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Local Volunteer Receives National Red Cross Honor

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GRANBY, CONN., February 26, 2015 – Granby resident Virginia Brezza was presented with the American Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence in Humanitarian Services on February 18 at American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. Brezza was among a select group of Red Cross volunteer and paid staff from across the nation honored for their outstanding service. Brezza was the only honoree from New England.

“We are so proud of Ginny,” said American Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region CEO Mario Bruno. “Her work helping people affected by disasters and helping others Red Cross volunteers to provide better service has been outstanding and has truly changed lives in our communities.”

Brezza was nominated by her colleagues in Connecticut, who cited her hours of service and outstanding record of high performance.

Last year, Brezza gave more than 2,600 hours to the Red Cross, helping to train and mentor fellow disaster response volunteers, as well as to act as Supervisor On Call, providing vital communication and dispatch services to mobilize disaster volunteers for local responses. Ginny also serves as a disaster response volunteer, providing immediate assistance to families affected by emergencies.

“It’s not unusual for Ginny to respond to two or three fires a month,” said Senior Director of Emergency Services Rebecca Johnson. “Working as a team leader, she helps newer responders complete paperwork and interview families.” Johnson said that Brezza frequently takes opportunities to help other volunteers improve their skills. “Ginny welcomes new volunteers and stays with them as a mentor. She taught more than 20 classes last year, training more than 80 volunteers in Red Cross disaster response skills and procedures.” Johnson added that Brezza became trained in the Red Cross online education system and has helped to maintain and correct hundreds of volunteer training records migrated into the system.

And when the Red Cross rolled out a new system for maintaining disaster assistance records, Johnson noted that Brezza was instrumental getting the system operational. “She learned the system, reviewed all the materials and created a training document that has become a resource for hundreds of volunteers in Connecticut and Rhode Island.”

“Ginny’s compassionate approach to working with families that have experienced a disaster and her generous gift of time made her an obvious choice to nominate for this award,” Bruno said. “While she has been with us for only two years as a volunteer, Ginny has quickly become an indispensable member of the Red Cross team. We are proud of her and grateful for her service.”

Bruno added that there are many different volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross. “What Ginny does in the areas of disaster response and administration are just part of what we have to offer. We have opportunities for every age and ability.” He said opportunities are available in all areas of Red Cross services, including support of blood drives; helping with disaster response and sheltering; supporting military families; assisting with international services programs; and providing instruction in lifesaving and disaster preparedness skills. “We will train you to help in your area of interest, or you can bring your professional skills to the table to help us better serve the community.” Bruno said information and volunteer registration are available at www.redcross.org/ct.

In the photo above:

Ginny Brezza, of Granby, center, is flanked by Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President and CEO, left, and Sherri Brown, American Red Cross Senior Vice President Humanitarian Services Operations.
Photo: Jason Colston/American Red Cross