Monday, April 16, 2012

Spreading the Word - Allen J Corbin

Red Cross volunteers are often seen delivering food after a disaster, teaching CPR, or handing out cookies and juice following blood donations. But there are also volunteers that work to raise awareness of these services helping the community understand the many aspects of the Red Cross mission.
Louisville Area Chapter Board Chair Dick Swope (left) presents Board Member Allen Corbin (center) with the 2011 Clara Barton Honor Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership at the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, October 27, 2011.
In March of 1997, after days of heavy rainfall, the Ohio River swelled well beyond capacity, flooding surrounding neighborhoods in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Allen Corbin’s home was one of many affected. Once flood water receded, Allen’s family was visited by Red Cross workers traveling through neighborhoods delivering cleaning supplies to help residents recover.

During July of the same year, lightning struck Allen’s home igniting a fire that took his entire house. It was following this second incident that he came up with an idea for a program that encourages people to keep a record of their belongings in case of a fire, flood or any other disaster. He met with his local Red Cross—the Oldham County Service Center in Buckner, KY—to develop a partnership.  He donated funds for the service center to purchase a video camera that could be borrowed by community members to make a visual record of their belongings.

“Having a visual record of your personal belongings and household goods streamlines the recovery process when dealing with insurance providers,” said Oldham County Service Center Manager Rick Bissmeyer.

Allen Corbin has now been a part of the Red Cross for nearly 15 years. He currently serves as Advisory Board Chair of the Oldham County Service Center and is a Board Member for the Louisville Area Chapter. Last year he was given the Clara Barton Honor Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership at the annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.

“In general I believe that Allen Corbin takes a personal responsibility to make sure that his community is the best place to be safe, secure and that the vital services of the Red Cross remain relevant to those we serve,” said Rick.

He describes Allen as the service center’s “public affairs staff person,” constantly out in the community meeting with public officials and partner organizations to improve Red Cross service delivery, fund raise, and raise overall awareness.
Allen Corbin acts as auctioneer during the 2009 Oldham County Chef Challenge.
Just last week Allen hosted Crossing Paths, a monthly “lunch and learn” offered by the Louisville Area Chapter that teaches guests about Red Cross programs and initiatives. The one-hour program is free and open to the public.

“The number one goal of a board member is to raise community awareness of what the Red Cross does,” Allen said. “[Crossing Paths] lets friends and family know why you’re involved with the Red Cross and hopefully gets them involved, too.”

To raise awareness of the Oldham County Food Bank, Allen proposed the Chef Challenge which is now an annual event at the service center. In the Challenge, a local chef visits the Food Pantry to create a 4-course, gourmet dinner consisting solely of pre-packaged, non-perishable food. The community is then invited to a fundraising dinner and auction benefiting the Red Cross. This year’s dinner was held March 5 at the Glen Oaks Country Club and raised nearly $10,000 for Red Cross services.

Of his work with the Red Cross, Allen says it is his duty to volunteer.
“I feel you should give back to the community,” Allen said. “The Red Cross helped me, and I, in turn, feel I should help the Red Cross.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, visit