Longtime Volunteers Reflect on Decades of Service

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For Linda and Fred Eldredge of Havelock, N.C., volunteering has just been a way of life.

The years rolled by, until Linda, 71, realized that this October marks 49 years of service with the Red Cross. She jokes that her husband, Fred, 80, lags a bit behind her at only 26 years as a Red Cross volunteer.

“But,” she says, “he was just a bit busy during his 30-year career in the Marine Corps.”

In 1969, Fred was serving in Vietnam and Linda was home with her mother and Pamela, their then toddler-aged daughter. Linda volunteered as a Red Cross office assistant after being inspired by her mother – a longtime Red Cross volunteer in the Navy surgical clinic.

Over the years, the couple was stationed at Navy and Marine Corps Bases and Air Stations in Quantico, Va.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Paris Island, S.C.; and Beaufort, S.C. During Fred’s 30 years and four months in the Marines, he moved up the ranks from private to major. All the while, Linda continued to care for their daughter, later their grandchildren, and volunteer for the Red Cross wherever they were stationed.

After Linda’s more than three years working as an office volunteer and coordinator, she answered the call to volunteer in the Naval Dental Clinic at Cherry Point.

“I had been enrolled in dental school years back but had to drop it when new orders came through,” Linda said. “I was excited to have the chance to take the Navy dental course and eventually received my dental assistant certificate.”

Linda remembers wearing the Red Cross pinafore and cap in the clinic and developing dental X-ray film by hand.

As their daughter grew up and had three children of her own, Linda and Fred helped care for their first grandchild, Alison. When Alison turned 12, she announced that she wanted to volunteer for the Red Cross like her grandparents.

“She was too young to work at the hospital, but she was able to be a Red Cross volunteer at the Cherry Point Base Library and later at the Cherry Point Base Veterinary Clinic,” Linda said.

Both Linda and Fred have since volunteered at Red Cross bloodmobiles, where Linda was trained to take patient information and vital signs, and Fred enjoyed working in the canteen. Fred also volunteered for many years at the Base Exchange Pharmacy, and Linda at the Naval Health Clinic.

Linda and Fred have never slowed down and don’t have any plans to do so soon. Their days are still spent volunteering and helping care for a young grandson.

“As long as it’s fun, we’ll keep on doing it!” Linda said.

Story by Susan Washburn / American Red Cross

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Iraq native teaches about International Humanitarian Law in Durham, NC

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DURHAM, NC, AUGUST 20, 2018 — More than 6,000 miles from her hometown of Hillah, Iraq, Samira Jasim found herself in front of a group of 14 Iraqi teenagers, at the Central North Carolina Chapter of the Red Cross in Durham, NC.

That day in mid-August, Samira taught the students about the Red Cross International Movement and International Humanitarian Law, hoping to spread her passion for volunteerism and kindness.

“With all of the hate all over the world, people need to learn about love. And they need to learn about law because it helps keep order,” Samira said.

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Samira Jasim (left) with Barry Porter, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina.

Samira helped explain the Red Cross International Movement – the largest humanitarian network in the world. “Its mission ​is to alleviate human suffering, protect life and​ health, and uphold human dignity especially​ during armed conflicts and other emergencies. ​It is present in every country and supported by ​millions of volunteers.”

Samira spent two years working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad, Iraq, before coming to the United States as a refugee with her family in 2015. At the ICRC, it was her responsibility as a communication officer to work with media, organize missions in the field for journalists, and serve as a liaison between the ICRC and local authorities. Often, she risked her life in war-torn cities to help those in need.

Samira now volunteers her time at the American Red Cross and works as a civil engineer in Raleigh, NC. She said it is her goal to teach others about International humanitarian law (IHL) – a set of rules that restrict the means and methods of warfare while protecting citizens, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers. The four Geneva Conventions—which form the foundation of IHL—are the only treaties in the world that have been ratified by all nations. As part of the Geneva Conventions, all countries are tasked with educating their population about IHL. The American Red Cross assists with IHL education for the American public, and provides the following programs:

Youth Education: Through the IHL Action Campaign, teams design and implement a program—such as a simulation, flash mob, school newspaper column or petition—to teach their peers and local community about the rules of war.

Legal Education: In-depth legal trainings, workshops and seminars are offered on the evolving body of IHL for law students, military officials, government employees, policy makers and the legal community.

Public Education: The Red Cross hosts events at its national headquarters and chapters across the country to educate the public on key global humanitarian issues during times of armed conflict.

About the morning spent with students, Samira said, “This is the new generation in my country. We faced a lot. I want them to have hope and success. Believe in humanity and equality.”

Young Red Cross volunteer logs thousands of hours, receives nod for Fort Bragg award

Since 2017, Quintin Buss has devoted his young life to helping and serving others.

After he obtained an Emergency Medical Technician Certification, Buss joined the Red Cross as a volunteer. In one year’s time, he’s logged more than 700 hours in the emergency room at Womack Army Medical Center and 1,600 hours with Fort Bragg EMS.

Because of his time and dedication, Buss has been nominated for the Iron Mike Award, an accolade created in 2001 to honor volunteers for their contributions and significant impact on the military community at Fort Bragg.

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Buss on the ambulance used during his internship classes

Buss comes from a military family. For him, the experience of continually moving, growing up in unfamiliar areas, and not having a rooted home, have been nothing but positive in developing the person he is today.

“Being surrounded by other military families gave me a sense of belonging in a community that is ever-changing,” Buss said. “The military community has made me the person I am today, and volunteering with the Red Cross is a way I can give back to this community to hopefully make a positive impact.”

Buss said he finds the volunteer work enriching and meaningful, as well as a fruitful learning experience.

“The ER staff and EMS crews were immediately inviting when I first started, and have taught me so much that you simply cannot learn from a textbook,” he said. “What I have found most rewarding is being able to help soldiers and family members during their time of need, and being able to see the look of relief on a patient’s face, knowing that they trust you and feel safe, is always a rewarding sight.”

While Buss volunteered with emergency services, he simultaneously juggled life as a biology student at East Carolina University (ECU).

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Buss (right) receives Appreciation award from Col. John. J Melton (left), Commander of Womack Army Medical Center

William B. Boone, his paramedic supervisor, said, “He has eagerly volunteered his time with both departments even while managing a busy college schedule. As a show of his dedication to furthering his career, he drove two hours from ECU to Fort Bragg simply to volunteer his time and to gain further knowledge during the Spring and Fall Semester of 2017.

 Buss has been characterized by his positive attitude and motivation to keep learning. “Buss continues to provide excellent patient care and on many occasions, has been praised by fellow staff members, the patients, and their family members,” Boone said.

Buss said he feels confident in his new-found medical knowledge and is inspired to now become a physician’s assistant.

Story by Ingrid Laprea/American Red Cross

Just Takin’ A Little Ride

Red Cross Transportation Specialists Drive to Save Lives

Tony Williams and J.P. Brehony are a couple of guys who really like to drive. We’re not talking about bright red sports cars or best-in-class trucks, though.

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Volunteer Blood Transportation Specialists Rich Lukon (left) and Tony Williams (right).

 

These two get up in the morning and have a hankering to slide into the driver’s seat of boxy red and white American Red Cross blood delivery van. Both say volunteering as Red Cross Transportation Specialist is the perfect way to spend a day.

Williams and Brehony – both retired – are part of a team of 35 volunteer drivers who deliver life-saving blood, platelets, and other blood products to area North Carolina hospitals. This very successful program, based in Durham, is coordinated by Red Cross Transportation Coordinator Marci Allen. She thinks the world of her team and the valuable service they perform.

“Our drivers take their job very seriously,” Allen said. “It’s a bit of a solitary job, but they know they are really helping to save lives. That’s satisfying.”

The Red Cross collects and delivers about 40 percent of this country’s blood through paid couriers and volunteer drivers. Drivers must have a valid state driver’s license, proof of insurance, at least three years’ driving experience, and a clean driving record. They also must be in good physical shape and be able to lift 45 lbs.

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Volunteer Blood Transportation Specialist J.P. Brehony.

Williams drives three days a week, arriving at 8:30 a.m., prepared to drive until early afternoon. Some days he has a few local stops and a short shift. Other days he could drive up to 200 miles. Williams retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 35 years of driving — proudly logging one million miles during his career.

Williams said he doesn’t mind the solitude of the job. He listens to public radio as he drives and enjoys greeting the hospital blood bank personnel when he makes deliveries.

“I’ve been doing this for four years and people offer me jobs to drive for pay, but I like volunteering for the Red Cross. People respect the Red Cross. They think it’s all about disaster relief though, so I like them to understand how important these blood deliveries are,” Williams said.

Brehony also has a high regard for the Red Cross and enjoys driving one day a week while also working to be trained as a disaster relief volunteer.

After a long career building custom homes in Reston, Virginia, Brehony moved to North Carolina to be closer to family in Fayetteville and Cary.

“When Hurricane Irma hit I watched [the devastation] on TV and wanted to help. I got involved with the N.C. Baptists on Mission group and went to Florida to help with their mass feeding program. We served 30,000 meals a day for a couple of weeks,” Brehony said. “Red Cross partners with the N.C. Baptists on Mission group, and I was really impressed with their efficiency when I was in Florida. I knew that I wanted to do more disaster relief work.”

As he awaits those opportunities, he truly enjoys serving the community as a transportation specialist.

“The best part of this job is the sense of purpose I have as part of a healthcare team,” he said. “And I get to sing as loud as I like while I’m driving!”

To volunteer as a Transportation Specialist, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer, or contact Marci Allen at marci.allen2@redcross.org or call 919-316-0057.

Story by Susan Washburn/American Red Cross

 

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

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina commits $1 million to Red Cross Home Fire Campaign in North Carolina

Home Fire Campaign in Fayetteville, North Carolina 2016

This spring, the American Red Cross, as part of its Home Fire Campaign, worked to Sound the Alarm with local volunteers and community partners as it aimed to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country, helping to save lives and lessen the number of tragedies attributed to home fires.

The Red Cross is thrilled to announce that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) will serve as its North Carolina state Home Fire Campaign partner. Blue Cross NC generously donated $1 million to support the campaign.

“Blue Cross NC is proud to support the Red Cross in this important effort to save lives,” said Blue Cross NC President and CEO Patrick Conway. “A crucial part of our quality of life is being able to sleep in peace at night. All homes in North Carolina should have reliable, working smoke alarms that can help prevent unnecessary tragedies. The Home Fire Campaign is a big step toward that goal.”

Since the launch of the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, Red Cross volunteers and members of more than 4,400 partner organizations have installed over 1,100,000 smoke alarms in nearly 12,400 cities and towns in all 50 states, serving more than 1,262,000 people.

Sound the Alarm smoke alarm installation events are part of the ongoing campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from partners like Blue Cross NC.

“Every day, home fires are responsible for as many as seven deaths and 36 injuries in this country. We want that number reduced. So far, our Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is responsible for saving 381 lives across the U.S.,” said Barry Porter, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern North Carolina. “Because of the generosity of Blue Cross NC, we can continue to reduce the number of home fire deaths in our communities, one smoke alarm at a time.”

“We know that working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival,” said Angela A. Broome Powley, regional CEO of the Red Cross in Western North Carolina. “Together with Blue Cross NC, our other partners, and our volunteers, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives.”

Large Sound the Alarm installation events are scheduled across North Carolina thanks in part to Blue Cross NC. Register for a Sound the Alarm event near you!