Red Cross faces re-chartering

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2000

process: No decision made to

terminate chapter despite rumors


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Managing Editor

Jan. 12, 2000 11 PM

Recent concerns about the future of Pike County’s American Red Cross chapter remaining here have the rumor mill churning.

According to the American Red Cross field service manager for the state of Alabama, no decision has been made to terminate the chapter’s charter.

"I am at a loss myself," said Anna Trefethen. "I have not heard the office would be closing."

The comment came as concerns about the future of the Troy chapter were voiced amidst a "re-chartering" effort on the part of the national organization. Every five years, Trefethen said, all chapters must re-apply for a charter and must meet all criteria in order to do so. She said concerns about the future of the Troy chapter were likely related to the re-chartering process.

"We are reviewing the levels of service provided by branches in each community," she said. "But my understanding of the situation is that if a chapter doesn’t meet that criteria, we will undertake efforts to make that chapter better."

Trefethen was insistent that even though changes may be coming to Troy and Pike County’s Red Cross chapter, a strong Red Cross presence is something that is essential to the organization.

"We will not take Red Cross out of the community," she said. "Troy is an important community to us with the college and the growth that are going on there. That chapter has been a good one in years past and I know that a need exists there. We don’t want to do anything that would prevent Pike County from having a Red Cross presence that could be felt there."

But Jim Roling, chairman of the Pike County American Red Cross chapter, says he is concerned about what is going on nationally with the organization, though isn’t aware of any specific plans to close the chapter.

"I have some concerns about the direction that the national organization seems to be taking regarding the re-chartering process within the various communities Red Cross serves," Roling said. "We will dutifully do all we can to preserve the integrity of our local chapter and maintain active status."

In recent years, American Red Cross has moved toward a more centralized center of operation, changing the system that was in place until five years ago with a chapter in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. Now, total chapters in the state number fewer than 40.

"There has been some talk about moving to a more centralized center of operation," said Ralph Fowee, director of the Pike County Red Cross chapter. "But I am confident that will continue to see the presence of Red Cross in the Pike County community."

Fowee said any comment on the future of the local chapter itself would be premature until more data is in regarding the chapter’s re-chartering effort.

"We have heard a lot of wild rumors flying, but at this time, no one has notified our office that we would be closing or that the chapter would lose its charter," Fowee said.

But national requirements on the chartering of chapters has become more strict in recent years, and the difficulty of many communities to maintain active chapters is evident by the state’s chapter reduction five years ago.

"Five years ago, the national organization started re-chartering organizations," Trefethen said. "The idea was to certify that they were providing service to the community. Every chapter was reviewed to ensure that it was providing all of the ‘must services’ including disaster relief and a number of other things. We also looked at the ‘should services’ to determine if the chapter was providing a service to the community.

"Now, we are working through that process again, but I know that our goal is not to take Red Cross out of the community."