Thursday, February 28, 2019

14 Tips for Staying Safe When Returning Home After Flooding

American Red Cross Urges Residents to Take Caution As They Re-Enter the Flood Zone

In some areas, flood waters are starting to recede and people are starting to return to their homes. The American Red Cross urges safety and encourages people in affected areas to follow the advice of local authorities. If evacuated, return only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Red Cross Disaster Assessment team member Tami Wright hands Bridgett Rushing, left, and Jennifer Claxton gloves at a home damaged by flooding, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Waverly, Tenn. Photo Credit: Wade Payne/American Red Cross

Here are a few important Red Cross safety steps to follow when returning home after the flood:

1. Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater. Leave children with a relative or friend while you conduct your first inspection of your home. The site may be unsafe, and seeing the damage firsthand may upset them even more and cause long-term effects.

2. Check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks, missing support beams or other damage. If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water. Report them immediately to the power company.

3. Do not cut or walk past colored tape that was placed over doors or windows to mark damaged areas unless you have been told that it is safe to do so.

4. Take pictures of home damage, both of the structure and contents, for insurance purposes.

5. If power is out, use a flashlight. Do not use any open flame, including candles.

6. Sniff for gas. If you detect natural or propane gas, or hear a hissing noise, leave the property immediately and get far away from it. Call the fire department after you reach safety.

7. If you have a propane tank system, turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system before using.

8. Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.

9. Throw away items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected. This includes mattresses, carpeting, and toys.

10. Throw away food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud.

11. If any gas or electrical appliances were flooded, don’t use them until they have been checked for safety.

12. Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If the water is pumped out completely in a short period of time, pressure from water-saturated soil on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.

13. Is your ceiling sagging? That means it got wet – which makes it heavy and dangerous. It will have to be replaced, so you can try to knock it down. Be careful: wear eye protection and a hard hat, use a long stick, and stand away from the damaged area. Poke holes in the ceiling starting from the outside of the bulge to let any water drain out slowly. Striking the center of the damaged area may cause the whole ceiling to collapse.

14. Is the floor sagging? It could collapse under your weight, so don’t walk there! Small sections that are sagging can be bridged by thick plywood panels or thick, strong boards that extend at least 8–12 inches on each side of the sagging area.

Additional information on flood safety can be found on

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Kalen Collins - Feburary 2019

Kalen Collins, Executive Director

Chapter Happenings 

ERV Celebration of Life Party
On January 17, 2019, the Northeast Tennessee team gathered to celebrate the life of our beloved Emergency Response Vehicle #2123. Everyone took the time to share their fond memories of canteening, deploying, feeding and so much more with the ERV. Although we are sad to see 2123 go, we know that she is on to a better place.


Valentine’s Tree
With their creativity, Angela Morris and Glenna Finco joined together to create our Valentine’s Day tree! “American Red Cross Volunteers don’t have more time they just have more heart!” Don’t forget to drop by and grab your Valentine’s Day treat from the tree!

Service to Armed Forces Spreading the Love
On January 30, 2019, the Northeast TN Service to the Armed Forces Team gathered for their first kick-off meeting 2019. Updates and new activities were shared, and the team gathered to make Valentine’s for Veterans! Many exciting things are happening for this line of service. If you are wanting to learn more about SAF, please contact SAF Lead, Greg White (

Local Response
Responding to local home fires isn’t an unfamiliar area for Teresa Rhoton and Gene Egan. On January 30th, national dispatch reported a fire in the Northeast Tennessee area. After receiving the wrong address, they were finally able to locate the affected home. Once they were in the correct location, they also made certain to confirm the problem to validate that we could respond. Teresa and Gene went beyond the call of duty to ensure that our client was safe, by having lodging, clothing and food. Thank you, Teresa and Gene, for going above and beyond to serve the American Red Cross mission!

Northeast Tennessee: Volunteer and Training Opportunities - February 2019


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 (


Introduction to Mapping Class
DATE:  02/11/2019
TIME:  10:00 AM
LOCATION: Red Cross NETN Office | 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663
INFORMATION:  Please contact Dawn Day for more information or to RSVP (

Integrated Care & Condolence Training
DATE: 02/15/2019
TIME:  12:00 PM-4:00 PM
LOCATION:  Knoxville, TN
INFORMATION: Please contact Dawn Day for more information or to RSVP (

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: Upcoming Dates - February 2019


All Volunteer Meeting
DATES:  03/14/2019; 04/04/2019; 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.


Color For A Cause
DATE:  03/12/2019
TIME:  5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
LOCATION:  Fort Henry Mall – 2101 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport, TN 37664

Sound The Alarm, Save A Life. Signature Event
DATE:  04/27/2019
TIME:  8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
LOCATION:  Washington County, TN
INFORMATION:  Volunteers needed for this event; installers and educators. Please email Kalen Collins ( if you are interested in participating.

Sound The Alarm, Save A Life. Signature Event
ATE:  05/02/2019
LOCATION:  Appointment Based Installs
INFORMATION:  Volunteers needed; installers and educators. Please email Kalen Collins ( if you are interested in participating.


02/14/2019 | 11:45 AM – 4:15 PM
University School | 68 Martha Culp Avenue, Johnson City, TN 37614
*Please sign up to donate at

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Kathy Christian - February 2019

When asked what she does as a volunteer for the Red Cross, Kathy stated, “My mother always told me I was a great ‘Jack of all Trades’ – I guess that is what I do best for the Red Cross!” Kathy, who lives in Hawkins County, took disaster training around 10 years ago, when the office building was located on Wilcox. She was not able to begin volunteering right away, but several years later when there was a storm in Greene County she got her chance. She was working as an administrative assistant in the Greene County Red Cross office and was able to put her disaster training to work.

What does Kathy do as a volunteer? She indeed serves in a variety of capacities – on the Disaster Action Team responding to home fires, helping to obtain agreements for obtaining food from businesses during disasters, working in shelters, driving the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and volunteering in Disaster Spiritual Care.

Kathy has a husband, three children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Kathy works with James Capital Management, the Kitchen of Hope, and in an administrative role with the Church Hill Medical Mission. Currently she is very busy with these positions and caring for her husband who has some temporary medical needs. Since she cannot volunteer as often as she would like, Kathy has recruited one of her daughters to respond to fire calls. Recruiting new volunteers is a vital role for current volunteers!

When Kathy was asked what advice she would give to new volunteers, she replied, “be open and willing to do anything. Be flexible, be a team player, and SMILE!" That is how Kathy qualified to be a “jack of all trades!”

There is always a need for additional volunteers with the local Red Cross. You can work in a variety of positions. Training is available for disaster and non-disaster positions. For more information on volunteering and training visit If you are a current volunteer, and would like additional information please contact Angela Morris by calling 423-765-4218 or emailing her at

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Tom Steury - February 2019

Tom Steury moved from Denver, Colorado to Knoxville, Tennessee to be close to family.  Tom jumped in head first as a volunteer and is our Volunteer Services Engagement Lead for the East Tennessee Chapter.  Tom is working on how to convey the Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and what it means to the volunteer and the chapter.  Tom and the engagement team will call volunteers around their anniversary time with the Red Cross and discuss NPS and its value.  Tom also works with IT in the Chapter and supports the front desk staff.  Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons, collecting coins and stamps, and volunteering in the community. Thank you Tom!

What is your favorite word?

If you could try a profession that isn’t a current or past job, what would it be?

Other than East TN, where would you like to live and why?
Costa Rica, the weather is very nice with no hurricanes and the people are friendly.

What natural gift or talent do you wish you had?
Basketball skills: dribbling, shooting, rebounding

Who is your favorite musician?
The Beatles, Kenny G

What historical figure would you most like to meet and why?
Abraham Lincoln, I would like to understand the tribulations and how he came by his decisions with regard to the Civil War

What is your favorite color?

What do you love about volunteering at the Red Cross of East TN?
Opportunity to lead, meet new people, feel appreciated

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - February 2019

Every day we rely on the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors to fulfill our mission. We recently received a mint condition donation of a Canteen Lady uniform and cap from the 1950s.

The American Red Cross Canteen has been providing service to the Armed Forces since its founding in 1917. The warm and friendly atmosphere of the canteen provisioned by the dedicated volunteer Canteen Ladies who staffed the facility, made it a home-away- from-home for the service men and women who frequented the commissary. The Canteen Ladies gave support and comfort to members of the armed forces and their families.

In December 2018, the daughter of a former Canteen Lady, Ms. Karen S. Johnson, donated the uniform and cap, including name tag and badges, worn by her mother Mrs. Evelyn “Sunny” Shaffer who served at the canteen in Scarsdale, NY from 1955-1959, to the East Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross in Knoxville, Tennessee.  In addition to helping active members of the armed forces at the canteen, Mrs. Shaffer also worked with retired service men and women, as well as actively recruited new volunteers for the Red Cross. We celebrate Mrs. Shaffer’s dedication and volunteer spirit.

Mrs. Shaffer’s uniform is currently on display at the Knoxville office along with two other uniforms that have been acquired from other volunteers. The staff of the East Tennessee chapter would like to thank Ms. Johnson for this very personal donation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - February 2019

January is the month of adjustment; some breathing deep time to get a grip on going forward in a new year. February starts putting it all into action. The first emphasis of this month is the heart. Hugs, kisses, flowers, things wrapped in red bows and boxes.

For the Southeast Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross, this is all translated into appreciation for engagement. As with all resolutions, there is no effective result without follow-through. Our volunteers reward us when the call goes out. They reward themselves in every effort they make for our Red Cross by being educated, informed and knowing their best place in the response team.

Our mission this month is to renew existing commitments and make new ones. I encourage our volunteers to learn something you don't know or brush up on the things you've already learned. The word UPDATE is used in almost every area of our lives in this time. This is one more very important place it applies to everything we do.

Find opportunities in online courses on EDGE, take a training class at the chapter, sign up for a disaster relief shift, learn more about other departments at Red Cross, or take a life-saving CPR course. Volunteer to serve where you previously have not.

Above all, recruit your friends, family members and co-workers to volunteer. Renew your engagement in this month of hearts.

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - February 2019

Happy February to all the Mid-West Tennessee chapter volunteers! I hope this newsletter article finds you well and you’re all having a good start to 2019. We’re especially thankful for our new volunteers who joined us back in January during our chapter recruiting push! I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of you. It’s been a pleasure to hear your background stories and what events led to you becoming members of the American Red Cross through our local chapter. You each bring numerous skills and resources to our chapter that we’ll be able to utilize in the months and years to come. I can’t wait to see what chapter accomplishments await us in the coming months that are a direct result of our newest volunteer recruits.

Speaking of new volunteers, we have been so fortunate to have three women serve as the front desk coverage for our chapter over the last several months. Pam Shumate has been a fixture for us for almost two years now and then were blessed to have Murla Williams join us for a few months. A new part-time job came calling for her and, although we grieved to see Murla leave, we knew the part-time opportunity was too good for her to pass up. And, how could we have ever known that another quality volunteer, Deborah Taylor, was waiting in the wings to join our team and help relieve our loss of Murla?

If you haven’t already had the chance to do so, please take a moment to drop by the office and welcome Deborah to our office team! She covers the front desk for us on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each week and Pam still serves the chapter in that role every Thursday and Friday. They’re not only willing to be the voice and hostesses of our chapter office but they help make sure the chapter birthday and anniversary cards are distributed each month, assist me and Heather with various assignments, and even clean up the chapter building on occasion to make sure it’s presentable to the community and fellow volunteers during visits! To say we’re lucky to have them doesn’t event do it justice.

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - February 2019

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”  William Shakespeare

This quote resonated with me this week. I do believe that we are incredibly fortunate to find our gifts and even more fortunate to share those gifts with others. This is what you collectively do with the American Red Cross, but also in so many other areas of your lives. You so generously share your most precious asset with us: your time. You roll up your sleeves and donate blood, giving the gift of life to our neighbors. 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 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.

With gratitude,
Kathy Ferrell

Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - February 2019

Tennessee River volunteers,

I want to thank you for your incredible show of dedication and support thus far in 2019. It has been a busy start to the year and it is because of your selfless dedication that we have been able to continue to support our communities in times of need.

In terms of disaster response, our chapter opened 34 cases in January and as of February 6, 11 cases have already been opened in the month of February. That is a total of 45 cases in 37 days. From those cases, there have been several astounding stories in which clients expressed that without being alerted by their smoke alarm, they wouldn’t have made it out of their home. For that reason, I would like to encourage all of you as Red Cross representatives to talk with your family and friends about the importance of fire safety; having alarms, creating a fire escape route, having a meeting location, and practicing fire safety habits in their home.

Although it has been a busy season, we have many opportunities for training this month:

Disaster Action Team (DAT) workshop February 12
Basic instructors course February 16
Disaster Assessment (DA) fundamentals February 19
Casework fundamentals February 26

In addition, the month of February is American Heart Month. If you are not already trained or need to renew your CPR, First Aid, and AED certification, please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit to sign up for a class through Training Services. There is no better feeling that knowing how to react when an emergency happens in front of you, being able to help someone, and putting your training into action.

As a volunteer, if you would like to be more engaged in our operations or learn about new opportunities, please contact:

John Price
Disaster Workforce Engagement

Red Cross Volunteer Saved by CPR and Use of AED; Encourages Others to Get Trained

February is National Heart Month and is a perfect time to learn how to perform CPR and use an AED in order to save lives. In an emergency, every second counts. This past December during the Nashville Christmas Parade, trained bystanders rushed to the aid of Wade Payne, a freelance photographer and Red Cross volunteer, as he experienced a heart attack.

Get to know Wade and his rescuers a bit better, and hear it from him!

How did you come to get involved with the Red Cross?
“A friend talked with me about it, who also does photography. I came to a meeting, liked everyone and they were nice!’

Which areas do you help in with the Red Cross?
“I was looking for a way to give back with the blessings I received. It was just a natural progression. I learned there is so much to do with the Red Cross.” Wade does photography for the Red Cross. It’s his main interest and feels he can help most when using the ability God gave him. Which Wade said is to “help promote through the visual aspect in showing what the Red Cross does. Many don’t know about things like Sound the Alarm and just how much they help people in disasters. If I can help save a life, then I’ll tell my story. It’s not about me. It’s about helping others.”

You have an incredible story of complete strangers saving your life! Can we hear it?
“When at a Christmas parade I went down, and a lady rushed in to help. She was about to go in the house, but for some reason decided to stay a bit longer. Then, an off-duty firefighter saw and took over for the woman to call 9-1-1. A minister quickly retrieved an AED and administered it.” As if that is not crazy enough with three complete strangers jumping in without hesitation, a doctor stepped right in and worked on him in the ambulance!

What advice or recommendation(s) would you give to a new volunteer?
“There are so many facets. There are things you can do beyond what you may go there for in the first place. It’s a real eye-opener. Definitely get trained in CPR. You may be the catalyst for getting people involved in an emergency situation.”

After all this, Wade believes there is a reason he is here and feels very blessed!

He said: “It’s moving to know that there’s good people who care about you and is praying for you, who don’t even know you.”

Wade was very grateful to meet the lady who took the first action, and broke what the Red Cross calls barriers to action. He is looking forward to soon meeting the off-duty firefighter too and hopes to meet his other heroes.

It is difficult to tell when one might use life-saving skills, but they sure come in handy. Sometimes being the first one to take action in an emergency can be scary, but being trained helps to alleviate some of that tension. If you would like to take life-saving classes such as CPR or AED, call your 1-800-RED CROSS or visit

By Kelsie Angeletti, Red Cross volunteer

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - February 2019

Share The Love!

I always consider February the month of love.  Valentine’s Day sits right in the middle of February and represents love in a large way by bringing people together.

While pondering Valentine’s Day this year, I could not help but reflect on the love and affection our volunteers show for the American Red Cross and the mission we serve.  Each and every day, your American Red Cross serves on multiple fronts.  Daily, you can find the Red Cross serving in all five lines of service.

- Multiple volunteers responding to home fires most every day of the year.
- Volunteers working to ensure families torn apart by war, famine and civil unrest are reconnected with their loved ones.
- Volunteers train classes on lifesaving skills such as CPR, AED and Babysitting.
- Our Service to the Armed Forces team of volunteers are consistently helping our service members with emergency communications that are critical to the family such as a death in the family or conversely, a birth of a new family member.
- Our blood services volunteers are hard at work assisting in the collection facilities serving snacks, helping put supplies together for blood drives and driving blood to hospitals with patients in need.

I love the fact that all of these services are provided to those who are in need by volunteers who have a passion for helping someone who is having a really bad day.

We have many other volunteers not mentioned above.  Those volunteers are the ones who donate the necessary funds and blood that keep these vital services alive and well.

Your American Red Cross is a home where people with the passion for helping others can join many others to get the job done.  These volunteers and donors are the ones who prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

I love supporting those who love to support our mission.  For those who already do, THANK YOU!  For those who are looking for a meaningful way to serve your community, I invite you to join us in this wonderful mission.  There are many ways to participate.  Everyone has an opportunity to serve at the American Red Cross.

Joel Sullivan

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight: David Donoho – February 2019

“How can I help somebody today?” That is the question David Donoho asks himself when he wakes up every morning. He has been a Red Cross volunteer for almost a year and also volunteers for The Little Pantry that Could. He is passionate about helping others, so volunteering was a good fit after he retired from his state government job where he worked for 45 years. His favorite part about being a volunteer is “just knowing that you’re out there helping folks, directly or indirectly.”

David volunteers for Red Cross disaster services in several areas including damage assessment, logistics, smoke alarm installations and the disaster action team. He plans to get his emergency response vehicle driver and supervisor certifications soon. He deployed to South Carolina and southwest Georgia last fall for a total of over three weeks to help with hurricane relief efforts through damage assessment.

In addition to volunteering with disaster services, he also recognizes the importance of donating blood and platelets. He started donating regularly in December. He encourages anyone who is eligible to donate to make an appointment to give blood. (You can make an appointment at

One of the most rewarding volunteer experiences for David is installing free smoke alarms and teaching families fire safety. He said, “The good thing about smoke alarm installations and giving blood is you’re being proactive. You don’t know how you’ll eventually affect that person’s life. You may potentially save someone’s life.”

As a part of the disaster action team, David volunteers for on-call shifts in case of a disaster, like a home fire. David and a volunteer partner will respond, often in early morning hours, to offer the affected family hope and immediate assistance.

When asked what advice he would give a new volunteer, David said, “Try a variety of things. People think of big things. Think of the small things.” Spend a few hours of your time installing smoke alarms, roll up your sleeve and give blood, or check out all the opportunities available online at

Thank you, David, for making a difference in your community and helping others!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - January 2019

Welcome to another great year! 

2018 was a very busy year for your American Red Cross.  I am thankful for each of you sharing your time, talent and treasure to support the mission of alleviating human suffering.  Our mission is never over.  As long as Mother Nature is alive and well and disasters continue, the American Red Cross will be needed.

We are now in the middle of the winter season and with that comes an increase in home fires.  Home fires are devastating in so many ways, especially when there is a death in the fire.  The Red Cross is working diligently to prevent home fire injuries and deaths by installing smoke alarms and preparing escape plans.

You can save lives too by joining us for our upcoming Home Fire Campaign smoke alarm instalation events. Our next event is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Volunteer teams of three will consist of an installer, documenter and educator. Each team will be given a list of appointment-based installs to complete. Training, supplies, and transportation during the event are provided.  The event will take place Monday, January 21 from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. We will meet at the Nashville Area Red Cross office located at 2201 Charlotte Avenue. More dates are coming and I invite you to join us in these lifesaving events. 

These events are rewarding experiences. The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign has already saved more than 500 lives across the country. You too can join in on these lifesaving events.  For more information or to volunteer, contact Zach Stokes at or 615-250-4296.

Our big “Sound The Alarm, Save A Life” event is scheduled for April 27th.  This will be a fun day with lots of media coverage.  We will visit neighborhoods with a demonstrated need for smoke alarms and install them along with developing escape plans for the residents.  Please save the date now!

Your safety is important too.  Please check your smoke alarms and ensure they are in proper working order.  Smoke alarms save lives. 

Welcome to another great year and I look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

This New Year, Resolve to Stay Safe from Home Fires

The new year is a time when people traditionally create resolutions to make a meaningful difference in their lives. When creating yours, please consider resolving to prepare for home fires to keep you and your loved ones safe year-round.
Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster—sadly, taking an average of seven lives every day. But you can prevent these tragedies by taking two simple steps: create and practice a fire escape plan, and install and maintain smoke alarms in your home.
Below are some tips that you and your family can use for your New Year’s resolutions. Additional free resources are also at
1.     Install the right number of smoke alarms in your home. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.
2.     Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
3.     Have a conversation about fire safety with everyone in your household. Create and practice a home fire escape plan together. Make sure they all know what to do if a fire occurs.
4.     Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know where the family meeting spot is outside of your home.
5.     Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
6.     Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire Drill“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
7.     Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
8.     Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Since October 2014, the Red Cross has been working to reduce home fire deaths and injuries through its Home Fire Campaign. Through the campaign, Red Cross volunteers and community partners go door-to-door in high-risk neighborhoods to install smoke alarms and educate families about home fire safety.
So far, the campaign has reached more than 1.7 million people and saved at least 486 lives across the country by:
  • Installing more than 1.5 million free smoke alarms.
  • Reaching more than 1.2 million children through youth preparedness programs.
  • Making more than 638,000 households safer from the threat of home fires.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Emergency need: Donors urged to give blood and platelets now

A donation shortfall over the winter holidays is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

You can help! 
1.    Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
2.    Let your friends and family know there is an emergency need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
3.    Bring someone to donate with you.
4.    Host a blood drive so others can give – be it at your office location, place of worship or community organization.

Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who depend on transfusions for survival.  

In May 2018, 4-year-old Branson was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. His treatment plan has included many rounds of grueling chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and surgery to remove the tumor near his kidney and spinal cord.

Branson has received 12 blood and 11 platelet transfusions so far. According to his mom, Erica, “They have been so important to keep him as healthy, active and battle-ready as possible. This is the hardest thing our family has ever faced. However, there is hope in the generosity of strangers who are helping to heal my brave boy. Blood and platelet donations truly are the gift of life!”

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Don’t wait to help. Give now.  

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight: Marion White - January 2019

Our Volunteer Spotlight this month is lighting up Marion White, a receptionist on the front desk of the Disaster Services Office here in Nashville. Originally from Detroit, Marion came here five years ago to “get away from the snow” and to be near her daughter and two of her 15 grandchildren. She enjoys driving to antique shops and salvage stores “to see what I can see,” and collecting recipes, some of which she likes to experiment with. When asked what she likes about working for the Red Cross, Marion replied, “Everything! Hasn’t been a dull moment here yet. I like the people I work with, Kevin Watts, Nancy Pace, Zach Stokes, Arvenia Pillow, Patrice Brown—I just like the whole atmosphere here."

Since she works for the Disaster Services Office, Marion said she’s interested in trying a deployment some time. “They’re teaching me to be a case worker, and I’m thinking about bringing in some spare clothes in case something immediate comes up.” Being a case worker would be a good fit for Marion, since back in Detroit she worked in health care in various hospitals and nursing homes.

She said the one thing she finds surprising about Nashville is the city’s reaction to snow. “When it comes up to your shoestrings, they close Nashville down. Back in Detroit, they don’t even use the word 'blizzard' to describe heavy snow. Up there, if the snow comes up to the doorknob of your front door, you’re still expected to show up for work!”

Congratulations to Marion on being the Volunteer Spotlighter, and long may she be part of the disaster office of the Nashville Area Chapter.

Northeast Tennessee: Upcoming Dates & Events - January 2019


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

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


Color For A Cause
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Fort Henry Mall – 2101 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport, TN 37664

Sound The Alarm, Save A Life (STASAL) Signature Event
8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Washington County, TN
Volunteers needed for this event; installers and educators. Please email Kalen Collins ( if you are interested in volunteering.


01/11/2019 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Erwin Community at First Christian Church – 312 South Main Avenue, Erwin, TN 37650

01/14/2019 | 1:30 PM – 6:00 PM
Oak Street Baptist Church – 804 Oak Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643

01/20/2019 | 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM
Notre Dame Catholic Church – 212 Mt. Bethel Road, Greeneville, TN

0/21/2019 | 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Carver Recreation Center – 322 West Watauga Avenue, Johnson City, TN

*Please sign up to donate by visiting

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Kalen Collins - January 2019


  • 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 me for more information at

  • 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: Kate & Gerry Tron - January 2019

Often individuals become Red Cross volunteers when they have recently been exposed to a need met by the local Red Cross, have been a recipient of a Red Cross service, or want to find a meaningful opportunity to give back to their community.

Sometimes we find Red Cross volunteers who have been Red Crossers for a very long time. As volunteers or as staff members in the past, they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the local Red Cross organization. Such is the case with Kate and Gerry Tron, whose Red Cross experiences go back to the 1960s and 1970s. When they began to volunteer for the Red Cross in Newport, TN a few years ago, they brought over 100 years of experience with the organization along with them! They may be retired, but they have the enthusiasm and energy of teenagers!

In 1961, Gerry took Junior Lifesaving and Water Safety Aid training; and eventually with more training, he began teaching swimming and lifeguarding classes in Kansas. Little did he know the Red Cross organization would provide him with varied and exciting life experiences for the rest of his life. After a few years he added Lifesaving, First Aid, CPR, and Small Craft (Boating, Canoeing, etc.) to his training skills. In his real life, he worked in law enforcement and met Kate, who would become his wife. Kate was a nurse working at a hospital in Missouri. One of his responsibilities was to be a “bodyguard” for her – escorting her to and from her vehicle. How is that for an unusual way to meet your spouse!?

Later Gerry joined the Red Cross as a staff member in the Mid-Western Red Cross Office, training instructors in small chapters across 13 states.  Liking what Gerry was doing, Kate became a Red Cross volunteer using her training as a health care professional to teach CPR and First Aid.  Kate also worked for a time as a caseworker in the Service to Military Families program of the Red Cross. After some years in the Mid-West, the family made their way to Washington D.C. Gerry became a Health and Safety Director setting up water safety training classes across the United States. He also worked for the Eastern Area of the American Red Cross before finally ending up working as an administrator for the American Red Cross with the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). In this position, he was assigned to many International Disasters that were mostly in war zones. After several years of this stressful assignment, Gerry worked again stateside with the American Red Cross. This time his role was what he called a “fixer,” helping chapters who had some sort of issue and needed help to reach their full potential.

During the years, Gerry was with the National Red Cross in the Washington, D.C. area while Kate worked as a nurse. She and Gerry were raising their family. She also continued her education moving from LPN to RN. Kate worked for the apheresis unit of the Red Cross Blood Program. Later she joined the nursing staff at Walter Reed Hospital setting up and organizing their apheresis unit where she served as their chief nurse.

From Washington, D.C. their life adventures led them to Columbus, Ohio and then finally to Tennessee.  Gerry said in his many trips around the country, the pull to return to Tennessee was strong.  They loved the people and the countryside. Upon retirement, they found a life they could enjoy in East Tennessee.  Gerry tried several volunteer roles with the Tennessee Red Cross. He finally determined the role he enjoyed most was the one he was doing when he first became involved with the organization back in the 1960s and 1970s, which was teaching people lifesaving skills.

Today, Kate and Gerry are vital parts of providing services for the Red Cross. They jointly teach First Aid, CPR, Blood Borne Pathogen, and Water Safety skills on a regular basis (once or twice a month) in Newport, TN. People from Cocke County and surrounding counties take their classes that are taught at the Community Center. Kate also loves her work with Disaster Health Services. She uses her nursing skills to help in disasters both locally and across the country. She has deployed for three national disasters in recent months, including Hawaii, North Carolina, and Florida.

Many Cocke County residents, as well as the Red Cross organization in Northeast Tennessee, benefit from the years of experience this couple brings to our area.

When asked, Gerry gave the following advice to anyone just beginning to volunteer, “Jump in and look for something you like!  Be honest with the staff member or your supervisor. Let them know what you like and what you do not like about your assignments. This way you can stay involved and enjoy your experiences.”

There is always a need for additional volunteers with the local Red Cross.  You can work in a variety of positions. Training is available for disaster and non-disaster positions. For more information on volunteering and training, visit

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Tom DeHoog - January 2019

Tom DeHoog: Helping with Solutions

Tom DeHoog has been a volunteer with the American Red Cross for over seven years and works primarily with Service to Armed Forces. DeHoog comes to the Red Cross with a background helping with our Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) from San Diego, and he too is a veteran. Tom meets with military recruits and their families to share what to expect and the role that the American Red Cross plays in the event of a family emergency. DeHoog has an incredible work ethic and a “get it done” mentality. DeHoog works diligently to ensure military members and their families get the assistance they need by relying on Service to Armed Forces partnerships.  He enjoys finding the solution and truly enjoys what he does for the Red Cross. DeHoog also enjoys working with the Sound the Alarm campaign and worked on the committee last year for logistics and our securing our rally point.  He also loves engaging his granddaughters in our mission.  They log many volunteer hours with the Red Cross and have a wonderful role model with a servant’s heart.  We are truly honored to have Tom DeHoog among our volunteer ranks.

Below are a few interesting questions and answers about Tom DeHoog:
If you could try another profession, what would it be?  Licensed Social Worker
Other than East TN, where would you like to live and why?  San Antonio, TX…beautiful river walk
What natural gift or talent do you wish you had?  Singing
Who is your favorite musician?  B.B. King
What historical figure would you most like to meet and why?  George Washington.  He was a farmer and because he was called upon by his country, he served.
What books are you reading?  Space Opera by Jay Allen
What do you like about volunteering at the Red Cross of East Tennessee?  The people who all come together as volunteers to make our mission happen.  We work together in a harmonious atmosphere.

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - January 2019

Happy 2019! As we at the Red Cross of East TN ring in the new year, we want to share and celebrate our new service learning partnership with Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC).

What is service learning?
PSCC is encouraging students, especially those who attend college on the TN Promise scholarship program, to connect with local non-profits to not only gain degree-related work experience, but also to serve others and become active, engaged citizens.

Our board of directors’ outreach committee chair, Melissa Sykes and committee member, Gretchen Sherrill, participated in PSCC’s service learning fair.  Professors accepted two committee proposals: volunteer public service announcements and social media videos produced by the Hardin Valley video production class and a community programs survey complied by the Magnolia Campus business club.

The students’ hard work and diligence on behalf of our organization yielded phenomenal results.  The community programs survey complied by the business club resulted in 1280 general responses, offered insight into which of our community programs need greater promotion and provided contacts for more than 270 individuals that reported interest in becoming a Red Cross volunteer. The video production class conducted several interviews and presented 12 videos and 2 radio spots for social and traditional media and captured the emotion and selflessness of our volunteers.

Service Learning provided a great opportunity for the students and Red Cross.  We look forward to growing this partnership and inspiring volunteerism in the next generation in 2019 and for years to come.

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - January 2019

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”  Benjamin Franklin

Happy 2019 to each of you!  The end of one year and beginning of another tends to be a time of reflection, anticipation, and hope.  As I reflect on 2018, I’m grateful for each of you and the time you invest in moving our mission forward.  The anticipation of additional opportunities to serve our community is incredibly exciting!  The hope you provide for our military members, veterans, and their families, for patients that need our blood products to survive, and for our neighbors who have been impacted by a disaster is remarkable.  Thank you for believing in this work and for literally being the heart of this chapter.

May we make 2019 the best yet!

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

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - January 2019

The American Red Cross Inaugural Winter Hero Blood Drive kicked off Christmas Eve. Thanks to our caring community, the Red Cross of Southeast Tennessee in Chattanooga collected 29 units of the life-saving blood during one the most difficult months of the year. Blood donations are always in decline during holidays when most people are focused on shopping, travel and seasonal activities. It makes it more critical that we try to make up for the short supplies, thus the reason for our Winter Hero Blood Drive.

So many people never get a holiday from the need for blood. Heart surgeries, organ transplants, burn victims, persons being treated with leukemia and other forms of cancer and sickle cell disease are only a small example of the vital and constant need of blood and platelets.

So – the Southeast chapter won't stop with the night-before-Christmas event. Another drive will soon be announced. Until then, the Red Cross urges everyone to make this a united effort. Spread the word through your neighborhood, your churches and organizations, friends and family, to plan on giving the gift of life at our next drive.

These are some convenient tools for planning ahead. Donors can make an appointment by using the Red Cross Donor App by texting Blood app to 90999 or going to your app store on your phone.  You can also visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS. That is 1-800-733-2767.  Thanks to all our donors for your generous gift of life this holiday season.  Wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year.

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - January 2019

Tennessee River Chapter volunteers,

It’s hard to believe we are a couple of weeks into the new year already!

In December, we celebrated all of our accomplishment as a chapter, and WOW, we have a lot of them to acknowledge! January brings the new year and with that, comes resolutions. Have you made your new year’s resolution yet? If you haven’t, I encourage you to consider new volunteer opportunities as a resolution.

My hope is that 2019 brings growth and prosperity to the Tennessee River Chapter and Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross through a dedicated volunteer base across our chapter while building capacity in our communities. As we continue to move farther into the new year, my wish is that you will continue to serve alongside us and encourage others to do so as well. Our service delivery continues to grow and with that, we are reaching deeper into our communities to help us serve the mission and to provide hope to those in need.

Over the past twelve months, we have seen incredible examples of the volunteer spirit. Our Volunteer Coordinators have worked tirelessly to build teams that are ready and prepared when called upon. We had 24 volunteers serve on 41 deployments in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and California. We are so grateful for this dedication of time and service and want to welcome back all that returned from these deployments. In addition, we are continuing to send well wishes to Tracy Yerkey as she is still in California providing recovery services to those affected by the California wildfires.

Together, we accomplished a tremendous amount of work in 2018, I can only imagine what we will do as a team in 2019!

I challenge you to think of your inner circles, family, friends, neighbors, and small groups; think of their skill sets or someone who may want to experience new opportunities and encourage them to join our team to provide hope to those we serve.


Katy Hagstrom

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - January 2019

Happy New Year, Mid-West Tennessee volunteers! I hope that each of you is enjoying the new year so far and are appreciative of all the blessings you experienced during 2018. Let’s begin now to make every effort to ensure that 2019 is the most successful year in the history of our chapter!

Our chapter has already been fortunate to host an outstanding volunteer recruitment event earlier this month on Saturday morning, January 5th, at the Hospital North in Jackson. 32 people from four different counties in our chapter coverage area participated in a Red Cross Open House to hear about our service opportunities and to meet our staff and several of our veteran volunteers. By all accounts, it as the most successful chapter recruiting event that anyone could ever remember having! 17 of the 32 first time visitors that morning registered to be a Red Cross volunteer before leaving. We feel confident that the remaining attendees will also register. These new volunteer additions will help us shore up and strengthen different service areas within our chapter such as disaster action team (DAT) representation, case work, and Services to the Armed Forces.

I want to give a special thanks to all of our media partners for their part in helping our volunteer recruiting event be such a big success! WBBJ-TV (through the News Director Stan Sanders and reporter Stephanie Fernandez) and the Jackson Sun (through the community events reporter Cassandra) did an amazing job of promoting our event throughout all of their coverage counties. When we questioned the attendees the day of the event on how they became aware of our recruiting outreach the great majority attested it to the local news and newspaper. We’ll continue to utilize our strong partnerships with our local media throughout 2019.

Let’s continue to serve our communities with even greater passion and commitment under the banner of the Red Cross!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Red Cross Safety Tips for Winter Weather

The best thing you can do is stay off the roads during a winter storm, but if you do have to travel the Red Cross has steps people can follow to get their vehicle ready for winter as well as what they should do if they are caught in a winter storm.

IS YOUR VEHICLE READY FOR WINTER? Plan ahead. Have a mechanic check your tires, battery, brakes and antifreeze levels. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, shovel, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a disaster supply kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.

DRIVING IN WINTER While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

 If you become stuck in the snow or caught in icy conditions:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open – away from the blowing wind – to let in air. 

WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at