Red Cross celebrates 100 years

By Nikki Blankenship - [email protected]

The Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross celebrated 100 years of community relief efforts from serving military members and families to running blood drives and responding to disasters. Members of the local chapter invited the community out for food and refreshments and little Red Cross history at their Centennial Celebration Thursday night at the Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) Friends Community Center.

As part of the special evening, the chapter invited community members out for the event where they heard the history of the American Red Cross through a reenactment present by Diana Woods, who was Red Cross Founder Clara Barton for the evening. Through the dramatization, the public learned that Barton first founded the Red Cross in 1881 during the Civil War as an effort to aid those impacted by battle. She continued to fight for their national charter, which was passed by Congress in 1900. Since that time, the Red Cross has continued to adapt to serve the needs of families and military nationwide.

Then, during yet another war, in 1917 during World War I, the local chapter was founded with similar goals.

“This evening we celebrate our past as we prepare for the future,” River Valley American Red Cross Board Chair, Dr. Steven Rader stated. “We gather to recognize and celebrate the individuals, groups and organizations that make it possible for us to respond to disasters, collect life-saving blood products, provide training and education, support military members and their families and so many other things that make our community stronger.”

During the celebration, Rader joined Executive Debbie Smith in recognizing volunteers and sponsors who have been at the heart of the work performed by the local chapter.

Disaster Program Manager Ed Helphinstine recognized the efforts of local volunteers and outlined some major milestones.

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” he stated.

Helphinstine explained that the Ohio River Valley chapter supports six counties in Southern Ohio. In the past year, the chapter responded to 122 local disasters, writing 156 cases and seeing to the immediate needs of over 500 clients. The chapter also taught youth in the community’s elementary schools, providing 885 children with disaster related preparedness planning tools as part of the Pillowcase Project. Through the chapter’s smoke alarm program, 1,771 smoke alarms were installed in nearly 500 homes, serving over 1,200 clients. Those families were also provided with home fire safety education and home evacuation procedures and planning.

Though the evening honored all volunteers and donors, the Marcia Sanderlin Award was presented to one volunteer above all others – Tim Skaggs.

“The Marcia Sanderlin Award is presented to a Red Cross volunteer or supporter that has gone above and beyond expectations as a volunteer,” Helphinstine said. “Marcia was a very dedicated and compassionate volunteer for the Ohio River Valley American Red Cross. She exemplified true dedication and compassion for our chapter.”

Skaggs was honored for years of work with the Red Cross. He has managed the smoke alarm program. And, during the first year, Tim led a small team of normally only two people that installed 739 smoke alarms in six counties.

“This was a good start for the program,” Helphinstine commented. “Tim and I discussed a goal for the following fiscal year of 2017. He thought we could do much better. Tim has taken a break from the Red Cross and our Home Fire Campaign due to health reasons. When he left the program at the end of March his team had installed 1,527 Smoke Alarms in our 6 counties. So, in less than two years’ time, Tim started a new program, managed it and diligently worked and advertised it and installed nearly 2,300 smoke alarms. One day, while driving between Smoke Alarm appointments, I asked Tim why he spends so much of his time volunteering for the Red Cross. Tim told me in his very unique way, that he had not always been a good person, and he had a lot to make up for. He said, volunteering for the Red Cross was an opportunity for him to “do good.” I could not agree more. Tim has proven to be an amazing asset to the American Red Cross and a tremendous friend.”

Local and State leaders joined in recognizing 100 years of service from the Ohio River Valley Red Cross. For more information about the local chapter, volunteer opportunities and services, visit the chapter’s Facebook page or visit

By Nikki Blankenship

[email protected]

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.