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Red Cross prepares to reopen Waynesboro office

June 25, 2007

In June 2006, the American Red Cross closed its office in Waynesboro. A new Waynesboro office is set to open in July.

Franklin County had been operating both a county chapter and Waynesboro chapter, the latter of which went defunct when the office closed.

The new office will serve as a "satellite office" to the one in Chambersburg, Pa.

"In my mind, there is absolutely no difference between the Waynesboro office and the Chambersburg office. It's the same staff and the same services. No matter where you live in Franklin County, you're served by the Franklin County chapter," said Tom Reardon, who became executive director of the county chapter in September 2006.

"What we'd like to see is that it's neighbors helping neighbors. We want to see people in their local communities helping their neighbors whether it be responding to a house fire or doing CPR or First Aid training," Reardon said.

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Herald-Mail reporter Jennifer Fitch recently sat down with Reardon.

What contributed to the reopening of a Waynesboro office, and when was the decision made?

When I started, it was clear that there were some hard feelings between the offices. The area had become what is called a service delivery area, and we were providing the disaster response for the area.

It became clear to me right away that it was the right thing to do to become one chapter. I honestly feel it would've been in everyone's best interest to have it happen prior to them closing. Part of the reason that our board here decided not to do it is that when it was all set to happen, they didn't have an executive director and didn't feel comfortable moving forward without an executive director.

I really did the research, and I found that I believed it to be feasible. I said, "Since we're providing the service there anyway, let's do it right. Let's make sure the services are accessible."

As far as the office opening, that is something from the day I started, one of my key objectives was to make American Red Cross services available throughout (Franklin) County equally, easily accessible. With Waynesboro being a big population center of Franklin County, it just makes sense to have an office there. I don't think it's right to make people drive a great distance just to access books or materials.

What services will be provided from Waynesboro?

Everything. Everything that we do will be provided from Waynesboro to some extent.

It will be a part-time office: Monday from 8 a.m. to noon, Wednesday 8 a.m. to noon and Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Everything we do here will be done there.

I see it as a staging point for disaster response, a place to keep disaster response materials, so that when our volunteers from the Waynesboro area have to respond, they can pick up materials and drop them off there to provide a faster response. We will be providing health and safety training in that office and in the community as well.

When the office did close, I understand there were some layoffs. How is the office being staffed at this point?

The Franklin County chapter currently has three employees.

Right now, the office isn't open. The office is there, and it's almost all set to move in.

The grand opening is going to be July 16. We will be rotating through the offices with the three staff members.

Our goal is to eventually hire an administrative assistant for that office to have some continuity there.

At what level is volunteerism in the Waynesboro area?

It's really just getting started. We made a concerted effort when we began this process to recruit board members from the Waynesboro area, and so we do have three board members who live and/or work in the Waynesboro area.

We have four brand new disaster response volunteers from the Waynesboro area and really hope with opening this office and having a presence that we'll really be able to improve that.

The volunteers we have are extremely dedicated and are just wonderful to work with. I don't think we have nearly enough yet. Any volunteer-based organization is constantly looking for volunteers.

How did you end up at the historic Toll Gate House, where the Chamber of Commerce used to have its headquarters?

One of our new employees here, our emergency services director, is a resident of Waynesboro. The day I interviewed him I said one of my objectives is to get an office in Waynesboro that's easily accessible and visible publicly, and he took on that challenge. He went around and talked to some folks.

It's a wonderful facility. It's a perfect location. It's easily accessible. It's visible.

It was just the right place at the right time for them and for us.

Do you think people in Waynesboro are going to notice any changes? Is there anything they should be anticipating?

I'm hopeful they'll see excellent service. We have an awful lot to do, and there's going to be a period of adjustment. We're human; we make mistakes. But I hope the end result, within a year, will be an excellent, quality service that's available and easy to access.

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