in front of a keyboard,” he said, “I take on.”

Most Red Cross volunteers and staff know Ferguson as “T.” He tells jokes about the unusual nickname. “I tell people it’s “T” like tsunami,” he said. (In fact, he was named after his grandfather, T. Arnold Ferguson, who died two weeks before he was born.)

In his six decades of service, Ferguson learned that all volunteer tasks– from sending out fundraising letters to attending board meetings – are vital to the Red Cross mission. But he encourages all volunteers, staff and board members in the Red Cross to help a Disaster Assistance Team (DAT) respond to a house fire, at least once. “Just seeing the faces of the clients, looking in their eyes, they know you’re there to help,” he said. “The reward and satisfaction you get from that is amazing.”
One of the most rewarding moments in his career, though, arose from a more mundane activity. One day he was working in his office, he said, when a former CPR student walked in. He had tracked Ferguson down. He wanted to thank him, because his CPR skills allowed him to save his father’s life. “He wanted to let me know how good he felt about it,” Ferguson said. “I don’t know if he realized how good it made me feel about it.”

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - February 2018

Hello Mid-West Tennessee team!! I hope that the start of the new year has been kind to all of you so far. I can’t believe the month of January is already in our rear view! As we look toward the spring and all of the activities and events we’ll be a part of as a chapter, I want to stress again how much we appreciate each of you and the vital role you play in the local disaster response we provide week in and week out throughout our 14 county coverage territory. We feel fortunate to have each and every one of you!

As many of you are now aware (but some aren’t) we have officially rescheduled our “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” smoke alarm installation national campaign to Saturday, April 21st in McNairy Co. We’ll be doing installations in both Selmer and Adamsville in our effort to install 400 smoke alarms! We hope that many of you can carve out the time that day to join us for a road trip. Simply go to the following link to officially register for the event:

Lastly, I’m thrilled to report that we have recruited 5 Community Volunteer Leaders as of the end of January! These “CVL”s (as they are known) cover the following counties for us: Chester, Hardeman, Henderson, Madison and McNairy. We are also currently doing additional recruiting for a CVL in Benton county. Our desire is to eventually have at least 1 CVL recruited in each of our 14 counties territory.  The position expectation is that the CVL will be networked in the community and serve as an ambassador for our chapter and our disaster response services by helping us recruit additional volunteers and help promote our chapter in the local media. Please let me know if you have strong recommendations for people for this position in the following counties: Carroll, Crockett, Decatur, Gibson, Hardin, Haywood, Henry and Weakley.   Take care and I hope each of you has an enjoyable February (Happy Valentine’s Day!).

- David

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Sarah Rice - February 2018

Sarah Rice is our Hardeman County Disaster Action Team Supervisor and has been serving with our chapter since 2016. Sarah has been an invaluable resource to her community, not only responding to fire calls, but also helping the Disaster Cycle Services team identify key preparedness resources, such as shelter facilities and teams.

Sarah brings passion and enthusiasm into everything she does, and is always seeking ways to collaborate with other community agencies. Over the last two years, Sarah has helped us double our fire responses in Hardeman County and has gotten the entire Fire Department involved in promoting the mission of the American Red Cross. She is also a key player in our Home Fire Campaign, frequently organizing Home Fire Campaign events in her area.

Sarah has also agreed to serve as our "Community Volunteer Leader" for all of Hardeman County. The "CVL" team is comprised of volunteers who have a strong presence in their respective communities and are networked into the county leadership and decision making. They serve as an extension of our Executive Director staff member (David Hicks) into their respective counties and help our local Red Cross chapter build a stronger presence and foundation throughout our 14 county coverage area.

We are so pleased to acknowledge her this month as the volunteer of the month. She has truly raised the bar high for our entire community of volunteers with her level of service and commitment!

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - February 2018

2018 is off to an incredibly busy start for our chapter!  Thanks to you and to the leadership of Todd and Anita, we have responded to 36 fires and opened 47 cases during the month of January alone. I’m extraordinarily grateful that we have the capacity to serve our neighbors in their time of need. We know that we are notified of 40% of disasters (including home fires) that occur; we want to receive notification for every individual that has experienced a disaster and we want to have the capacity to provide excellent service. You are passionate about this Mission; you are the best voice for this work. I challenge you to recruit at least one friend to join you in serving.

While responding to a record number of cases, we also had the opportunity to partner with Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department on Saturday, February 3rd. Together, we installed approximately 100 alarms in one of the most at-risk areas of our community. Prevention is a key component of our mission and I’m incredibly proud of our dedication in this area.

In addition to living our Mission through fire/flood response, smoke alarm installations, and pillowcase projects, we are focused on our Heroes Breakfast. This event will be held Wednesday, February 21st, and will honor Dr. Sidney McPhee and Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. McPhee is a supporter of our work and has his own Red Cross story as a shelter partner for hurricane evacuees. Last year’s honoree, John Hood, will introduce Dr. McPhee and share some highlights from our sheltering experience. I hope you have the opportunity to attend.  Please RSVP to the invitation we sent to you as soon as possible. This event serves as our signature fundraiser, allowing us the opportunity to raise the dollars that we need to carry out our Mission.

I’m reminded of the value of every contribution we all make, no matter how small it seems, through the words of Mother Theresa: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Thank you for every contribution you make.

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

Tennessee River Volunteer Spotlight, Richard Mayberry - February 2018

The February Volunteer Spotlight is in recognition of Richard Mayberry! Richard is a 911 dispatcher and a Fireman in Lewis County.  He enjoys helping people and was always interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer. His motivation to move forward was seeing the few volunteers available, especially in Lewis County.  He saw the opportunity and volunteered for the Red Cross in June of 2017.

He since has become a Disaster Action Team (DAT) supervisor for Lewis County and the Assistant DAT Coordinator for the chapter. He also supports the southern six counties of the Tennessee River Chapter when needed. Richard is working hard to expand the visibility and volunteer base of the Red Cross in these counties.

What drives him most can be summed up from his account of his first case.  He went on a fire call that involved an elderly man who lost everything.  Richard helped the man through the beginning of his recovery.  The tears in the elderly gentleman’s eyes as Richard offered help was compensation enough, and keeps him going to help others.  He believes it is well worth being a volunteer.

Richard is married with two children, a son and daughter.  His wife is also a Red Cross volunteer.  When he isn’t volunteering for the Red Cross, he enjoys hunting, fishing and HAM Radio.

Richard is an asset to the Tennessee River Chapter of the American Red Cross team and is helping to expand the Red Cross mission. It is because of his actions that others throughout the chapter coverage area are motivated. Thank you, Richard, your hard work and dedication is inspiring!

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - February 2018

At the Tennessee River Chapter, we are so excited to be moving right along in 2018. January was a busy month for our Disaster Action Teams with the high volume of fire responses. As we move in to February, the number of calls are beginning to taper off. However, the month of February will be equally engaging as we look forward to the many ways we will be working in the community.

In addition to our normal service delivery such as disaster responses, blood drives, Health and Safety Classes, and Services to the Armed Forces, we will be in several counties this month building our base of shelter facilities and teams. Together with Services to the Armed Forces, our Disaster Cycle Services team will be working directly with soldiers on Fort Campbell to participate in an Emergency Exercise as we partner to sustain shelter operations. On February 17, 2018, our team will also partner with the State Fire Marshals office and Clarksville Fire Department to conduct a Home Fire Campaign focused on fire safety and reducing the number of fire related deaths in at-risk communities.

This too will be a busy month for our chapter, but this is only possible because of our dedicated volunteer base who consistently shows up when called upon. Thank you for all you continue to do; you are the lifeline of the American Red Cross!

-Katy Hagstrom

Home Fire Campaign: Red Cross, Partners Save 332 Lives

The American Red Cross’ nationwide Home Fire Campaign is now credited with saving at least 332 lives, with five lives recently saved in Tennessee.

At 5:30 a.m. on February 10, 2017, a smoke alarm sounded in Memphis, which alerted a 44-year old grandmother to a home fire. She quickly got her two children and two grandchildren out of the house, ranging in age from 19 years old to 10 years old. The grandmother stated that “having talked about fire safety and how to get out of the house helped the family to know what to do and quickly get out.” Smoke alarms were installed, and a home fire safety checklist was reviewed during an in-home visit that was completed on January 14, 2017, in collaboration with the Tennessee State Fire Marshal and Boy Scouts of America.

Launched in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign is also responsible for more than 1,103,022 smoke alarms being installed in more than 12,175 cities and towns across the United States by Red Cross volunteers, firefighters and other community partners. And more than 989,608 children have learned to be safer in emergencies.

It is estimated that someone may have only two minutes to get out after a fire starts in their home. As part of the campaign, the Red Cross is also asking every household in America to take two simple steps that can save lives: practice fire drills at home and check their existing smoke alarms. Every family should develop a fire escape plan, and practice it.

People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

How We Help: Disaster Relief

The American Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Red Cross Disaster Services responds to an average of nearly 64,000 disasters every year – from a home fire affecting a single household to large emergencies affecting an entire community or region of the country. Red Cross workers provide shelter, food, relief supplies, health and mental health services, and a shoulder to lean on.

Learn more about Red Cross disaster relief. 

Learn How to Save Lives During National Heart Month

Sudden Cardiac Arrest claims thousands of lives every year. National Heart Month is a perfect time to learn how to perform CPR and use an AED in order to save lives.
Many people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before getting to a hospital - so every second counts. For every minute without defibrillation, a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of surviving drops. It is critical for as many people as possible to be trained to perform CPR and know how to use an AED until advanced help arrives.
American Red Cross training courses can give you the knowledge and skills to help in an emergency. A variety of options are available. One option is to attend in-person classes held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. Online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning offerings are also available. Several courses are OSHA compliant. Check with your employer as to what class you need if you are taking training to fulfill a job requirement.
You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips.

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - February 2018

Join us to Sound the Alarm in Knoxville in April
Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Sadly, children and the elderly disproportionately lose their lives. The American Red Cross wants to improve the odds and save lives, that’s why we launched our Home Fire Campaign in 2014 which aims to reduce home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent.   

A critical part of the campaign is Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country. Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods, installing free smoke alarms, replacing batteries in existing alarms and providing fire prevention and safety education.

We NEED your help, and the help of those around you to make this a successful effort this spring. This is a wonderful family event and an employee engagement opportunity. Please join us on Saturday, April 28th. We will be canvassing identified neighborhoods, installing smoke alarms, meeting the community and providing education.
Date:  Saturday, April 28, 2018
Time:  9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Meeting Point:  Chillhowee Baptist Church
4615 Asheville Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37914
If you can join us, please either sign up online at or contact me at