North Carolina State Fair, Friends, Family & Fun

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

 

Exceptional Career of Service: Meet Kathleen & Bubba

Kathleen Butler began her career with the American Red Cross in 1981. Before realizing how her journey would begin, Kathleen felt a strong pull toward helping others and relieving human suffering. During her 38 years with the Red Cross, she has served as a volunteer (ten years) and as an employee (28 years). Kathleen started her journey with the Disaster Relief Services after a college friend invited her to a Red Cross meeting back in 1981.

While at the Disaster Relief Service as a volunteer, Kathleen showed her ability to write disaster response plans. These plans would lead her to a full-time position in the Service to the Armed Forces branch of the Red Cross. This position would take her around the world. Kathleen has served on three continents, deployed six times with the Armed Forces, and responded to approximately ten national disasters.

Kathleen has served in Asia, Europe, and North America in times of peace and war, natural disasters, and a governmental transition following the fall of the Soviet Union. U.S. troops have benefited from Kathleen’s work in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq (twice), and in Afghanistan. Kathleen has often reflected on her experiences and is proud of her years of service. A dedicated member of the Red Cross, Kathleen is compassionate and a problem solver. After serving with the Red Cross for 28 years, Kathleen decided it was time for a transition back to volunteering. Kathleen left Ramstein, Germany as the senior station manager, but not before picking up a cohort in service.

While in Germany, Kathleen picked up Bubba, an eighteen- month old black-haired poodle born in 2012. As Kathleen puts it, “It wasn’t long until Bubba started stealing the show.” Bubba started volunteering with Kathleen with pet visitations and he quickly started to rack up accolades. Bubba has been crowned champion in agility three times at canine performance events. Bubba is trained in both verbal and hand commands, winning three obedience titles. Bubba’s volunteer service was also recognized, having received the Iron Mike Award at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Bubba’s services are often recognized by the patients and staff, as well.

I was able to hear two amazing stories about this exceptional poodle. Recently Kathleen’s and Bubba’s service went above and beyond. Hurricane Dorian was projected to hit North Carolina and the Fort Bragg area. For safety concerns, Fort Bragg and Womack Army Medical Center were closed, except essential personnel. Luckily, the hurricane’s path changed, and Fort Bragg received a small amount of rain and wind. The service members and staff knew that Thursdays were Bubba’s and Kathleen’s day for visiting. And in true Red Cross fashion, Kathleen and Bubba arrived on the floors and received cheers and some tears.

The final story to share is that of a last man’s wish. A patient was being removed from life support and was unable to have his service dog present. Kathleen and Bubba were able to visit this patient, giving him his final wish. This patient passed away a few hours later. Kathleen further explained to me that Bubba’s presences truly benefited, patients, family members and service members receiving mental health care. After meeting both, I can see why.

Kathleen’s wishes are for her and Bubba’s to continue to serve for many more years. Their desire to relieve human suffering is genuinely remarkable. Kathleen and Bubba are true ambassadors to the Red Cross.

Story by Robert Baird | American Red Cross
Photo Credit:  Robert Baird | American Red Cross