Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Volunteer Week - Tony Tobbe

Tony Tobbe (right) receives the 2013 Exceptional Volunteer Service Award
Volunteer Tony Tobbe began his volunteer service with the American Red Cross in June of 2011. After retiring from GE, Tony joined the Red Cross to add something significant to his newly open schedule. He is now a cross-trained volunteer serving in both our Disaster Services program as well as our Blood Services program.

Tony is both a Disaster Action Team member and a Disaster Response volunteer. In his three years with the American Red Cross, Tony has responded to numerous house fires and emergency situations here in Louisville. He deployed for Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the Oklahoma Tornadoes and massive Colorado flooding in 2013. All together Tony has served 836 hours with our Disaster Services program.

Tony has also donated 1180 hours of his time to helping ensure a stable blood supply in our region. As a Blood Services volunteer, Tony not only volunteers at local blood drives, but also assists as a Blood Driver, couriering blood and blood products to and from locations as far away as Evansville, Indiana. In 2013, he received the 2013 Exceptional Volunteer Service Award for the River Valley Blood Region. And to top it off, he is a long time blood donor himself!

When he is not working with his Red Cross team, Tony spends time with his wife, children and grandchildren. He is also a University of Kentucky Committee 101 member, so he spends quite a bit of time driving down I-64 to help usher UK athletics events in his coveted blue coat.

To register to become a Red Cross volunteer and to see Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.

National Volunteer Week - Annaliese & Bill Griffin

Annaliese and Bill Griffin
The following is from a 2010 interview with volunteer Annaliese Griffin. Annaliese has now been volunteering at the American Red Cross for 29 years, and her husband Bill for 25 years. WDRB recently ran a special segment on Annaliese’s past as a volunteer and German immigrant with Anchor David Scott. He learned about Annaliese’s story through his years donating at the American Red Cross East End Blood Donor Center.  

Annaliese & Bill Griffin
I will be volunteering with the Red Cross for 25 years this summer and for Bill it will be 21 years. Soon after I came to America, Bill’s mother was seriously ill and dying. The doctor only gave her a few days to live and her only wish during this time was to see her youngest son, who was deployed in Germany during WWII, one last time. I was telling my neighbor this story and I didn’t know then that he was a high-ranking employee with the American Red Cross.

He was able to call Washington and get my brother-in-law home in just 24 hours to see his mother and spend that time with our family. We were so appreciative of what the Red Cross did for us then. That’s why we volunteer with the Red Cross now.

I (Annaliese) started with WSYL (We Speak Your Language) as a German translator and then Bill and I were disaster volunteers and helped out at other big American Red Cross events like the golf scramble and the Gatsby Ball. Now we volunteer at the bloodmobiles and the Donoramas, and I volunteer about twice a week at the East End fixed site. I work in the refreshment area and Bill works as the greeter.

To register to become a Red Cross volunteer and to see Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

National Volunteer Week - Sara Shelton

Crossing Generations members Ainsley Jones and Sara Shelton promote the Wrapped in Red Gala & Red Lounge.
Sara Shelton joined the Red Cross in 2009 as a member of our Crossing Generations Society. Sara is a young professional and works for Triangle Talent as a Senior Producer. She travels frequently, primarily to state fairs and music festivals, to promote concerts and work with bands directly.

Sara’s impact has included assisting with the development and planning of our Wrapped in Red Gala, chairing the Red Lounge committee, setting up blood donation opportunities and CPR/First Aid trainings for young professionals, and more. She is currently the Chair of our Crossing Generations group and was previously the Director of Recruitment and Retention. During the March 2012 tornado relief efforts, she recruited other young professionals to help cover telethons, benefit concerts and other fundraising opportunities. She shadowed a Red Cross response vehicle the day after the storms. Finally, she believes in what she asks others to do—she is a blood donor, financial donor and is trained in CPR/First Aid.

To register to become a Red Cross volunteer and to see Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

National Volunteer Week - Michael Jones

Michael Jones, center right, with fellow Red Cross Club Council Members following a Pillowcase Project presentation.
Michael Jones has a heart for disaster services. He is frequently adding to a portfolio of disaster training and service leadership. Since the fall of 2012, Michael has given 540 hours of service to the Red Cross.

He often signs up for volunteer opportunities before being asked by going on to Volunteer Connection weeks before our youth meetings. His eagerness to advance the mission of the Red Cross is amazing. As the Chapter Club Council Secretary, Michael dedicates a great deal of time at home tracking service opportunities and reminding the youth of upcoming volunteer events. He also manages the youth Group Share page on Volunteer Connection.

In addition, he has been instrumental in leading the youth in League of Mascot events around our city. He supervises this aspect of the youth council by making sure the youth are trained and prepared to represent the Red Cross as Mack the Disaster Dog, our chapter’s mascot. Michael is an awesome young man who is passionate about service, professional in all he does, and is a reliable volunteer.

To register to become a Red Cross volunteer and to see Red Cross volunteer opportunities in your area, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Look Back at the 1974 Tornado Response

Photo Courtesy of Capital City Museum

Former Red Cross employee Pat Badgett (left) surveys the damage at Mitchell’s Trailer Park in Western Franklin County Kentucky following an April 3, 1974 tornado. Pat’s mother lived in the park, but was luckily not at home when the tornado hit. Pat was also a longtime Red Cross board member and continues to volunteer with the Franklin County Chapter.

Several communities are hosting memorials today to mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1974 tornado outbreak, so I thought I would take a look through our chapter archives to learn how the Red Cross responded four decades ago. One of the hardest hit areas on April 3, 1974, was right here in the Commonwealth. A total of 85 deaths were recorded for Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The Red Cross was there during the following days, weeks and months to provide emergency assistance in the areas where folks needed help the most. Six shelters were opened to accommodate displaced families. More than 400 people sought refuge there during the first days of the relief operation. By April 8, all Red Cross shelters were closed. Even though hundreds of families were still without a home, their family, friends and neighbors opened their doors to offer shelter and comfort.

The Red Cross opened one fixed site to serve food and operated six mobile units, feeding approximately 3,200 people around the clock, including affected families, National Guardsmen and emergency workers. We also set up a babysitting service for families cleaning up and collecting what was left of their homes.
Jefferson Co. Indiana volunteer Paul Steinhardt
But it wasn’t just the disaster department working to support relief efforts. Every single branch of the Red Cross played a part. Three mobile first aid units monitored affected areas at all times. Service to Military Families helped locate families for frantic relatives. More than 1,500 blood donors answered the call for blood in the week following the tornado outbreak.

As I read through old chapter meeting minutes, the familiar names of key community groups were frequently mentioned including Salvation Army, National Guard, Kentucky Baptist Convention and our longtime partner, the United Way. It was then as it is today, an “all hands on deck” operation inside and outside the organization. By the close of the operation, we had served 2,900 families in our region alone and we couldn’t have done it without our volunteers, donors and partners.

As we enter severe storm season, remember to create or review your family disaster plan. You can also download free Red Cross preparedness apps on floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires and hurricanes. Visit www.redcross.org/mobileapps for more information.