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Red Cross Adds to its Board, Recognizes Partners & Volunteers

We are so proud of all of those who support our efforts and it is an honor to be able to recognize their tremendous contributions to our organization.

The American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan, serving: Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau Counties, hosted its 96th Annual Membership Meeting and Recognition Event on June 12th at the Traverse City Elks Lodge. With over 100 supporters in attendance, the chapter formally elected four new board members and honored several area residents and organizations for their service to the American Red Cross and the local community.

Each spring the chapter holds its Annual Meeting and presents a fiscal year recap to the Red Cross community. In addition to the year-end wrap-up report, the chapter recognizes the efforts and contributions of key partners and volunteers who have made a significant impact on the community they serve.

“We are so proud of all of those who support our efforts and it is an honor to be able to recognize their tremendous contributions to our organization.” said Kevin Bavers, executive director of the NW MI Chapter. “Their dedication to our mission, their deep compassion for others, their countless hours of service and their many gifts towards our cause have helped to make this organization what it is, we simply could not be here without them.”

This year marked the addition of four more members to the local board of directors. Todd Neinhouse of Agevix LLC; Doreen VanDommelen, a Registered Nurse with 30 years of experience; Joseph Winowiecki of Versus Technology and Donna Phillips of the Frankfort-Elberta Chamber of Commerce. Under the leadership of current Board Chair, Doug Morgenstern, the chapter continues to strengthen its services and build a sustainable structure to maintain the role of Red Cross as an integral part of the local community.

“Leadership begins at the top and our membership emulates what they see their board doing.” added Bavers, “The board sets the bar for everyone else, which encourages them to give it their all to ensure we will be here when needed.”

The evening’s program included a keynote address from the Commanding Officer of Camp Grayling, Colonel Erich Randall, who gave a compelling and energetic overview of what the Red Cross means to those serving in the Armed Forces.

Recognitions for Outstanding Service: Health and Safety Instructor of the Year – Angela Ondrajka; Volunteer of the Year – Jill Forney; Disaster Volunteer of the Year – Diana Bitner; and Service to the Armed Forces Honoree of the Year – Neal Horning. All were honored for their tremendous time commitment to the various areas of service they contributed to throughout the year and their dedication to serving the Red Cross and their constituents.

Blood Donor Recognitions for Gallons of Blood Donated (to-date): Liz Gaskins reached a key milestone by donating her sixth 6 gallon of blood.

Through her donations alone, it’s possible she has touched up to 144 lives with each pint of blood being able to save up to three people.

Community Partners Recognized for their Outstanding Support:

Community Partner of the Year – 7&4 News: During the past year, 7&4 News has provide the NW Michigan chapter with an impressive amount of support, increasing the breadth of their reach into the local community, impacting the fiscal bottom line and solidifying Red Cross relationship with our local community, which overall helped to improve the quality of Red cross services.

“Throughout the years they have shown us what it means to be a true supporter of your local community and in 2012 raised the bar even higher.” Said Kevin Bavers, Chapter executive director.

During the March Snow Storm they provided amazing television coverage helping to keep our constituents informed of changing conditions, shared with them the stories of those in shelters and made sure everyone watching the news, knew where they could locate shelter if they were in need.

For the Red Cross April Heroes Campaign they hosted a live phone bank (which they did again this year) allowing our community to call in and make a donation to help raise a portion of the funds needed to provide local home fire financial assistance.

During Superstorm Sandy, they provided up to the minute information on the developing conditions along the East Coast, hosted yet another phone bank telethon – helping to raise over $13,000 in under two hours and even held a bottled water drive, which collected and delivered (free of charge) two semi-truck loads of bottled water to our friends and neighbors out East.

As always, 7&4 News has offered numerous opportunities during the year for the local chapter to share the Red Cross story to a large television audience and helped to show our community why it is so vital that we have a strong local Red Cross.

Disaster Supporter of the Year – The Travelodge, has been a Partner in Disaster for several years and has shown a great interest in taking care of Red Cross clients who have had home fires and are in need of hotel lodging.

“Always willing to help and regardless of the time of night, they find a way to squeeze us in, which is not always easy especially during the summer months. They have stepped up and made it easy for us to place people in need of shelter and have worked with us on the number of rooms and pricing when in a bind.” Said Bavers.

Special Honors:

Doug Morgenstern and the Chapter Board wrapped-up the evening with a special certificate of recognition to Captain Joseph R. Buzzella Jr. who strengthened the chapter by serving on its local Board during his two year tenure in Traverse City.

“We are so thankful to our community of Red Crossers who work so hard and give so much to ensure we have a strong local presence, it makes all the difference!” concluded Bavers wrapping-up the chapter’s 96th consecutive year of operation.

If you are interested in joining the Red Cross and making a difference in the lives of others, visit or call (231) 947-7286.

About the American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit