Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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

As I reflect on 2018, there are many Tennessee River Chapter accomplishments that come to mind, as well as milestones to look forward to in 2019.

Since January 01, 2018 we have supported:

131 Disaster operations
179 Families assisted through Disaster Cycle Services
1,391 Smoke alarms Installed
3,007 Individuals taught through Training Services
2,117 Services provided through Services to the Armed forces
371 Total Volunteers

*Numbers reflect service delivery as of October 31, 2018

In addition, we look forward to hosting our second annual Sound the Alarm, Save a Life Campaign this coming Spring.

Thank you for your unwavering and continued support.

Happy Holidays!

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

Happy Holidays, Mid-West Tennessee volunteers!! As we come up on the end of 2018 (and the anticipation of what 2019 holds) I hope that each of you take a moment to assess just how meaningful and accomplished 2018 was for our chapter and circle of volunteers! Many of you not only performed and responded to disasters on a high level here locally- you also made a significant contribution on your deployments to other states and communities.

So, how can we possibly top the high level of accomplishments and contributions in the year to come?  The key is in our recruitment of new volunteers across our 14 county coverage area. We must recruit more “hands and feet” to share the workload in the months to come! If we do, I honestly believe our chapter will achieve the greatest heights of performance we’ve known in the last 5-10 years (if not ever)!

So, how do we go about doing this? It starts with each of you.  I encourage you to make recruiting new volunteers for our chapter a priority in your day to day life. Consider family members, co- workers, and close friends all as potential members of our Red Cross family of volunteers in 2019. January is going to be a month of emphasis for us in the area of volunteer recruiting. Let’s all commit to do our part over the next few weeks to take strong initiative in our search for new additions to our chapter. I want to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with each of you in the months to come as we continue to serve our chapter communities through Red Cross- but wouldn’t it be great to have to make room for even more volunteers on our chapter teams!?  So….. who’s with me on this?! Now go forth and RECRUIT!!

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

2018 has truly been a monumental page in the American Red Cross history book. 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.

April brought much happiness in the Military Kids Serve Too event, with dozens of military families in attendance.  We are so blessed to have a great partnership with Children’s Creative Discovery Museum to support this important program. In addition, our Service to Armed Forces program provided over 940 services to military members and their families during a time of crisis.  You are our heroes, supporting America’s heroes.

In June, we celebrated 101 years of service in Southeast Tennessee by bringing on new board members and recognizing our existing strong board leadership that invests so much in our organization.

Moving into August, we saw a major success in our chapter with our second fundraising event thanks to the transmission employees who work diligently to make the Transmission Employee Charity Golf Tournament an enormous success.

September and October brought in another intense disaster season with hurricanes Florence and Michael, along with the deadly and devastating wildfires in California.  We deployed 13 volunteers to join an additional 245 volunteers from across Tennessee to help our neighbors in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and California. Over the course of 2018, The Southeast Chapter has responded to over 261 home and apartment fires. We thank our dedicated response team for being there when help is needed, as you give from the heart.

In November, we welcomed our dynamic keynote speaker James Gagliano at our 2018 Heroes Luncheon to inspire the over 290 people in attendance.  At this year’s event, we recognized some remarkable individuals who embody the spirit of the American Red Cross.  This success can be contributed to our dedicated philanthropy committee, board members, volunteers and sponsors who gave so much time, talent and treasure to bring this event to life.  A special thank you to CHI Memorial for once again being our title sponsor and the many other sponsors that make this event every year.  Thank you for generous support.

As we close out 2018, we have one more opportunity to help save lives and impact those around us.  Please join me on Monday, December 24th (Christmas Eve) by signing up for our inaugural American Red Cross blood drive to be held at 4115 South Access Road, Chattanooga, TN 37406.  To register visit redcrossblood.org and don’t forget to download the free American Red Cross blood app on your phone or tablet.  Giving the gift of life, is a beautiful thing.

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

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

“We are not the sum of our possessions.”  President George H. W. Bush

During this Holiday Season, this quote resonated with me.  No, we definitely are not the sum of our possessions, and you collectively demonstrate that every day.  You so generously share your most precious asset with us; your time.  You share your time to respond to serve our neighbors impacted by a disaster.  You staff our front desk, making every person that enters our building feel engaged and comfortable.  You help maintain our fleet.  You paint our facility (and it looks great!!).  You assist us with events and record keeping.  You walk in the front door and ask what you can do today to help the staff.  I hope you know that we could not move our Mission forward without each of you and the time you invest in this chapter.

Wishing each of you peace and time with those you love this holiday season.

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

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

As this calendar year ends, I want to thank you for your time, talent and treasure. In East Tennessee, we are blessed with some of the best volunteers in the country. Many of our volunteers have been deployed on various deployments assisting with Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, and the Wildfires in California. I am incredibly thankful for those volunteers that work on the Disaster Action Team and assist families that experience a home fire. For all of you who have deployed physically and virtually, I am grateful!

I would also like to give a special thank you to our front desk volunteers, the fleet and facilities committee, and the many volunteers that work in the office to help carry out our mission. Ninety percent of our workforce are volunteers, and we all play an important role. 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

Northeast Tennessee Upcoming Dates - December 2018

All Volunteer Meeting
DATES:  01/03/2019; 02/07/2019; 03/07/2019; 04/02/2019; 05/02/2019
TIME:  12:00 PM-1:30 PM
LOCATION:  Red Cross NETN Office | 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663
INFORMATION:  Formal invitation to all volunteers will be distributed. Please note that the meeting for January has changed to 12:00 PM.

“Donut Forget”
DATES:  03/08/2019; 06/14/2019
TIME:  8:30 AM – 11:00 AM
LOCATION:  Red Cross NETN Office | 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663
INFORMATION:  This will be an opportunity for volunteers to enjoy coffee and donuts while logging volunteer hours and catching up on any trainings.

Sound The Alarm, Save A Life Signature Event
DATE:  04/06/2019
TIME:  8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
LOCATION:  Washington County, TN
INFORMATION:  Volunteers needed for this event; installers and educators. Please email Kalen Collins (kalen.collins@redcross.org) if you are interested in volunteering.

12/26/2018 | 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Mountain City Community at Johnson City EMS Rescue
203 Vandilla Street, Mountain City, TN
*Please sign up to donate by visiting redcrossblood.org  

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Opportunities - December 2018

Disaster Action Team (DAT) Volunteers
Volunteers needed to respond to single-family fires.

Clerical Volunteers
Volunteers needed to assist with administrative tasks; including staffing the front desk, answering phone calls, and assisting with other day to day tasks.

Service to Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteers
Volunteers need to represent the Red Cross at community events, deliver birthday and holiday cards, assist with other military events as needed.

Hero Care Network Regional Caseworker/Follow Up Volunteer
Volunteers needed to ensure military families’ needs are met when faced with an emergency.

*If you or someone you know is interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Kalen Collins for more information at kalen.collins@redcross.org.

Don’t forget to download the “Volunteer Connection” mobile application and log your volunteer hours! This app is both Android and iOS compatible.

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Hurricane Florence Volunteers - December 2018

Red Cross volunteers with 30+ years of experience, others with a few years or only a few months of experience had one common goal – to ensure evacuees to East Tennessee from the coastal areas inundated with water and wind from Hurricane Florence had a safe place to stay. They also wanted to be prepared to shelter and care for individuals in the counties of Northeast Tennessee if Hurricane Florence brought flooding to the area. The Northeast Tennessee Chapter had a third goal hidden beneath the other two; passing on knowledge and experience to the newer responders.  

Jane Harris is one of the 30-year veteran disaster responders, who has not been significantly involved in the past several years. As she observed the “organized chaos” of this disaster response it was clear some things were the same; and yet, there were many new faces and improved ways of responding. The following were a few of her observations.

The chapter continues to have a strong disaster program with 206 disaster volunteers. Of this number, 43 worked locally in Florence responses, and 17 more were on call to work if needed in shelters, damage assessment, or mass feeding. There were twelve volunteers deployed to work outside our area. The chapter is always in a training mode; issuing 556 certificates for disaster training during the past year, and 89 certificates for disaster training during the Florence response.

“In order to have a winner, the team must have a feeling of unity; every player must put the team first-ahead of personal glory.” - Paul William "Bear" Bryant

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” - Henry Ford

Because all disaster responders participated in the same training – not only for individual positions but in the overall philosophy of the American Red Cross; they know they are part of a team much larger than their individual role and much larger than our local chapter. They understand and accept the mission of the organization. They also observe a feeling of teamwork and inclusiveness when they volunteer in any Red Cross role here in Northeast Tennessee.

When asked why she has continued to volunteer for the Red Cross both locally and around the country for 30+ years; Carolyn Doerfort says, “I can help people in need, but I also enjoy the people I work with. They share a sense of values that I treasure.” Carolyn worked as the lead for Health Services and Mental Health Services for our chapter and for the Tennessee response. She was a resource for nurses working around the clock in three shelters across East Tennessee. Her knowledge is valuable; but, she adds “New eyes looking at problems is wonderful. It is essential that we pass on the knowledge and responsibility to newer volunteers.” From travels around the country she feels the culture of inclusiveness here in Northeast Tennessee is exceptional and helps encourage new volunteers to participate.

Another 30+ year volunteer is Sid McLaughlin, who was the Mass Care Manager for this response. He has deployed on many disasters across the country for the Red Cross, but for health reasons sticks close to home now. He says it is essential for the chapter and the organization to recruit, train and mentor new leaders. He feels one of our local goals must be to train new leaders. Many volunteers want to deliver service, and it is more difficult to find people to provide the coordination function. Sid stated, “I observed many volunteers providing service and coordinating the mass care planning and execution. It was definitely a team at work!”

“Developing skills is as important as training. A larger effort is needed to create a skilled workforce with employment potential.”  - Pallam Raju

Many of the Northeast Tennessee volunteers want to develop their potential to respond both here and across the country in disasters.

Jeff and Wendy Moncada are an example of new volunteers. From New Tazewell, TN they had been working this disaster since the first day of the response. They began their training in November 2017, and have taken as much training as possible. They have responded to fire calls in Claiborne County; they have driven the ERV to Mountain City for a Memorial Day & Veteran’s Day events, and have volunteered for the Pillow Case Project. On this disaster, Jeff had learned the ropes in mass feeding from long time experts Jim Brice and Stewart Chapman. Wendy worked in logistics and supply. Jeff and Wendy deployed to Raleigh, NC as ERV drivers; they had taken their first national assignment, another great learning experience for them.

David Long, from Bluff City, has been a volunteer in Disaster Spiritual Care for two years. He had deployed three times and worked on local responses. He has been to Louisiana, Florida, and worked in response to the fires in Gatlinburg. He says working on local disasters gives volunteers great experience and allows them to learn jobs while going home to sleep at night! David stated that there are 22 spiritual care volunteers in Northeast Tennessee. During the Hurricane Florence response, some were working each day at the shelter and others were on call if shelters needed to be opened in the various counties. Observing interaction of the response team over this disaster, he had observed respect and caring among the volunteers managing this response.

Rachelle Burkert, Martha Farmer, and Teresa Rhoton have all had 4-5 years of Red Cross volunteer experience. Rachelle has deployed on ten assignments over four years; she has gained invaluable experience to share locally. Martha and Teresa took logistics training together several years ago, along with other courses. Martha has helped with completing shelter agreements and other disaster preparedness work, but “fell into” managing logistics during the Hurricane Florence response. With excellent guidance from experienced volunteers, Martha used knowledge from her classes and asked lots of questions. When Jane spoke with Martha, she was in the process of sharing her recent experience with Teresa, who assumed some of the responsibility. Teresa stated that she was learning much from her experiences in other Red Cross programs like SAF, Disaster Assessment and Procurement skills as she experienced working with Logistics.

Pat Castle has been a disaster volunteer for 13 years. She worked in Disaster Assessment for eight-nine years. Pat lead the Disaster Assessment planning and response for this disaster. She is also very interested in training more volunteers. During the Hurricane Florence disaster response, Pat instructed 15 individuals with the basic disaster assessment course and 18 individuals were trained to use the electronic RC Collect program. Users can now enter their assessment information directly to an online program by using a mobile application on cell phones. Pat said the process was put in place from years of experienced local volunteers and by the national Red Cross training; this has helped make Disaster Assessment work more efficient. She had volunteers on standby in each of our counties, which would have enabled response if flooding had occurred in our area. Pat said the hardest part of disaster assessment is keeping volunteers engaged when local events seldom occur.
It should be noted that the chapter has a new Executive Director, Kalen Collins, who experienced her first disaster on home turf. In response was experienced Disaster Program Manager, Dawn Day; Disaster Program Specialist, Larry Nelson; and Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Angela Morris. The staff was present on and off in the DOC, and were providing the support.

There were around 30 individuals who evacuated to East Tennessee from the Carolinas. They had a safe welcoming place to stay due to the care and response of local disaster workers. The Red Cross had planned a response to potential flooding in each Northeast Tennessee county. Mother Nature had other plans, and the flooding did not occur. But perhaps this was equally importantly, as a great training and learning experience was provided for this disaster team. Collaboration and teamwork between disaster volunteers and staff of varied experience levels was evident, as they all worked together in the name of the American Red Cross.

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Kalen Collins - December 2018


The Northeast Tennessee Chapter celebrated the Holiday Season at the All-Volunteer Meeting on Tuesday, December 4th. Sherry Barnett, who is with Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition, was the guest speaker. Sherry not only shared her story of fighting her drug addiction, but also provided Narcan training and certification to those in attendance. Raffle prizes, good food and great people made this an extremely successful meeting! Thanks to everyone who participated!

At the All-Volunteer Meeting on December 4th we also celebrated a volunteer milestone! Four years ago, Pat Barraclough took on the role as the Northeast Tennessee Service to Armed Forces Lead. She has been active in her role, working with volunteers, supporting military and veteran events, making sure holiday cards are distributed to military and veteran groups, supporting our VA Medical Center program, and so much more. Pat has also done an outstanding job with managing the Hospital Outreach Program funds and managing the SAF budget. She has worked diligently with military, veterans and community partners. Pat will continue volunteering with our Disaster Action Team and Service to Armed Forces programs. We would once again like to thank Pat for her service as the SAF Lead. Greg White is now serving as the SAF Lead.

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Matti Moss - December 2018

Mattilyn "Matti" Moss is from Greenville, South Carolina and attends the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Matti is studying social work and plans to attend graduate school in South Carolina next year, enabling the pursuit of her dream to work with the under privileged. Matti was home schooled until her junior year in high school, at which time she joined the girls’ softball team. By the time she was a senior, she had played so well that she was offered a scholarship to play with the LADY VOLS as Pitcher!

Volunteering at the East Tennessee Chapter of the Red Cross was a no brainer since her mom had her volunteering at various charities in South Carolina when she was a child. She has volunteered here in Knoxville since June, and has worked in case management, as the receptionist and is now helping Sandy Leavell to update the reference guide.

We are pleased that a LADY VOL is with us and will be doing her “Field Placement” here in the spring.  We wish her success in the pursuit of her career!

Q & A with Matti Moss…
What is your favorite word? Sunshine
If you could try a profession that isn’t a current or past job, what would it be? Photography
Other than East Tennessee, where would you like to live and why? Charleston, SC, the beach!
What natural gift or talent do you wish you had? Singing
Who is your favorite musician? Alicia Keys
What historical figure would you most like to meet and why? Nelson Mandela, his wisdom and kindness
What is your favorite color? Yellow
What are you reading, what’s on your bedside table? We the Animals
What do you love about volunteering at the Red Cross of East TN? The people! I love being the first face for disaster victims.  

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight: Denisha White - December 2018

Denisha White is the subject of our Volunteer Spotlight this month. In her work life, Denisha works for the Veterans Administration, but she also works as a volunteer for the Red Cross in various types of military and veteran-related activities as many as 40-60 hours a month (or more,) depending on what’s going on. She’s 40 years old and is a native Nashvillian. She graduated from Antioch High School, and she’s taken history and education courses at Volunteer State Community College. Denisha lives with Mya, her “very smart, mixed-breed dog.”

Denisha is instrumental in many Red Cross events and projects such as The Pillowcase Project, where 3rd-to-5th grade children are given a presentation about preparing for emergencies such as tornado or fire, and are given a pillowcase that they can decorate as a go-bag, along with a handbook for the parents. Typically, children want to take things like flashlights, radios, games and other toys, and their parents work with them to make sure the kits aren’t too heavy and have appropriate items in them.

Other projects Denisha’s involved with at the Red Cross are Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services, Military Entrance Processing Station, casework, Holiday Cards for Heroes (one of her favorites), Military Kids Serve Too (a ceremony unique to Nashville in which military children are recognized and praised for dealing with the inevitable stresses and strains of military families,)  and the annual Veterans Day Parade. She’s also involved in various aspects of training, and is responsible for five leads under her who work with the various projects.

Her advice to anyone who wants to be a Red Cross volunteer: Be flexible, and find things to do, even if not much is going on at the moment. And find something that speaks to your heart and have fun with it.

Denisha has been an energetic, dedicated volunteer with the Nashville Chapter since 2005, and we’re proud to feature her in our Volunteer Spotlight!

By Marvin Koch, Red Cross volunteer

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - December 2018

Hello Nashville Area Volunteers!

The American Red Cross is asking everyone to support people in need this holiday season. You can Give Something that Means Something to bring comfort and hope to families in their darkest hours.

Every 8 minutes, someone affected by disaster is helped by donations to the Red Cross. This generous support helps provide shelter, food, relief supplies and other assistance during disasters.  As many of you know, the need for disaster relief is constant. No matter the size of the crisis, it can leave people suddenly homeless and struggling to rebuild their lives. This holiday season, please #GiveWithMeaning at redcross.org/gift to help people with necessities like emergency shelter, hot meals, blankets and emotional support.

A gift of $250 can deliver hot meals for 25 people who need nourishment after a disaster.
Your donation of $100 can provide a family of two with a full day’s worth of emergency shelter with meals, snacks, blankets, a cot and hygiene supplies.
Help provide warmth with a gift of $50, which can provide blankets for 10 people.

Thank you for your gifts of time, talent and treasure to the American Red Cross!  I look forward to a successful 2019 for the Nashville Area Chapter.

Happy Holidays,

Red Cross Holiday Campaign: Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Loved Ones

Still need a gift for someone special? With only a few days left to find the perfect gift, the American Red Cross has many last-minute ideas in its 2018 Holiday Gift Catalog.

Please #GiveWithMeaning at redcross.org/gift to help people with necessities like emergency shelter, hot meals, blankets and other support.

  • A gift of $250 can deliver a hot meal and snacks for 25 people who need nourishment after a disaster.
  • Your donation of $100 can provide a family of two with a full day of emergency shelter, including meals, snacks, blankets, a cot and hygiene supplies.
  • Help provide warmth with a gift of $50, which can provide blankets for 10 people.
  • Your donation of $125 can help connect veterans and their families to critical community services such as food, housing, counseling and rehabilitation.
  • Your gift of $100 can help provide lifesaving vaccinations for 100 children who face an increased risk of measles and rubella around the world.

Your gift is a tax-deductible donation to the American Red Cross. When you make your donation, you can use free holiday greeting cards with friends and family to share your gift in their honor. Visit redcross.org/gift to learn more and make a gift today.

About Our Corporate Holiday Supporters: 
During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for those corporate donors that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include: AmazonSmile, Circle K and PayPal. Thanks to the generosity of these and other supporters, the Red Cross is able to bring help and hope to people across the country. To learn more about our corporate holiday supporters, visit https://www.redcross.org/donations/ways-to-donate/holiday-gifts/holiday-partners.html.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Tennessee Red Cross Volunteer's Adventure Teaching Safety Courses in Belize

East Tennessee Volunteer, Mary Franklin, has been crossing international boarders once again to teach American Red Cross Safety courses!  Her latest Red Cross adventure was in Belize City, Belize in October to train people in Lifeguarding basic skills and Instructor Skills. Randy Love, who works in Aquatics for the City of Knoxville Parks and Rec Program, went along with Mary.  These two Volunteer Instructor Trainers have combined their skills in the Knoxville area for over 10 years to train others to be Red Cross Instructors in Water Safety, Lifeguarding, and First Aid/CPR/AED.

This trip came about when the American Red Cross responded to a request from a YWCA employee in Belize who wanted help in developing a program to train lifeguards. The employee contacted the Belize Red Cross Instructor who routinely helped train their guards in CPR and First Aid. The Belize Red Cross contacted the American Field Service Representative for Central America, in Bogota, Columbia, who in turn contacted International Services with the Red Cross.  Mary and Randy worked with the only Red Cross trained Instructor Trainer in FA/CPR/AED while in Belize (and Mary actually knows the Educators who trained him). While the Belize Red Cross will not be certifying the new Lifeguard Instructors, the YWCA employees now have the basics to develop a training program. Up to this point in time, there were no lifeguard training programs in the country.  This training was funded through AHRMED, a Project Addressing Human Rights for More Equitable Development, funded by the European Union. Ponder that for a while: the European Union funding a Red Cross training program in Belize.

Mary travelled for the Red Cross to Myanmar last year.  And while Randy has done several mission trips to Central America countries, and this was his first Red Cross trip.

Together they trained employees from the YMCA, a police officer with Belize City, and members of the Belize Coast Guard. They were all trained in basic lifeguarding skills, First Aid, CPR, and AED skills, as well as Instructor skills needed for training others. The skills they taught in in Belize are the same skills taught for a lifeguarding basic course or Instructor Course here in the USA.  CPR is CPR, and swimming is swimming regardless of where you live!  And the nice thing about this trip was that everyone spoke English.

What is next for this duo?  Mary has another adventure to Vietnam in December for Training Services, and Randy has another mission trip coming up in December to Haiti.