Red Cross office safe from closing

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — Although the Red Cross is closing offices around Mississippi, the Natchez Chapter of the American Red Cross is safe.

But the Natchez-based office will be taking part in the restructuring that is going on at the state level, and one of the changes will help the local office better serve the area, Natchez office board Chairman Everard Baker said.

“This is taking the administrative duties away from the local chapter manager and giving the duties to someone elsewhere,” Baker said. “I think that is going to be the best thing to come out of this redirection because it will give (Executive Director Debra Davis) an opportunity to build our base — not only in Adams County, but in other counties we serve as well.

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“The way I look at it, the local offices are the face of the Red Cross, and every minute you spend in the office is a minute you are not on the road meeting and greeting people and building our base.”

Davis said the statewide offices being closed are, in most cases, near another Red Cross office.

“Because the chapters are so close, we have situations where two chapters are fighting for resources and donations,” Davis said. “So we are combining them to better serve the community.”

Davis said with the state Red Cross facing a deficit, the state offices are using this consolidation effort to find a way to cope with the current economic times.

Part of that will include consistent support throughout the state, which will help the Natchez chapter receive more resources, Davis said.

“With this restructuring, if Jackson is given a certain amount of money from the national Red Cross, then all Mississippi chapters will be given the same amount,” Davis said. “By working together and sharing, the Red Cross chapters will be able to serve the residents in a more effective and timely matter.

“With this reconstruction, we will be able to build a stronger and more sustainable Red Cross for the people of Mississippi.”

Any donation made to the local chapters will still stay on the local level. Only resources coming down from the national office will change, Davis said.

Baker said the board recently voted to expand its number of seats.

“That broadens our local involvement, and that is what is important to the Red Cross,” Baker said. “Providing assistance, being there and knowing where to go to.”

Davis said another change could be imminent.

“Somewhere down the line, could be six months or it could be a year, the chapter might be renamed,” Davis said. “We serve Wilkinson, Amite, Franklin and Jefferson counties, along with Adams County, so our new name would incorporate our reach.”