American Red Cross Holds Annual Meeting In Olean

OLEAN – The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York held its Annual Meeting and dinner recently at the Olean Elks Lodge. Outgoing Board Chair Clayton Sweeney welcomed members and guests, and Chapter Executive Director Bill Tucker presented the “State of the Chapter,” outlining the programs and services provided by the American Red Cross to residents in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua County, as well as across the state and country.

Honored were those directors who had completed their terms of service with the Chapter: Ann Anderson, David Brown, Gina Oldani and Bart Sobczyk.

“It is with a deep sense of gratitude that we acknowledge their years of service to the American Red Cross,” Clayton said.

Chase Churchill of Chautauqua County and Howie Van Rensselaer of Cattaraugus County were welcomed as new members to the board of directors, with their first terms in effect from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. In addition, Dick Erickson of Chautauqua County was nominated for a second term effective July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. Sweeney and Derek Watkins, both of Chautauqua County, were elected to their third and final consecutive terms, effective July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2016. The slate of officers for the period of July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, was also approved by the members, with John Plumb to serve as chapter chair, Xena VanDewark to serve as chapter vice chair, and Dorothy Button to serve a second term as board secretary.

The guest speaker for the evening was Ms. Tara Hughes, New York State Disaster Mental Health adviser for the American Red Cross. Tara is a Disaster Mental Health chief in the Red Cross national deployment system and has responded as a disaster mental health worker to many disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, a deadly tornado in Enterprise, Ala., the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, Slave Lake (Alberta, Canada) wildfires in 2012, Hurricane Irene, Super Storm Sandy and the Boston Marathon Bombings. She shared her experiences and discussed the importance of post-disaster mental health services with those in attendance.

The Chapter’s Distinguished Service Award was presented to Sweeney for his service to the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York, as well as to the American Red Cross New York State Service Council. Hughes was also presented with the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her dedication to assisting those impacted by disaster.

The Chapter’s Community Partnership Awards were presented to three organizations, each of which has provided superior support to enable the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York to deliver its essential humanitarian services to people in areas most affected by disaster. This year, the Community Service Awards were awarded to Otis Eastern Services Inc. in Allegany County; CUTCO Corporation in Cattaraugus County; and C.V. Bush Elementary School in Chautauqua County.

In his closing remarks as Chapter Chair for the board of directors, Sweeney stated, “This organization is absolutely crucial to our local communities across Southwestern New York. It is through your fantastic contributions of time, blood and money that we are able to do our job. We are strong because of each of you, who believe in our work and carry out our mission in the finest traditions of Clara Barton’s dream.”