American Red Cross calls locals to action

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  • Wayne-Pike Chapter American Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Jeff Banks stands surrounded by a prospective volunteer Brina Stasi from Honesdale, on the right, her son Anthony Hartman, 8, and Office Manager / Voluteer Coordinator Linda Barney.

  • Photos by Anya Tikka Jeremy Van Durne, a student at the Lackawanna College talks about volunteering with Gail Toscano, one of the Managers, while Jeff Banks, Disaster Specialist looks on.

  • Susan Kalkhuis-Beamm Allentown Chapter Manager Volunteer Services came to support the drive.

Giving back to the community can be a fulfilling feeling and volunteering through the Red Cross is one way to accomplish that.

“I’m studying Liberal Arts here,” explained Jeremy Van Durne, “and this just seemed like an interesting prospect.”

Van Durne was referring to the local Wayne-Pike Red Cross Chapter’s Volunteer Recruitment Day in Lackawanna College at Hawley Silk Mill on April 24. He spent time talking to the program managers and coordinators who explained about volunteer opportunities.

The Red Cross is run 95 percent with volunteer help.

“This is our first event for about two and a half years," Michele Baehr, the Chapter’s Executive Director offered. "We’re seeking volunteers for the various areas, Health and Safety, International Services, Disaster Response and Services, Vet Services, and support for the Armed Services. We’re particularly concentrating on our Disaster Action Team. When there’s a fire and the victims are displaced, we provide food, clothing, shelter, medication, counseling, and we’re looking for people who can go on the scene after a fire and take care of our clients.”

The volunteers give training programs, and also continue to support with long term recovery, with phone calls and counseling.

Volunteers can also help by giving talks to seniors and youth to teach them what to do when there’s a disaster or an emergency.

Susan Kalkhuis-Beam, Allentown Chapter Manager of Volunteer Services said the last recruitment drive resulted in 15 to 20 volunteers.

“We are a large, international organization," she continued. "There are so many opportunities. You also get benefits coming back to you, a lot of research shows there are numerous benefits to the person doing the volunteering. You can volunteer in a Red Cross Chapter that’s closest to you — there are 13 in the area, and some volunteer in two chapters.”

Anybody can volunteer

The oldest volunteer around is a 89-year-old man, who’s been helping for a long time, and still comes in from time to time. Another volunteer has been volunteering for 50 years.

“We deal with fire and flood, mainly," David E. Griffin, NE PA Region Disaster Program Manager said. "Jeff (Banks, Disaster Program Specialist Wayne-Pike, and Lackawanna Chapters) is the first point of contact here. For example, the fire department responds to a fire. They see people there who need help, and they call the Red Cross Bridge, who will notify our volunteers. Jeff will make sure there’s someone there to respond to the clients.”

Banks added he’s there to help in an emergency with middle of the night phone calls requesting help, as well as other functions.

“You don’t have to feel like you can only do one thing,” Banks said.

For more information on the Wayne-Pike Chapter call 570-253-2310 or for a list of ways to help or a list of other local chapters visit

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