Heroes campaign grows in county

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By Brandon Mattingly

The Nelson County chapter of the American Red Cross took major strides forward with fundraising in Marion and Washington counties this year, and that’s because it’s become more than just a one-county organization.

Fundraising efforts have been a part of the Heroes campaign, which designates a person or group as a Red Cross Hero for raising or donating at least $1,000. Better representation on the Red Cross board has led to a big increase in local involvement in the organization.

“One of the core things we’re trying to do on the board is to make this a three-county organization,” said Red Cross Chapter Chairman Fred Hagan. “Part of this fundraiser is helping to do that. This is the kind of grassroots, local leadership that the Red Cross is looking for.”

“I’m on the board now, and we’ve got Jane Higdon in Marion County, and I think that expansion of board members into these counties has really helped,” added Lisa Haydon, Washington County’s representative.

Hagan noted that the group plans to change the name of the chapter to be more inclusive and said not enough of an effort was put into the other counties last year, but that the multi-county emphasis has paid off this year.

“We had good response from all three chapters, and I’d say we’re approaching the $50,000 mark now,” Hagan said. “During the core of the fundraiser (in February), we had about $43,000, and since then we’ve had some other things coming in.”

As part of the chapter’s effort to become an all-inclusive organization, county-by-county collection numbers aren’t recorded, but Hagan estimated that Washington County has raised about $8,000 this year.

With Red Cross volunteers helping to provide shelter, food and clothing following disasters, Hayden added that the county will likely never raise as much money for the Red Cross as it will eventually use, but that’s historically been the case for Kentucky. A state that commonly sees tornadoes, floods and even ice storms, Kentucky is near the top of the list of states that use more money than they raise. Greg Goatley, who shared a role in rounding up support within the county this year, said that support is why he got involved.

“The services that Red Cross provides in disaster situations is so critical for the people who are directly affected,” Goatley said. “We’ve had problems here in the past where people get displaced from their homes. While this community has been great about churches and other organizations helping, the Red Cross has a right and an opportunity to be there when it’s happening to provide help when it’s most needed.”

Hagan, Haydon and Goatley each agreed that volunteer work and the recruitment of additional volunteers is the biggest part of what the Red Cross does. They’re trained in blood services and disaster preparedness, and Hagan said there’s even work being done to prepare for any major disaster that might occur.

“When you open a shelter, you don’t just throw some cots down and say, ‘Come on in,’” Hagan said. “It has to be organized, because if it’s not, it turns into chaos. The Red Cross knows how to do that.”

The number of volunteers in Washington County rose from nine in 2012 to 14 this year, and there are at least three local residents going through training, which began last week.

Volunteers aren’t restricted to helping out in their own communities and can assist at any location where the Red Cross is needed. Hagan recalled responding to a house fire in Washington County earlier this year, and said it made a huge impact on him and a fellow volunteer.

“When I responded to that house fire, Steve Smith was with us, and that was his first house fire, and it made a believer out of him,” Hagan said. “When you show up, and the house is burned to the ground, and those people are out there in their pajamas, that makes a believer out of you.”

The Red Cross continued fundraising efforts on Friday when the Springfield Police Department provided a road block to collect money, and other ways to contribute still remain.

The Red Cross and the Bardstown Knights of Columbus are hosting a spring golf tune-up at Woodlawn Springs on Friday, May 10.

Registration is scheduled for 7 a.m., with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. and lunch and awards at 1:30 p.m. Drop-off or mail registration to American Red Cross is at 312 S. Third St. in Bardstown. Call (502) 348-1893 for more information.

Washington County 2013 Heroes team names:

Springfield Attorneys
Springfield Business and Professional Women
Springfield Rotary Club
Springfield State Bank
Springfield Lawyers
Springfield Lions Club
City of Springfield
Springfield Knights of Columbus
Washington County Fiscal Court
Len and Susan Spalding