Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on September 30, 2005. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Red Cross director credits 4-H training
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Disasters the size of Hurricane Katrina are almost impossible to fully prepare for, but the American Red Cross director in Tupelo credits 25 years of training and experience as a 4-H volunteer leader with helping her meet the enormous challenges.
Patty Tucker has been director of the Northeast Mississippi chapter of the American Red Cross for 2 1/2 years. During the recent hurricane emergencies, Tucker oversaw service to more than 2,000 families. For three weeks, the shelter was open for almost 300 evacuees seeking refuge. A distribution center was opened to receive and provide supplies, serving as many as 200 orders per day.
"It has been amazing and rewarding to see how the community has come to the aid and assistance of the evacuees and the chapter volunteers," Tucker said. "Before Katrina, we had about 150 active volunteers, but we have had well over 1,000 volunteers at our shelter or distribution center throughout both hurricanes."
Tucker said the training she received serving as a 4-H volunteer leader for her children's clubs helped her organize the people and projects related to the hurricanes. Mississippi State University's Extension Service provides 4-H volunteers with training in leadership skills, record keeping, public speaking, program planning, organizational skills, networking and other youth-related issues.
"We have had an outpouring of generosity from the entire community including elected officials, businesses, churches and the Extension Service," Tucker said. "The networking experience really paid off as volunteers were found from many different groups including 4-H club members and leaders, Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, Master Gardeners and others."
Tucker, who serves on the 4-H advisory council, called on Susan McGukin, Extension program associate for volunteer management in Lee County, to coordinate people at the distribution center.
"Patty did a phenomenal job of keeping everyone on track. We were collecting from the community new and used clothing, toiletries, linens and household items, and these were all stored in a huge warehouse," McGukin said. "Patty would fax us requests, and volunteers would fill the orders from the warehouse. We also sent 15 tractor/trailer loads of supplies to south Mississippi."
McGukin said she had as many as 400 volunteers per day during the peak of the crisis and 50 working daily as the needs slowed.
"We often did not know the next step. We really did not anticipate the magnitude of the donations, but we were able to help find recipients and transportation for most of the donated goods," McGukin said.
"We had a team of national Red Cross volunteers in Tupelo who have traveled to disasters all over the country. They could not say enough good things about how wonderful the Tupelo shelter was," McGukin said. "They were extremely impressed with the distribution center because often another agency operates those."
Contact: Susan McGukin, (662) 841-9000