Red Cross chapter here looking for volunteers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 21, 2002

The American Red Cross is looking for a few good men — and women.

Having ended its fiscal year on June 30, the Black Belt Chapter of the Red Cross began its 2002-2003 fiscal year looking for volunteers to assist in a number of areas.

“The American Red Cross is a volunteer-based organization,” says Victor Inge, interim executive director, “and we depend on the support of the community to prevent and respond to disasters.”

Inge said the Black Belt Chapter, which covers Dallas, Perry, Marengo, Choctaw and Wilcox counties, has been busy over the past few months equipping each county with cots, blankets and items needed to operate shelters.

“Mrs. Sylvia Smith is our volunteer disaster chairperson, and she’s seeing that all of our shelter agreements are in place. Our role is to assist her in locating individuals who would like to become Red Cross volunteers,” Inge says.

The Black Belt Chapter is accepting applications for the following volunteer positions: office staff, staff for Project Share, an Armed Forces Emergency Services coordinator, disaster workers, staff for blood drives, and youth for the Youth Council.

The deadline for applications is Aug. 2. Applicants will be interviewed and selected the following week. For more information call 334-874-4641.

It may be another six to seven months before the Black Belt Chapter begins looking for a permanent replacement for former executive director Becky Bailey.

Lawrence Wofford, Black Belt Chapter board chairman, explained that the process will take some time because the chapter is diligently working to smooth out some rough edges during a budget crunch.

“Victor Inge is the interim executive director and he will continue to serve in that capacity for another six to seven months,” Wofford said. “After that time, we will open the search for an executive director, which will be conducted by a committee through human resources, and from there move to make our decision.”

Bailey stepped down from her position in April amid scrutiny from the Regional Red Cross that questioned management practices at the Selma office. Bailey served as executive director for the past two years.

Following her departure, Red Cross officials appointed Inge, the former director of financial development, as interim executive director.

Since then, Inge, his staff and the chapter’s board members have been working to smooth out some problems that faced the former director, while still serving five Black Belt counties.

Wofford said the chapter ran into a budget shortfall and had to lay off two employees. “We also had to tighten up in terms of office expenditures. Some of that happened as a result of 9/11.”

Despite the budget crunch, Wofford said that things are going well for the Black Belt Chapter.

“We are continuing to provide services that we’ve always provided and have the same quality staff as always,” he said.

Among the programs that the chapter actively participates in is Project Share, a program to help offset the cost of electric bills for those most needy.

The Black Belt Chapter recently elected new board members. They are Commissioner Freddie Armstead of Marengo County, Alvin Reed, director of Human Resources in Perry County, Ralph Irvin, Circuit Clerk in Wilcox County, Brett Howard, EMA director for Dallas County, and Angie Miller, director of the Grist YMCA in Selma.

“With the election of new board members, we try to expand the board with people working in all five counties,” Wofford said.