Saturday, April 29, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Kathie Hunt

Kathie Hunt has represented the American Red Cross in many facets over the last several years and is willing to fill any role needed.

In Disaster Cycle Services, Kathie lends her knowledge and expertise to assist the disaster program in her territory to ensure communities and clients are all served and their disaster needs are taken care of. She currently serves as the McCracken County Shelter Lead, but she is also willing to assist in the sheltering needs of many other counties.

Kathie serves as a Welcome Team volunteer in Paducah, assisting in on-boarding new volunteers and guiding them along the process of finding their niche in the Red Cross. She faithfully hosts new Volunteer Orientation classes every month in the Paducah office.

Kathie also assists in instructing disaster classes, and is a community events specialist. She is always willing to train volunteers and consistently helps out around the office or in the community. She is an exemplary volunteer whose knowledge and dedication to the American Red Cross mission are invaluable to our team.

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Raleigh Pate and the Gray Ladies

Tuberculosis couldn't stop the Gray Ladies from celebrating a birthday! The Gray Ladies service was a division of the American Red Cross volunteers, made up of mostly women, acting as hostesses and providing recreational services to hospital patients. While the Gray Ladies service started out in Walter Reed Army hospital at the beginning of the First World War, it soon spread to hospitals across the United States, both military and civilian.
Raleigh Pate, right, with J. Grise and Bailey Eades

Raleigh Pate was a Gray Lady who volunteered at Hazelwood Sanatorium, a tuberculosis facility in Louisville, Ky. November 17, 1958 was a special day at Hazelwood because patients J. K. Grise of Lewisburg, Ky. and Bailey Eades of Robards, Ky., who stayed in neighboring beds, shared a birthday! Gestures as small as getting a birthday cupcake can seem monumental to patients stuck in the monotony of a Tuberculosis sanatorium. To the Gray Ladies of the American Red Cross, simply making a patient feel special on their birthday was a day well spent. 

First Capping Ceremony of the Hazelwood Gray Ladies
Although the Gray Ladies provided non-medical care, they underwent a rigorous training process, provided by medical professionals and the Red Cross, which included hospital organization, ethics, psychiatry and occupational therapy. By the 1930s, with increased demand during the Depression, the Gray Lady Service spread to other hospitals around the country, both military and civilian. Their services also extended to blood centers and providing assistance with disaster response. 

Although their numbers decreased, the Gray Ladies continued serving in American hospitals until the mid-1960s. Today, the Red Cross continues providing support to hospitalized U.S. military personnel with dedicated volunteers through Service to the Armed Forces.

For more information about the Gray Ladies, click hereIf you would like to find out more about joining the Red Cross as a volunteer, please visit

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Judy Cothern

Everyone in Simpson County knows Judy Cothern for her servant’s heart and involvement with a number of organizations throughout South Central Kentucky.

Judy became aware of the American Red Cross when a family member experienced a fire and Red Cross volunteers responded. This got her attention. She decided she wanted to learn more and put the mission of the Red Cross to the test. After her initial training she decided she was ready to respond to see if volunteering for the Red Cross was a fit for her. Unfortunately, the first home fire she responded to was one of her neighbors. While it was heartbreaking, she found it rewarding to have the tools and resources to help during one of life’s darkest moments. Judy has been instrumental in leading Red Cross initiatives in Simpson County and South Central Kentucky ever since.

Judy serves as the Community Volunteer Lead for the Red Cross in Simpson County, conducting volunteer meetings and recruiting volunteers. She is the Disaster Action Team Captain and responds 24/7 to fires, floods and tornadoes. She serves as a liaison between the Red Cross and local Emergency Management. She has opened and operated shelters following floods and an apartment fire.

Judy has taught disaster preparedness to teens and the Pillowcase Project, a preparedness program for children, to third through fifth graders in Simpson County. The children are then encouraged to go home and teach their families. She finds empowering children to know what to do during a disaster incredibly rewarding.

Judy’s services are not only limited to Simpson County. She also serves as a mentor to the Logan County Disaster Action Team, and has assisted with fires, flooding and tornado responses throughout all of South Central Kentucky. She has deployed on several national disasters, not only to help those impacted, but to grow her knowledge and skills to better serve here at home.

In addition to her work with the American Red Cross, Judy is very involved with the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. She is active in her church, and this past winter, became very involved with Franklin’s Room in the Inn, which housed homeless throughout the coldest months of the year.

Judy has aligned herself with organizations that are there during some of life’s darkest hours – disaster, cancer, homelessness. Her passion and love for others is contagious. She wants people to feel valued and have the best the world has to offer, and her selflessness is an inspiration to anyone she meets.

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

National Volunteer Week: A Life Well(s) Lived

On a quiet street, in an unassuming house in Lexington, Kentucky there resides an extraordinary man. His name is Wilson Wells, and he has been volunteering with the Red Cross for 65 years and counting. His is the kind of service to mankind that doesn’t get a lot of fanfare (although he has a whole room wallpapered with certificates and accolades), but essentially all of his days on Earth have been dedicated to helping others.

In 1952 in Hinckley, Minnesota Wilson was the pastor of an Episcopal church. He was 28. The Red Cross visited him to ask if anyone in his congregation would like to volunteer for disaster relief. He supplied them with several names; no one bit, and so Wilson stepped up until they were able to fill the gap. Thus began his lifelong service with the ARC.

As one can imagine, Wilson has seen a lot. He has helped with fires, flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, California and Kentucky. He has worked disasters in the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Guam holds some of his most memorable experiences where without access to electricity or showers, the men and women were separated, each bathing in the ocean on separate sides of the island; and, although sometimes all the people had for shelter were tarps supplied by the RC, they would insist on feeding him and his fellow volunteers. Also while there, he was introduced to Ham radio. No phones were in usage, and so these wireless radios were used for all communication purposes. He was inspired to become licensed in Ham, and is very active with it to this day. He is on-air every Wednesday night at the headquarters for the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, and on Sunday nights, mans a statewide disaster service in Frankfort where his messages are relayed all over the Southeast U.S.

Wilson “day jobs” were also altruistic in nature. After his service in WWII, he gained a degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota and worked at the VA in their psychiatric department. He also attended Seminary School and was the pastor of the aforementioned Episcopal Church. He came to Kentucky to study nursing at Eastern Kentucky University and became Director of Nursing at Appalachian Regional Hospital in West Liberty, Kentucky. He has been active in ROTC, the National Guard and the Reserves. He has volunteered for the Kentucky Foster Care Review Board, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Wilson is now 93 and going strong. At present, through the Bluegrass Chapter of the Red Cross, in addition to his Ham radio work, Wilson volunteers at the front desk of the Lexington VA Hospital every Friday afternoon, and he helps with their program called No Vet Dies Alone, which provides a human touch when a veteran’s family or friends cannot be there for them at the end of their lives.

To quote Tom Brokaw, who authored a book called The Greatest Generation about men and women from Wilson’s era, “Heroes are people who rise to the occasion and slip away quietly.” While Wilson’s life is too big to be boiled down to one quote, this is precisely what he has been doing for decades.

If you are interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross, visit our website at

Monday, April 24, 2017

National Volunteer Week: Dr. George Pantalos

What is service? Is it being enrolled in the armed forces? Is it fighting fires or helping people flee disasters? Is it helping families get in contact with loved ones overseas?

Service can be a multitude of different acts of kindness: Just ask the American Red Cross and their longtime man of service, Dr. George Pantalos. Dr. Pantalos first became involved with the Red Cross in 1962. Initially serving as a swim and first aid instructor, Dr. Pantalos has served the Red Cross in many roles throughout the years.

Dr. Pantalos in the process of
during a competition
to see who could bring in the most donors.
One of the significant ways Dr. Pantalos contributes to the Red Cross is through blood, plasma, and platelet donations, with his first donation occurring 22 years ago during graduate school. Pantalos attended Ohio State University (OSU) for training in biomedical engineering and cardiovascular physiology. His donations continued when he took a faculty position at the University of Utah and increased in frequency when he moved to Louisville due to the Red Cross’ proximity to his office.

Dr. Pantalos understands the importance of blood in sustaining life and the large impact donations can have on those whose well-being relies on such donations. Dr. Pantalos’ wife and three children also share his dedication to blood and blood product donation. Pantalos enjoys participating in the annual blood donation competition between OSU and their Michigan rivals. Pantalos and his daughter Natalie, a current OSU student, refer to this annual participation as their “daddy daughter donor date.”

The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of the blood donations through establishing criteria to decrease the risk of transmitting infectious diseases. While everyone may not be able to donate blood or blood products for a diverse range of reasons, Dr. Pantalos emphasizes the many avenues individuals can take to get involved with the Red Cross and ensures that “one way or another, there is a place for you here.”

Knowing that hundreds of thousands people are positively helped by the Red Cross gives Dr. Pantalos a sense of pride in his beloved organization, and motivates him to continue serving through monthly blood donations and other means. He appreciates everything the Red Cross has to offer and helps to support every aspect of the Red Cross. To answer the question “what is service?” look no further than Dr. Pantalos. He is true model of what service looks like and will continue to be a part of the Red Cross family for as long as he can. Dr. Pantalos’ advice to those who are thinking about becoming a part of the Red Cross team is to work hard, learn a lot, make new friends, and enjoy the people you work with.

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