Though still working to put the finishing touches on how the office looks, staff and volunteers have begun to work from the office at 3856 Candies Creek Ridge Road.
The local chapter was once located on Inman Street and had most recently been located at 20th Street S.E. since 2004. Chapter director Julia Wright said the move was made to allow more people to find the office and make it easier for staff and volunteers to help those in need.
“This was an effort for us to be more visible in the community,” Wright said.
Located in a store space that was once a florist’s shop, the office is composed mainly of a front entry and waiting area and a hallway with offices lining it. Toward the back of the office is a larger room with tables and chairs, which Wright said would be used for the organization’s regular training classes.
The room designated for training classes provides less space than the ones at the last office location, which she said does not matter because the Red Cross has “evolved” to do things differently than it once did.
More and more training sessions have been planned in conjunction with other organizations at their locations. In fact, volunteers like Stanley and DiAnna Stanich recently took part in a training session with local emergency responders at their facility. Though training for volunteers will still happen at the office, it will not be as frequent as it once was.
“The space is very usable for what we’re going to be doing,” Wright said.
More emphasis has also been placed upon going out of the office to help people rather than requiring them to visit the office, and it should be easier to find them when they do need to, she added.
As an “added bonus,” the office is now located in a shopping center surrounded by other offices and businesses. Wright said she and the other staff have felt welcomed by the other tenants so far, and she said it felt like the office had moved to be closer to the people to whom the organization worked to provide help.
“I feel like we’ve moved into a community,” she said.
That community has been helping the Red Cross make its move over the past few weeks. Groups of volunteers got together to brighten up the walls with new paint. People like local firemen have helped move heavy desks and other office furniture.
Wright said she wanted to allow visitors to see more of the organization’s history, so the front waiting area has also been decorated with historic memorabilia from the chapter.
“This is a beautiful office,” DiAnna said.
A longtime volunteer who has participated in disaster relief trips to help victims of storms like Hurricane Sandy, DiAnna added that she thought it was nice to have a more centralized location from which the local chapter can base its operations.
The Cleveland chapter office is one of four in the East Tennessee Region of the American Red Cross. The four offices collectively serve 11 different counties in the area. The Chattanooga office is also looking into moving to a new location, Wright said.
While the office is technically open now, the Red Cross will also be holding an open house event on Nov. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m.
The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that provides things like food, clothing and shelter to victims of events like natural disasters or personal tragedies like house fires, among other things.
For more information about the local chapter, visit www.HiwasseeRedCross.org or call 423-472-1595.