The evening of March 30, over 400 volunteers, staff, donors, and friends spanning the 22-county regional footprint gathered at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center to celebrate 100 years of the American Red Cross serving Central Pennsylvania.
The program honored the volunteers and donors that have supported the Red Cross mission of alleviating suffering in the face of emergencies and looked ahead to the next century.
“The Red Cross prepares us to respond to the events that we pray will never happen,” said Centennial Chair Angela Leopold in her opening. “But, when it does, our volunteers are there with a helping hand and warm hug when all seems lost.”
Koby Langley, Senior Vice President of Service to the Armed Forces spoke about the value of volunteerism, the importance of mentorship, and our volunteer sites across the globe. He introduced Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces staff Paul Butler who skyped in from Djibouti to described the ways the Red Cross supports the military abroad.
“My most important job is delivering emergency messages which the Red Cross has done for decades.” Butler explained that the role has transformed thanks to cell phones and the internet adding, “Our role now is verification. We’re the trusted agent for the military to check with doctors, police and funeral home directors so they can authorize emergency leave and a plane ticket home.”
Keynote speaker Major General Douglas O’Dell was appointed Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding by President George W. Bush and had oversight of restoration of the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He reflected on the work of Red Cross volunteers who respond to disasters every single day and touched on the importance of building a strong volunteer base to continue fulfilling the Red Cross mission into the future.
Special honors were presented to South Central Chapter volunteer of nearly 50 years, Dr. Luther Sowers, for Volunteer of the Year and Community Aid for Outstanding Partner of the Year Award.
Regional CEO Jeri Sims concluded, “As we begin the next 100 years of service, we will continue to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies, strive to build stronger more resilient communities and families, and grow our youth engagement programs. Together we can touch the lives of so many in truly meaningful ways.”
Photos from the evening can be viewed on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RedCrossCentralPA/