Red Cross discusses uncertain future

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 27, 2003

With the stock market in decline and more donations being sent to the 9/11 national relief effort, non-profit organizations are being forced to tighten their belts.

One of the hardest hit in this area was the Black Belt Chapter of the American Red Cross. It was recently de-chartered by the national office, becoming instead a certified service delivery unit.

A public meeting was held Wednesday at the Selma Public Library to explain the changes and how they would affect Red Cross services to the Black Belt area.

Billy Baxter, executive director of the Central Alabama Red Cross chapter in Montgomery, said his office would handle all administrative support for the local chapter.

Baxter said the local chapter ran into a situation in which they were spending more money than they took in.

In years past, the local Red Cross took in between $130,000 and $150,000. Revenues for the current year are less than $100,000.

Despite a reduction in staff and the tight budget, the center will continue to provide disaster services to Dallas, Perry, Marengo, and WIlcox counties.

Despite the financial downturn, Ann Gougler, office manager for the local Red Cross, said the local community should not notice the changes.

Gougler said rumors have been rampant that the local Red Cross has been forced out of its building. The Red Cross office has not changed and will still be located at 812 Selma Avenue.

News of the de-charter and financial troubles hit hard for the people who have worked at the center for years.