Its mission statement sounds simple: the American Red Cross vows to "provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies."
For the 85th year, the American Red Cross of Augusta has met its mission.
"It's been a year of many challenges," said Pat Perry, outgoing chapter chairman, at the organization's annual meeting Aug. 29 at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel. "We met those challenges."
Days after last year's annual meeting, the nation was hit by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Volunteers such as Pearlene Franklin worked 18-hour days at the Red Cross blood center. Then she went to New York for several weeks to work as a logistics technician.
In all, 14 Red Cross volunteers from the Augusta area went to New York, Washington, New Jersey and Connecticut to assist victims of the attacks.
Curt and Patty Strickland, who spent several weeks in New York City, told a little about their experiences at ground zero during the annual meeting.
"It was such an honor and privilege to help in such a small way," said Strickland, who worked in one of the respite areas providing meals for those who worked to clean up the area. "There are many stories that are sad and are of great loss, but there are many stories of the miraculous and heroic."
Strickland met a man who was a construction foreman on Building 7 at the World Trade Center. Usually, after giving his work crew their instructions, he would head to Tower 1; however, Sept. 11 was his birthday. That morning he had a special breakfast with his crew in midtown Manhattan and he wasn't in Tower 1 when the planes flew into the buildings.
Strickland drove an emergency response vehicle. Among his duties was transporting food to the area. His wife and other volunteers served the rescue and cleanup volunteers.
Closer to home, volunteers with the American Red Cross of Augusta served more than 525 people in single-family disasters, including the Foxfire Apartment fire that displaced 11 families.
Another part of the organization's mission is to help people prevent, prepare for and respond in emergencies.
More than 770 CPR and first aid classes were taught from July 2001 to June 2002, with 4,722 people receiving certification.
As well as highlighting the activities of the past year, Red Cross officials spotlighted several volunteers who had excelled in their roles.
Ray Edgar, Pearlene Franklin, Richard Hutchins, Cecil O'Bryan and Toni Tiedeman received the Volunteer Services Award, and Rick Toole received the organization's highest honor - the Mary Lou Reynolds Award.
Several board members who had served 20 years or more were named honorary lifetime members.
The board paid special tribute to the chapter's executive director Carolyn Maund, who announced her retirement effective March 2003.
"We're not exactly sure how we're going to fill her shoes when she leaves," said Nancy Hussey, past chapter chairwoman.
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