As Madeline Abramson will tell you, the Red Cross always needs more volunteers.
There are currently 3,000 volunteers in the Kentucky Region alone, she said – still not enough.
“Do we need more? The answer is yes,” Abramson said. “Particularly in disaster services, there aren’t that many people who can deploy for three weeks to a disaster site.”
She should know. As a regional board member of the American Red Cross Kentucky Region, Abramson has been intimately involved in efforts to boost and train volunteers.
It’s why she just received the National Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence.
Abramson was recognized by Red Cross National CEO Gail McGovern and her executive team at a March 28 awards dinner and ceremony in Washington.
The wife of former Louisville Mayor and Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, Abramson, a 25-year veteran of the Red Cross, has “served as a living example of community service, leveraging her relationships to further the mission of the Red Cross by increasing statewide involvement with community partners, corporate leaders, increasing the number of volunteers throughout Kentucky, as well as helping support fundraising efforts,” the Louisville Chapter office said in a prepared statement.
Specifically, Abramson has chaired the statewide Volunteer Steering Committee, which is developing the Red Cross volunteer workforce in the Bluegrass State. Under Abramson, the steering committee has established programs such as: volunteer recruitment and engagement task force teams in 10 locations throughout the state. This has resulted in the appointment of more than 30 leadership volunteers in key positions in all lines of business.
“Many people think the Red Cross is funded by the government; it is not,” Abramson said. “But it is mandated to provide relief during times of disaster, health and safety courses, and ensure a safe blood supply. It’s really a volunteer-driven organization.”
“Aside from typhoons,” she said, “just about every disaster you can have we have in Kentucky.”
Sometimes, the region must even send volunteers to neighboring states depending on the need.
Given how vulnerable Kentucky has historically been to natural disasters, she said, the need for more volunteers simply doesn’t abate.
Under her leadership, welcome teams have been formed in 10 locations to pave the way for 1,236 volunteers who joined the workforce in fiscal year 2016 – a 280-percent increase over the previous year.
Abramson was also instrumental in forming a professional development training program for Red Cross employees and volunteer in fiscal year 2016, resulting in an engagement workshop for all regional leadership. She has also played a role in developing a Leading through Change seminar for the regional Disaster Services Team.
The Presidential Award for Excellence is given each year to Red Cross employees and volunteers who demonstrate superior job performance aligning with the organization’s priorities. This award is presented to only 30 Red Cross individuals across the country.