12/06/09 — Red Cross volunteers honored

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Red Cross volunteers honored

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 6, 2009 1:50 AM

A 28-year volunteer with the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross received the group's top award at a recognition ceremony Thursday.

Roberto Mendoza was named the recipient of the Mary C. Norwood Volunteer of the Year Award for his unselfish giving spirit in doing every job there is at the Red Cross in all his years as a volunteer. Those duties include his current position as captain of the disaster team. Mendoza recently received one of five governor's awards for outstanding volunteer service in the state.

Two new awards were also given out, in memory of two long-time Red Cross volunteers, who are now deceased. The Dora Perry Emergency Services Volunteer of the Year Award went to John Potter, who helps out with blood drives and recently reorganized the chapter's disaster trailers.

Ms. Perry volunteered at most of the chapter's bloodmobiles, making appointments and reminder calls and helping out at the canteen and as a greeter. But her passion was going out on disasters, said Cindy Umstead, emergency services director. She recalled a year when Ms. Perry ran a local disaster shelter for 36 hours, went home, took a short nap, then headed out to the Outer Banks with a national disaster team.

Frank Joyner received the Donald Best Blood Services Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with the chapter's blood drives for 22 years.

Best was a long-time volunteer, and at one time an employee, with the Red Cross.

The Margaret M. Moore trophy, for a blood drive sponsor collecting the most blood with less than 100 employees, went to Berkeley Mall for the fourth consecutive year.

The Arnold Edgerton trophy, given to a sponsor collecting the most blood with more than 100 employees, was presented to Wayne Memorial Hospital, who has received the award every year since 2002.

Charles B. Aycock High was honored for being the high school collecting the most blood.

During the ceremony, Desiree Autry spoke about her experience as a recipient of Red Cross blood services. She was born with a rare blood disorder in 1981, the first person ever diagnosed with the condition at Wayne Memorial Hospital. Her red and white blood cells can't fight off diseases as well as most people.

Because of the condition, Ms. Autry was repeatedly hospitalized as a child, then as a teen.

She suffered a severe bout when she was a junior in high school, competing in the Miss Pickle Pageant. She collapsed on-stage and had to be taken to the hospital the next morning. Doctors told her that without the three blood transfusions she received, she would have died.

Looking out at the blood donors in the audience, she told them, "If not for you, I would not be standing here today. You really do save lives.

"Today I am living my dream as a dance teacher. You truly do make a difference and change lives. You are all truly heroes in my eyes and in so many other eyes, too."