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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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, https://blogs.libraries.indiana.edu/iubarchives/2014/04/08/c520/.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

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 www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Profile: Pam Williams


A part of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Chapter in Ohio, Pam Williams has been volunteering for the Red Cross since 2006. Pam is from Akron, OH, and is the manager for government operations. As a part of external affairs, Pam maintains communication between the Red Cross and its government partners, including everything from state and local governments up to entities on the national level such as FEMA. In 2015 she was deployed to Kentucky as part of the summer flood relief efforts. 

She is an active member of her community, which is how she was introduced to the Red Cross: She was asked to join the Red Cross board, and rather than simply hold the position, she wanted to learn more and get involved. She attended trainings at her local Red Cross, took classes, and eventually got involved in disaster operations.

Rearranging her schedule and putting her home-life on hold is difficult, but like most people who deploy to disaster operations, Pam is ready to go the moment the call comes in. She has a kit prepared with essentials--clothes, paperwork, and candy--to take with her, and then she’s ready to go.

Working in disaster operations has shown Pam the resilience people have in the face of disaster, and allows her to appreciate what she has and how fortunate it is she is able to assist. It has also given her an appreciation for the effort of the individuals who volunteer during deployment, as well as the combined group effort it takes to keep disaster operations running.

Sometimes disaster operations are fortunate enough to have a base already running. Other times, they have to start from scratch.

“Sometimes we’re working an operation out of an empty big box store,” Pam said during our interview. “To watch people from around the country who don’t know each other come together and in hours put together an operation—it’s magical.”

Seeing the sheer number of people who put their lives on hold when they are called to deploy is one of the things that amazes Pam the most about her job, and according to Pam, it’s the consistent training and knowledge taught by the Red Cross that allows the volunteers to work alongside people from opposite ends of the country to accomplish their goals. She encourages people to volunteer with the Red Cross, because even though large operations like disaster relief require a lot of hands and many working pieces, one person can still make a difference.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Volunteer Profile: Mike Sewell


Meet Mike Sewell, a dedicated disaster volunteer whose work ethic is matched by his passion for serving the community. Mike was born and raised in Jefferson County and has lived in Kentucky his whole life. His life changed drastically when a motorcycle accident left him seriously injured and unable to work.  “I got to the point to where I was pretty depressed and my doctor said I needed to get out of the house, that’s when I started with the Red Cross,” he said. Mike started out volunteering in the Service to the Armed Forces in 2009, however, his interest shifted to Disaster Services shortly after lending his assistance in a local flood.

As a disaster volunteer, Mike has experienced just about every type of natural disaster.  However, there is one case that sticks out to him the most. It was his first deployment on a disaster run, and he was headed to Pikeville, Kentucky to respond to a severe rainstorm. When he arrived at the scene, he was speechless; this particular storm dumped over a foot of rain on the small town, turning valleys into rivers.  “I seen a senior citizen standing outside and I went to speak with her, now here’s a lady with her whole life, everything just laying in piles, that really stuck with me, it was at that moment  I decided I want to really connect with these people and make a difference in their life,” he said.

At the age of 58, most people would be looking forward to retirement. Mike, on the other hand, has no plans of slowing down. He recently accepted a new title as Volunteer Disaster Program Manager and is currently assembling teams to increase the volunteer base throughout Louisville and the surrounding counties. Volunteering with the Red Cross for me means being able to be a light in someone’s darkness,” he said.The Red Cross has given Mike a chance to serve as a beacon of hope for those who need it most.

If you would like to join the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.