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Red Cross names director

The East Escambia Chapter of the American Red Cross found relief of their own recently when Sandra (Sandy) Zuiderhoek was named interim director of the Brewton organization.
Taking on a position left vacant when Rogene Martin retired several months ago, Zuiderhoek is coming to her new position with plenty of experience.
“My husband, Fred, got me involved with the Red Cross several years ago when he, too, volunteered,” Zuiderhoek said. “Since that time, I have worked in many local disasters, but I also have been on several trips to other places to help out.”
Coming to Brewton’s office by way of Atmore, Zuiderhoek has kept busy through volunteering with the organization which has included travel to several locations around the country.
Those places include hurricane relief work after such storms as Ivan, Katrina, Gustav, Charley and others. She has worked with southern California wild fires and floods in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Illinois. She also traveled to Missouri after tornados and probably the biggest disaster to hit the United States, New York City after 9-11.
Her experiences give her a special insight to both small and large events of disaster and the devastation that follows.
“I want to work on recruiting more volunteers,” she said. “We need some more people that we can call on when they are needed. I want to do more training and getting out in the community to focus more attention on the American Red Cross. At one time the office in Atmore became so inactive that it lost its charter, but today that has changed. We have to let people know what we are all about and specifically what we need from the community. Not only do we need more volunteers and training, but we will be available to teach some classes in CPR and First Aid.”
Zuiderhoek said training volunteers is also a big part of what Red Cross leaders do.
“We need to train our volunteers to work with disaster preparedness,” Zuiderhoek said. “We are there basically to help the community by educating the public and training volunteers.”
Zuiderhoek has served on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross and has worked on a national level in the organization.
The Red Cross not only needs community support with their volunteers, but with the finances too.
“Funds raised in the East Escambia County Chapter, stay here in the community,” she said. “We have fundraisers on a local basis, but when a disaster happens, small individual chapters of the Red Cross, just can’t cope with what is needed. That is when we call upon the national Red Cross for aid.”
According to Zuiderhoek, 96 percent of the national staff of the American Red Cross are volunteers.
“We need them and appreciate them, she said. “I love seeing other people succeed and full-filled and I want to work closely with the rest of the community.”