On Saturday, 100 volunteers will join together to salute 100 years of service by the American Red Cross to the Kingsport area.
In 1917, a group of citizens led by J. Fred Johnson obtained a charter from the American Red Cross to begin a chapter in Kingsport.
A century later, and still going strong, what is now the Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee wants to celebrate by helping make the community a safer place for all, Executive Director Glenda Bobalik said.
The organization is partnering with the Kingsport Fire Department to go door-to-door in five neighborhoods to ask residents if they need smoke alarms installed.
There is no cost to the resident as the smoke alarms are provided by the Kingsport Fire Department and the Red Cross.
Bobalik estimates volunteers will distribute about 700 smoke alarms during the event.
On Wednesday, volunteers were going out into the neighborhoods to distribute flyers about the event so residents will know to be looking for volunteers on Saturday.
Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire. The American Red Cross is working to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent a five-year period.
“Home fires are the biggest disaster threat faced in the U.S.,” Bobalik said. "Our goal is to reach as many homes as we can with this program to help ensure people know what to do and are prepared in the event they experience a home fire. We know that for every 1,000 smoke alarms the Red Cross installs, one life is saved."
The organization also is asking every household to take two simple steps that can save lives: check your existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.
You can be part of this effort.
Join the “Home Fire Preparedness Team” and make a difference in the community. People are needed in three different areas: pre-event canvasser (in small teams you go door to door to notify residents in targeted neighborhoods of the upcoming event in their area); smoke alarm installer (conduct home visits, test existing smoke alarms in homes, replace batteries as needed, and install smoke alarms within the home according to manufacturer's instructions; or disaster safety educator (provide education to residents on fire safety and additional local hazards and assist residents in completing a home fire escape plan).
To become part of the team or for more information: call (423) 765-4222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee serves 13 counties, having been formed through mergers of multiple individual chapters over the years.
Bobalik said that all the original chapters, however, were founded in 1917 — a time at which then-President Woodrow Wilson made a concerted effort to see the Red Cross develop chapters nationwide.
Other events marking the 100th anniversary will be held on future dates in other areas served by the chapter, Bobalik said.