It may be a new job for Birnie Florie, but he's not in an unfamiliar place.
"I spent a lot of time in my early life here when it was Sacred Heart School," said Florie, who took over as the new executive director of the American Red Cross of Augusta on April 1. "It's almost a homecoming."
He replaces Carolyn Maund, who retired March 31 after 20 years. The space where his office now is was part of the cafetorium, he said.
Though this is the first paid position he's had with the Red Cross, he is no stranger to the organization, having served as chairman of its board of directors and on several of its committees.
He first became involved with the Red Cross about 13 years ago when the organization approached him about radio station WBBQ becoming a media sponsor for the Beach Blast fund-raiser.
Florie worked with WBBQ for 35 years becoming its general manager.
After station owner George Weiss died in 1997, the station was donated to the Medical College of Georgia and later sold, leaving Florie jobless.
"My wife and I talked about it and decided if the right thing came along, I would go for it," he said. "I wasn't going in the marketplace unless it was the right thing. This is the only thing I have gone for."
One of the reasons he believes in the organization is its ability to touch so many lives. A speaker at an annual meeting summed it up.
"He made the most succinct statement of what the Red Cross is all about. He said, 'We have heard it said that is doesn't matter the color of your skin. It doesn't matter if you are white, brown, red or black. It doesn't matter how much money you've got. It doesn't matter if you go to church on Sunday or to the mosque on Friday or to the temple on Saturday. The Red Cross is an organization where all of God's children come together to help each other,"' Florie said.
Florie heads a strong organization, which is chartered to serve Richmond and Columbia counties.
"I plan to continue on the same course it is going," he said. The only changes would be in how to "better serve our community's needs," he said.
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