United Way grants trial funding for local Red Cross

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton/Carter County United Way board of directors voted Thursday to provide trial funding support to the local office of the American Red Cross through the first quarter of 2003.
   The funding comes with a contingency for additional funding based on how the chapter operates in the coming months, according to Brenda Wallace, president of the local United Way.
   "We will be getting monthly reports from them on the funding; how it is spent and the services provided with that money," said Wallace. "Anytime we have questions we can contact them."
   She said the office would hopefully be staffed with local volunteers and employ a local person.
   "They do need volunteers who can teach the classes and I believe we have several people in the community who are qualified to teach," said Wallace.
   The county's Red Cross board of directors and two-member staff resigned in early September shortly after learning the organization's Regional Volunteer Committee had decided not to recharter the Carter County chapter.
   The office remained closed until volunteers with the Kingsport Area chapter of the American Red Cross began providing services for the county.
   Red Cross volunteer caseworkers have met with six Carter County families to provide assistance with shelter, food, clothing and medicine after the families lost their homes to fire, according to Jane Harris, executive director of the Kingsport chapter.
   The Red Cross also provided food and drink for emergency workers during the recent hazardous material spill that occurred on West Elk Avenue.
   "They are doing the services but they have been doing them with some volunteers coming out of Kingsport," said Wallace. "They plan to hire someone on a part-time basis so they can staff the office five days a week, five hours a day."
   At a meeting with the United Way board of directors in late September, Harris and a regional representative with the Red Cross said the Carter County chapter had an opportunity to become a "service center."
   The Carter County office would remain open with a "service coordinator" to direct volunteers, oversee classes, and develop disaster response and preparedness drills, according to Harris' ongoing service plan for the county.
   Administrative duties would be relocated to another larger chapter, according to the plan.
   United Way board members said in September that they supported funding the Red Cross, but many wanted more specific information about what requirements the charter had not met in rechartering.
   Wallace said the funding amount was not designated by the board and would depend on fund-raising efforts of the United Way's 2002-2003 campaign.
   "It will depend on what is raised in this United Way campaign as to how much they will receive," she said.
   To access the Red Cross or apply to become a Red Cross volunteer, call 423-542-2833.