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Board Spotlight

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Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in the beautiful town of Cleveland, TN.

Where did you go to college?

I received a BS Industrial Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and a MBA from Brenau University

What is your position at the Red Cross & what do you do?

I am currently serving as the Chairman of the Board. Responsibilities include leading the board, being a Champion for the Northeast Red Cross chapter, helping with community and business outreach, and actively supporting and providing guidance to all the wonderful leaders and volunteers that make the Red Cross such a valuable asset to the community.

What inspired you to work with Red Cross?  

At an early age I was exposed to the Red Cross through Life Guard training at our local Community Center.  Later I received my CPR certification also through the training conducted by the Red Cross and became an active blood donor.   So I knew that the Red Cross played an important role to ensuring safety and saving lives.  However, it wasn’t until 2004 when our house was nearly distroyed by a tornado that I really appreciated the volunteer work of the Red Cross.  The sight of a Red Cross volunteer bringing food and drinks during the clean-up effort is a sight that exemplifies what the Red Cross is all about.  As I learned more about the Red Cross, the lives that are saved through blood donations and the love and support that is shown to the military, I can’t imagine anyone not supporting the Red Cross.  And, it isn’t all about money.  There are multiple ways of volunteering your time.  

What impact do you think Red Cross has on the community?

Often, the Red Cross is behind the scenes improving the quality of life after disaster strikes.  The testimonies of families that are displaced from their home and received help from the Red Cross are heartwarming.  In today’s fast paced environment, the Red Cross is there for the community.  As a result, I have seen the Red Cross be a catalyst for pulling together businesses, organizations and communities through a common purpose of helping neighbors during difficult times.

What are you hoping to accomplish as board chair?  

We have a large chapter supporting 23 counties in Northeast Georgia.  My goal is to continue building the strength and outreach of the Red Cross in those counties through the development of additional leaders, volunteers and fundraising events that are easy for anyone to participate in.

What advice do you have for anyone considering volunteering with the Red Cross?  

The wonderful part about supporting the Red Cross is that there are many options that will work with anyone’s schedule and ability.  Volunteering can be as simple, but very meaningful, as writing Thank You cards that can be mailed to supporters.  Or, you can get involved with one of our many fundraising campaigns such as championing a team for the  Red Cross Hero campaign or participating in our 5K.  We will also gladly accept cash or checks if you have money and little time.  For more information, I encourage everyone to visit our website http://www.redcross.org/local/georgia/locations/northeast-georgia, stop by the chapter house or come to an event.  We would love to have you be a part of the Red Cross team.

Hometown Hero

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Thirteen volunteers from the Northeast Red Cross were deployed to provide relief efforts in Texas after the severe floods. Bob and Kathy Cooker were among the group. Bob shared some insights regarding their efforts:

Can you explain some of the things you were doing while you were deployed?

“We were first deployed to Fort Worth, where we worked in outreach. We handled client coursework that had the assessments of the damages of all the homes. Next we went to Dallas, and answered phones at a call center where clients would call in who needed assistance. Then we went to New Braunsfels where I was a casework manager for outreach. In this position I would interview and open cases for clients that had major damages.”

Any moments during your trip that stood out to you?

“One of our clients was in a MARC  (Multi-Agency Resource Center) but I had to go to her home and assess the damage, then go back and tell her. Another time had to assist a client who was evacuated by helicopter.”

How can the community prepare itself for a disaster such as the Texas floods?

“I think flooding is most insidious [of all the natural disasters]. There’s not a lot you can do to prevent damage. You can sandbag, but the water just comes in slow and goes out slow, [it’s] the worst kind of disaster because it keeps coming, really all you can do is listen to weather forecast and listen if you should evacuated, don’t drive  in water  — only 8 inches of water can take your car off the road.”

What would you say to potential volunteers thinking about joining the Red Cross?

“Make sure you have the right training, be prepared for long days, and be patient.”

May Staff Spotlight: John Mayfield

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Where are you originally from?

I grew up Watkinsville, Georgia in Oconee County where I attended Mars Hill Baptist Church and went to Westminster Christian Academy.

How long have you been living in Athens?

I moved here four years ago after I graduated college. I love the 5 Points area and enjoy running up and down the hills nearby.  You can’t go more than half a mile before another hill comes up.

Where did you go to college?

I started at the University of Mississippi, then transferred to Birmingham Southern College where I majored in Political Science and participated in Army ROTC.

What is your position at Red Cross and what do you do?

I am the Disaster Program Specialist. It is my job to work with Mike Riemann (Disaster Program Manager)  to make sure the disaster program is operating at full capacity and our volunteers receive the support they need. I also coordinate with other agencies for our volunteers and identify new opportunities for anyone that wants to make a difference for their community.

What inspired you to work at Red Cross?

I had started at the Red Cross as an administrative volunteer, and then moved into this position. I wanted to get involved with the Red Cross because it’s so evident how people are helped through this organization. I also identify with the values and leadership styles of the great folks that run the Red Cross in Athens and the state of Georgia. The National CEO, Gail McGovern, was once a Harvard Business School professor.  Why wouldn’t you want to work for an organization led by someone like that?

Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend

Whether you’re heading to the beach, grilling out with friends, or going to the pool, check out these tips on staying safe this Memorial weekend.

Travel Tips: 

  • Find out what disasters may occur where traveling and how to get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast for the destination.
  • Buckle up, slow down, and don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Be well rested and alert; have the driver give their full attention to the road.

Grilling Tips: 

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.

Water Activity Tips: 

  • If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to do that, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Harris, Board Member

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Where are you originally from?

Athens, GA

Where did you go to college?

I received my bachelor’s degree in history from Georgia Southern University. I attended the University of Georgia for my Master of Social Science Education.

Besides being a board member for the Red Cross of Northeast Georgia, what is your occupation?

I am the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness at the University of Georgia. I have worked in emergency preparedness and public safety for over 20 years.

What do you as a board member?

The board serves to help move the organization forward with its mission and goals. We find ways to get the community engaged, help with events, and support the Red Cross in any way possible.  My job in emergency preparedness at UGA ties in well with what we do at the Red Cross. It was very easy for me to get involved. I have served on the board for three years.

What is your most memorable experience working with Red Cross?

It’s so hard to choose just one thing! I really enjoy working with the phenomenal people that volunteer with Red Cross. It’s invigorating to know that people care and they want to do great work on behalf of the organization. Another thing that stands out is the Fright Flight race we held this past fall. I served as the event chair and we were able to work alongside UGA recreational sports. Lastly, I am a big supporter of the Heroes Breakfast. I think honoring our public safety officials and community members who go the extra mile is so important. It’s a wonderful thing to see people who help others so selflessly get recognized.

What advice do you have for anyone interesting in volunteering with Red Cross?

Do it! I think that everyone should be exposed to the Red Cross to see the depth and breadth of things that we do. We cover everything from providing disaster relief, services to the armed forces, CPR training, and even international relief. There’s a place for everyone who is willing to put in the work to help others.

Save the Date and Nominate

Heroes Breakfast Flyer 2015 V2Do you know a community hero?

The American Red Cross, East Georgia Chapter will be hosting the annual Heroes Breakfast at 7 a.m. on May 6, 2015  at the Athens First United Methodist Church. 

The American Red Cross recognizes that ordinary people and professionals living within Northeast Georgia often commit lifesaving acts within their communities. At the breakfast, the American Red Cross will honor local heroes who live within Northeast Georgia.

To nominate a hero or purchase a table at the event please contact Laura Allen at laura.allen3@redcross.org or 706-353-1645.

We hope that you will join us in this celebration! Save the date and nominate today!

March Staff Spotlight – Mike Reimann

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Where are you originally from?

I was born in Florida but my father was in the US Air Force so we lived in a lot of different places including Florida, Japan, Texas, Arizona and Illinois.

How long have you been living in Gainesville?

I have lived in Gainesville since 1977. This part of the country is filled with some of the most wonderful and gracious people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Where did you go to college?

I got my undergrad in English at the University of South Florida in Tampa and my MBA at Brenau University in Gainesville.

What is your position at Red Cross and what do you do?

I am the disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Georgia. My job is to provide disaster related leadership and support to volunteers and Red Cross professionals within this area of Georgia. This includes working directly with counties to improve their preparedness and response to disasters, organizing and supporting volunteer operations, and strategic planning to enable us to support the people and agencies within this area who render aid during emergencies. We share a deeply rooted desire to serve those in need, and I am very pleased to work with such a high caliber of volunteers.

What inspired you to work at Red Cross?

            Volunteer work is in my blood. I have been volunteering in disaster relief and response since hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since that time I have worked during many floods, tornados and hurricanes. I find great personal satisfaction in working with volunteers to help people when disaster strikes.

What advice do you have for anyone interested in working with Red Cross?

I would say that the Red Cross has opportunities for service for anyone, no matter what their interest or abilities, and that when they come to serve they should bring their heart because that is what this is all about.