08/11/11 — Red Cross now offering tours, stories of hope

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Red Cross now offering tours, stories of hope

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 11, 2011 1:46 PM

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Tammy Forrester, a Red Cross volunteer, explains the variety of classes and courses offered by the organization and her own experiences with using the CPR she learned through the training to save a life.

Everyone has a Red Cross story, local volunteers say, and they, and the staff at the Wayne County chapter, want the public to share them.

It is all part of a new program in which small groups of people are given tours of the chapter headquarters at 600 N. George St. where volunteers and staff let them know what the charitable organization does for the community.

The idea, chapter executive director Chuck Waller said, is to spread the word.

"We hope that those who attend will share the story and hopefully provide their own ideas on how the Red Cross can get its story before the public," Waller said.

One of those stories belongs to volunteer Marian Everhart and her young grandson.

"I started out as a very reluctant blood donor. I didn't want to do it, but I was finally talked into it," Mrs. Everhart told the group touring Wednesday. "When I gave that first time, it felt so good. I started at that point giving blood every 56 days if possible. I went from being a donor to a volunteer. So I have been giving blood for a long time, and I did it because it was the right thing to do."

The reason for giving took on even more importance on the weekend of Dec. 20, 2009, when Mrs. Everhart's daughter and family came home for the weekend for Christmas. Her 1 1/2-year-old grandson, Wesley, was sick all day on Saturday. His parents took him to the emergency room. He was sent home and the family was told he had an allergic reaction.

They were awakened about 4 a.m. the next morning to the toddler's screams. His face was swollen.

His parents took him back to the emergency room and Mrs. Everhart slowly got ready for church while waiting for a call from her daughter.

"About 10 o'clock the phone rang and Mary says, 'Mama,' and I knew when she said 'Mama' that something wasn't right," she said. "She said, 'Wesley has leukemia.' From that day he had a very rough, rough first six months of his treatments."

Photos on the wall at the chapter house show Wesley at his first cancer survivor's walk and another of him kissing his grandmother.

Wesley, who is in remission, has had six transfusions and six units of platelets.

"So no, not only do I give because it is the right thing to do -- I give because I know for a fact it's the right thing to do," she said, "My blood can't help Wesley. I am O positive and he is O negative, but my blood will help somebody else's Wesley.

"I don't know how many of you give blood or how many don't, but I will tell you it is a good feeling to know that one donation can help save three lives. Give a child or adult another Christmas."

Wednesday's tour was the fourth in what Waller sees as an ongoing project.

"We did one to a core focus group way back like in March," he said. "We have actually been working on this for over a year. Essentially it is what we feel like is a powerful way to help share our story because our story is wide. A lot of folks don't realize what we do.

"We plan to do this as long as we can, as long as there is some interest out there because I feel like it is an opportunity for us to enlighten people that you do need to donate blood -- that it is very important; that you do need to learn CPS and first-aid; that you need to take this disaster training because you never know, the tornado that hit could have easily dropped in Wayne County instead of Greene County."

Waller hopes people from all over the county will take advantage of the opportunity.

"It is open to everybody," Waller said. "I would love for you come and see what the Red Cross is doing, absolutely. Somewhere along the way we have had a hand helping somebody with something I feel like. I say that to people all of the time. We touch everybody. You think you or somebody you care about won't ever need blood, won't need CPR or first-aid? Do you live in a neighborhood immune from wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes?"

For more information about the Red Cross or to sign up for a tour call 735-7201.