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