Monday, November 21, 2016

Meet Red Cross Volunteer, Rose Ella Smith

Rose Ella Smith started volunteering for the Bluegrass Chapter of the Kentucky Red Cross after losing her husband of 57 years in June of 2015. As one can imagine, after raising five children and working in several factories for over 20 years, all the while caring for her ailing husband whose health issues spanned decades, Rose was lost. At 79, after a lifetime of working and taking care of others, she quickly realized she was not the type to sit back and finally enjoy some “me time”. No, not for Rose; she is a doer and a giver! One of her daughters suggested that she look into volunteering for the Red Cross. She did, and Rose found a new life.

She began by volunteering with the Home Fire Campaign which provides and installs free smoke alarms for those in need. She and another volunteer began traveling around the state and found she enjoyed the travel and being of service to the community.

Her next assignment was to help firefighters who were battling wildfires in Eastern Kentucky. She worked with a team that provided breakfast, packed a sack lunch for the field, and served them a hot supper at the end of the day. She and the team also provided clean towels, bedding and toiletries for the shelter where the firefighters were temporarily housed. She enjoyed this assignment even more because by helping folks through a disaster, she could feel she was making a real difference. Rose is on standby at the moment to return to Eastern Kentucky where the fires are still not contained. Should these fires impact families and their homes, she will begin helping families who have been displaced by these fires - setting up shelters and providing food and amenities for them. She is eager for the opportunity.

Talking to Rose, one can feel her enthusiasm for helping others, and the joy that it brings her. In the Red Cross where there are endless opportunities to turn one’s compassion into action, Rose feels she has found a new purpose.

You inspire us, Rose! Thank you for your service to the Red Cross.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Kentucky Region CEO Returns from North Carolina

The following post was written by Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the Kentucky Region Red Cross, as part of an update of her deployment. Jennifer deployed to North Carolina as part of relief efforts for Hurricane Matthew.

I've arrived home in Kentucky after spending two weeks on the Hurricane Matthew disaster response. It's great to be back.

I was stationed in North Carolina and a majority of my time I worked out of the Ft. Bragg operations center, serving Robeson County, NC and surrounding areas. This is the poorest county in the state which had many challenges before the hurricane and horrific flooding. Upon arrival, there were 5 shelters opened with around 600 people.
Home in the process of being cleaned out.
When I left last week, 2 shelters were still open, serving approximately 150 residents. Casework had ramped up and our teams were visiting with folks to provide assistance beyond FEMA, if needed. We were still serving thousands of meals a day through our Emergency Response Vehicles and at distribution sites throughout the community. In addition, we were delivering clean up supplies to residents to help them begin mucking out their homes. Clean and safe water had begun to come back on in Lumberton at the end of last week, nearly 3 weeks after the storms passed through.

The two words that come to mind about this experience are hope and resiliency. The resiliency shown by the residents and the community was unbelievable. These folks had lost everything in some cases, but they remained positive and were working toward moving on with their lives, while supporting each other through the process.
Mother and daughter team, from Texas.

Our Red Cross "army" of over 500 volunteers in my area alone, did everything from sleeping on cots in shelters with dozens of other people so they can work in a shelter, 12 hours a day for two weeks straight. Other Red Crossers drove Emergency Response Vehicles from across the United States, so they could help serve meals and hope to people they had never met.

This was and continues to be a huge relief operation. You can't imagine what it's like to see firsthand an operation like this up and functioning in a few hours, operating 24/7 all over the state of North Carolina, run by people who have never met nor worked together prior to this, coming from all walks of life. Talk about diversity and inclusion... the Red Cross lives it.
 The Weather Channel visited the shelter at
Robeson County fairgrounds with a therapy dog.
My role was to serve as an elected official liaison... working with mayors, city council members, county leaders and community stalwarts to maintain the Red Cross image, and more importantly, to listen and serve as someone who could assist their communities and constituents through the Red Cross. I was very proud of our organization.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kentucky Region CEO Updates on Response in North Carolina

The following post was written by Jennifer Adrio, CEO of the Kentucky Region Red Cross, as part of an update of her deployment. Jennifer deployed to North Carolina last weekend as part of relief efforts for Hurricane Matthew.

Today marks day five for me on the ground in North Carolina.  I drive every day to Robeson County as well as another eight counties which were heavily impacted by Hurricane Matthew. 

Upon arrival on Monday in Robeson County, we had close to 1,000 people staying in five shelters.  This area continues to be challenging for many individuals and families, as the flooding in this area has resulted in complete devastation. Nearly three weeks since the storms have passed, many remain unable to get to their homes due to high waters persisting, significant mold and damage which many homes cannot be salvaged; and in some instances, having alligators in their yards. 

Today we consolidated to two shelters which are hosting around 300 people.  Schools will resume on Monday.  But, the recovery phase still has a long way to go. 

From left to right: Jennifer, Elmer, Lori, and Bobby
I've seen our emergency response vehicles (from California, Oregon and even our own from Kentucky) at every turn, feeding and assisting people multiple times a day.  I've met volunteers from Hawaii, Tennessee, West Virginia and New York.  This is Red Cross voluntarism at its finest!  Most volunteers are sleeping in staff shelters on cots.  Amazing heart and dedication!  The attached photo is of Red Cross volunteers who are helping manage a shelter. Elmer is from New Jersey and Lori and Bobby are from Texas.

My main role is working with local elected officials to ensure we are meeting community needs, listening and responding.  At the end of the day, it's about the people who need help and how all of us - Red Cross, local government, and countless other partner groups - can and need to work together to make a difference and help people get back on their feet.

This weekend, we will be assisting people as they begin to clean up their homes, find their belongings and offer hope through assistance. 

Click here to learn more about Red Cross disaster relief. If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Volunteering from a College Student’s Perspective

The following post was written by Laiken Hobbs, a volunteer from Eastern Kentucky.

When I first got the opportunity to become an intern with American Red Cross I was ecstatic. My first meetings with the Eastern Kentucky Chapter Director, Joanna, consisted of talking about all the opportunities ARC had to offer me. All I can remember is wondering where I was going to “start.”

I’ve had many “first experiences” with the Red Cross that have given me new perspectives on life. What some would consider “simple experiences” have changed the way I process my own thoughts and also carry out my everyday routines.

Home Fire

Learning you typically have less than two minutes to escape a home fire was eye opening for me, especially as a college student. I’m now more aware of my surroundings in the home I rent. I make sure to unplug all things as I leave my house, especially my straightener, and also check all smoke alarms, upstairs and downstairs. I also try to be cautious if our fire alarms are flashing red to indicate they are dying. It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings especially when you have the “I’ll do it later” college mentality.

I stress to my friends, co-workers and even acquaintances the importance of smoke alarms in homes and how the Red Cross will install them for free. When I actually got the opportunity to go and install smoke alarms in homes in the Eastern Kentucky region, I felt like I was making a difference by simply installing smoke alarms in these homes knowing these individuals more than likely couldn’t afford smoke alarms on their own.

West Virginia Floods

I can honestly say I have never learned as much as I learned about communication as I did when I traveled to West Virginia (WV) to the WV Red Cross headquarters. Due to flooding in July, WV was in a state of emergency and many towns were completely destroyed. Joanna had always talked to me about what a Red Cross crisis situation was like, but experiencing it first hand was one of my best experiences I’ve had as an intern. I sat in awe and stared at multiple people trying to get a glimpse of what task they were doing. As a public relations “junkie” I felt like I couldn’t get enough of what was going on. I was amazed there were so many people appearing from so many parts of the country. Every time I walked in and out of room, it seemed that volunteers were multiplying.

I felt excited when Red Cross people I had never seen before, were excited because the fundraising team got more money donated. I felt emotional when reading the Facebook messages of people who were asking for help. I felt like even though I really didn’t have the slightest clue of what was happening around me that I was contributing to making a difference by doing the smallest tasks. It was this day that I realized how big of an organization the American Red Cross really is.

Blood Drive

It took me awhile to come around to donating blood due to being terrified of needles. When I found out there was a blood shortage, I worked up the nerve to donate. I was amazed and impressed with how great my first donating experience was. Being a tech savvy college student, I immediately downloaded the blood donor app and kept very close watch on it to find out my blood type and my donated blood’s “journey.” I shared the app with my friends and it appealed to them making them want to donate blood too. When I found out my blood type was O+ making me a universal donor, I automatically decided I would give blood regularly. When I can give blood again in September, I will round up my friends and make sure to bring them with me.

When you’re a college student life is so fast pace. It’s the beginning of the fall semester and you blink and its Christmas break. Being a Red Cross intern gives me so much more than experience and communication skills. I feel like it’s my way of giving back to the world. Have you ever heard the saying, “Be the type of person you want to meet?” I live by the saying and the American Red Cross helps me to do so. If I were in need of fire alarms would I want to have them installed in my home for free? Yes. If my home of 21 years was destroyed by flood waters would I want and need assistance? Yes. If I were in need of blood, would I accept a donation by someone who was kind enough to donate in order to save lives? Yes. Even as a college student, when you feel like you’re living in a whirlwind, the small amount of time you can give impacts more people than you realize.

If you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tiffany Circle Fall Luncheon

Today the Tiffany Circle held their fall luncheon and Charm Ceremony at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens. The Tiffany Circle is an international society of women leaders and philanthropists. Founded in the United States in 2006, the Tiffany Circle today includes more than 900 members in the U.S., as well as chapters in Canada, Mexico and Great Britain. These women follow in the footsteps of a long line of women leaders who have helped the Red Cross serve the public in times of war and peace with disaster assistance, blood collection, safety training and countless other community assistance services.

During the luncheon, co-chairs Jill Howard and Pam Klinner presented Tiffany Circle members with charms symbolic of their years of service. Receiving their 3rd year charms were Jennifer Adrio, Madeline Abramson, Jeanine Flynn, and Deb Moessner; 4th year charms, Pam Klinner and Angela Leet; 5th year charms, Diane Davis; 6th year charms, Elizabeth Taylor; and 7th year charms, Jill Howard and Mary Rivers.

The Tiffany Circle is a powerful network of women who want to change lives, save lives, and strengthen communities through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure in the American Red Cross. We congratulate these dedicated women and thank them for all they do.

Click here to learn more about the Tiffany Circle, and if you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, August 29, 2016

Flat Gap 2015

The following post and poem comes from Rodney, a terrific volunteer in Eastern KY. He and his wife Vicki, became Red Cross volunteers several months ago after being moved to make a difference after witnessing the impact of severe flooding in their area.

Last year, I wrote a poem after seeing the devastation caused by the flooding in Flat Gap, KY. When my wife Vicki and I heard about the flooding at Flat Gap in July 2015, we were moved to help and headed to a relief center in Paintsville, Ky. It was inspiring to see so many high school age students working the relief center - sorting supplies and helping victims load the supplies into their cars. The response to help from the local communities was truly tremendous.

We didn't see all of the disaster area that day, but we saw enough to be overwhelmed by the devastation and could only imagine how the affected people must have felt. The traits of the people in particular impressed us - their fortitude, their resilience, their determination to persevere in spite of the tragedy they had just experienced. That is what I tried to express in the poem.

Since I had recently retired from work we had been considering ways that we could serve the community. This experience motivated us to explore the best avenue of service for us, which was the Red Cross. We joined online and we were quickly signed up for orientation, training and placed in service as disaster responders and as presenters for the Pillowcase Project (a preparedness program for children). We have helped open a shelter in Louisa, responded to house fires and tornadoes, and taught many children emergency preparedness. Being Red Cross volunteers has been as fulfilling for us as we had hoped. We feel like we can do so much more to help our neighbors in their time of need as Red Cross volunteers.


Flat Gap 2015

March snows,
Never before so much.
The people shouted, “Stop!”
But the snows said, “No.”
“I will fill your roads,
I will block your paths,
And when I melt
I will soak your ground.”
The people pushed on…

April rains,
Never before so much.
The people cried, “Stop!”
But the rains said, “No.”
“I will rot your potatoes,
Wash away your tiles and roads,
And when I flood
I will saturate your ground.”
The people pushed on…

July thunderstorms,
Never before so much.
The people wailed, “Stop!”
But the creek said, “No.”
I will become a river
Roaring through your mountain walls,
Demolishing your homes,
Taking with me precious lives,
And when I rage
I will sanctify your ground.”
The people pushed on…

Rodney Gould July 21, 2015

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Estate Gift is Largest in American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter History

American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter board members and Red Cross supporters gathered together today to pay tribute and to honor Jack and Gladys Jonas. Their estate donated to the Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter nearly $1.4 million dollars-the organization’s largest estate gift ever received. The Red Cross received the final gift allotment in March of this year. In gratitude to Jack and Gladys Jonas for their generous legacy to Red Cross disaster relief services in Kentucky, the Louisville Area Chapter has dedicated its Emergency Operations Center in their name. Present for the dedication was Carl Franklin, nephew of the couple, and his wife, Brenda.

On October 18, 1979, Carl Franklin’s life changed dramatically. While working on the family farm, an ear of corn got stuck in their auger. The machinery was not on, so Carl reached in to remove it. Upon reflection, he suspects engine vibration may have engaged the auger - which proceeded to take off his arm. He was rushed to Jewish Hospital and though he did not lose much blood in the initial injury, he was a blood recipient during the lengthy microsurgery required to reattach it. Uncle Jack and Aunt Gladys, were there for him every day. They never had children and were extremely close to Carl and his wife Brenda. Uncle Jack began his blood donations to the Red Cross at that time, and continued, it is believed, until he died in 1998.

“A promise is a promise” Carl said and he had promised Uncle Jack that he would take care of his beloved wife Gladys the rest of her life. Carl and Brenda did so until her death in 2014.  The Jonas’s were not born in to wealth. In fact, Carl credits an initial $2,000 investment in a gas station as the nexus for the multi-million dollar legacy the Jonas’s left to benefit organizations which held significance in their lives. In addition to their gift to the Red Cross, estate gifts went to Hosparus and the Masonic Home.

The American Red Cross Louisville Area Chapter is honored to be a recipient of the Jonas’s generosity.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Profile: Dan Wirth

“The common connection among Red Crossers,” said Daniel Wirth, a native of Indianapolis, “is the desire to make a difference.”

Dan has traveled around the world making a difference. After moving to Colorado for undergrad and earning his Master's degree in Montana, Dan joined the Peace Corps and worked throughout Africa and Latin America giving back to people in need.

Two years ago he and his wife decided they wanted to be closer to home, so they moved back to Indianapolis where he began working for the Red Cross.

When he first joined the Red Cross, Dan drove a Red Cross response vehicle around communities in Texas to deliver clean up supplies to help flood victims recover and salvage their belongings. He spent time working in disaster responses in Texas and South Carolina. He recently moved to Louisville to become the new Regional Disaster Officer for the Kentucky Region. Dan’s role now includes engaging volunteers, leading the disaster and preparedness response teams, and making sure the team is focused on the bigger goals of each response effort. In the midst of it all, he also encourages everyone to be considerate.

Dan loves his job. He believes in the Red Cross mission, and in making a difference in the lives of the people the Red Cross serves. Getting to know so many people with such varied depths of knowledge and experiences, and the desire to use them to give back, is one of the highlights of his work.

When he isn’t working, Dan plays soccer, practices yoga, and spends time with his wife, daughter, and extended family.

Click here to learn more about Disaster Relief, and if you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Armstrong, Red Cross a Comfort in Time of Need

Tim Armstrong is a walking example that you get more out of community service than you give.

Armstrong is the principal at Albany Elementary School, a rural school in Clinton County, KY. He’s also a Lake Cumberland Red Cross Community Board member and part of the Bluegrass Area’s Disaster Action Team. When the school district received, through a grant, a quantity of Automatic Emergency Defibrillators (AEDs), Armstrong trained not only his teachers, but also county staff, coaches and community members in first aid, CPR, and use of AEDs.

It was after a fire destroyed a home in Cumberland County, Armstrong found himself comforting the family who’d just lost their home. The family included one of his students, a special needs child. Armstrong gave the child a Mickey Mouse stuffed toy as a comfort.

“Upon returning to school this child was more open and, unlike in the past, spoke to me,” said Armstrong. "The fact that he opened up and embraced me when he came back to school triggered a deep feeling in me."

“In that emotional time, as we tried to help the affected family, that stuffed character was his comfort.”

“That moment drove home to me how the work we do is a real blessing, not only to those we help, but to us volunteers,” Armstrong said. “I went away from that event knowing how the Red Cross helps me to be a better principal, and a better person,” he said.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Profile: Lynn Romans

Lynn Romans, a resident of Radcliff, Kentucky, first joined the Red Cross in 1990 when her youngest child went to school. She began work in the ACCEPT credit counseling service, and in the 26 years since she has been everything from an Administrative Coordinator in Field Services to a Database Administrator in Financial Development. Now, Lynn is a Program Specialist for the organization’s Service to Armed Forces (SAF) where she helps coordinate and promote the division’s activities.

The American Red Cross has been providing services to U.S. Armed Forces in Kentucky and Indiana since 1917. As a military mom, the impact SAF makes is especially important to Lynn.

While the SAF Hero Care Call Center at the Louisville Area Chapter gets the most notoriety, Lynn and the SAF division are constantly giving back to the military community. Much of Lynn’s job is networking with veterans agencies and promoting the activities of the SAF. They work with other organizations, nonprofits, Fort Knox and the Pet Therapy teams at the Clark County Red Cross office in Southern Indiana to help provide services to veterans, active duty military personnel and their families. Every Memorial Day they set up a booth to welcome and support riders participating in the annual Run for the Wall, a cross country motorcycle ride to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. hosted to promote healing among veterans and to honor Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action or Killed in Action.

One of the activities that Lynn enjoys the most is reaching out to military personnel who are preparing to ship out to basic training through programs at Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS).

At MEPS, Red Cross staff gives briefings to new recruits and their families so they can “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” and learn about the services the Red Cross provides. These include counseling and social services to military families, and the emergency communication services that keep military personnel in touch with their loved ones in the event of emergencies, including the death of an immediate family member or the birth of a child. The Red Cross is also present during yellow ribbon programs and homecomings to let military families know what services are available to them.

“If you’ve been here long enough, everyone has done a little bit of everything,” said Lynn. “I never would have guessed I would be here.”

“Most people do not know the relationship between the Red Cross and the Armed Forces,” said Lynn. Making that relationship known is important to her, because it’s the people that matter to her most; the military personnel and families she helps serve, and the passionate and caring people she works with who come together to get the job done. Lynn encourages others to look into the services provided by SAF, and asks that people remember and support our troops.

Click here to learn more about the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces, and to volunteer with SAF, go to

Monday, May 16, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Kathy Hoff

From her time as a Red Cross Donut Dolly in Vietnam, to disaster responses across the United States, to her current service in Lexington, Kentucky, Kathy Hoff has devoted years of time and talent to helping the Red Cross in a variety of capacities.

Kathy’s first volunteer experience with the organization was in 1969. As an adventuresome recent college graduate, she and her roommate saw a newspaper ad to go to Vietnam as “Donut Dollies”, and they signed up. She spent the next year there, offering moral support for the troops. The Dollies, a name inherited from their predecessors in World War II and Korea, would run recreation centers, put on self-designed programs to entertain the troops, and visit hospitals, which was difficult and heart wrenching for Kathy.

“As long as we could take the guys’ minds off the war, that was our main aspect of having them do these games. A lot of times I would just sit and talk. I did not like going to the hospital, because I had to smile and be cheerful, and seeing these guys that were my age and younger, and what they’ve been through [. . .] that was really challenging,” she said.

Kathy Swanson Hoff serving as a Donut Dolly in Vietnam
Following her service in Vietnam, Kathy occasionally volunteered for the Red Cross, but after Hurricane Katrina, she became more involved again. She was deployed twice following Katrina, spending three weeks in Mississippi operating an Emergency Response Vehicle, and then spending two weeks in New Orleans canteening and feeding the thousands of displaced residents. Since then, she has responded to numerous disasters across the country, including relief operations in California, Iowa and Texas, and on the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. She used to teach disaster classes, she presents the Pillowcase Project (a free disaster preparedness program) to elementary school students, and she’s continued her work with the military, serving as a Service to Armed Forces Specialist and donating her time at the local VA hospital.

A retired teacher originally from the Seattle area, Kathy and her husband moved to Lexington five years ago to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren. Volunteering is a way of life for Kathy, and she has discovered plenty of volunteer opportunities in the Bluegrass. She’s an officer in the Citizens Police Academy, works with the Lexington Opera House, coaches a Special Olympics softball team, ushers for UK Athletics events, and helps out at her grandchildren’s elementary school. Connecting to others, especially those less fortunate, is a gratifying experience for her.

“It’s just giving of yourself, just thinking of other people, and not worrying about yourself and all that’s going on. It’s just such a good feeling to help. There’s a lady at the VA where I volunteer. She’s 98 years old, was a nurse in World War II, and she just beams when I walk in” she said.  

She feels connected to other volunteers with their shared interest in helping others, and she’s stayed in touch with a number of fellow Red Crossers from her deployments around the country. Kathy is also relaying the importance of volunteering to younger generations by involving her grandchildren in numerous activities.

“It’s a great feeling to give of yourself. When you get a hug [. . .], that’s the biggest pay you could ever have.”

Click here to learn more about the Donut Dollies, and if you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit .

Friday, April 29, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Curtis Armstrong

Since the Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, volunteers like Curtis Armstrong are crucial to the organization. Curtis has been a Blood Services volunteer for three years and continues to donate his time to the cause. His main inspiration for giving back was seeing his wife volunteer with the Red Cross.  While he helps in whatever capacity he can, his main roles are blood donor recruitment, serving blood donors meals and thanking donors for their generosity. He values volunteering with the Red Cross because it is a great way for him to meet people and experience the many different ways to positively impact others.

Working in Blood Services has given Curtis the chance to work around a lot of different people, all with unique stories. However; one experience sticks out to him the most. “I was at a Blood Drive when a donor came to me and thanked me for my effort in recruiting Donors, I thanked him for giving and he cried on my shoulder and said, no, thank you for helping save my family, because of what you’re doing my family is still with me today and that's why I give,” he said.

To Curtis, there is no reward greater than seeing how his effort has helped the community at large. He believes others should join the effort and volunteer with the Red Cross. “Volunteering with the Red Cross is a great way especially for those not able to work, to be able to give their time and enjoy life,” he said.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Louisville Area Chapter Recognizes Service of WWI Red Cross Nurse

Nursing and Service to the Armed Forces are both important parts of the storied past of the American Red Cross. With the outbreak of World War I, these services worked together to provide much needed care for the United States military. The Nursing Service was established in 1909, and this branch of the Red Cross increased its activity as conflict spread across Europe in June 1914. When the U.S. became involved in the Great War in 1917 and an influenza pandemic rattled the globe in 1918, the demand for nurses grew even greater, both domestically and internationally. The Red Cross enrolled 23,822 nurses during the war, and 19,931 of these nurses were sent overseas. On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the Louisville Area Chapter honored World War I Red Cross nurse Margaret Dugan Winter (1892-1962). The Legacy Award was presented to her daughter, Margaret Winter White of Louisville.

Mrs. Margaret Winter White accepting a Legacy Award honoring her mother, Mrs. Margaret Dugan Winter, from Louisville Area Chapter Board Chair Bill Lamb
Born Margaret May Dugan, and known as Maggie May, the Jeffersonville, Indiana native served as a Red Cross nurse on the homefront and abroad. She trained at Louisville City Hospital and became a Registered Nurse in 1917. On November 19 of that year, she was sworn in as Red Cross Nurse #14957, and she was quickly called to active duty. Her first assignment took her to the U.S. Army hospital at Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia in 1918. The influenza pandemic was in full force, and she cared for many patients who fell ill with the virus. Later that year, she was assigned to Base Hospital Unit #56 and sent overseas, where she spent seven months in Allerey, France. The war ended in November 1918, and she was discharged from active duty on June 5, 1919.
Following her service with the Red Cross, Mrs. Winter continued her career as a nurse, and also her work with military veterans. Soon after the war, she spent time working for the Veterans Bureau, assisting with the claims of disabled soldiers in Eastern Kentucky. In the 1930s and 40s, she served as chairwoman of the American Legion Auxiliary Christmas shop where hospitalized veterans could pick out gifts for their families.

A number of Mrs. Winter’s family members were present to witness her being honored. Ernest Edward Morris, grandson of Mrs. Winter, has other family connections to the early years of the American Red Cross as well. His great-grandfather Ernest P. Bicknell spent 27 years with the organization, including time overseas during World War I as the Deputy Commissioner to France, Commissioner to Belgium, and Special Commissioner to the Balkan States, all while serving as a member of several international relief organizations. In addition to Mrs. White and Mr. Morris, other family members present were A. Franklin White (husband of Mrs. White), Glenda Terrell Morris (wife of Mr. Morris), Elizabeth Winter (granddaughter of Mrs. Winter,  and Stuart A. White (son of Mrs. White and grandson of Mrs. Winter).

The remarkable expansion of the American Red Cross during World War I can be attributed to the crucial care and comfort provided to military members and civilians around the world. The Red Cross would not be the humanitarian organization it is today without volunteers like Margaret Dugan Winter. We are grateful for her contributions, and we are proud to honor her service.

Click here to learn more about the Red Cross and its efforts during World War I.

Biographical information provided by the family of Margaret Dugan Winter.

Haack, Alison. “Ernest P. Bicknell – Red Cross Humanitarian”, Indiana University Archives, last modified April 8, 2014, accessed April 28, 2016,

Friday, April 22, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Savannah Westerfield

When people think of the Red Cross usually Blood or Disaster Services come to mind. However, volunteer Savannah Westerfield plays a different role within the organization. Savannah serves as a Public Affairs volunteer where she currently helps manage the social media platforms for the Bluegrass Area Chapter. She shares relevant and important information through the chapter’s Facebook page, responds to messages, and she also helps write press releases. 

Savannah has always had an interest in volunteering. In college she worked with other members of a University of Kentucky campus ministry, raising money to buy shovels, gloves, masks, and supplies to help with the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina hit. They traveled to the town of Pass Christian, Mississippi, and it was devastated; the aftermath of Katrina was the “most gut wrenching thing” she had ever seen. There were volunteers from all different organizations helping, but the one that stuck out to her most was the Red Cross.

Fast forward several years later, Savannah finally found herself with some spare time. Having been moved by the help the Red Cross provided after Hurricane Katrina, she looked into volunteering with the organization and saw there was a need for a Public Affairs volunteer. Given her education and experience in the field, she figured it was fate and immediately signed up. “Working with the Red Cross, you see firsthand how quickly an unexpected disaster can change a person's life. It means a lot to know I play a small part in helping people get back on their feet,” she said.

One of Savannah’s fondest memories with the Red Cross occurred last year when she helped with a WKYT TV telethon to help raise funds for the flash flood victims of Johnson County. “I was amazed to hear the stories people called in with about how they knew someone from Johnson County, or they had been a flood victim before and just wanted to help this time, tens of thousands of dollars were raised by a state that came together to help the flood victims, it was very encouraging to be a part of,” she said.

Savannah stresses the importance of volunteering, especially with the Red Cross. “You can be the volunteer today and the client tomorrow,” she said. “It's just important to help out your neighbors when you can, since you never know when you might need the same help.”

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Jane Holycross

Jane Holycross is a Red Cross Volunteer with many different titles. Her journey with the organization began in April 2014 after an injury displaced her from her factory job, and she started working at the front desk of the Red Cross office in Sydney, Ohio. She had little knowledge of the Red Cross, however, once she started networking with other staff, she joined and took all the necessary classes to become a Disaster Responder. In September 2014, she moved back to her hometown to have surgery, and upon recovery, she reached out to the Eastern Kentucky Chapter Red Cross to see if they needed any assistance. She was welcomed with open arms by Executive Director Joanna King.

Jane currently has a leading role in The Pillowcase Project, a program that is committed to helping elementary schoolers become better prepared for a disaster or emergency. As part of the program, the students receive a pillowcase to build their own emergency supply kit. “My girls and I grew up having a crafty side, so I enjoy making these projects,” she explained. Her most memorable Red Cross moments come from her experiences with the students. “The joy of watching a child’s face and knowing that they are learning from you on how to be prepared is priceless, the Thank You notes we receive back from them will put a tear in your eye,” she said.

Being with the Red Cross for two years has taught Jane a lot about the importance of volunteering. “Volunteering is a great way to do something for your community, whether it’s a disaster call or doing an event based project, a volunteer can never do too little,” she said.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Karen Curry

The phrase “we all have a cross to bear” took on a personal meaning when Karen Curry’s home caught fire October 2014. In the aftermath of this disaster, the Red Cross offered comfort, empathy and support at a time in her life when she needed it the most. Before then, she hadn’t grasped the important role the Red Cross plays in alleviating suffering in the face of emergency, but now she does.

Karen chose to express her gratitude by becoming a Red Cross volunteer in January 2015. She currently serves as a member of the Disaster Action Team in the South Central Kentucky Chapter. Joining the Red Cross has afforded her the opportunity to help others who are going through similar situations as hers. “Having experienced the heartbreak and loss in the aftermath of the fire in my home, I understand the devastating sense of loss thereafter,” she said.

Karen’s most memorable Red Cross story to date has been her own experience as a home fire victim because it set her life on a new path, one of a committed volunteer. She intends to give back all she was given and more. “I would encourage any and everyone to be a Red Cross Volunteer, being a part of the Red Cross has enriched my life and helped me grow as a person while impacting lives in a positive way.”

“It is true, we all have a cross to bear, thanks to the Red Cross, we don’t have to bear it alone,” Karen said.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, April 18, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Vivian McNeil

You don't have to be a nurse to volunteer with the American Red Cross, but it sure helps if you are one. Vivian McNeil is a retired trauma nurse and a Red Cross Disaster volunteer in the Western Kentucky Chapter.

In 2009, after suffering a nerve injury to her arm, Vivian was unable to work in the Emergency Department. Having been a nurse for over 35 years, that was tough obstacle for her to overcome. “I was very depressed at home. I had been a RN since I was 21, and I was feeling useless. I decided to see if the Red Cross could use my help in any way,” said Vivian.

Over the next couple of years, she was able to assist the Red Cross at different community events; however it wasn’t until last summer that she became heavily involved in volunteering. Since then, she has worked with the Welcome Team and assisted with the Pillowcase Project, a preparedness education program for children. She is currently learning more about disaster and canteening, and hopes to be able to utilize her nursing skills to provide further assistance to the Red Cross.

“Prevention of accidents, knowing what to do when your house catches fire, and providing aid when people are in a crisis is what I've done for all of my adult life. This work is just another way of doing it,” Vivian explained. “I firmly believe in the mission of the Red Cross. My career as a nurse [ . . . ] became a way to change lives. The Red Cross is the same.”

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Debbie Ranier

Meet Debbie Ranier, a Red Cross volunteer who knows just how far a helping hand can go. Her way of life growing up helped mold her into a very supportive and giving person. Her grandmother volunteered often and helped her understand the importance of being there for others.

In March 2012, Debbie witnessed the aftermath of a horrific tornado that swept through Morgan County. She saw firsthand through her job at Servpro how much the Red Cross is needed in these disasters and how we postively impact communities near and far. From that day forward, she knew the Red Cross was an organization she wanted to be involved with.

Debbie’s most memorable Red Cross moment occurred last spring while she was assisting with a mass distribution in Morehead, Kentucky. “A man pulled up to receive supplies and while I was handing them to him he said ‘I have always given to the Red Cross, but never thought I would ever need the Red Cross,” she said.

Having been with the Red Cross for two and a half years now, Debbie has a bright future with the organization. She currently serves as a board member for the Eastern Kentucky Chapter, and she is a newly appointed Community Volunteer Leader. Her willingness to be a positive factor in the community is ever-growing.

“A typical day for me with the Red Cross is impacting others to find it in their heart to have a passion for giving to this wonderful organization,” said Debbie. “Describing volunteering to be rewarding to me is an understatement.”

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Monday, April 11, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Lauri and Rob Martin

Louisville Area Chapter Board Chair Bill Lamb (left) recognizing Lauri and Rob Martin for their service at a February 2016 meeting
It only takes one person to make a difference, but in Lauri and Rob Martin’s case, two isn’t bad either. The Martins are a true “super couple” in the Kentucky Region American Red Cross.

After a career of owning and running a local security business, the Martins chose to transition into a fairly early retirement. Not wanting to slow down, they decided it was time to find a new opportunity to engage and invest in something that could truly make a difference.

“We love the jobs where we can be out and be very busy; that is our idea of quality time,” said Lauri.

In 2012, this retirement journey led Rob and Lauri to the door of the Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services program in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. They got started as members of their local Disaster Action Team, a volunteer program which provides assistance to community members who have suffered a home fire. The Martins also assist with other disaster responses by helping lead the Kentucky Region feeding team.

Ultimately, this power couple is willing to jump in wherever help is needed.

“What we learned from working with the Red Cross is, whatever we plan for, we will never be ready. Disaster has no calendar,” said the Martins. Perhaps that’s why they have managed to respond to over 100 fires and served community members across the region with more than 10,000 combined active and on-call hours.

According to the Martins, volunteering with the Red Cross has given them the chance to do something that allows them to stay busy, feel good inside, network, and be a part of something bigger. They encourage others to volunteer and ensure our community is prepared for any type of disaster.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Friday, April 8, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Ainsley Jones

Ainsley Jones
Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Ainsley Jones is a lifelong Red Crosser. His father, Larry Jones, served as a Louisville Chapter volunteer for more than 30 years, and quickly involved his son in the organization -- as an infant, Ainsley starred in a public service announcement centered on the chapter’s efforts to help families impacted by local disasters. During the summer, his father would drive him all across Kentucky, and together, they would visit various chapters. “My dad was my soulmate and best friend, his work with the American Red Cross was and still is an inspiration to me, the first item I ever took to school for show and tell was my dad's Disaster Services hard hat,” Ainsley explained.

Ainsley became more involved with the Red Cross and spent his adolescent years volunteering and taking preparedness and safety classes. He even recalls a time when was able to use skills he learned to help to save his dad’s life. “I ventured out of my room to discover my dad choking in our kitchen. I remember distinctly going through all the steps I had learned as a Junior Red Crosser to dislodge the scrambled eggs he was choking on,” said Ainsley.

Larry Jones
Following in his father’s footsteps, Ainsley currently serves a board member for the Louisville Area Chapter. While his role on the board is still evolving, he feels he serves as an ambassador for the American Red Cross every day. When he wears a Red Cross logo, he feels the same sense of pride his father felt when he volunteered for the Red Cross.

While he cites the Red Cross as one of the major influences in his life, Ainsley also holds other interests as well. He is a huge fan of soccer, and the sport is very important to him. “The way I think and approach tasks are rooted in the philosophies soccer has brought into my life,” he said. He considers himself a student of cinema and shares a love for architecture, interior design and landscaping.

“My favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr. is ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' I feel like it embodies the mission of the American Red Cross and reiterates that it's your blessing to be able to help people in need regardless of their circumstance.” Ainsley encourages everyone to go out and volunteer with the Red Cross.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit