For their service and dedication, volunteers from the American Red Cross Pike Chapter were recently honored as part of National Volunteer Recognition week in the Hawley Silk Mill.
    The Executive Director of the Wayne, Pike and Monroe County Chapters Michele Baehr said the Red Cross could not complete the organization's mission without the volunteers, because 94 percent of the Red Cross is run by volunteers.
    From the Wayne Pike Chapter, there are currently 40 people who volunteer their time in various capacities, either by working in the office, at a blood drive or at emergencies. There were 25 present at the recognition breakfast, where they received an appreciation certificate and a goodie bag. The combined times that the volunteers contribute to serving the communities, Baehr said is what “really keeps the Red Cross going.” The volunteers' time, talent and smiles, she said are very much appreciated.
    Present at the breakfast were members of the Board of Directors, which is also made up of volunteers from the community and a few American Red Cross regional staff.
    Baehr introduced the Wayne Pike Chapter Office Manager Linda Barney who needed no introduction because she has been, “the glue to keep everything together.”
    People volunteering their time, Wayne County Commissioner Brain Smith said is very “meaningful” because if the number of people that volunteer ever had to be paid, it couldn't happen. As volunteers, Smith said they are all part of a special group as the area fire companies and those who visit with seniors at the centers are also working within the community to selflessly help others. These volunteers, he said “give from themselves, from their heart of their time and they do it as a sacrifice of their own time and their own families.”
     With Baehr and Barney, Smith said “we have a breath of fresh air,” and he encouraged the volunteers to recruit others because when emergencies strike, the Red Cross is there to help.
    When Baehr was a child, her family's home was destroyed by a fire. Because of that, today Baehr said that experience has “compelled my heart to really want to give to the Red Cross.” Having been on the receiving end, Baehr said it is amazing and now that she is able to give back, it is “incredibly meaningful” because she will never forget the importance volunteerism.
    Discussing the significance of funding, Baehr said working with the staff from other Red Cross chapters is very important because together their resources are combined. To keep “fun” in fundraising, Baehr said is essential because it allows for a great “level of passion and enthusiasm,” that the volunteers invest in the blood drives, responding to disasters and helping those in need of assistance. To inform the public about all that the American Red Cross does, Baehr said she is looking to create a chapter newsletter to “cultivate a culture here.”
    Since 2008 Jeff Banks has been a part of the Red Cross team, but more recently he joined the staff as the Disaster Program Specialist. Although he has only been in his position for a few weeks, Baehr said Banks has already been very busy. Banks said he is looking forward to work with the volunteers and he hopes to see many people at the American Red Cross blood drives.
    Now that Banks is on staff, Baehr said it would be good to have more volunteers, and so on April 24 on the third floor of the Hawley Silk Mill there will be an opportunity for people interested in volunteering to learn more.
    As a “fabulous resource and asset,” for the Wayne Pike Chapter,  Baehr introduced the American Red Cross Northeast Regional Manager of Volunteer Services Susan Kalkhuis-Beam who is based out of the Lehigh Valley area. Kalkhuis-Beam said although the Wayne Pike Chapter is smaller, together the volunteers are “mighty,” as they are a “fabulous group of people.” With the number of dedicated volunteers Kalkhuis-Beam concluded that, “the Titanic was built by professionals, Noah's Ark was built by volunteers.”