Ten community volunteers received recognition for their dedication, from high-schoolers Jansoo “Thomas” Kang and Rushton Dobbins, who volunteer at a free dental clinic, to retirees Tom and Ruth West, who are active Red Cross volunteers and help the Meals on Wheels program.
“Volunteering goes back to the days of barn-raisings or quilting bees, when neighbors rallied around each other to help,” said keynote speaker Steve Alford, a Red Cross volunteer and donor. “If you’ve volunteered, you’ve raised a barn or had a quilting bee in your own way.”
Women ages 30 to 40 are the group most likely to volunteer, Alford said, but nonprofit agencies are seeing fewer volunteers than 10 years ago because of women that age staying in the work force. Older volunteers are the ones most likely to say yes if asked, he said.
Volunteers comprise 97 percent of the local chapter’s workforce, said Connie Hensler, executive director of the Georgia Three Rivers chapter. The Red Cross renamed the Troup chapter last year because it now encompasses 10 counties rather than three.
“We have over 200 volunteers in this chapter serving about half a million people,” Hensler said. “And if a disaster happens here, we are prepared.”
The chapter responds to house or apartment fires at least four times a week, she said.
“No matter the time of day or night, our volunteers are there,” Hensler said. “I’m inspired by them.”
The flooring arm of Milliken & Co. presented the Red Cross with a check for $4,100 at the kickoff.
“We’re thrilled to be able to start off with this donation,” Hensler said. “This is the first time in the six years we’ve had the heroes breakfast that a company or organization presented a donation at the kickoff.”
The chapter also recognized business breakfast sponsors as well as the 2011 Red Cross Heroes, who are volunteers in their community and who pledge to raise money throughout the year for local Red Cross programs. Those heroes include 53 individuals; Club Red, the youth arm of the local chapter; the Troup County Board of Realtors; and 10 Troup County schools.
Several fundraising events have been planned for April and May to help in the Red Cross campaign, including “Samba to Save a Life” led by Red Cross Hero Kelly Kemp from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Friday in the parking lot at Kemp’s Carpet at 1287 Lafayette Parkway. Cost is $5 per person.
“I’ll have all new choreography; I’m trying to pull in all my regulars,” Kemp said. “I was glad to be asked to serve as a hero and hope I get to do it again next year. It’s a great way to give back to the community.”
Other fundraisers include a plant sale to coincide with Mother’s Day. Plants are $18 and include 10-inch hanging Boston ferns and 10-inch hanging lantana. Orders must be submitted by April 25. For information, call (706) 845-7888.
Natalie Shelton can be reached at nshelton@ lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311 Ext. 229.