Red Cross Honors 50 Gallon Blood Donor in Wilmington

On July 19, 2013, the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross recognized long-time blood donor, 79-year-old, Carole Bryant, as she donated her 399th unit of blood which brought her to a life-time total of 50 gallons. Staff and volunteers presented her with a 50 gallon donor pin marking this huge accomplishment that few donors across the country have achieved.

 Carole Bryant donates blood at the Wilmington Blood Center. Phlebotomist is Brandi Roberson. Photo Credit: Bill Ritenour

Carole Bryant donates blood at the Wilmington Blood Center. Phlebotomist is Brandi Roberson. Photo Credit: Bill Ritenour

Alongside Bryant that day were her daughter and three grandchildren, also blood donors, who supported their grandmother by staying to donate in honor of her achievement.

“She has definitely been my inspiration to donate,” said Tauriq Watson, Bryant’s grandson, a student at Duke University. “I’m really proud of everything she does to help others.”

Donors can give blood every 56 days. Bryant reached 50 gallons by donating consistently about every two months for more than 60 years. Her blood donations throughout the years have potentially saved more than a thousand lives.

“I don’t really remember when I started donating, maybe in my late teens or early 20’s, probably around the time I joined the Air Force,” recalled Bryant.  “Once I started, I just never stopped.”

Bryant, originally from New York, now donates about four times a year at the Wilmington Blood Donor Center.   Blood donations from Bryant and other local donors are used in patients at Cape Fear area hospitals like New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Carole Bryant (center) at Wilmington Blood Center with family. From left to right grandkids Tauriq Watson, Faaria Watson, Azziza Watson and daughter Leslie Watson - Photo Credit Bill Ritenour
Carole Bryant (center) at Wilmington Blood Center with family. From left to right grandkids Tauriq Watson, Faaria Watson, Azziza Watson and daughter Leslie Watson – Photo Credit Bill Ritenour

“I’m not sure what first inspired me,” said Bryant. “I’m a giver and I know that this is something that can help people, to save someone’s life.”

And, Bryant doesn’t stop giving.  She didn’t stick around long after her donation because she was off to one of her many volunteer jobs in the community.

The American Red Cross has been collecting blood since the 1940’s and now supplies

approximately 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood; a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.  Thanks to generous blood donors, the Red Cross helps ensure that blood is available before emergencies.

Anyone interested in donating blood can visit or call 910-254-GIVE to schedule an appointment.

Kinston Volunteer Recognized for Outstanding Service

During our response to the Kinston Towers Fire in June and July, Lenoir County volunteer, Sonia Johnson, proved to be an indispensable part of the operation.  Sonia was there from beginning to end, nearly four weeks, she utilized her skills in disaster response to help those affected while also providing leadership and training to new volunteers.

Sonia Johnson (front) along with fellow Red Cross volunteers Lani Morbley and Helen Miller.
Sonia Johnson (front) along with fellow Red Cross volunteers Lani Morbley and Helen Miller.

Johnson joined the Kinston Towers Response on day one, when the Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at 3am after nearly 150 residents were evacuated from the building. She worked at the shelter that day helping to provide meals supplies and comfort while also meeting individually with clients to begin the casework process to access their needs.

Johnson was quickly promoted to casework supervisor for the operation after Red Cross leadership observed the accuracy and reliability with which she conducted her work.  She displayed professionalism when interviewing clients and supervising casework teams while continuing to show compassion and consideration for the clients and her fellow volunteers.

“If it wasn’t for Sonia, this operation would not have run as smoothly as it has,” said Leslie Gillette, Red Cross operations manager for the Kinston Towers response. “You can tell that she put in a lot of hours before this operation began to ensure the chapter was ready and remained prepared for whatever came our way.”

Not only did Johnson assist with the Kinston Response, she continued in her day-to-day role as disaster action team member and responded to 5 home fire calls during the operation.  Staff and volunteers alike had kind words to stay about Johnson.  She is truly an asset to the organization and will be honored for her work at a volunteer celebration in late July or August.

Jacksonville Teen Receives Congressional Volunteer Award

JACKSONVILLE, NC, July 23, 2013 — On June 19, 2013, an outstanding youth volunteer from Jacksonville, NC, 16-year-old Carol Ann Schwarzenbach, received the Congressional Volunteer Award.  She was presented with the award by NC Senator Richard Burr and NC Congressman Walter Jones at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

16-year-old, Carol Ann Schwarzenbach of Jacksonville, receives the Congressional Volunteer Award.
16-year-old, Carol Ann Schwarzenbach of Jacksonville, receives the Congressional Volunteer Award.

“Receiving the award was a life changing experience,” said Carol Ann. “This whole experience gave me a sense of personal pride and accomplishment.”

Carol Ann completed more than 400 hours of volunteer service with the Onslow County Chapter of the American Red Cross while working to earn the award.  Carol Ann and her mother Carol Schwarzenbach have both been dedicated Red Cross volunteers over the years.

“Carol Ann has served as my volunteer executive assistant for a number of years,” said Joy Branham, CEO for the Onslow County Chapter of the American Red Cross. “She is extremely professional, dependable, and intelligent.”

Some of Carol Ann’s job duties at the Red Cross included assembling outreach packages to families of military recruits; preparing awards for donors; assistance with event preparation and planning; and mentoring other youth volunteers.

“There were many facets to this program and Carol Ann had to get out of her comfort zone to succeed,” said Carol.  “I am very proud of the fact that she was always able to effectively evaluate her milestones and use them as motivators to achieve her objective.”

Applicants for the Congressional Volunteer Program must fulfill four components to qualify for the award in the areas of voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and exploration/expedition.

“My mom motivated me to apply for the Congressional Award Program,” said Carol Ann. “If it weren’t for my mom I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”

To complete the program requirements, Carol Ann volunteered with the Red Cross, played piano and participated in her church group, played both soccer and volleyball, and explored New York City on a recent trip.

When Carol Ann found the Red Cross, she knew that was the organization she wanted to volunteer with.  The other Red Cross staff and volunteers mentored Carol Ann and taught her about the different programs and services the organization provides to the community.

“The staff at the chapter is genuinely nice people who made me feel safe and comfortable,” said Carol Ann. “The volunteers I worked with were extremely supportive of what I was trying to do and they always wanted to know what my next adventure was going to be. That is one of the many reasons why I couldn’t live without the Red Cross in my life.”

Planning and Partnerships a Critical Part of Kinston Towers Fire Response

KINSTON, NC, July 17, 2013— More than three weeks after an apartment fire displaced nearly 150 people in Kinston, the American Red Cross continues to provide support as residents prepare to return home.    Volunteers from around eastern NC have served meals, distributed supplies, and met with residents to ensure needs are cared for.IMG_1663

“Disaster assessment is critical in the beginning to determine the needs and collaborate with partner organizations to develop a plan to serve the clients,” said Victoria Kling, Regional Response Manager for the American Red Cross of Eastern NC.

The Red Cross has served as a leader for collaboration and coordination, partnering with other local organizations to ensure that the needs of residents are met while avoiding duplication of services.  This leadership has allowed the agencies to determine the expertise and ability of each organization to provide for their clients.

“I am amazed at the outpouring of offers for assistance from the local community from churches, to restaurants to sororities,” said Tammy Forrester, CEO for the Lenoir County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Instead of having one organization take on the greatest load of work, the Red Cross convened with a number of local organizations to discuss what support they could offer in the response.  This collaboration along with the backing of a volunteer-led workforce provided the action plan for assisting residents affected by the fire.

DSC00402Important partners included the Kinston Housing Authority, Kinston Fire and Safety, Lenoir County Emergency Management, the NC Baptist Men, and the Bridge Church of Goldsboro, and Burning Bush ministries. Another great partner organization was the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Kinston and Goldsboro who made snack packages for the residents.

A key relationship during disasters is the long-standing partnership between the American Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Men.  During the initial response, the Red Cross worked with local restaurants to provide meals.  In order to best utilize donated dollars and provide consistency, the Red Cross reached out to local representatives of the NC Baptist Men to help to assist with feeding efforts for the rest of the operation.

The Baptist Men utilize a standardized menu which offers foods to complement a balanced diet at a cost of about $1 a meal.  The Red Cross purchases food from U.S. Foods and the NC Baptist Men prepare hot meals which are delivered to residents by Red Cross volunteers. The Kinston First Baptist Church, which has an industrial kitchen, was used to prepare the meals.

Throughout the Kinston Towers response, community members have expressed their desire to help their neighbors that have been displaced by this fire.  The Red Cross and partner organizations welcome support in the form of financial assistance and volunteer time.

“Red Cross is a family of volunteers from everywhere and the assistance is always appreciated,” said Forrester.  “Around here, one size fits all whether it is the gift of time or money.  Our clients know us and trust us to take care of them,” remarks Forrester.

As always, Red Cross assistance is free and provided to all who are in need when disaster strikes.

Holiday Provides Service Opportunity for Family

Kelly and Bobby Carter and Kelly's father, Evan Marion, talk to Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Specialist Josh Caine about their motivation for teaming up with the Red Cross to provide lunch to fire victims on a holiday.
Kelly and Bobby Carter and Kelly’s father, Evan Marion, talk to Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Specialist Josh Caine about their motivation for teaming up with the Red Cross to provide lunch to fire victims on a holiday.

Story by Tara Humphries, Chair of the Board of Directors, Wayne County American Red Cross / Thursday, July 4, 2013

KINSTON, NC – While some took the day off to celebrate Independence Day, others made it a day of service, including the American Red Cross and the Bridge Church, who provided lunch for the displaced residents of Kinston Towers.

Independence Day reminded one family of Bridge Church members of “the honor and privilege to be free,” according to Kelly Carter, who was volunteering with her husband Bobby, and her parents Evan and Laura Maryon.

It is “the ability to worship freely, too,” she said. “We respect that many have died to give us this freedom.”

Kelly, Bobby and Evan have special insight into the sacrifices others made for their country – all are veterans. Kelly and Bobby served in the U.S. Air Force and Evan was in the U.S. Army. Kelly and Bobby have a son in the Air Force, too.

“It is kind of our obligation,” Evan said of partnering with the Red Cross on a holiday. “It is a spirit of cooperation. We’re out here for the same general purpose – to help others.”

“It is never about us,” Kelly added.

Bridge Church members Bobby Carter (front) and Elbert Richardson grill hot dogs for a special Independence Day lunch for displaced residents of Kinston Towers.
Bridge Church members Bobby Carter (front) and Elbert Richardson grill hot dogs for a special Independence Day lunch for displaced residents of Kinston Towers.


Safety Tips For 4th of July Holiday

It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations – fireworks, a backyard barbecue, maybe a trip to the beach. Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross wants them to enjoy their holiday and has steps they can follow to be safe.

“We want everyone to have a great holiday, and a safe one,” said David Garrison, Director of Disaster Services for the American Red Cross. “Whether the weekend will involve fireworks, grilling or going to the seashore, we have safety tips everyone can follow.”

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, they should follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your 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, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

BEACH SAFETY If someone’s visit to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, they should learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a lifeguarded beach, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:

  • Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check to see if any warning signs or flags are posted.
  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect the neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If someone is caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, they should turn and swim toward shore. If they can’t swim to the shore, they should 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.

Additional water safety tips are available at

SUN PROTECTION Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet – the sand can burn them and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it’s suspected someone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. The app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.


Residents Affected by Apartment Fire Get Sunday Church Service

Story by Tara Humphries, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wayne County American Red Cross

KINSTON, NC, Sunday, June 30, 2013 –  It is a very rare Sunday that Anna Mewborn doesn’t go to church. Thanks to the American Red Cross, the service came to the displaced Kinston Towers resident this Sunday.  Nearly 150 people were displaced after a fire broke out last Wednesday at Kinston Towers.  Since the residents were forced to evacuate, the Red Cross has been providing meals and other assistance to those staying at local hotels while they wait to return home.

When Mewborn had lamented Saturday to a Red Cross worker that she was going to miss services the next day. She recounted that only serious illness and incapacitation had keep her from getting to her church at least on Sunday and often many other days, every week of her almost 81 years.

Just a few hours and a few phone calls later, a preacher had been lined up to provide a sermon at Mewborn’s hotel the next day. Gloria Sanders of the Burning Bush Church Ministries in Kinston said she was happy to have the opportunity deliver a message.

At 5:30 that morning, God told her what he wanted his people to know: that they need to stop complaining, start counting their blessings, and always give thanks.

“As you count your blessings and count them one by one by one by one, you have no reasons to complain, regardless of what happened at Kinston Towers,” Sanders    Kinston6-30-13-d

Gloria Sanders thanks Anna Mewborn for participating in a worship service for displaced Kinston Towers residents organized by the American Red Cross.

told 15 clients and six Red Cross staff and volunteers.

“Too many times we look at the things we don’t have and we forget what we do have,” Sanders said. “Count your blessings. You got up this morning. … Count the little things, not just the big things.”

She encouraged the impromptu congregation to “refuse to be complaining today” and to instead see what they could do for others.

“What are you going to do with this day? We are so consumed with ourselves that we don’t see anyone else’s needs. When you see someone in need, help them,” Sanders said.

She alluded more than once to the work of the Red Cross and the assistance it was providing to the Kinston Towers residents. “Red Cross, you may not get all the gratitude you deserve, but your blessing is in Heaven,” she said.

As for Mewborn, she added her own testimonies to Sanders’ sermon and heartily sang along with the acappella hymns. She said she enjoyed the service, and the message was “one all of us needed to hear.”