It's more than just giving blood
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
March is American Red Cross Month and there is no one in this area who is more connected to the American Red Cross than Rogene Martin. Martin is the Executive Director of the East Escambia County Chapter of the American Red Cross and she truly believes in what she is doing.
It all began with volunteer work years ago and the idea of what can be done by volunteers has been a passion with her ever since that first candy striping job at the nursing home when she was in high school.
She was born in Brewton and raised in Evergreen. She graduated from Evergreen High School in 1968 and said that she was a pretty average student.
She thought about becoming either a teacher or social worker and entered the University of Montevallo which was called Alabama College at that time.
She was sidetracked from college by her future husband, David Martin. On one trip home to Evergreen, a church social featured a band called "The Master Beats" led by Spike Maxwell. One of the members of the group was David Martin. Rogene was taking up tickets at the door. Her school days at Montevallo were put on hold while she attended Reid State Technical College taking business courses. She realized that she needed more education and was not really grown up enough for marriage quite yet. She returned to Montevallo and worked in the business department with a lady by the name of Marie Osterling.
She and David were married soon afterward and she began volunteering for various projects. At the same time she worked at the old Judy Bond factory in the office making labels for the clothing.
She then worked at the Bible Book Store when it was in downtown Brewton. It was then that she decided to take courses at Jefferson Davis Junior College. She received a degree from there and was always taking other classes that were of interest to her.
She stayed home for a while when the children were small, but she continued to volunteer for various causes. It was about that time that she became a "paper boy" and delivered the Mobile Press as a substitute for Ann Hillman. She later took a morning route and said that was where she learned her love for the early mornings.
By this time she was volunteering with the Red Cross. Her husband was one of those who was sent to Saudi in the early 1990s and she found herself doing work with support groups. She had never taken any computer classes and she got the opportunity to take a course. She said she even wrote down the directions of how to turn it on and what steps to take.
Martin helped during the time Virginia Grand was the director and again when Melanie Harrison was there. After that the job fell to Martin.The Red Cross office was located for some time at the courthouse annex and this was a hindrance for many of those who need their services.
The Red Cross office has recently moved from the courthouse annex and is now located in the Hines Realty Center on Douglas. They have offices that are next to a McMillan Trust office and this is a big help to both offices as they work together on many cases.
Martin is the only paid worker in the office and the rest of the work is done strictly by volunteers. They have many items for sale, even things that would make wonderful gifts. They also depend on donations and contributions to support the things they do. That is the reason they are in such need for someone to offer their time to do some of the things that have to be taken care of.
There are so many things that the Red Cross can't do on their own, but they have the knowledge to make the contact with other organizations that are able to help. In many cases they can direct a family to the right place to get the help they need.
Check with the Red Cross office and they will probably be able to use any help they are offered.
Martin is busy trying to convince others how important the Red Cross is and has no plans to stop anytime soon.
She has a small collection of dolls and one in particular is Liza Jane who is over 50 years old.
The American Red Cross has taken a good portion of the life of Rogene Martin and she would have it no other way. It is part of who she is.