Local Red Cross Chapters to Merge

SPRINGFIELD — The board of directors of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross has unanimously approved a plan to merge with the Hampshire-Franklin Red Cross Chapter. The Hampshire-Franklin Chapter previously approved the plan by a vote of its board. The new entity will assume the Pioneer Valley Chapter name.


Rick Lee, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter, described the merger as a proactive union that will result in a stronger, more efficient Western Mass. Red Cross chapter.

“This is a partnership that we have been discussing for quite a while because it just makes so much sense for both chapters,” Lee said. “It enables us to take advantage of numerous economies of scale in terms of service delivery, administration, training, health and safety courses, fund-raising, and volunteer recruitment. And in the world we live in today, nonprofit organizations like ours need to operate at a level of efficiency much higher than ever before.”

The new Pioneer Valley Chapter will very likely soon look for a larger, more visible Hampshire County location from which to base service-delivery and health and safety classes. Lee noted that this new location could meet the rapidly growing need for the Springfield-based chapter to develop a backup and additional space for its Service to Armed Forces (SAF) call center on Cottage Street in Springfield.

The Pioneer Valley Chapter has become a national resource for Red Cross chapters throughout the country, and serves as the SAF and Emergency Services call center for more than 85 chapters, including Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, and St. Louis. The chapter this spring entered into a contract to provide call center services to the Chicago Red Cross chapter.

“We’ve reached the point,” said Lee, “where we really need to create additional redundancy in our call-center operations, and with the highly educated and motivated volunteer base associated with the five-college area, we’re certain that Hampshire County would be an ideal location for it.”

Richard Conner, board vice chairman of the Hampshire-Franklin County Chapter, was enthusiastic about the level of cooperation between the two chapters. “Certainly, Red Cross chapters across the country are experiencing financial pressures in today’s economic climate, and that’s not going to go away anytime soon, but this merger is more about two entities combining their individual strengths and bringing a stronger, more vibrant and efficient Red Cross chapter to these three Western Mass. counties,” he said.

“We are committed to enhancing the Red Cross presence in the northern Pioneer Valley and convinced that the economies of scale from this merger will allow us to devote an even greater proportion of our resources to essential services.”