Polk County Red Cross: New leaders, same services

Published 8:58 am Friday, August 5, 2011

Polk County Red Cross co-chairs Janet Peterson and Jerry Perry said despite changes to streamline processes at the regional and national level of the American Red Cross, Polk County’s office will continue to provide the same services.
The Western North Carolina Region of the American Red Cross recently went through a period of reorganization in which it placed one community development director over a combined area of Polk, McDowell and Rutherfordton counties. The three offices will no longer have individual directors but will remain open under the staff of a Red Cross worker and volunteers.
Polk County’s board of directors also recently elected new members. Peterson and Perry are co-chairs, while Nancy McKinstry was named vice-chair, Lin Savage secretary and Jay Davies treasurer.
Peterson said if anything, she anticipates a rejuvenation of local efforts.
“We are excited because we see the Red Cross as a whole taking action in very difficult times,” Peterson said. “Polk County specifically has been proactive in adjusting to the changes the ARC has incurred. Now we are just excited about working with Karen Hannon, our new community development director, to get the Red Cross out in the community even more.”
Hannon, who previously worked in the McDowell County office, started her new role Aug. 1.
She said what people can expect to see from the Red Cross is an even larger presence.
“The community will probably find themselves seeing the Red Cross out a lot more,” Hannon said. “If there is a health fair, we want to be there. If there is a community event where we can help further educate people about our services, we will be there. A huge part of my job will be going out in the community and reminding people that we are here for them.”
The organization still plans to host regular blood drives, CPR and health courses and fundraisers, as well as keeping a regular disaster response team on call.
Hannon stressed emphatically that anyone wishing to donate to the local Polk County Red Cross could still do so without fear that their money won’t remain in Polk County to serve Polk County residents. She said all anyone has to do is continue to make their check out specifically to “Polk County Red Cross” and that money will remain in the county for services.
Hannon said one thing that is going to come as a benefit of the three-county umbrella is better cooperation among the offices.
“Everybody is going to help everybody,” Hannon said.
She said this could mean assistance from McDowell’s emergency response vehicle, extra volunteers on the scene if a large-scale fire were to break out or Polk offering to house stranded travelers in its shelter.
Peterson said people could also expect the local Red Cross office to continue to host its regular fundraisers, such as the annual fish fry. Perry pointed out that blood drives would also remain at the forefront of what the local Red Cross does.
“We will, of course, continue to host many blood drives because that is such a huge part of what we do and they will never stop being needed,” Perry said.
The next blood drives on the Polk County Red Cross’ list are scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 10 at Autumn Care in Saluda and Monday, Sept. 12 at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon.

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