February Staff Spotlight: Jim Barco


Where are you originally from?

Miami, Florida.

How long have you been living in Gainesville?

I’ve lived here for about 15 years. I had previously lived further north and realized that it was just too cold!

Where did you go to college?

I received my degree in business from Catawba College in North Carolina.

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

My official title is major gift officer; however, I like to call myself the philanthropy officer. The word philanthropy sounds like a higher calling and something that is innately inside all of us. Major gift officer can sometimes scare people off, but the term philanthropy resonates better with people. The purpose of my job is to determine what our main priorities are as an organization, and to figure out how to partner with those who are willing to fund those priorities.

What inspired you to work at Red Cross?

The reputation speaks for itself. Why wouldn’t I want to work for an organization that only spends $0.09 to raise $1.00? There is a clear mission at the Red Cross to help those affected by disasters and emergencies. The Red Cross offers a hand up rather than a hand out and I think that’s great. No one intends to burn their house and lose all their possessions. A fire starts and gets out of control and your whole life is turned upside down. It’s easy to empathize with our clients and put yourself in their shoes.

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

You have to realize that you are truly making a difference in people’s lives. You can’t approach employment or volunteering here casually. It takes lots of dedication to be involved in this organization. This is a calling. We are serving the community 24/7 and not many non-profits can say that. If you have the time and you are willing to put the work in to make a difference, then we welcome you with open arms.


January Staff Spotlight: Laura Johnston


Where are you originally from?

I was raised in Cave Spring, Georgia which is a small town right outside of Rome.

How long have you been living in Athens?

Since August 2014, so I am fairly new to the city.

Where did you go to college?

I received my Master of Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University. I also have a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of West Georgia.

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

I am the new Volunteer Specialist. The main part of my job is to be a supervisor and liaison for the volunteers. I hope to focus on volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition. It is important for me to make everyone feel like they are a part of the team.

What inspired you to work with Red Cross?

I have always had a passion for volunteerism and non-profit work. I am truly inspired by the Red Cross mission and it is something that I knew I needed to be a part of. It is the principles that Red Cross stands for that made me want to work here as opposed to any other non-profit.

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

While Red Cross provides so many services, the thing that has always struck me the most is the invaluable impact of our disaster responders. It’s not just about providing a person a hot meal or shelter, it’s about giving people comfort. It’s the concept that Red Cross helps people feel as though they are not alone.

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

If you’re interested in volunteering you already have the compassion necessary to do the job. Our volunteers are just like staff. They are essential to our operation. This means no matter how great or small the task; at Red Cross you will be making a difference. It is important to always keep sight of that fact.

November Volunteer Spotlight – Marie Mayner

Marie Mayner - volunteer spotlight pic

How long have you worked Red Cross and what capacity do you serve in?

I have been volunteering at the Red Cross for two years as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) responder and Disaster Health Services volunteer

What originally inspired you to work with the Red Cross?

My husband decided that he wanted to volunteer at the Red Cross, so I came along with him. It has truly become a passion, and I now volunteer full time. As someone who has been in nursing for 40 years, I don’t want to give it up now.  Nursing is the only thing I have ever wanted to do. I used to bandage my dolls, cats, and pets. Volunteering at the Red Cross keeps my medical knowledge current and keeps my mind active.

What is the most memorable experience you have had at the Red Cross?

Responding to the local house fires has always left a big impression on me. There’s something about the feeling you get when you know you are helping people in the community, rather than leaving them on the side of the street crying. It’s a joy to get our clients somewhere to stay for a couple of days and meet their immediate needs. The Red Cross follows up with fire victims in a few days to see if they need anything. I can’t explain the overwhelming sense of great appreciation I get from the clients.

What impact do you think the Red Cross has had in our community?

We have a strong chapter and our impact has only expanded since I have been a volunteer. As we have gained more counties to serve, the core group of volunteers has kept everything going.  The most important thing we do is fulfill the Red Cross mission by alleviating human suffering and caring about our neighbors and community.

What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?

I spend the majority of my time giving back to the community. I not only volunteer at Red Cross, but also at Open Arms Clinic in Toccoa. I also enjoy spending time with my husband. We are definitely a team. Everything I do, he does, and vice versa!

October Blood Services Update

Not only has October finally arrived, but it is also officially Liver Awareness Month. Blood donors are crucial in helping patients who potentially need a liver transplant due to liver disease. Liver transplants are the second most common transplants performed in the United States and many patients may need more than 30 pints of blood during the procedure. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for transfusion patients, so please consider giving blood with the Red Cross.

The Red Cross Blood Donor App is now available for your smart phone. The app helps individuals to locate a blood drive, schedule and manage appointments, get awards, invite family and friends to join a team, and complete a survey. Text “BLOODAPP” to 90999 for link to download the app or visit redcrossblood.org/bloodapp.

During October, those who attempt to give blood or platelets will be entered into a drawing to win a $5,000 Visa gift card on behalf of Suburban Propane’s “Fuel Your Community” promotion. Students who host winter blood drives through the Red Cross will be given a chance to win a college scholarship though the Leaders Saves Lives programs. Student coordinators must be 16 to 24 years old and enrolled in school. Each coordinator must collect at least 25 pints of blood at a drive between Dec. 15, 2014 and Jan. 15, 2015. Students could win a scholarship up to $2,500 and a gift card up to $200. Visit redcrossblood.org/leaderssavelives for more information.

Fright Flight 5k is Approaching!

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The East Georgia Red Cross is proud to present the first ever Fright Flight 5K! Participants of all ages are encouraged to wear their best Halloween costumes to run this trail race in Athens.

Join us on October 25 at the UGA intramural trails and dress up to compete in the costume contest (costume not required to run). There will be festive decorations, face painting and of course, candy! Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. and the race will begin at 10 a.m.

Early registrants will receive a t-shirt, and group rates are available. Register HERE. 

Prizes will include top three women, top three men, best individual costume and best group costume.

$25 early registration
$30 same day registration
$22 group rate for six or more runners

See you there!

September Volunteer Spotlight: Tom Carney


Tom Carney

Q: When did you first start working with the East Georgia Red Cross?

A: I have been volunteering since 1983. I have served as a CPR & First Aid instructor and volunteer.

Q: What originally inspired you to join the Red Cross?

A: Being a nursing student is what got me interested in working with this organization. I desired to help my community. The football games also really drew me in.

Q: How do you serve at the Red Cross at UGA football games?

A: I volunteer as a first aid responder. I supervise the north side of Sanford Stadium by roaming from outpost to outpost looking for individuals who need assistance or supplies. I try to ensure that I am near the student section during the hottest part of the day so that we can treat anyone who may be suffering from heat-related stress.

Q: What is the most memorable experience you’ve had while volunteering at the Red Cross?

A: Once, we were stationed at the Twilight Criterium pro-cycling event. One of the bikers wiped out and completely scraped up her leg from the knee to the ankle. It was amazing to be able on the scene and take care of her after such a nasty fall.

Q: What impact do you believe the East Georgia Red Cross has had on the community?

A: I believe the impact is very large. There are so many people who get CPR & First Aid training. In addition, there is a general concentration on health that the Red Cross spreads throughout the community. Although I am not directly involved with disaster preparedness, I know the Red Cross does a lot for those who suffer from fires and other emergencies.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?

A: I love to eat. This city has some amazing restaurants. My top 3 favorite places to eat are The Grit, Taqueria del Sol, and Chipotle.

International Relief Update – 9/4/14

Iraq Population Movement

Conditions continue to worsen in Iraq due to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s offensive efforts launched In June. Due to the severity of the situation, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the forum of UN and non-UN humanitarian organizations that coordinates international humanitarian assistance, declared a Level 3 emergency. This level of crisis calls for immediate response, as the conflict has displaced roughly 2 million people since the beginning of the year.

The American Red Cross has deployed three disaster specialists to assist relief efforts in Dohuk governorate, one prominent destination of displaced persons in Iraq. One disaster specialist is currently acting as a logistics delegate for the IFRC assessment and coordination team to provide support to the Iraqi Red Crescent population movement relief operation. The American Red Cross made a financial contribution in support of the Iraqi Red Crescent to strengthen its response capacity in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and to provide essential assistance to displaced persons.


Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories

Ongoing hostilities have further worsened the serious situation of civilians in Gaza, which is already dealing with chronic difficulties largely due to restrictions on the movement of people and goods and the fragility of infrastructure and basic services. The American Red Cross has contributed $150,000 to support immediate and medium-term effects of the conflict on affected communities. It has also assisted with activities such as disaster preparedness and first aid training.


Syria Humanitarian Crisis and Population Movement

As of June 12, 2014, the crisis in Syria has left 9.3 million people (43% of the total population) in need of humanitarian assistance. The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 162,000 and between 6.5 and 7.6 million people are internally displaced in Syria. There are also 2.8 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Over one third of individuals who need humanitarian assistance are located in besieged or hard to reach areas. 

Previously, the American Red Cross contributed $1.3 million to support relief operations in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. In response to recent developments, the American Red Cross is contributing an additional $1 million to the Syria Crisis. This contribution will be used to support the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in providing food assistance to those affected by the conflict and support information management for operations. 

This contribution will also be used to support the International Committee of the Red Cross in its food and relief distributions in Syria. The American Red Cross will provide 6,000 kitchen sets to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for distribution and deploy one cash specialist to assist the Jordanian Red Crescent with its cash transfer program.


West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia) – Ebola Outbreak

As of August 22, more than 2,600 suspected or confirmed cases have been recorded and more than 1,400 reported deaths have been linked to Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 

The American Red Cross recently contributed $2.5 million to the West Africa Ebola Outbreak response, resulting in a total contribution of $2.6 million since the response began. The contribution will strengthen Red Cross organizations in the area and will support investigation, control and public awareness efforts.

The American Red Cross also continues to provide remote information and mapping support to the relief efforts. In addition to informational support, two IT and Telecommunications specialists have been deployed to Sierra Leone to provide telecommunications support and Internet to the Red Cross emergency health team.

Read more about the Red Cross’ Response to Disasters

Volunteers around the World Aid Ebola Victims – 8/5/2014

Red Cross Engages Traditional Healers to Raise Ebola Awareness – 8/5/2014

Red Cross Network Helps in Iraq as Families Search for Safety – 8/11/2014

Taken from American Red Cross International Update