Red Cross recognizes pair of Bartow volunteers
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 05, 2013 | 1611 views | 0 0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County residents captured half of the four accolades at the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia’s annual volunteer celebration. At the gathering at Grace Baptist Church in Cartersville June 25, Weyland Billingsley of Cartersville won the Special Volunteer Service Award and White’s Debbye Blalock was named the Chapter Volunteer of the Year.

“I was really surprised,” Billingsley said about the award. “I wasn’t expecting it, I guess, because I [volunteer] because I love to work for the Red Cross to help people, especially through disaster services. We really help people on a day-to-day basis.

“Folks, for example, here in the county, when they have fires in their home and they need help just with a temporary place to stay or food or some clothing ... we’re able to help them immediately. And then in large disasters, for example, the tornado up in Adairsville, we’re able to provide shelter and feeding and that immediate care that people need so that they can start with the recovery process.”

In discussing the Bartow recipients’ contributions, Jeffrey Putnam — executive director for the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia — revealed the award winners are nominated by their fellow volunteers and selected by the nonprofit’s board of directors.

“Weyland, he’s very involved with our volunteer management software deployment system,” Putnam said. “We just went through the new software change on how to manage our volunteers online, and he was instrumental there. He was the lead person that was handling that for us and also he’s involved in a little bit of everything. He’s one of these volunteers that no matter what you’re going to ask him, typically he’s going to say ‘yes’ and jump right on it. So [he is] very well-rounded, very involved [and] has been a volunteer for several years.

“And then Debbye is our volunteer leader for what we call our client casework team and that’s a group of volunteers that works here within the office that follows up with all of our disaster clients, manages all the data input, so that we can track our expenses for the funding that we provide our clients and keeps up with the clients that we provide assistance to up until the point that they no longer need assistance from the Red Cross. And once again, she was nominated by her peers. This is actually the second year in a row that she’s been nominated and has [been] chosen for that award. So [I am] really pleased. We’ve got a great group of volunteers.”

Echoing Billingsley’s comments, Blalock voiced her passion for supporting the Red Cross’ disaster services.

“I was very honored and humbled by [the award],” she said. “I began with the Red Cross at the time of Hurricane Katrina. I was watching television like everyone else and seeing people stuck on the roof of their houses being rescued by boats and helicopters. It just really hit me how vulnerable people can be and the Red Cross is always there when people need them. A disaster can happen to any of us at anytime, anywhere. Bartow County had a tornado recently, which is a good example. People have house fires every day.

“The more I have been involved with Red Cross, the more I have appreciated the organization and their disaster plan and how they put it to work and everybody has their job to do. It’s just like a well-oiled machine that works.”

For more information about the Red Cross’ Northwest Georgia Chapter, call 706-291-6648 or visit at!/NWGaRedCross.