The guest speaker was Amy Hicks, a survivor of the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
“For me the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the other emergency workers who were there that night were and are my heroes,” Hicks stated.
Hicks shared how the Hiwassee chapter had played an instrumental part in her recovery from the devastating April storms. She revealed the volunteers continued to provide help for her days after the tornado had struck.
“I was greeted by Michelle and Sandy and was a little shocked at first. Here they were at my home providing water to the workers who were putting our home back together,” Hicks recalled. “I remember tearing up and telling Michelle how appreciative I was. I did not believe they had not forgotten us.”
Chapter members listened attentively as Hicks spoke.
“We were only one family, but I know that the Red Cross did this all across the county and continued to for the past few months,” Hicks said. “Having accepted the term ‘survivor,’ I wanted to travel and make something good come from this experience in my life.”
Hicks went on to explain how she and her three therapy dogs, Larry, Daryl, and Addie are attempting to offer hope and comfort to those in need. Her public charity is called Helping Paws Healing Hearts. Hicks’ mission is to touch the lives of children by providing unconditional love through educational and social programming.
“So tonight I say thank you to all of you who volunteer for the [American] Red Cross in our community. Through your small part you have helped people get through the storms in their lives. So thank you for your time. I think volunteers are the most amazing people because you think about others.”
Hicks received a standing ovation as she left the stand. Don Loftin came forward to thank Hicks and begin the award ceremony.
“The mission of the Red Cross is to alleviate and prevent human suffering,” Loftin began. “One of the values of the Red Cross is compassion and that is what we have found in the partnership with First Baptist.”
Loftin and Julia Wright, director of the Hiwassee chapter, presented a Partnership Recognition plaque to Steve Morgan, a representative for First Baptist.
Volunteers were recognized for their hard work and dedication to alleviating human suffering.
“Whether you believe it or not you touch lives and you make a difference in those lives,” Loftin told the volunteers. “There is not a lot of things that you can do leave a lasting impression on this earth, but volunteering and showing love is one of those things.”
The awards and recipients were as follows: Beverly Michele received Special Recognitions; Johnny Hooker received Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year; David Roebuck received the Craig Parrish Award; Cassandra Yost received the Frank Hardwick II, Chapter Volunteer of the Year; Karen Morgan received Fundraising Volunteer of the Year; Victoria Ware received Preparedness Volunteer of the Year.
During the banquet, Mary Brown of Athens and Carolynn Web from Whirlpool were elected by acclimation to the Hiwassee chapter board. These additions were due to David Roebuck and Gary Stonecipher finishing out their time as board members. Wright jokingly quipped she would be calling them both up in a year about openings on the board.
Loftin thanked all the members who had attended and the volunteers for their enduring hard work. As he left the stand the chapter members once again rose for a standing ovation.
When asked about the past year, Loftin replied, “It’s been wonderful really, because of our volunteers. ... We have helped 300 clients, offered assistance at 90 fires, and given over $30,000 in assistance. ... I’ve travelled all over the U.S. and I have been a resident of Bradley County for 35 years. I have been intimately involved in these two disasters and the truth is, with the community we have here, there is no better place to live.”