As American Red Cross Month draws to a close, it is time to thank the people who make the Red Cross run smoothly in Southwestern New York - the volunteers.
Red Cross volunteers take time out of their day or night to help their neighbors in need. Whether it is spending a Thursday afternoon at the local church passing out cookies and juice at a blood drive or spending their Christmas morning with a family who lost their entire home to a house fire, volunteers make up the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York. Red Cross volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who love to help.
Without these great people, it would be hard to help the community. The Southwestern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross covers Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties with only eight staff members. The approximate 500 volunteers throughout over 3,800 square miles help us cover even the most remote parts of Southwestern New York.
Disaster Action Team volunteers will take time out of their busy weekend to help practice a disaster drill or to take classes to improve their skills so that when a disaster strikes in the Southwestern New York area, they will know exactly what to do and how to help their neighbors. Volunteers are able to prepare food for the masses, open a shelter for those not able to be in their homes and assess the damage after a storm has affected a community. These are just a few of the talents of our disaster action team volunteers.
Nearly every week you will find a sign on the street corner for a local Red Cross blood drive. Volunteers are there before the first needle is in an arm, and do not leave until the last blood unit is on the truck. Often these volunteers make phone calls to remind the regular donors of the blood drive to ensure that the blood drive can reach its highest potential. Once the drive is up and running, volunteers help donors get registered, and after the donation, keep the donor calm and safe.
Some of the hardest working volunteers are often overlooked. These volunteers are the voice you hear when you call the local Red Cross office or the faces you see at the fairs, festivals and fundraisers throughout the counties. "Behind-the-scenes" volunteers shine the brightest - especially in March. Each "Savor the Flavor" has a great committee that puts a spectacular event together. Volunteers spend countless hours making sure each detail is to the highest quality. Volunteers in the office help fold, stuff and seal numerous envelopes, address cards, ask for silent auction donations, make countless phone calls, and so much more.
The Red Cross would also like to thank all of our financial supporters, board members and United Way organizations in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. No matter or how large or small the gift may be, we greatly appreciate it and those funds will be used help our neighbors in need.
So as March goes out like a lion for the Red Cross, we want to thank each and every volunteer and donor that helps make the Southwestern New York area a great place to live, work, and play. Without them, the Red Cross would not be able to provide vital services to our community. If you would like to become a volunteer, contact your local chapter office: Jamestown 716-664-5115, Olean 716-372-5800 or Wellsville 585-593-1531.
Bill Tucker is chapter executive officer of the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York.