06/05/13 — Goal: Growing the Red Cross

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Goal: Growing the Red Cross

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 5, 2013 1:46 PM

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Tammy Forrester has been named the new chief executive officer for the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Mrs. Forrester began her Red Cross career six years as the blood drive coordinator for Wayne County.

Tammy M. Forrester has been named the new chief executive officer of the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross. The 47-year-old took over the position on May 28.

As the top person at the local Red Cross, Mrs. Forrester is responsible for operations at the chapters in Wayne, Greene and Lenoir counties.

"I want to grow the communities," she said. "My new job is really many hats. My main responsibilities are to be the face of Red Cross, be out in the community and make it aware of what the Red Cross does everyday and how much we need our community. We want to make people in the community aware of how their sacrifices financially and volunteering their time, donating their blood, just how much everything that they do helps us to be all that we are."

Mrs. Forrester also will help the chapters raise money. She will be out in the three counties speaking at various events whenever the opportunity arises. She also will be responsible for doing walk-through of schools to see if they could serve as future shelters.

"My job covers all facets," she said. "And if a disaster happens, I have to do that, too."

Mrs. Forrester said she's excited about her new position.

"It's a challenge and I do look forward to a challenge," she said. "There's no down time. Every day brings something different."

Her first priority, though, will be focusing on building the volunteer base back up.

"That's not to say it was in a bad place before, it's just with a lot of restructuring that has gone on in the Red Cross, things have changed and we're trying to move ahead."

Mrs. Forrester started with the Red Cross in Wayne County six years ago as the blood services coordinator. She was responsible for all of the blood drives -- making sure things ran smoothly, helping at the drives and taking canteen supplies to the drives. She did that for about nine months.

Then she took on the added duty of doing health and safety for Wayne County, scheduling classes, maintaining equipment, giving out supplies and books.

After that, Mrs. Forrester became the regional health and safety director, responsible for 33 counties in eastern North Carolina.

Shortly after that, she worked for the Greensboro office of the national Red Cross out of the Wayne County chapter, doing health and safety.

Then Mrs. Forrester became the financial director for Wayne, Greene and Lenoir counties.

She was working as the volunteer coordinator for the Eastern North Carolina Region of the Red Cross, of which Wayne County is a part, when director Chuck Waller resigned in December, at which point she took over as interim director.

After a search committee went through the hiring process, Mrs. Forrester became the chief executive officer.

"The American Red Cross is a wonderful selfless organization," Mrs. Forrester said. "Its mission is to alleviate human suffering when at all possible, and that's a big task when there's a large disaster."

Mrs. Forrester is a Rocky Mount native, graduating from Southern Nash Senior High School and Nash Technical Community College.

She has lived in Wayne County for 23 years with her husband, Andy Jr., and their three sons, Grant, 21, Jacob, 19, and Noah, 14.

The Forresters are active in their church, the Bridge, and the Soup Kitchen.

"The blessing I receive from knowing I work in a place that helps people every day is unbelievable," Mrs. Forrester said. "To know that I have the ability through my job to touch somebody who's just lost everything in a house fire is a wonderful thing. I can't replace everything they've lost, but I can show up when they're standing there in disbelief and help them with clothing, food and shelter."