Help the American Red Cross help your community.
That was the message agency officials delivered Wednesday morning at the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce's quarterly Eggs & Issues educational session - and one that seemed especially relevant with the threat of severe, widespread thunderstorms looming on the horizon.
Erica Mani, West Virginia regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross, briefed Eggs & Issues attendees on the missions of the Red Cross, explaining why it's so important to have local volunteers ready to respond on the ground.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Erica Mani, state regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross, discusses the ever-present need for local volunteers Wednesday morning at Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly educational session, Eggs & Issues.
"The best way to explain what we do is to imagine a family whose house has just gone up in smoke, standing outside, staring at what remains," Mani told attendees of the event, which took place at the Randolph County Community Arts Center. "What are they going to do? What comes next? The Red Cross is the answer to the question of what comes next."
Mani said the American Red Cross is the largest independent nonprofit humanitarian organization in the world and will mark the 100th anniversary of its inception in July 2016. While many people associate the Red Cross with disaster relief and maintaining an adequate blood supply to be used in emergency situations, Mani said most don't know the agency also responds to smaller-scale events like single-family fires.
"We have 32 paid staff in West Virginia, but we've responded to about 715 events in the state this year through May, and we're on track to hit 800," Mani said. "And we're doing that not through paid staff, but through the 700 to 800 volunteers we have throughout the state.
"It's the people in your community," she said. "It's you."
Mani said locally, the Red Cross has responded to 27 smaller-scale disasters - such as home fires - in Randolph County during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
In addition to disaster response, the Red Cross also provides emergency preparedness education, health and safety training and services to veterans and military families, Mani said.
"Hopefully, the Red Cross isn't relevant in your daily life," she said, "but when you need it, it's nice to know you have it."
Local volunteers are essential to keep the lifesaving organization running in an efficient, effective manner, which is why Robin Moore, executive director of the Red Cross's North Central West Virginia chapter, was on hand to recruit new volunteers.
"We just need to continue to find great people who want to help in their community," said Moore, who oversees agency operations in Barbour, Doddridge, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Randolph and Upshur counties.
For more information about volunteering, contact Maria Kendall by emailing Maria.Kendall@redcross.org, calling 304-624-7689 or visiting RedCrossWV.org.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.