Red Cross sees changes

Published 4:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

Despite a change in the overall leadership as local chapters merge, Red Cross will continue to offer the same services, board members said Thursday at the East Escambia chapter’s annual meeting.
Covington County Red Cross director Don Johnson will take over leadership for Escambia, Covington, Butler and Crenshaw counties.
“We don’t anticipate any changes,” Johnson said. “As far as I can tell, services will go on as they are and we’ll continue to serve the communities we serve.”
Red Cross board treasurer Mae Downing said the changes have come because of a need to consolidate resources.
“Red Cross has moved to downsize as far as expenses are concerned,” she said. “But this will enhance services. During periods we don’t have resources, we’ll be able to use them from other counties, and they will be able to use our resources when they don’t have them. This should make for better coverage everywhere.”
The East Escambia chapter had a busy year, serving families who lose homes or possessions because of fires and tornadoes. The chapter gave more than $16,000 to help families after single family fires, tornadoes and a multi-family fire.
Downing said the local chapter currently has enough funding to take care of local emergencies.
Interim Director Sandy Zuiderhoek said the chapter has helped families with food, clothing and shelter after disasters, and has also helped seniors pay for power bills through Alabama Power’s Project Share program.
“We really reach out to the community,” she said.
Leslie Mims, director of the Gulf Coast chapter, said the changes in the structure of Red Cross will enable local volunteers more time to offer services and recruit other volunteers.
“We will also have a statewide fundraising campaign,” she said. “We need you all more than ever.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the board also recognized longtime volunteers, including Downing, who was recognized as the Clara Barton Award winner, given to a volunteer who spends countless hours with local chapters.
“It’s really an honor to work for Red Cross,” Downing said. “I think everyone gets a lot out of it.”

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