Just Try It!

Warren Drell, a former USAF medical equipment technician, volunteers with the American Red Cross.

Warren Drell, a former USAF medical equipment technician, volunteers with the American Red Cross.

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 9, 2014) – Volunteerism takes many forms.  For some, volunteerism may be donating a few hours to help build a home for a needy family with Habitat for Humanity.  It may take the form of setting up a blood drive at your local school or it could be something as simple as you applying your skills and expertise for a worthwhile charity.  Warren Drell knows how to calibrate and repair medical equipment and he volunteers with the American Red Cross.

This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region presented Drell with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

During his nearly ten years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Drell sought out numerous opportunities to volunteer in his community.  From 2009-2012, for example, while stationed at Ramstein Air Base in the Rheinland Pfalz region near Ramstein Village, Germany, Drell and his wife often volunteered at the Fisher House, a comfort home where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment at the military hospital there.

It was during this tour of duty that disaster struck his family as his sister-in-law tragically died in an automobile accident in the Summer of 2010.  The American Red Cross notified Drell of the accident and assist Drell and his family with their travel arrangements to return to the U.S. for her funeral.

Since leaving the Air Force, Drell has volunteered with the Red Cross by periodically calibrating and repairing its medical equipment as well as performing any manner of tasks on his volunteer days.

When asked why he volunteers with the Red Cross and what advice he would have for others considering doing so, Drell said “One of the greatest gifts one can bestow is helping others do what they cannot do for themselves with no expectation of your assistance ever being recognized.  For someone considering volunteer opportunities, I’d say to just try it once.  I promise you that you will receive far greater satisfaction than you ever imagined.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities near you, please visit http://www.redcross.org.

A Family Affair

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, USAF (Retired), today received Presidential Volunteer Service Awards from Col. Jeannie Leavitt, Commander, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 9, 2014) – This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region presented Margaret Taflinger and her husband, Lt. Col. Norman Taflinger, U.S. Air Force (Retired), each with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

Margaret Taflinger, a Wayne County resident, was one of eight volunteers presented with volunteer recognition awards today by Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commanding Officer, 4th Fighter Wing aboard Seymour Johnson AFB.  Ms. Taflinger received the Lifetime Achievement Award (PVSA), having logged well in excess of 4,000 hours of volunteer service with the Red Cross during the past 17 years.

As a former operating room registered nurse, Margaret worked with the Red Cross on numerous occasions throughout her nursing career to care for her patients and their families.  If a patient’s home was rendered uninhabitable by fire, Red Cross volunteers were there to ensure the patient’s family had a safe place to sleep at night.  If a close relative of a deployed service member took a turn for the worse, the Red Cross was there to notify him/her and request that he/she be allowed to immediately return to the patient’s bedside.  In dozens of interactions, the Red Cross was always there to provide assistance to those who needed it most.  So when she was given the opportunity to begin her own Red Cross volunteer story, she did as she always had done – she gave 100 percent, all the time.

Margaret’s Red Cross story began when she was only nine years old.  While her four older brothers were serving their country in the armed forces deployed around the world, her mother tragically died.  Her local chapter of the American Red Cross stepped in to assist her family and made arrangements for all of her brothers to return home.  It would be her earliest recollection of having all of her brothers home at the same time.

Margaret’s own volunteer work began in 1997 when her husband, Norman, was assigned to the 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, a British Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England.  Margaret began volunteering with the Red Cross doing individual case work aboard a nearby military base, RAF Lakenheath.  In short order, she would rise to become a hospital chairwoman and later a hub director where she would oversee more than 700 Red Cross volunteers throughout Europe.

Her Red Cross story would continue at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base when she became a paid staff member at the base’s Red Cross office in 2001.  She coordinated blood drives, provided briefings to deploying service members and their families on various Red Cross services available to them and welcomed units home upon their return.  In 2007, she retired from Red Cross work, only to return a year later to carry on her duties as a volunteer when the Red Cross office on base formally closed its doors.  Last year, Seymour Johnson AFB again opened a Red Cross center on base with Margaret at the helm.

Norman Taflinger came to the Red Cross somewhat by accident.  Having worked for the federal government in a number of different capacities since 1972 (10 years on active duty, 17 years in the USAF Reserves, and in the federal civil service since 1980), Taflinger knew how exactly the government machine worked.  When his wife began working for the American Red Cross at Seymour Johnson AFB in 2001, she had a lot of ambitious goals to achieve.  Whenever she met resistance or obstacles to accomplishing an objective, Norman advised her how to navigate the bureaucracy to get it done.  A civil engineer, Norman began volunteering with the Red Cross to perform damage assessments following hurricanes or significant storms in Eastern North Carolina.  One thing led to another and Norman jumped in with both feet to provide for airmen and their families beset by disasters or tragedy.

“Norman expects to see tasks completed,” said Margaret Taflinger of her husband.  “When he began volunteering with the Red Cross, his attention to detail and high standards learned in the U.S. Air Force carried over very well as he ensured that every family they assisted received the care and follow up they were entitled to.  Nothing would fall through the cracks on his watch.”

For his 10 years of service, Norman was presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Silver Level) to recognize nearly 500 volunteer hours.

“Margaret and Norman are a wonderful team, working on behalf of service members and their families,” said Wendy Flynn, Regional Director of Volunteers, Eastern North Carolina Region. “For all of their years of service, for which there could never be enough appropriate words of thanks, the Red Cross extends its heartfelt appreciation to Margaret and Norman as living examples of what these service awards are all about.”

When asked why he serves as a Red Cross volunteer, Norman said, “Serving with the Red Cross has always been a great source of pride for me.  Having had the opportunity to work with so many great people over the years and to see the enthusiastic support that we receive as we do our very best to care for the servicemen and women makes it all worthwhile.  I’m grateful that I get to continue to serve others.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Pays It Forward

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE (April 8, 2014) – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Smith, the Patient Advocate for the 4th Medical Group, 4th Fighter Wing, helps service members and their families in a variety of ways. In addition to his active duty responsibilities, Smith is a dedicated American Red Cross volunteer.

USAF Master Sgt. Anthony Smith is an American Red Cross volunteer.

USAF Master Sgt. Anthony Smith is an American Red Cross volunteer.

This week, in honor of National Volunteer Week, the American Red Cross Eastern Region will present Smith with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor offered in recognition of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is issued by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation on behalf of the President of the United States to recognize the best in American spirit, and to encourage all Americans to improve their communities through volunteer service.

Smith, a Wayne County resident, is one of eight volunteers who will be presented with volunteer recognition awards tomorrow by Col. Jeannie M. Leavitt, Commanding Officer, 4th Fighter Wing aboard Seymour Johnson AFB. Smith will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award (Silver Level), having logged nearly 500 hours of volunteer service with the Red Cross during the past year.

Every Red Cross volunteer seems to have his/her own unique story and significant event that brought them to volunteer service. For Smith, it was a Red Cross notification in late 2011 that his father, James Smith, Sr., suddenly became very ill. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, his father was only given months to live and his son requested and received a humanitarian transfer in January 2012 to Seymour Johnson AFB to be with him for the final months of his life. Mr. Smith passed away in March 2012. Reflecting upon his father’s life and wanting to honor his memory, Smith turned to the Red Cross.

“My father taught me so much throughout his life,” said Smith. “I wanted to honor him by giving back to my community. The Red Cross was there for me and I felt that it was an opportunity that I could put my heart into.”

Smith began his volunteer service as a case worker for military families. He credits his active duty service for enabling him to better support the service members and their families who come to the Red Cross for assistance.

“Compassion is the key to case work,” Smith explained. “No one ever gets a heads up when bad things are about to happen. When they do, people just want to know that they’re not facing the situation alone. Sometimes the days are hard, but that’s what keeps me going.”

To learn more about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit http://www.redcross.org.rco_blog_img_anthony

Red Cross Connects Rocky Mount Resident with Navy Daughters during Emergencies

Story and photos by Rocky Mount volunteer, Anthony Biondo

Cynthia Lilly

Cynthia Lilly

Imagine Cynthia Lilly’s dilemma… a mother’s worst nightmare. Cynthia’s daughter, Shantell Chance, a member of the United States Navy was far from home, when she was suddenly rushed to the hospital. Cynthia didn’t know which hospital, where the hospital was located or the seriousness of her daughter’s condition. As minutes ticked by and just as her anxiety and concern was about to overwhelm her, Cynthia remembered a past experience with the American Red Cross.

A few years earlier, Cynthia contacted the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces for assistance during a time of family crisis. An unexpected death in her family hit hard. She desperately needed the support of her daughters to help her through the tragic loss.

At the time, both of her daughters, Shantell Chance and Keyana Jordan, members of the United States Navy, were deployed in South Carolina and Virginia. The American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces stepped in and Red Cross caseworkers immediately contacted her daughters with news of the family death.

“The American Red Cross found my daughter before I could, and I am her mother,” said Cynthia. “Now a days, no one calls back to follow up on anything and the Red Cross did exactly that. They called back, followed up and I know exactly where to go if I need them again.”

After recalling her prior experience with the Red Cross, Cynthia decided to contact them again as she desperately needed to find out details about Shantell’s medical status. Cynthia’s call to the Service to Armed Forces once again yielded a speedy reply.

“Within 4 hours, the American Red Cross had located my daughter at a hospital in Virginia,” recalled Cynthia. “As I rushed to Virginia to be at my daughter’s side, the Red Cross continued to reach out to me and offer assistance even after their initial notification.”

“The Red Cross walked me through it all and followed up to make sure that my family was okay,” Cynthia added. “The professionalism of the American Red Cross was so great, that I cried.”

Cynthia Lilly, a resident of Rocky Mount, NC is proud of her daughters, Shantell and Keyana, who serve the United States Navy. They both plan to attend college and continue to pursue a career in medicine.

“It makes me proud that we have the Red Cross to support our troops,” said Cynthia.“I will tell everybody I know about what the Red Cross did for me and my daughters;  I encourage everyone I can to volunteer and give blood.”

 

Volunteer Appreciation Week- We appreciate all that you do!

Not to brag, but the Eastern NC Region of the American Red Cross has some amazing volunteers, 1500 to be exact! Our volunteers recognize that people in our communities and all around the country depend on the Red Cross every day whether someone’s home has been burned down or a life was saved thanks an individual trained in CPR.

It is during National Volunteer Week, April 6-12 that we take extra time to recognize the extraordinary work of all our volunteers and thank them for being the number one reason that the Red Cross can provide hope to so many in need. During this time, the Eastern North Carolina Region would like to recognize several volunteers for their outstanding accomplishments with their time in our organization:

Margaret Taflinger, lead SAF volunteer, and Wendy Dyer, Service to the Armed Forces state manager for NC, VA and D.C., welcome a visitor to the new SAF office on SJAFB.

Margaret Taflinger, lead SAF volunteer, and Wendy Dyer, Service to the Armed Forces state manager for NC, VA and D.C., welcome a visitor to the new SAF office on SJAFB.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Recognition – April 9th
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will be holding a Volunteer Recognition Ceremony next week and the base command will recognize nine Red Cross volunteers:

  • Msgt. Anthony Smith- recognized with the Silver Presidential Service Award
  • Margaret Taflinger has 17 years of Red Cross service and will receive the Lifetime Presidential Service Award
  • Norman Taflinger- has ten years of Red Cross service  and will receive the Gold Presidential Service Award
  • Jeanine Patsko
  • Bill Hewitt
  • Pat King
  • Jay Williams
  • Warren Drell
  • Orgun Sen. Msgt.
Chuck Thurlow with Cape Fear Chapter CEO, Vicki LaBelle.

Chuck Thurlow with Cape Fear Chapter CEO, Vicki LaBelle.

North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service
Chuck Thurlow, Cape Fear Chapter, Brunswick County Nominee for the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service. Chuck has supported the Cape Fear Chapter as a Board Chair, Blood donor, and financial donor and currently in his role as a Disaster Leadership Member in Logistics. He is always willing to jump in and do things at a moment’s notice and truly understands what it means to be a member of the “One Red Cross” Family.

Linda Eldridge

Red Cross Service Recognition Award
This year, the Red Cross Service Recognition Award recipient was Linda Eldridge for more than 40 years of dedicated volunteer services. Linda first started volunteering with the Red Cross in 1969 as a dental assistant while her husband, Fred Eldredge, was deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps and she hasn’t looked back since. Averaging over 500 volunteer hours a year, Linda has surpassed the 22,000 volunteer hour mark and is still working as the Red Cross volunteer coordinator at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. Linda has given thousands of hours of service, all while, supporting her husband’s military career and raising a family.

Jack of All Trades Volunteer Helps Wherever Needed
For the last six years Margaret Meier has supported the Greater Albemarle Area Chapter Red Cross as an office assistant. She has worked area blood drives, written letters to military families, assisted during times of disaster with the phones and walk-ins. Carolyn Self, CEO, says “Margaret is one of those people who has a big heart and cares deeply about making a difference in the lives of those who call upon the Red Cross.”

ImageLocal Blood Drive Volunteers Help the Red Cross Meet Patient Needs
Volunteering does not have to start at one specific age or time in a person’s life. Many of our staff and volunteers have had life long careers that started at young ages; one such extraordinary volunteer is MaKayla Newcomb from the Wayne County Chapter. MaKayla is a youth volunteer who assists her mother, Dian Newcomb, with local blood drives. What makes MaKayla unique is that she does not only help with the canteening of drinks and snacks at a blood drive but is extremely interactive with our donors, volunteers, biomedical staff and community partners. She is a ray of sunshine on the drives.
Congratulations to all our volunteers who have received awards for all of their hard work. While awards are one way of recognizing outstanding services, it is important to note that all of our volunteers support the Red Cross mission, vision and values. Each volunteer contributes and fulfills a need locally, regionally and nationally to all communities around the country.

Thank you for all that you do!

 

Fuquay Varina Elementary Students Make “Happy Sacks” for Disaster Victims

Greater Albemarle Area Chapter CEO, Carolyn Self, recives the delivery of Happy Sacks for kids during disasters.

Greater Albemarle Area Chapter CEO, Carolyn Self, receives the delivery of Happy Sacks for kids during disasters.

Earlier this year, the Greater Albemarle Area Chapter of the American Red Cross received two large boxes filled with 30 “Happy Sacks”  put together by a group of elementary school students in Fuquay Varina, NC.

The Kid-A-Canes are a team of kids  from Ballentine Elementary School who are part of the First Lego League (FLL).  FLL is a program to get children excited about science and technology.  As part of the program, students must create an innovative solution to a problem.

For their team project, the Kid-A-Canes came up with the idea to provide Happy Sacks to kids in hurricane shelters or kids who experienced a disaster, to give them something to help them feel better during.  The team, being in a high-risk, hurricane prone area, decided to focus on natural disasters and how they would feel if something happened to them.  They used those thoughts to develop something that could be given to kids during times of disaster that would bring joy and comfort.

The Kid-A-Canes FLL Team - Harrison, Reagan, Ross, Hogan, Erin, Grace, Caroline & Whitney

The Kid-A-Canes FLL Team – Harrison, Reagan, Ross, Hogan, Erin, Grace, Caroline & Whitney

Each Happy Sack contains a stuffed animal, coloring books and colored pencils, games and an encouraging card from a student.  The items in the sacks were collected by kids for other kids in need.  All of the students at the school donated items and made cards.

The students attended a state competition in Greensboro where they presented their project.  Other FLL team members also made cards to share in the Happy Sacks while at the State competition.

The Red Cross would like to commend the Kid-A-Canes for the compassion and commitment to helping others in need.  The Happy Sacks will be a welcome addition to the disaster response and recovery program for the Red Cross.

 

 

30 Years Ago Today: Red Cross Worker Recounts Devastating Tornado

This story is from Tammy Forrester, CEO for the Wayne and Lenoir County Chapters of the American Red Cross

Thirty years ago today my little brother and I survived a tornado hitting our house while we were in it.  It’s as fresh in my mind today as if it were yesterday.

 Red Cross CEO, Tammy Forrester (left) comforts Kinston resident, Ida Jackson, after an apartment fire. with  Lenoir County Red Cross board member William Taylor.


Red Cross CEO, Tammy Forrester (left) comforts Kinston resident, Ida Jackson, after an apartment fire. with Lenoir County Red Cross board member William Taylor.

I didn’t know back then that I would ever be working for the American Red Cross. All I knew was that while I walked towards a sea of people standing in the intersection of our devastated neighborhood, that the first set of eyes that met mine was a little lady wearing a Red Cross vest.  She took us to the volunteer fire station were a shelter had been set up.

We stayed at the shelter for a couple of hours until our parents were found.  It was dry, safe, and we felt protected.  I watched her, with a hopeful smile on her face, help people that she had never seen and might not see again but for a brief time she comforted them and eased their anxiety.

There are days that I ask myself why I do what I do, but on days like today when my mind remembers that experience, I know.  I do not remember the volunteers name but I will NEVER forget what she did and how she made me feel.

 

More on deadly tornado outbreak from WCTI

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