Red Cross honors community heroes at Heroes Celebration

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Dozens gathered for breakfast and fellowship Tuesday, May 15, at the annual Heroes Celebration in Rocky Mount, N.C.

During the event, Red Cross honored local heroes who demonstrate the seven fundamental principles of the American Red Cross: Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity and Universality.  This year’s recipients included:

Jean Almand Kitchin, who received The Norma Turnage Award. This award Jean Almand Kitchin Picrecognizes a female leader in the community who demonstrates a long-time commitment to public service.  Jean is well known as a TV personality, business leader, educator, and champion of the people  in North Carolina. Following a successful TV career as a producer and anchor in Wilmington, Jean moved to Rocky Mount in 1986. From the moment she arrived, she felt connected to the community and jumped right in by volunteering to host a regular program, “Tar Heel People,” for an independent TV station just starting in Rocky Mount.  From that moment, Jean stayed involved with several anchor roles and TV series across North Carolina, including with WHIG-TV, where she is still active as a volunteer today.

In addition, Jean has been involved with her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce, Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education, and numerous other organizations and non-profits.

Upon accepting her award, Jean tells the crowd, “I’m not done, I’m just hitting my stride! I encourage you to use your gifts to serve others,” she said. “I love this community, you all, and I love Rocky Mount.”

This year’s Community Hero Award was presented to Nash County Emergency Services Deputy Director Scott Rogers for his on-going commitment to preparedness, safety and emergency response. In 1987, Scott began his fire service career with the Stony Creek Fire-Rescue Department in Nash County.  He began working full-time wScott Rogersith Nash County Emergency Services in January 1991 as a Fire Protection Inspector. Scott was promoted to Deputy Fire Marshal in 1994 and Division Chief in 1996 where he served until 2014, and was appointed to his current position of Deputy Director.

Scott is a respected member of the executive board of the Eastern Carolina Firefighters Association, where he is committed to emergency preparedness education for the public. He frequently trains and consults for communities and organizations seeking to improve their readiness and resiliency in the face of emergencies.

“I’ve had the distinct privilege of serving some great people in our community,” Scott said. “I’m very grateful for this honor, thank you very much.”

Other awards during the event included: Outstanding Blood Drive Sponsors Joyner’s Funeral Home; and Roanoke Rapids Public Blood Drive.

“For over a century, the Red Cross has taken care of their neighbors in need. We could not complete our life-saving mission without the support of the community,” said Cally Edwards, executive director of the American Red Cross serving Northeastern NC.  “We are excited to bring our honorees, supporters, partners, blood drive sponsors, and volunteers together from Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax, Northampton and Wilson counties for the Heroes Celebration.”

This year’s event was generously sponsored by Hardee’s, Rocky Mount Family Medical Center, Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce, Nash UNC Health Care, and Universal Leaf.

Neighbors Welcome Red Cross Sound the Alarm Teams

More than 300 volunteers gathered in the Southeast Raleigh and Garner areas on Saturday, May 5, 2018, to help keep their neighbors safe from home fires by installing free smoke alarms in local homes.

This Sound the Alarm event was part of a nationwide Red Cross effort to install 100,000 smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country. Volunteers with the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina were proud to be a part of this effort.

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Team captain Bette Turner (right) picks up a ladder, smoke alarms, and educational materials before Team #73 heads out on the road to install smoke alarms in Garner, N.C.

Enthusiastic  Sound the Alarm – Raleigh N.C. Team #73 began their day on May 5, by knocking on the first door on their assigned route in Garner N.C.’s Green Spring Valley mobile home community. With equal enthusiasm and hospitality, the Quevedo family interrupted their breakfast and welcomed the Red Cross volunteers into their home to install alarms and learn about home fire safety tips.

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Red Cross volunteer Charles Bumpus (back, center) shows the smoke alarm he is about to install at the Quevedo home.

Red Cross team members Charles Bumpus and Bill Ford installed two new smoke alarms in the home, while team member Bette Turner spoke with Mrs. Quevedo and her children.  Mrs. Quevedo explained she also had extended family living nearby who needed smoke alarms.

As Team #73 began those installations a few doors down, four firefighters from Garner’s Fire & Rescue Station 3 rolled up to assist. Immediately, neighborhood children appeared in the street, eyeing the firefighters and their red and white fire engine. The children broke out in ear-to-ear smiles as the firefighters chatted with them and offered up shiny, gold firefighter stickers.

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Garner Fire Rescue Station 3 firefighters helped Team #73 members Bill Ford (center, left) and Bette Turner (center, right).

Throughout the morning, and again after a lunch break, Team #73 met residents, explained the importance of Sound the Alarm events, and checked existing smoke alarms or installed new alarms. By the end of the day, teams who participated in Sound the Alarm – Raleigh, NC installed more than 800 alarms in area homes.

The members of Team #73 were certainly tired at the end of the day, but said they felt satisfied with their efforts to #EndHomeFires. They were grateful to have met and assisted the Quevedo family and so many of their neighbors.

Story and Photos by Susan Washburn/American Red Cross