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The executive director of the New River Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, Annie Harvey, has added the business of the Wood’s River chapter to her responsibilities.
Teamed with Disaster Services Program Manager Grady DeVilbiss, Harvey will handle the administrative duties at the Wood’s River office on Bee Line Road in Carroll County.
“Our role is to serve as the face of the Red Cross,” she explained. “We’re here to support all four entities of Red Cross: disaster response, health and safety, international services and services to our armed forces.
“Probably my biggest role is to be a community liaison between the Red Cross and our local community.”
Harvey will split her time between the New River office at Christiansburg (which covers Floyd, Montgomery, Pulaski, Giles and Bland counties and municipalities Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford) and Woods River, which includes Carroll, Grayson and Wythe counties and Galax.
Harvey became the director of the New River chapter about 18 months ago, after she first applied to work with the blood services unit.
“I have always had this admiration for Red Cross — I really can’t tell you why,” she explained.
Harvey had a longstanding daydream that if she ever won the lottery, she would feel compelled to spend her time serving on the Red Cross board.
She once told a friend about her daydream. “And then one day my friend said, ‘Why don’t you just apply for a job at Red Cross? You don’t have to win the lottery.’”
Harvey could see the sense in that.
After hearing that the blood drive marketing position was filled, Harvey got a call from the New River chapter CEO asking if she’d be interested in being the executive director.
Originally from Lewisburg, W.Va., and a graduate of Radford University with a degree in public relations, Harvey made the transition from working in marketing and human resources at private companies to helping communities in the region.
She later agreed to work at Wood’s River after Joan Isom retired.
“When my predecessor retired, the opportunity became available for me to take this position, and the great thing about it is it allowed us to pool more resources,” Harvey said.
The boards of directors of the Wood’s River and New River chapters will retain their independent identities, she added.
Her duties will include fundraising, community involvement and promoting Red Cross programs locally.
“Being a new executive director with Red Cross, I learned very quickly... the community is unaware there’s a local Red Cross chapter,” Harvey said.
Most people think the closest Red Cross representative is either in Roanoke or perhaps even farther away, she said. “I want to work desperately to change that.”
Beyond blood drives, most people don’t know the range of services that Red Cross provides.
“When they think of Red Cross they think of national disasters, such as Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina,” Harvey said. “They may not realize that we were a first responder to their neighbor’s house fire.”
Red Cross provides support to emergency workers in floods, car accidents, search and rescue and local shelter needs.
“We want to be called no matter what the situation is, because even if [victims of a house fire] have shelter, there’s an opportunity for a clothes allowance, a food allowance or prescriptions, if needed. Even eyeglasses.”
“We do this 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in our community’s backyard,” she said. “It’s humbling and an honor to be able to help them move on with their lives.”
Red Cross is able to provide these services because of its dedicated volunteers and because of donations made by individuals and businesses, she said.
“The more education and awareness that the community has of exactly what it is we do, the stronger we become and the more ownership the community will have,” Harvey said.
Harvey and DeVilbiss want to take this message to the community by speaking to civic groups and schools and building their relationships with local partners.
• The community is invited to the Wood’s River Chapter’s 2013 annual meeting and “potluck” dinner, June 25 at 6 p.m. at the office at 244 Bee Line Road. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP by June 20 by calling Harvey at (540) 315-2639 or e-mailing Annie.Harvey@redcross.org.