Red Cross provides vital services to residents
This week marks five years since Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf
coast with such an impact it was felt across the nation.
Peggi Stahr who is the new interim director of the Ripley County
chapter of the American Red Cross knows the devastation of that
hurricane and what it means to truly serve through the Red Cross.
She was in Knoxville, TN, as the director of the chapter there
at the time of the disaster.
It was unbelievable, she told The Versailles Republican.
There in Tennessee, they were flooded with those needing help.
One of the problems in helping them get help was their staff wasnt
sufficient to carry such a load, much as it is here.
The Red Cross depends on volunteers and many people came in to
volunteer but they had no prior training, according to Stahr.
She encourages people to be trained as volunteers before disaster
strikes so they can truly be helpful.
The Ripley County chapter is looking to perhaps change the image
of the organization locally through education. They are much more
than a disaster service relief, which is primarily how they are
The Red Cross offers a variety of community services through health
and safety programs such as CPR, First Aid, Disaster Preparedness
programs, and lifeguard classes to name a few. They also send
kits into the schools for teachers to use to help the younger
generation with any disaster they might encounter. These are age
appropriate so they are easily understood.
They are the agency mandated by the government to provide military
communications between families and active duty military personnel.
This is often times a death notification to a person serving in
the military of a family member at home.
The Ripley County chapter was chartered in 1917 and is a vital
part of the community it serves. For those who have a disaster
such as fire or tornado damage, the Red Cross is there to provide
immediate, temporary relief.
Stahr explained that sometimes people become confused about the
mission of the Red Cross and think they can help them when they
lose a job or have a financial hardship - that is not the case.
She stressed that the Red Cross is an agency that provides immediate,
temporary relief and more specifically they help out in a disaster
such as a fire to get people clothing, food, and a place to stay
for three days.
That three day period is crucial to a family who has lost everything
in a fire. This gives them an immediate roof over their heads
and time to sort out the situation.
The Red Cross is totally dependant on donations to survive. While
they are mandated to be in place and to help in times of disaster,
they do not receive any government funds, according to Stahr.
They depend on the generosity of donations. People who want their
funds to stay in Ripley County can designate their wishes and
it is honored.
Stahr, who has a 20-year history as a Red Cross volunteer before
going into the director side of it, says she is excited about
working in Ripley County. She knows much of the work of the Red
Cross is in the background, but is often vital to peoples
survival. She advocates education about the services the Red Cross
provides and says the more volunteers a group has the more they
In the future Stahr is hoping to offer a First Aid class for dogs
and cats, one like she offers in Dearborn County, where she serves
as the part time director. She said the babysitter classes are
also popular there.
The staff is very limited at the Ripley County chapter, located
on the square in Versailles. Besides, Stahr, who is only in a
couple days a week, Delbert Felix has accepted the position of
office manager and handles a variety of duties. He served on the
board of directors for the local chapter for nearly five years
and has a good understanding of the inner workings of the organization.
Stahr praised his work and the all-volunteer board. Those serving
on the board are also the same people you will see collecting
money at a bucket brigade on September 11 and 25, and serving
in the Versailles Pumpkin Show booth. They are also the ones who
might show up in the middle of the night to bring immediate assistance.
The local board is comprised of the following members: Brenda
Bannon, Fern Baumer, Barb Gunselman, Charlie Israel, Willie Ronnebaum,
Rob Schlotterbeck, Jason Smith and Jack and Susan Wilker.
There is so much potential here, Stahr told The
Versailles Republican, saying, This is a great group
of volunteers. She welcomes anyone who would like to become
a part of the Red Cross to get involved.
Felix said he believes in the mission of the Red Cross and wants
to better the services to residents in the time of their
need. For more information or to find out how to become
a volunteer, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured left, Peggi Stahr is the new
interim director for the American Red Cross Ripley County
chapter. Also pictured is Delbert Felix, who is the new
office manager. Together they have over 25 years of volunteer
service to the Red Cross. The Ripley County chapter is located
on the south side of the square in Versailles. To contact
the local chapter you can call 812-689-6308.