The Red Cross has closed its McMinnville office, but the organization is still maintaining an active presence in Warren County, according to representative Jason Warren.
“That was basically an unmanned office so there was no reason to still be paying rent on it when nobody was there,” said Warren. “It doesn’t make sense to try and cut costs and pay for an office that isn’t being used.”
Warren said the Red Cross continues to serve the needs of local residents and points to the Sunday night house fire in Dibrell as an example of the Red Cross leaping into action.
“Being a Red Cross volunteer is a very rewarding experience,” said Warren. “Usually when we come in contact with people, it’s the worst day of their lives and we show up and provide hope. More than likely they are standing in their sleeping clothes and the fire department is putting out their house. Sometimes they’re left without shoes. We provide immediate relief when people need it the most."
Warren said the Red Cross gave the family in Dibrell immediate shelter at a local hotel and also provided gift cards so they could buy clothing.
Over the past decade, the Red Cross has undergone massive restructuring. Warren County used to have its own chapter under the direction of Kathy Nesmith. The Red Cross then increased Nesmith’s duties and put her in charge of a four-county area.
In 2013, the Red Cross reorganized again and Warren County was placed in a nine-county region called the Caney Fork Chapter. In October 2014, Nesmith’s position was eliminated and the Red Cross went from 12 chapters to eight chapters statewide.
Warren County is now grouped in the 17-county Heart of Tennessee Chapter, which Jason Warren represents.
Warren said house fires are the most common instances when the Red Cross provides assistance. However, tornadoes, floods, and severe ice storms where people lose power for days are other times when the Red Cross springs into action.
Warren pointed to the Red Cross emergency shelter that was established at the Warren County High School gym this winter as another example. The shelter was operational for two days, although no one used it.
“Just because the Red Cross office here has closed does not mean the Red Cross has left,” said Warren. “The Red Cross was faced with the decision of reducing staff or reducing the amount of money that goes to the clients were serve. We decided to reduce staff. What we need more than anything right now is volunteers. With a 17-county area, obviously I can’t be everywhere.”
If you would like to become a volunteer, Warren can be reached at (615) 604-2448. Volunteer registration can also be done online. The website is www.redcross.org/tn/murfreesboro/volunteer.