Red Cross consolidating resources

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The American Red Cross announced Wednesday that it will consolidate its resources and “regionalize” offices in an effort to streamline operations and save money.

Joan Hackman, director of the Atmore Red Cross said the change should have no noticeable effect on their services.

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“It won’t make any difference in our services,” Hackman said. “It should make for less paperwork and really make it easier on us. It’s a good move.”

The organization decided to make the change as a response to the difficult economy and financial deficits, officials said.

“The Red Cross has to adapt to current economic conditions and has to be a good steward of its resources,” said Alabama Region Board Chair Bill Smith III. “These changes are necessary to keep the Red Cross ready to serve our communities.”

The process of regionalization includes consolidating some functions to eliminate duplication of efforts while at the same time reducing the overhead.

The proposed changes will make the Red Cross a more efficient organization, officials said. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in services and programs.

“We will still be able to do just as much as we have been,” said Sandy Zuiderhoek, interim director of the Red Cross, Eastern Escambia Chapter. “It’s a good thing that the Red Cross is doing. We already work together in disasters and emergencies and this will continue.”

The new “Alabama Region” will provide enhanced disaster response in all 67 counties, in addition to other programs and services. In Alabama, 23 geographical locations were consolidate to 17. Through this transition full time emergency services staff will increase from 18 to 23 response/recovery professional who work in partnership with well-trained volunteers to respond to 2,400 incidents each year statewide.  The reduction in force affected 12 percent of the total employee base.

The anticipated cost savings can now be used to train more volunteers and deliver more services.

“Our focus throughout this process is to express compassion to those affected and to ensure service delivery,” said Anna Trefethen, Southeast Division vice president. “These are tough economic times and without changes, our financial footing would not be as solid. Non profit fundraising is a competitive market place and the Red Cross must continue to manage resources to the best of its ability in order to stay viable, and ensure we’ll be around to help people for years to come.”

Those families who need Red Cross should not notice a change in services.