Thursday, March 15, 2018

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - March 2018

Hello, Nashville Area Red Cross Volunteers!

With just a couple weeks to go until our Annual Lifesaver Breakfast, it’s a busy time for our staff and volunteers who work so tirelessly to make this event a huge success each year.   The Lifesaver Breakfast is our only fundraiser event for the Nashville Area Chapter, raising the financial resources necessary to provide our humanitarian services. 

This year, Celebrity Cabinet member and multi-platinum country star Trace Adkins will present the Red Cross Crystal Cross Award to iHeartMedia’s nationally-syndicated The Bobby Bones Show for their outstanding philanthropic support. The Crystal Cross Award honors celebrities and entertainment partners who have shown exemplary support of, and service to, the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross.

Lt. General Russel L. HonorĂ© will be the keynote speaker.  A tireless advocate for the Red Cross and the importance of preparedness, he is best known for serving as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. From global and domestic terrorist threats to natural disasters, Lt. General Russel L. HonorĂ© will address the risks to our individual, community and economic security. In his straightforward, no-nonsense approach, Lt. General Russel L. HonorĂ© will share critical strategies for transforming individuals into resilient leaders and helping organizations and communities effectively prepare, react, rebound and unify.

Thank you to everyone working hard to make this event a success, and to all volunteers who work around the clock to ensure the dollars raised at the Breakfast benefit our neighbors during their greatest time of need.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March is Red Cross Month: Be a Hero to Someone in Need

This Red Cross Month, become a hero by becoming a volunteer or making a donation to #help1family on Giving Day – March 28. The Red Cross is powered by our volunteer heroes who give of their time, talents and compassion to fulfill our vital humanitarian mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering. They are people from your neighborhood who teach First Aid and CPR classes, who support those in need at what may be the worst time in their lives. We honor them during Red Cross Month and ask you to consider joining us and making a difference.

March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission. President Roosevelt’s last radio talk to the nation on March 20, 1945 was in support of the Red Cross War Fund. He died 23 days later, on April 12, 1945.

This year the Red Cross salutes all the heroes who make a difference in their communities by:

  • Volunteering to help people impacted by a disaster
  • Taking a first aid or CPR class to help in an emergency
  • Donating blood or platelets
  • Providing comfort to a member of the military, a veteran or their family

Home fires are the most common disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year. Volunteers drop everything – at any time of the day or night – to help people who have lost everything. “These are the moments when I can witness strangers helping other strangers in their greatest moments of need,” said Red Cross volunteer Cindy Huge. Read more about why Huge leaves her home in the middle of the night to her others:

WHAT WE DO The Red Cross has been helping people in need for more than 130 years. And much of our work is accomplished through the work of our volunteers. The Red Cross:

  • Responds to nearly 64,000 disasters across the country providing hope and comfort to people in need.
  • Trains and provides information to nearly 5.9 million people in first aid, water safety and other skills that help save lives. 
  • Collects nearly 4.9 million units of blood from more than 2.8 million volunteer donors to meet the needs of patients at hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
  • Provides nearly 391,000 support services to military members, veterans and their families.
  • Helps more than 181 million people outside the U.S. through disaster management and disease prevention efforts.

GIVING DAY The Red Cross is asking everyone to support people impacted by disasters and #help1family on Giving Day – Wednesday, March 28. Your donation can help provide hope and urgent relief such as food, blankets and other essentials to people who need it most. Giving Day is a 24-hour fundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross, helping people across the country in need of emergency assistance. Donate now by visiting, or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.

During March, be a hero and join the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. More information is available on how you can help at

Prepare for Severe Spring Weather with Red Cross Tips

Spring is on the way, which means warmer weather and elevated chances for severe weather. Heavy rain, flash flooding, damaging winds and tornadoes can be part of the package. The American Red Cross offers safety steps to follow if your area is affected.

TORNADOES Tornadoes can strike without warning and destroy a community in seconds. Before a tornado warning is issued for your area, here are some things you should do:
1. Know your community’s warning system.
2. Pick a place where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
3. If you are in a high-rise building and don’t have enough time to go to the lowest floor, pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building.
4. Remove diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
5. Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
THUNDERSTORM SAFETY STEPS Thunderstorms injure an average of 300 people every year, and cause about 80 fatalities. Here are the top thunderstorm safety steps you should follow:
1. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
2. As the storm approaches, take shelter in a building.
3. If you are driving, pull off the roadway and park. Stay in the car with the windows closed and turn on the emergency flashers. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside of the vehicle.
4. If you are inside, unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Avoid taking a bath or shower, or running water for any other purpose.
5. If you are caught outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.
FLOODING Heavy rains could fill rivers and streams, bringing flooding to the area. If your neighborhood is threatened with the possibility of flooding, here are some things you should do:
1. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
2. Stay away from floodwaters.
3. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
4. Keep children out of the water.
5. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of tornadoes, flooding and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Lloyd Pitney - March 2018

The East Tennessee Red Cross is recognizing a dedicated and impactful Lloyd Pitney for this month’s Volunteer Spotlight.  Lloyd joined the Red Cross last October and has hit the ground at an absolute sprint. He is active with Service to the Armed Forces and the Disaster Action Team for multiple counties, serves as the IT lead volunteer and the Business Operation’s volunteer counterpart. Since joining, Lloyd has racked up an impressive 230 hours in just 5 months.

In addition to his selfless service with the Red Cross, Lloyd is active with the Knoxville Pipes and Drums (a Scottish heritage bagpipe ensemble) and holds the position of Drum Major. He is also a Vietnam Veteran and is active in multiple veteran assistance and outreach groups that help military members in need.

Lloyd is a volunteer that is ALWAYS happy to help when needed and does it with a smile.  Thank you, Lloyd!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Southeast Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, Patti Ann Smith - March 2018

If  you’ve visited the Red Cross office on a Monday or Wednesday, or picked up cards to give to victims of home fires, you’ve probably been helped by the Southeast Tennessee chapter’s Volunteer of the Month: Patti Ann Smith.

Last August, Patti attended her first orientation meeting. Today, she is the chapter’s Business Operations Volunteer Partner.

“This is a truly worthwhile organization,” Patti said. “Even if it’s just answering the phone and telling people to call another number, I have found it very fulfilling to help – and I’m enjoying it immensely.”

Patti moved to Chattanooga from Augusta, Ga. last year after retiring from a career as an arts administrator. “I was in the process of trying to find some meaningful volunteer work when Harvey struck,” she explained. “I knew the Red Cross did that kind of work. So I called and said ‘How does this work? Are you taking volunteers?”

Once she joined the team, Patti’s first goal was to travel to help victims of hurricane disasters. When personal conflicts got in the way of a deployment, Volunteer Specialist Amanda Bisgaard asked Patti if she would like to “deploy” to the local Red Cross office instead. “I was game for anything at that point,” Patti said. “So I did.”

Now, Patti assists Business Operations Specialist Sandra Kilgore with a wide range of administrative duties. Besides taking over some key business duties when Kilgore is out of the office, she has also set up a filing system for the Home Fire Program. In addition, she takes on a wide variety of tasks – whatever needs to be done.

“I’m very glad to have made that phone call last August and to be so embraced by the people here and to be part of the team,” said Patti. “It’s easy to get comfortable in your life, and to forget that people are really struggling.  Being involved in something bigger than me has been reminds me of that every day.  I think if you’ve got the luxury of time and knowledge and desire, it’s just right to do it.”

Mid-West Tennessee Volunteer of the Month, Dawn Sacks-Duke - March 2018

Dawn Sacks-Duke is a woman who will “give it her all” to the American Red Cross. Dawn has always been involved in community service organizations, such as Lion’s Club, Business Professional Women and ACS, but, in 2013 she found herself searching for an organization that would allow her to directly give back to the community. In learning more about the Red Cross, Dawn saw first-hand how the donations and funds are given back to individuals within the community and she knew then she wanted to be part of it.

After becoming a volunteer in July 2013, Dawn did not volunteer as much as she truly wanted to, but when Disaster Program Manager, Heather Carbajal, came on board, she was encouraged to get more involved.

“Heather really made it her mission to come out and get to know the volunteers and get us more involved,” said Dawn. “Heather has been instrumental in providing me with numerous opportunities to be active with the Red Cross and truly give back.”

Throughout her years volunteering for Red Cross, Dawn has been the Disaster Action Team (DAT) Captain for Carroll County, a disaster responder, a Pillowcase Project presenter and a member of the Mass Care Team. In 2016, she did a deployment for the Gatlinburg Wildfires and Tornadoes in East Tennessee.

Dawn said her favorite part of serving with the American Red Cross is the opportunity to work with individuals who have the same desire as her, which is to help others. She believes the most important criteria for a volunteer is that an individual have a servant’s heart and be willing to serve other’s first.

“With the Red Cross, time does not matter,” Dawn said. “It can be 2 am or 10 pm, but if a person or family needs assistance, we are there. The volunteers put others before themselves and the volunteers look after one another. Basically, the volunteers become a big extension of your own family.”

Dawn graduated from Bethel University with a bachelor and master’s degrees in business, then completing all of her doctorate studies in business from Walden University. She works full time as a program mentor for Western Governors University and is adjunct faculty for Bethel University in the SUCCESS Program where she teaches business courses. She has been married for almost 21 years to her husband, Freddie and they have two children, Tyler (age 19) and Taylor (age 11). The family currently has five fur babies – 3 of which are rescues: Stormy, Roxie, Lucky, Bella and Hope. During the family’s spare time, they love to go camping and spend time at Land between the Lakes. They also spend a lot of time traveling back and forth to Florida visiting her parents who live near the Orlando area.

Heart of Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight, Sandra Wilson - March 2018

This month the volunteer spotlight shines on Sandra Wilson.  Sandra joined the Heart of Tennessee chapter in June, 2017. After hearing Reina Teems speak at the St. Clare Senior Center in Murfreesboro, Sandra thought serving as a Red Cross volunteer would be a good way to give back. She previously had been a volunteer for Blood Services at a time when nurses volunteers could perform the intake services - filling out forms, taking blood pressure, all the tasks that are done before the actual blood collection.

Sandra was born in East Tennessee, raised in Cumberland and is a nurse by training.  She has resided in Murfreesboro since the early 1970s. After raising 2 sons, she was a public health nurse for several years, then worked in rehab and long-term care at the VA for 14 years. Sandra returned to her first love, public health nursing and worked throughout Rutherford County at a time when public health nurses were active in rural areas, visiting people in their homes. Back then, this meant travel through a very rural Rutherford County.

Today, Sandra remains a very busy lady. She is involved in many areas of the community. She is a member of the Lioness Club, which is part of the Lions Club. They participate in many worthy activities, including eyeglass collection. As a member of the St. Clare Senior Center, Sandra helps with activities and shares duties with other member nurses to take blood pressure readings every week for members. The DAR chapter to which Sandra belongs adopted a school.  One of the activities that Sandra loves is to get out her red and white striped hat and go to the school on Dr. Seuss’s birthday to read to the children. Teachers and children love this. Sandra also volunteers at her church and is involved in a local ministry called WINGS which is a group to help people who have lost a relationship through death, divorce, abandonment, or imprisonment. Sandra’s 2 sons have families of their own now. She enjoys her time with them and loves to travel, although she doesn’t do as much as she would like.

Sandra has a favorite bookmark with the words “God blesses those who serve.”  She enjoys volunteering and this is her way of serving.

Say hi to Sandra on Tuesdays at the reception desk at the Heart of Tennessee chapter office.  Heart of Tennessee thanks Sandra for her time and service to the Red Cross!

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

On February 24, the coverage area of the Tennessee River Chapter of the American Red Cross was greatly impacted by EF-1 and EF-2 tornadoes, significantly damaging many homes, structures, and vehicles in its path.

The Red Cross response was immediate as a Multi-Agency Resource Center was opened and disaster assessment began. Over 2,000 meals, snacks, and water were distributed to both volunteers and those individuals who were affected. Distribution of emergency supplies such as rakes, shovels, gloves, buckets, and tarps also began throughout the affected areas. 30 volunteers dedicated their time to serving their community and putting their training into motion. Red Cross caseworkers were present and ready to help from the moment the call was made, providing assistance to 40 individuals.
Clarksville has always been a place to come together and work as a community to accomplish a mission, and these recent tornadoes were not going to stop us! The number of event based volunteers who showed up with a helping hand to assist their neighbors in need was truly astounding. In addition, the mission could not have been achieved without the help from community partners who stepped up and contributed with any asset they were able to provide.

As we move forward, we are excited about continuing our mission with new volunteers and new partners for future disaster relief responses as well as continuing efforts to make our chapter coverage area a more prepared community.

You can get prepared in your home by creating a disaster kit and talking about your household emergency plan.

Here’s how to make an emergency kit:
Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit, medications and medical items
• Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Extra cash

Thanks to everyone who took part in the recent disaster response.  The work of the Red Cross could not be done without you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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

Hello Mid-West TN team!
Welcome to March, Red Cross Month! I can’t believe we’re already a fourth of the way through 2018.  Please make every effort this month to highlight our chapter in your local communities. One great way to do this is by arranging to speak in a public forum (or schedule something for me and Heather) such as a local church, school, civic club, etc. and educate the local community on all the outstanding services we provide to those impacted by disaster. Other ways to highlight the work we do include spotlighting our Disaster Action Team disaster responses that you and/or others in your county have participated in. We are always looking for stories to include in local newspapers, radio stations, etc. and can work with our communications team to arrange news coverage to get the word out to a larger audience.
As many of you are now aware, we’ve officially rescheduled our “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” smoke alarm installation for Saturday, April 21st in McNairy Co. We’ll also 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 time that day to join us for this very important lifesaving event. Simply go to the following link to officially register for the event:
Speaking of smoke alarm installations, thanks again to all the volunteers who participated in the Benton County Home Fire Campaign on Saturday, February 24th in Camden. Heather and I appreciate all of you for pushing forward with the event (while also having to prepare for potential flooding in our chapter). That’s called “above and beyond” which is typical for so many of you!
I also want to highlight one of our upcoming events that has proven to be a MAJOR showcase for our chapter (and the amazing work that all of you do on behalf of your respective counties)! We’ll be hosting our annual Heroes Luncheon fundraiser event on Thursday, May 17th at the Carl Grant Center on the campus of Union University. We’re in the process of securing sponsorships and making selections of honorees for the program. Last year’s event was a huge success and we are hoping to top it this year. I’ll highlight the event in more detail in next month’s newsletter article.

I hope each of you have an enjoyable March as we celebrate the American Red Cross locally and nationally!

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

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”  - Mother Teresa 

It has certainly been a very busy few months.  Each of you have contributed to making sure we serve our communities, responding to fire/flood calls, providing trainings for existing and new volunteers, and making sure the office is always fully operational.  In addition to living our Mission, we hosted a very successful Heroes Breakfast.  This event was held Wednesday, February 21st, and honored 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, introduced Dr. McPhee, highlighting the Mission of the Red Cross along with Dr. McPhee’s community engagement.  Each of our five past honorees were in attendance and they were all very pleased with the event.  Thank you so much to those of you who had the opportunity to attend. This event serves as our signature fundraiser, allowing us the opportunity to raise the dollars that we need to carry out our Mission.

Thanks to your service, the future is very bright for Heart of Tennessee.  I look forward to a phenomenal March!

With gratitude,
Kathy Ferrell

Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter

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

Engaging Opportunities

Thank you to everyone who attended our Active Shooter Training earlier this month.  Agent Jerry Stout  with Homeland Security did an incredible job!  We will continue to offer different opportunities to engage and meet volunteers in the coming months, so please be sure to check your email. 

We also have several great opportunities for volunteer engagement with the Red Cross.  We are currently seeking volunteers to help support the Red Cross for the following:  Community Events, Writing, Fleet and Facilities, Disaster Action Team, Follow-Up Caseworkers, Front Desk Reception, Weekly Inventory, and a Historian/Archivist.  We will also need over 100 volunteers with our Sound the Alarm event on April 28th.  A brief description of volunteer opportunities is provided below.  If any of these opportunities appeal to you, please let us know.

Sound the Alarm, Save a Life:  this is a great opportunity to engage your family, friends, and co-workers to work on April 28th to install smoke alarms in at risk neighborhoods.  We will train you, feed you, and set you out on a rewarding day from 9 am to 3 pm. Visit: to register. Contact:

Community Events:  Red Cross volunteers attend scheduled community events as representatives of Red Cross.  You would greet potential volunteers and share information about the Red Cross, our mission, and how to get involved.  Requires set up and clean up at facility.  We will provide you with everything you need and training, (as needed) Contact:

Writing:  If you enjoy writing and like to interview subjects for publication, we need you!  (monthly writing, flexible) Contact:

Fleet & Facilities:  Assist Dan Bowser, our Lead Fleet Volunteer, with fleet needs (1-2 hours per week) Contact:

Weekly Inventory:  Organization and Inventory of items at office for supplies (1-2 hours per week) Contact: 

Historian/Archivist:  Organize and record Red Cross historical documents and artifacts (2-4 hours per week) Contact:  or

Front Desk Reception:  Greet and answer phone in our lobby.  This is a great way to meet staff and volunteers as the come and go.  (4 hours per week, or as needed)

Disaster Action Team:  Commit to one week per month, 24 hours per day for Monday through Sunday to be on-call in the event of a home fire or disaster.  Contact: 

Follow-Up Caseworkers:  Contact clients to complete casework after a case has been established (2-4 hours per week, flexible schedule. Contact: 

Please join us! 

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Yvette Fortner - March 2018

Yvette is a new volunteer with the American Red Cross of Northeast TN.  In August 2017, as a part of her Master’s Degree program through Benedictine University in Chicago, she began an internship at the American Red Cross.  Having completed her requirements last month, she has decided to remain on the job as a volunteer to complete her projects!  With degrees in both Public Health and Business she should have a wide variety of choices in her professional job search.

With 3 children at home – ages 11, 7 and 3 – Yvette is a busy mom and student!  She still finds time to come into the Red Cross two days a week to give her valuable time to help others.

During her time with the Red Cross, she has learned about many of the Red Cross programs and spent time visiting a family to assist after a fire.  She also worked with others to organize and staff an event for Homeless Veterans in the Johnson City area.  She said the event offered many services for the vets and was expanded to include all veterans not just those who were homeless.

Yvette’s primary contribution to the Red Cross is as a key member of the team updating disaster shelter inspections for our 13 county area. Starting with learning the process for completing a shelter inspection, Yvette set up appointments at schools, public buildings, and churches where the Red Cross could potentially need to open a shelter.  Once the surveys were complete and the agreements signed, Yvette entered all data into the National Shelter Service (or NSS) database, enabling personnel to make decisions quickly when a disaster occurs as to the facility that best suits the needs – depending on location, type of disaster, and number of individuals needing shelter.  Yvette has worked as well to recruit volunteers to conduct the surveys, a huge undertaking that she is now completing as a volunteer.

During her time with the Red Cross, Yvette has learned about the numerous services the Red Cross provides in the community, has met many wonderful paid and un-paid staff, and has learned the value of collaboration and good people management.  If she had to select two things to tell people about why they would enjoy volunteering with the organization, she said “First, how many services the Red Cross provides.” She says everyone can find something they will enjoy.  And second, “there are so many great people to work with at the Red Cross.”

To join Yvette and the other great folks at the Red Cross, give Angela Morris a call at 423-765-4218  or email

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

March is Red Cross Month!  Join me in celebrating the services provided in Northeast Tennessee by the dedicated volunteers and staff that are the Red Cross for our communities.

Each year, the president of the United States proclaims March "Red Cross Month." We use this opportunity to thank our supporters, increase public awareness and consideration of Red Cross’ mission and drive contributions.

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first Presidential Proclamation of March as Red Cross Month -- “I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.”

On March 1, 2018, President Donald Trump proclaimed March as Red Cross month stating, “Since Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881, the organization has provided domestic disaster relief, assisted in international disaster relief, and supported the United States military in countless ways.  Today, it is a renowned, life saving force, supported by hundreds of thousands of volunteers and responsible for ensuring our Nation’s blood supply is always at safe and sufficient levels.  The American Red Cross also provides training and preparedness programs for Americans in safety-related fields and helps to connect our Nation’s military service members with their families.  During American Red Cross Month, we honor the organization’s humanitarian mission, as well as its hard-working staff, dedicated volunteers, and generous supporters, whose donations are vital to sustaining the organization’s operations.”

Each of us has a story about why we are a part of the Red Cross.  For me, it is a kaleidoscope of pictures and memories covering the many people we have helped when hope was at its lowest point, the many volunteers and employees who give so much to help others in their community, and the giving spirit of our donors who combine with the volunteers and staff to make a difference in the lives of so many.

I remember Mary and Jack, an older couple whose home burned on a Saturday morning.  Red Cross volunteers arrived on the scene and provided the couple with kindness and compassion, as well as essentials such as blankets and food, and other life necessities that are so often taken for granted. The volunteers listened as Mary and Jack told stories of the years they had spent raising their family in this home. Through the help of volunteers, Mary and Jack knew that they were not alone during a challenging and stressful time.

What an overwhelming honor it is to be part of the team bringing hope to so many.  Take a minute and remember your stories and be proud that you are making such an impact on our community.  March is Red Cross Month and you are the Red Cross.