Red Cross area expanding

Published 12:05 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

The American Red Cross’s recent decision to streamline chapter operations means the service area of the local chapter will expand by three counties. It also brings a possibility that the local chapter may lose its local Red Cross director, said Chris Osborne, ARC spokesperson.

The local chapter currently serves Covington and Conecuh counties. That area will now cover Escambia, Butler and Crenshaw counties.

“Those in need of Red Cross services should anticipate no change,” Osborne said. “And with that said, no community or area will be left uncovered.”

The national Red Cross announced in June it planned to downsize its Alabama operations from four regions to one.

“While change is never easy, these changes will make the Red Cross a more efficient and effective organization, and, by reducing our administrative expenses, allow us to put even more money back into the communities we serve,” Osborne said. “We don’t want people to have fears. The Red Cross will continue to respond in the manner everyone is accustomed to.”

At present, there are two interim directors in place for the five county area – one here and another in Escambia County. One of those positions will be eliminated, he said.

“We’re still working on the logistics and the locations,” he said. “There will be one director, with a role and responsibility that has changed,” he said. “We are freeing them up and letting them back off from office functions – they don’t have to do their own accounting or IT work, things like that. That will give them more time to engage volunteers than ever before.”

Osborne said the Red Cross will turn to its database of volunteers for disaster response.

“Volunteers work 24-7 on disaster teams, responding to fires,” he said. “We hope to see our number of volunteers increase, because now, more than ever, there is a great need for volunteers.”

Staffing changes should be completed by the first week of September, he said.