A name change is in the works for the Warren County Chapter of the American Red Cross. The organization has expanded into other counties and will be named for the river that runs through them, the Caney Fork. The new name will be the Caney Fork Chapter of the American Red Cross.
“We took on Van Buren County, White County and DeKalb County in September of last year,” said Kathy Nesmith, the director of the local chapter. “We started thinking about changing the name at that time.”
The reason for the inclusion of other counties is to expand, or face the possibility of being disbanded in the future.
“Just like any other organization, times are hard,” said Nesmith. “A lot of smaller chapters have closed in and around Warren County. We knew our chapter had to grow or be dissolved. We have always had a strong volunteer group in Warren County, even during tough economic times, so closing was not an option.”
The American Red Cross organization is not funded by the federal government. Local Red Cross offices are self-funded through donations made in their community from public, United Way, grants and local government donations.
After successfully taking in three counties that lost their chapter, the process to change the name of the organization began.
“We wanted our name to be as much about White, DeKalb and Van Buren as it is Warren,” said Nesmith. “We debated on the name that would connect all four counties. The only thing that did that was the Caney Fork River, which runs through all four counties.”
With its central office remaining in Warren County, the chapter has already opened a second office in DeKalb County. More offices may be added as available funds allow it, says Nesmith.
“Right now, with a low budget and going into the winter with house fires, we don’t have any money for anymore paid staff,” said Nesmith. “We are relying on our dedicated volunteers to support us in this change.”
The Warren County office will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays, while DeKalb County’s office will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays.
After the process to change the name began, Warren County’s chapter was approached by the American Red Cross regional chapter in Nashville.
“We were so successful in taking in three other counties, that our regional office thought we could take in five more counties,” said Nesmith. “We were asked to expand into Putnam, Jackson, Overton, Clay and Pickett.”
A third office is being planned for Putnam County. The days of operation will not be set until the office is close to being operational.
Despite the self-funded requirement, the regional chapter is willing to help out financially until Caney Fork Chapter of the American Red Cross has a handle on its new responsibilities.
“Right now, we are running just above the red line,” said Nesmith. “We are not in the red yet with taking on these other counties. The regional Red Cross knows the potential for us to go in the red is probable. They are willing to back us up until we can get everything established in all these counties.”
No name change will be made after the inclusion of the five new counties.
“We know Caney Fork doesn’t have as much of a meaning for those five other counties as it does for the counties we now serve,” said Nesmith. “However, Caney Fork does not list one specific chapter.”
Funds donated to Caney Fork Chapter of the American Red Cross can still be designated to a specific area or disaster. Nesmith says donations meant to be used in Warren County will remain in Warren County.
“If a donation is not designated specifically, it will go into one pot,” said Nesmith. “As always, if you ask that your donation be used for training, used for a specific disaster or stay in Warren County, we will track the donation to make sure it is used where you want it.”
Nesmith will be spending time at each of the offices and holding monthly meetings with the volunteers in each community.
American Red Cross is led by volunteers and offers relief to victims of disaster and helps people prepare for and respond to emergencies. Locally, the organization also offers first aid classes, free swimming lessons, babysitting classes for boys and girls ages 11 to 15, blood donation services and supports the efforts of emergency personnel, such as ambulance, fire and police.
To learn more about the Warren County Chapter of the American Red Cross, soon to be known as the Caney Fork Chapter, call the main office at 473-2595. Donations can be sent to 203 W. Main Street, Suite 310, McMinnville, TN 37110.