The 2019 NC State Fair is now in the history books and the American Red Cross First Aid stations are closed up till next year. The Red Cross has had a First Aid Station at the fair every year since 1928, which only the exception of a couple of years during WWII when the fair was not held. The stations are run by volunteers and staff of the Eastern North Carolina Region.
On my trip to the State Fair I had the honor of meeting some of the volunteers who work at the three Red Cross stations (also known as huts). Here is a short story about the why they volunteer.
The first of many volunteers I was privileged to meet is the Red Cross First Aid Station coordinator, Kathy Ellen, who believes in giving back to the Red Cross and the community. For over 20 years she has been the face of the Red Cross at the State Fair. She told me that at one time, the Red Cross had its own building, but people couldn’t find it easily. Some years ago, it was torn down and replaced with huts which were more visible and provided a more impactful public presence.
I also met Larry Cockrell, the First Aid station supervisor overseeing the volunteers. I learned he has an extensive history of volunteering with the Red Cross. Larry was from Nash County before moving to Raleigh. He has held many volunteer positions with the Rocky Mount/ Nash County chapter and enjoys returning to the State Fair every year because of the friendships and fellowship he has made. He shared how things have changed over the years, but the Red Cross continues to provide an important service.
The next volunteer I met was Larry Kohn, a local business owner who sells AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators). Larry provides AEDs for each of the Red Cross First Aid Stations (huts). He was first introduced to the Red Cross through his work and has volunteered at the fair ever since. Larry said it’s like a big family at the Red Cross and has made many friends. He encouraged everyone to come and learn about helping others.
One of my highlights was meeting the students from Richlands High School of Onslow County. I was very impressed with the reasons they shared for wanting to volunteer with the Red Cross at the NC State Fair.
Natalia Thompson was so happy to volunteer with the Red Cross. After high school, she hopes to someday enter the medical field and maybe the military. She looks forward to coming back to help again.
Carly Schaub also enjoyed volunteering at the State Fair. She said, “I am pursuing my dream by helping here today.” She’s learning more about helping others using skills from her Health Science class, including administering CPR and using an AED.
Eden Navaeh Hodge, a seventeen year old senior from Richlands High School, said “I always volunteer and love to help out. When I heard about volunteering with the Red Cross, I had to jump on it.” She hopes to volunteer more in college.
Then I met Maggie Adams, who was wearing a blue rain coat and the largest smile at the whole state fair. She said, “I am really passionate about the medical field and working in a hospital.” Maggie is a member of the high school HOSA (Health Occupational Student of America) and hopes to go to school to become a nurse.
During the NC State Fair, I met some great volunteers who said they had a great time helping at the Red Cross First Aid Station and could not wait to return next year.
This year, 56 Red Cross First Aid volunteers donated 824 hours of their time providing 872 services to fair attendees. They treated variety of health issues including blisters, insect stings, headaches, sprains, allergies, and many other ailments.
The Red Cross is grateful for volunteers and the volunteer groups who participated, including Richlands High School, Wake Early College Program, Capital Regional Advisory Committee (CapRAC), and nurses from WakeMed and Duke Raleigh Hospital.”
Learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross at www.redcross.org/enc
Story by: Wendy Ella May | American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
Photography by: Sharon Penn | American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer