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Red Cross: still active locally
August 30, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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A local Red Cross volunteer provides meal assistance to a displaced family after a tornado destroyed the Wagon Wheel Trailer Court in Scottsbluff. Volunteers provided food, clothing and other assistance, including temporary shelter to tornado victims at the Gering High School.

Although the local American Red Cross chapter was downsized last October as a cost cutting measure, the organization is still active serving the community.

“We still have funders and supporters who live in the Panhandle area and choose to donate to the American Red Cross,” said Tina Labellarte, regional Red Cross CEO for Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
Labellarte said they still have an office at Regional West Medical Center. However, it isn’t staffed on a full-time basis. “In our region, which is the state of Nebraska and eight counties in southwest Iowa, we have 16 locations. About half of them do not have full-time staff, but the offices have phones and office equipment for volunteers to use as needed. Currently we don’t have anyone in the Scottsbluff office who’s working a regular schedule, so there are no posted regular hours.”

Labellarte said they continue to rely on volunteers to serve the smaller areas of the region. Those volunteers are supplemented by paid staff that comes from larger offices when a disaster occurs.
“We’ve always had a very small volunteer force in the Panhandle area,” she said. “In less populated areas, it’s fairly typical that we have about a dozen people who are fairly active.”

She added that although the Red Cross has had to consolidate many of its offices to trim budgets, the organization remains one of the most recognized in the world. And in a computerized world, more and more people go online to www.redcross.org to get information about the Red Cross and its services. The national website should have relevant information on all its chapters within the next couple of months.

“The various classes that Red Cross has are still available, including CPR and lifeguard training,” Labellarte said. “Most people register for those by calling our offices. More and more of the course training are being offered online. Skill testing is still being done locally with an instructor.”

She said the regional Red Cross is still looking for additional part-time staffing in the Panhandle area. All jobs are listed on the organization’s website.
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