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Heroes Honored at Red Cross Annual Meeting

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"We look forward to another year of dedicated service to the communities in the Dakotas Region."

Hundreds of guests, including volunteers and community partners, attended the 2017 Annual Meeting and hero recognition event in Fargo on Thursday, June 8. Upwards of 300 people filled the ballroom at the newly renovated Delta Hotels by Marriott to enjoy lunch and thank those who make the Red Cross mission possible.

The American Red Cross has a more than 100-year legacy of supporting our military. Appropriately, as the Dakotas Region celebrates its centennial year, the event’s keynote speaker was Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Manager Keith Huff. 

Keynote Speaker Keith Huff

Keith has served in the U.S. Army for over twenty years with multiple combat deployments and now serves others through the American Red Cross. One of his job duties is to host reconnection workshops to help service members and their families transition through deployments. At the Annual Meeting, Keith shared an emotional story of experiencing the struggle of reintegration back into society after deployment. He also talked about the services available to military members and veterans, and how he has come to live the life he does today. Keith’s passion for service, for life, and for supporting veterans, active military members and their families is what makes him an integral part of the Red Cross team and our community.

2017 Red Cross Hero Awards

Another important part of this event is recognizing those who have contributed to their community in extraordinary ways that align with the Red Cross mission. The recipients of the 2017 Hero Awards were WWII Veteran Jack O’Donnell, Red Cross volunteer Diane Atkins, and community partner Slumberland Furniture.

Hero Award Recipient Jack O’Donnell

Jack O’Donnell is a true hero and prolific volunteer. He served his country with honor in World War II as a dispensary store clerk on the USS Sitkoh Bay. He finished his time in the U.S. Navy as a petty officer. Jack returned home to North Dakota and became a sales manager with Procter & Gamble. He supported the Tide brand from powder to liquid products and supervised their transition and release. Jack was raised with the spirit of giving back and has volunteered in multiple ways over his 90 years. He has volunteered at the Fargo Air Museum, helping build several offices there. Using his sales experience, he volunteered as a SCORE mentor through the Small Business Association where he offered advice and hosted workshops to help others in the community reach their business and marketing goals. His latest endeavor is serving as a greeter and host at the front desk of the Fargo VA Hospital. Doing this every Thursday for the past nine years, Jack has accumulated more than 2,500 volunteer hours. He provides a great service to new-comers and repeat patients alike.

Hero Award Recipient Diane Atkins

Diane Atkins has served in a variety of roles since she started volunteering with the Red Cross in 2014. In the last three years, she has logged many hours in service to the Red Cross. Diane is truly dedicated to building a powerful and impactful volunteer workforce. She visits with prospective volunteers, trains new volunteers, aligns each volunteers’ talents and time commitment to appropriately fit the Red Cross mission, and makes sure all feel valued and welcome. Diane has dedicated countless hours at events to promote volunteer recruitment. Diane was part of a work group that developed and tested a new volunteer intake process throughout this past year. This work group was recently awarded an American Red Cross Presidential Award. Diane is often in the office and is the first to support anyone, staff or volunteer, who needs assistance or a kind word or gesture.

Hero Award Recipient Slumberland Furniture

The 40 Winks Foundation by Slumberland Furniture was honored as 2017 community hero. Slumberland is a long-time partner of the American Red Cross. When a family has just lost everything in a house fire or other disaster, the casework and recovery team connects them with community resources, like The 40 Winks Foundation by Slumberland. They have donated dozens of new beds to residents in our community without hesitation, ensuring all have a comfortable place to sleep after a disaster.

The Red Cross Annual Meeting had inspiring messages, well-deserved honors, and was also a time for some official business to be conducted. The Eastern North Dakota/Northwest Minnesota chapter of the Red Cross welcomed Jason Stein of Border States Electric as the incoming Board of Directors Chairman, while thanking outgoing Chairman LeRoy Adams of Choice Financial. Members of the Board were thanked and two new board members were received – Carol Johnson, General Manager of Delta Hotels by Marriott, and Ryan LaBarge, Assistant Store Leader at Scheels.

Our Red Cross staff thanks those who attended the 2017 Annual Meeting and continue to support the Red Cross mission. We look forward to another year of dedicated service to the communities in the Dakotas Region.