On September 12, 2013, the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) celebrated its most important resource: volunteers. In a ballroom at the Philadelphia Hilton, some 400 people shared a meal to recognize the contributions of extraordinarily generous people in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. This banquet is held every year to honor and present awards to Red Cross volunteers and partners who devote their time to help and support others in need.
The evening was hosted by SEPA CEO, Judge Reneé Cardwell Hughes and local ABC news broadcaster Alicia Vitarelli, herself a daughter and sister of fire fighters. As the celebration occurred on September 12th, Judge Hughes made a point to recognize how many volunteers had come to be a part of the Red Cross in the wake of the September 11th attacks, noting that their commitment showed the generosity of the American spirit. Other speakers included, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and longtime SEPA board member, Tom Hays who presented the Chapter Wide Awards to our most devoted volunteers. The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania also recognized board member Teresa Bryce Bazemore of Radian who is serving for the first year as chair of the Celebration of Volunteers Committee. Former Chair Karen Martin was honored for her years serving the committee and event.
This year, our volunteers were involved in several high profile events. Many were deployed to regions all over the country to assist in the wake of wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes and even a terror attack. Others assisted New York and New Jersey residents in the wake of Superstorm Sandy or helped set up shelters in our region to assist residents affected by the storm.
In our local region, well trained Disaster Action Team volunteers worked tirelessly in each county to make sure residents received care and assistance when disaster struck. These people are essential to our work. In our region in the past year, the American Red Cross responded to 685 disasters, including home fires, floods and building collapses. We helped more than 1,100 Southeastern Pennsylvania families recover and rebuild. The commitment of these volunteers makes it possible to help people affected by disaster at a moment’s notice. Our volunteers literally answer the call, sometimes in the middle of the night, to be there for others.
Here is the list of honorees from this year’s Celebration of Volunteers banquet:
Exceptional Volunteer Awards
Communications Department: Sarah Peterson
Financial Development: Dianne Blomer
Health & Safety: Jon Dilks
Red Cross House: Robert Brown
Service to Armed Forces: Janice Winston
Volunteer Services: Johnnie Berry Lee
Youth Services: Ebony Powell
Emergency Services: Disaster Action Team Awards
Lower Bucks County: Kay Rossi
Upper Bucks County: Stanley Dunn
Delaware County: Catherine La Fleur
Eastern Montgomery County: Edmund Nelson
Western Montgomery County: Edward Kershner
Philadelphia County: Danelle Stoppel
Emergency Communications: Mark Klimp
Specialty Teams: Sue Halfond
Outstanding Captain of the Year: Natalie Watterworth
The Betty Robinson Award: Christopher T. Gheysens
The Sam & Dotty Kind Award: Janice Winston
The Jane Bisbee Award: Leon A. LaRosa, Jr.