Local Red Cross forced to adapt

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, September 3, 2011

National changes spill down to local chapters

The American Red Cross’s national changes are affecting local chapters in Mower and Freeborn Counties.

Mower and Freeborn County Red Cross chapters will be sharing employees after budget cuts have forced one employee from Freeborn and two employees from Mower County to leave. Both chapters will continue operating separately, according to Executive Director Elaine Hansen.

“With the new structure we’re putting in place, the public won’t see a difference,” Hansen said.

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Hansen will direct both chapters as part of the cost-saving measurement, while Mower chapter employees Brigitte Campbell and Daryl Saurer will no longer be employees.

Red Cross volunteers will pick up the slack, working on cases and helping with preparedness and disaster communication efforts throughout the community. About 250 volunteers helped the Mower County Red Cross last year, with about 100 more unregistered volunteers, Hansen said. While the Mower chapter has plenty of volunteers, Hansen said she hopes to grow the volunteer pool in Freeborn County.

There’s no word on if either shelter will change hours yet, but some initiatives will stay the same, such as the Mower chapter’s Personal Care Shelf, which Hansen said helps more than 600 people a year.

The American Red Cross cut about 10 percent of its employees this summer in a restructuring move. Hansen was notified of the changes in July.

Though the people and the hours may or may not change, Hansen is confident the Red Cross will remain the same.

“It’s just we’re going to do it in a different way,” she said. “One thing that’s never changed is our commitment to our mission.”