By Jessica Johnson
The Mount Airy News
June 19, 2013
The Surry County Chapter of the American Red Cross held its 2013 Annual Meeting and Recognition Banquet Tuesday night, with a dinner provided by 13 Bones and reports on the local success of the American Red Cross by the new Surry County and Northwest North Carolina Executive Director Jeff McPherson.
McPherson said he is proud of the volunteers who are “on call 24 hours of the day, seven days a week, 365 days per year at a moment’s notice to assist families, set up shelters, provide emergency relief, help set up blood drives, and so much more.”
“We wanted to give back and thank the volunteers. I’ve been involved in nonprofits for 15 years and I have never seen the level of support like we have in this area.”
The Exceptional Volunteer Award went to Kimberly Hall, who joined the Red Cross in 2011. McPherson said that within two months Hall had completed the Disaster Action Team courses and also became a client assistance services activator, then she was promoted to DAT captain. “Her dedication to providing clients with emergency assistance in a timely fashion with empathy and compassion, along with her positive attitude, makes her an asset to the entire region,” McPherson remarked.
The Emergency Services Volunteer of the Year award was given to Sharyl Jones, who joined the Red Cross in 2010, as part of the Daytime Disaster Action Team. She also took courses to become a DAT captain, joined Disaster Services Human Resources System and became a part of the new Disaster Services Workforce. Jones is also a part of the Emergency Services Volunteer management team and serves as secretary of the Board of Directors.
The Blood Services Exceptional Service Award went to Virginia Rogers, who was described as “dependable, pleasant, and always willing to assist at blood drives.”
The Blood Services Volunteer of the Year Award went to Doris Jessup, a “volunteer who has an outstanding reputation of getting volunteers to work blood and mobile drives” and someone who helps with “balance and fairness when scheduling donors.”
Corporate Partner awards were presented to NCFI Polyurethane and Renfro Corporation.
It was noted by McPherson that Renfro Corporation called and said they had thousands of socks to donate to Oklahoma tornado victims, and offered to pay for the shipping to distribute them.
“Everyone needs socks,” said David Green, vice president of human resources for Renfro Corporation, who accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Another corporate partner recognized with an award was 13 Bones, who provided the food for the awards banquet. Described by McPherson as a “huge supporter,” 13 Bones has helped with fundraisers, held Red Cross nights at its restaurant, and are planning a blood drive and community night for June 25.
The Leadership Award went to Board Chairman Richard Seaver.
Seaver was described as an individual who “is always there to take charge and represent the organization.” Seaver joined the American Red Cross in 2009, and has served as DAT captain and Mass Care feeding officer. McPherson said he always responds with a smile and is there for anything they need.
The final award of the evening was named after the late Grace Vaughn, who served as the Surry Chapter executive director from 1945 to 1978. The building is named after Vaughn and the award “embodies the spirit and mission” of the organization.
Grace Vaughn’s family members in attendance included Richard Vaughn, Charles Vaughn and Lucy Ellen Gwyn. Gwyn and Charles Vaughn helped to present the award to Ginger Branyon, who joined the Red Cross in 2008 and has taken multiple courses and served as DAT coordinator and assisted with seven disaster relief operations as liaison and supervisor. She is also an advisor on the Regional Client Services Workgroup and the lead in Surry County for Armed Forces cases.
Branyon will “pack at a moment’s notice to assist clients wherever she may be needed and be the volunteer face of the American Red Cross when a soldier returns home,” McPherson said. She was unable to attend, but the award was accepted by her husband, John Branyon.
McPherson said that on a national scale the American Red Cross has assisted with numerous disasters this year, including the recent Oklahoma storms and tornadoes, Midwest flooding, and Hurricane Sandy, which was the largest U.S. response by the Red Cross in more than five years, and has lasted much longer than most disasters.
Locally, the Surry County Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted with 33 incidents in Surry County this year, with 39 families assisted, 110 clients served, and 30,000 committed for disaster relief. Of those assisted, McPherson said 66 percent had no insurance.
In the area of Armed Forces service, the Red Cross assisted with 60 total cases in Surry County, including getting important messages to service men and women stationed overseas.
The Surry County Chapter of the Red Cross held 172 blood drives, with more than 5,600 units of blood collected locally. McPherson noted that one unit of blood can save three lives, so the 5,600 units of donated blood could have potentially saved 16,800 lives.
The Preparedness Health and Safety division helped with community presentations, including last week’s Disaster Preparedness Symposium, First Aid and CPR training, and aquatics enrollees, with more than 500 enrolled in the classes and workshops.
The American Red Cross Board of Directors was recognized, including Greta Hinson, Vice Chairman Bill James, Michael Jones, Secretary Sharyl Jones, Ben Nichols, Richard Patterson and Board Chairman Richard Seaver.
McPherson said the Board of Directors are “instrumental in providing insight in a sea of change” and are the “face of the organization in the community…focused on representing the mission of the organization.”
Vice President of Network Systems at SouthData Dwight Springthorpe was nominated and approved to serve on the board of directors.
McPherson reminded everyone that the role of volunteers is essential in the day-to-day operations of the American Red Cross.
“Our mission is one of hope in the midst of complete devastation. The sound of calm during chaos, the voice for members of the military, and the donations of blood to help those we may or may not know. Disasters are not only fires or tornadoes, a disaster can be a child drowning or a parent needing a life-saving blood transfusion. Disasters don’t discriminate. Being prepared is our only option.”
The American Red Cross is always in need of volunteers to assist with many areas. Those interested in volunteering should contact the Surry County Chapter of the American Red Cross at 786-4183.