Local American Red Cross Chapter Honors Volunteers, Staff

SPRINGFIELD — Several volunteers and one staff member were recognized at the recent annual meeting of the American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter, held at the Springfield Country Club.

In addition to electing new board members and officers, the chapter also recognized the commitment of three volunteers and three staff members.

An award for outstanding managerial service was presented to staff member Laurel Bachand in recognition of her extraordinary service to the chapter. Bachand is director of the People’s Center for the Pioneer Chapter, and has served as both a volunteer and staff person for the program for more than a decade. This award acknowledges remarkable contributions to the work of the Red Cross.

Bachand was presented with the Tiffany Employee Excellence Award for 1st Level Management. Since her time with the chapter, she has shown outstanding leadership and devotion to the People’s Center, a free clothing store for the homeless, working poor, and disaster clients. The store is open five days each week, and Bachand supervises a cadre of volunteers who help to meet the needs of more than 15,000 people annually (plus their family members) who come to the center for assistance.

Two long-time staff members were recognized for their many years of service to the American Red Cross on the occasion of their upcoming retirements. Laura Birks is director of Volunteer Services and began her Red Cross career working with Blood Services 30 years ago. She served as executive assistant to the chapter’s former executive director and was later promoted to the position of director of Volunteers when her skills with people and the management of volunteer staff became evident. Birks also assists with the People’s Center.

Patricia Donahue of Springfield is deputy director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter. In her 30 years of Red Cross service, she has worked in every chapter department, supporting Administration, Disaster Services, Service to Armed Forces, the People’s Center, and Health and Safety. She is an expert in human resources and has been a leader in this role for the chapter. Donahue also led the ‘Doc-U-Drama’ project for the chapter, working for many years with community groups to discourage underage drinking among area high-school students. She will retire at the end of July.

Dorrie Durand was honored for her support of the Pioneer Valley Chapter and its Disaster Services Department. She was presented with the American Red Cross Exceptional Volunteer Service Citation. Durand has been a volunteer with the Chapter since September 2005, inspired by the relief efforts around Hurricane Katrina.

Durand is co-chair of the Disaster Action Team (the volunteer counterpart to the Director of Disaster Services). Locally, she is a disaster team leader with responsibility for disaster response in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties. She also chairs the chapter’s annual toy drive to support the holiday needs of disaster client families served by the chapter.

Nationally, Durand serves as supervisor for client casework when deployed to assist with major national assignments. She was honored for her commitment and dedication to the disaster program, her active participation, and her willingness to lead by example. She continually makes herself available to respond and work in the chapter, and also mentors and trains her fellow volunteers.

Also honored for outstanding support of the Pioneer Valley Chapter and its Disaster Services Department was Vicki Edwards, who was presented with the American Red Cross Exceptional Volunteer Service Citation. Edwards also joined the volunteer ranks of the Chapter in September 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

Locally, she is a member of the Disaster Services Leadership Advisory Team and responds to local disasters. Nationally, she has served in a leadership capacity assisting with mobile-feeding operations and also as a driver for Red Cross emergency response vehicles. Edwards launched a special fund-raising event based on the network television series The Amazing Race to help support local disaster services.

Also recognized and presented with the American Red Cross Exceptional Volunteer Service Citation was Donald Snyder. A volunteer with the chapter since October 2003, Snyder is a team leader in the Disaster Services Department and specializes in the Shelter Capacity Building Program. He is also a member of the Disaster Services Leadership Advisory Team and responds to local disasters. Nationally, Snyder has served as shelter manager for disaster-relief efforts.

In addition to his leadership in disaster response, he creates videos that tell the Red Cross story; they are used regionally for presentations to other agencies and businesses, for volunteer recruiting, and to help raise awareness about Red Cross services. His video highlighting our Service to Armed Forces program was shared with Red Cross chapters around the country.

He has taken the lead in building the shelter program by building relationships with city officials and emergency managers, surveys all buildings, creates an inspection sheet, and has built a shelter manager’s program to train all volunteers to work in shelters.