Dinner to honor volunteersThe American Red Cross’ Buffalo Valley Chapter is busy continuing its efforts for March’s American Red Cross Month. March 29 marks the chapter’s sixth annual Heroes Recognition Dinner to celebrate and honor local volunteers’ work.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
The American Red Cross’ Buffalo Valley Chapter is busy continuing its efforts for March’s American Red Cross Month.
March 29 marks the chapter’s sixth annual Heroes Recognition Dinner to celebrate and honor local volunteers’ work.
“We have approximately 50 hard-working, high-energy, humble volunteers for a variety of situations — some always on-call 24/7, some that can leave work if called upon, some retired individuals that can help during a daytime disaster,” said Beth Dewald, the chapter’s executive director.
The casual dinner will recognize three heroes in particular, but their names will not be announced until that evening.
“It’s going to be an exciting night to surprise them, as we have three remarkable individuals to honor,” she said.
While Dewald did not divulge their names, she did offer up the following hints: “One is a previous board member. Another is a volunteer helping with our disaster efforts. The third is an important individual within one of our partnership organizations.”
This is the first year the chapter will honor individual heroes, said Lucy Bardell, operations manager and assistant to the president at Farmers Union Insurance of Jamestown.
“There are really so many of these kinds of heroes that go unnamed, but it’s an exciting time that we get to honor a few of them,” she said.
Bardell, also a volunteer and two-term member of the chapter’s board of directors, said her work with the Red Cross has been very rewarding.
“I can just remember last Easter Sunday when the flooding was going on — Beth and I took some meals down to LaMoure … just seeing the appreciation on people’s faces for us to be there was unlike anything,” she said.
In addition to the dinner, the Buffalo Valley chapter is in its second year with its “Rooms for Red Cross” program.
“In the event of a disaster, we have built partnerships with hotels and motels in the six-county area we serve so that rooms would be available to those in need if they are displaced,” Dewald said.
Gladstone Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express in Jamestown were used on a couple of occasions last year and establishments such as the Quality Inn & Suites of Jamestown, the Hay’s Lodge in Fullerton, N.D., and the Carrington Inn & Suites of Carrington, N.D., have partnered with the chapter this year.
“With this program, rooms are reserved and available in these hotels in the event an individual or family we’re helping needs somewhere to stay,” Dewald said.
Gladstone General Manager Phyllis Thompson said it has been a wonderful partnership.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on being a home away from home, so we’ve enjoyed being able to assist individuals facing unfortunate situations,” she said.
Holiday Inn Express General Manager Heather Dever echoed those sentiments.
“We’re just glad to be able to help out in case something terrible like a house fire or a disaster were to happen and an individual or family was displaced from their home for a bit,” she said.
The chapter has also continued its work within the community to educate the public about safety and disaster awareness.
Dewald has been actively working with two community groups important to the Red Cross’ efforts — local military and school children.
“We are the blood-link between military personnel and their families,” she said. “If ever there is an emergency at home, a soldier’s family can call the Red Cross 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The chapter then serves as a courier for those families to reach their loved ones in the military and delivers any necessary news or information in the event of an emergency.
“We’ve touched a lot of lives over the years, especially within our National Guard unit,” Dewald said.
As for school children, the chapter has developed the Master Reader Program, in which Dewald has reached out to local schools to promote safety awareness.
“It’s important for everyone to be informed about the dangers of a possible disaster, but what this program does is allows these kids to go home and educate their families on how to put together things like a disaster plan and a disaster supply kit,” Dewald said.
The chapter is also working with citizens of the community and local businesses to raise money.
Farmers Union Insurance and First Community Credit Union in Jamestown have partnered with the chapter to sell “Hero Donation Cards” to their customers for a minimum of one dollar.
“Our motto here is life is better with community, and there’s no better way to help the community than by helping the American Red Cross,” said Tara Heyer, member service representative with First Community Credit Union.
Heyer said the donation cards are on display and all proceeds directly benefit the American Red Cross.
The Heroes Recognition Dinner will take place at 5:30 p.m. on March 29 at the Zebedee Center in southeast Jamestown.
Tickets are available for $25 at Ingstad Family Media, FCCU and the American Red Cross Buffalo Valley Chapter office, 214 Fourth St. S.E.
The event will also have a silent auction with about 40 items up for bid.
Dewald said some of the items include gift baskets and autographed sports memorabilia such as a baseball cap signed by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
For more information, call the chapter office at 701-252-3550.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org