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.