|Guest Editorial: Questions for the Red Cross|
|November 03, 2011 Jill McFarland|
Have you ever wondered about the American Red Cross in the panhandle of Nebraska? Do you assume they will be there when you are left homeless by a fire on a cold winter night? You should consider the following questions.
Where is the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) and how will it be dispatched in time of need?
Who is actually responsible for operations in the Panhandle?
What will the local staffing in the Panhandle be and what will this person(s) do?
In event of a single home fire, where should the victims call and who will respond?
When a shelter needs to be established, who will do this?
Who will arrange for course delivery, instructors, locations, and registrations?
How will local donors be recognized and when will face to face contacts be made?
The SUV was purchased specifically with a grant for the GNP American Red Cross chapter; the trailer was purchased with City of Gering keno funds. Will these resources be housed in Scottsbluff?
What is the plan to build and maintain local relationships that have been established with businesses and individuals?
Now, more than ever, you should wonder about the presence of the American Red Cross in your community.
I would like to share with you a series of injustices recently inflicted against the Greater Nebraska Panhandle (GNP) chapter of the American Red Cross. This GNP Chapter provided services to the 90,000 people living within the 14,000 square miles referred to as the Panhandle of Nebraska. The events that occurred can only be interpreted as a definitive plan to remove the American Red Cross from these eleven counties.
Actions began in the spring 2011 and concluded with the termination of the Director on October 27, 2011.
All accounting activities were transferred to the regional office
Financial statements were non-existent after March 2011
All monies were transferred from local banks to institutions outside of the service area
The 2.25 paid staff members were reduced to one (the Director)
The GNP Board was advised that they would have no control over the finances or operation of the Chapter
The annual corporate campaign would have started in September 2011 but was put on hold pending further information
A one-of-a-kind fund raising event planned for October 29, 2011 was vetoed by the powers that be
The Emergency Response Vehicle was removed from the Scottsbluff location
The decision to remove all activities from Scotts Bluff County left the United Way with no choice but to withdraw their funding for the now non-existent local chapter
And without this funding, the Nebraska CEO for the American Red Cross felt obliged to remove the local director from her position
The GNP Chapter had suffered in previous years. Beginning in 2007, a local effort began to rebuild the Chapter. A new Director with a board comprised of top level professional individuals began the journey. In the next three-and-half years the following occurred:
Community awareness of the mission and needs of the Chapter was expanded through various speaking engagements and face to face contacts
Community good will was increased across the service area
Fund raising was increased exponentially
Shelters were provided in various locations for victims of both tornados and flood
CPR training continued and was offered specifically to appropriate targeted businesses
A funding relationship was established with the employees of Cabela’s corporate office located in Sidney Nebraska
Various courses including CPR, survival skills, and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) operation were conducted for employees at Ted Turner’s Nebraska Ranch
Every effort was made to expand the reach of this chapter to all eleven counties
And within two years, the chapter had increased funding to a sustainable self-supporting chapter
Plans were in process to increase funding and eliminate funding from the Scotts Bluff County United Way.
We may well be residents of a rural, agricultural based area, but we are no less than our peers in the urban populated regions of Nebraska. The disparate treatment we have received is inexcusable.
The terminated Director, the members of the now defunct board, and the good people of western Nebraska deserve a response and an apology from the National American Red Cross.
I have provided the Gering Citizen with a carefully crafted letter, expressing the dissatisfaction of the local community. I intend to send a copy of that letter to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington DC, and would ask you to join me in that endeavor.
The Gering Citizen will have copies of McFarlan’d letter available to anyone in the community who would like to support our local Red Cross by signing and sending a letter to the national Red Cross board.
Gering Citizen will mail all signed copies to the national office.
Read more by Jill McFarland