UPPER SANDUSKY - In recent years, the American Red Cross has been taking steps to reorganize and cut costs. The Seneca County and Fostoria offices shared a director for a few months, but another round of changes has taken place.
Cheryl Wolfe, director of the Wyandot County chapter, became responsible for Seneca County as of July 1. The lifelong resident of Upper Sandusky is relatively new to the Red Cross. She completed two full weekends of "disaster college" courses last fall. Fortunately, she was not called to any emergencies until her training was finished.
"I started with the Wyandot County Red Cross the first of September 2012. This position had been vacant for over a year, so we did not have an office or an advisory council, a very limited disaster response team and no administrative office help volunteers," Wolfe said.
Moreover, the chapter had no income or resources, so she had to start from scratch. She was able to find rent-free office space in Liberty Family Center Church of God, the former Trinity Evangelical Church, 102 S. Seventh Ave., Upper Sandusky. She recruited 10 volunteers who have received training as disaster responders, six more to help in the office and eight to serve as an advisory council. By the first of October 2012, the chapter was responding to fires.
"Wyandot County normally has an average of 12 fires per year, but we wound up, from the first of October to the first of April (2013) having 20," Wolfe said. "Great training for me, but no one ever wants to see anybody have a fire."
In May, the agency had its first fundraiser at Moreno's Restaurant in Carey. Wolfe was "thrilled" when the event brought in $8,200. A benefit poker run, "Ride for the Red," is planned for 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 14. Bikers who participate also can make a stop at the Wyandot County Fair.
Before becoming Red Cross director, Wolfe worked five years at Upper Sandusky Public Library as the adult program and outreach director and remains secretary for Friends of the Library.
She has been an interior decorator for about 20 years and continues to offer her services for that. Wolfe also is a 22-year member of the Sounds of Music, a Christian women's vocal ensemble, and she is a member of Trinity Evangelical Church. She and her husband of 35 years have a grown son living in Westerville. At home, they have three dogs and two cats.
"I come from a hard-working family, ... but I love a variety of different things. I love to know as much as I can know. I've always been a go-getter and a hard worker. My family's always had a passion for helping others, so this is a perfect fit for me at this time," Wolfe said.
When Seneca County was added to her domain, she was promoted from part-time to full-time. Right now, she is mapping out a schedule to work Monday and Thursday in Upper Sandusky, Tuesday and Friday in the Tiffin office with a "flexible" day on Wednesday.
Wolfe is seeking two volunteers to keep the Tiffin office open and more to fill out the advisory council for Tiffin. Additional disaster response volunteers also would be helpful to maintain the services of the non-profit agency. No one is charged for Red Cross assistance.
"Because we are not subsidized by the government, we rely heavily on donations of volunteers and from our sister agencies such as the United Way." Wolfe said.
With Wolfe at the helm in Wyandot and Seneca Counties, Todd James in the Findlay office now oversees Fostoria. David Conley, who was the Seneca County Red Cross director for less than a year, is still employed by the American Red Cross, but he is part of its Armed Forces Division in Florida.
To reach Wolfe, call the office at (419) 294-1935 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.