Red Cross rolls out the red carpet

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By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

The Red Cross rolled out the red carpet recently when they celebrated the grand opening of their new facility at 1741
Triangle Park Drive in Maryville.

On March 1, friends of the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross braved rainy conditions to gather in the newly named Steve West Community Service Center room to celebrate moving into their new chapter house.

"Maybe we shouldn’t have expected anything but rain," executive director Betty Hale said, adding that it is often times of unexpected events that brings the Red Cross to action.

Board chairman Dale Huddleston recognized Chevrolet dealer and former Maryville mayor Steve West for his years of support to the chapter. In honor of the West family’s decades of service to Red Cross, the large activity center was named The Steve West Community Room. "When we need anything, we call Steve," Huddleston said.

Officials from Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County were on hand to talk about how much Red Cross has done throughout the years and what a difference the new, larger facility will make in helping others affected by emergencies like house fires or natural disasters.

"This allows them to do so much more for the community," Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell said.

Blount County Commissioner Gerald Kirby praised the Red Cross for helping the Blount County Fire Department throughout the years. "I wouldn’t take anything for the Red Cross" he said. "They’ve served the Blount County Fire Department 100 percent in any way they could. This is one organization that doesn’t get the praise they deserve."

The Blount County chapter started in 1917 as the United States was getting involved in World War I. The Blount County chapter is one of the few in the nation that still has a direct link to their founding members. "The history of this chapter is extremely rich," Hale said as the Red Cross recognized Grace Proffitt McArthur, daughter of Fred Lowery Proffitt. He was the founding treasurer of the Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Hale recognized the volunteers who helped make the chapter successful and who continue to make it successful. "Without the involvement of all the people who have been here, this day would not have happened," she said. "It’s one step at a time."

The Red Cross can be reached Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 865-983-0821. The Blount chapter website address is www.bccarc.org.

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