The commission voted to proclaim March 2024 as American Red Cross Month throughout Upshur County. Pictured, from left, are Commission President Sam Nolte, Commissioner Kristie Tenney, Jason Keeling, Zach Byers, Dawn Onesto, John Bess and Commissioner Doug Bush. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

County to consider American Red Cross request during budget hearings

BUCKHANNON – The Allegheny Highlands Chapter of the American Red Cross has requested a $2,000 fund allocation from the Upshur County Commission to cover the costs of replacing items lost after a disaster.

Jason Keeling, executive director of the Allegheny Highlands Chapter of the American Red Cross, attended the Feb. 29 Upshur County Commission meeting to proclaim March as American Red Cross Month and ask for the contribution.

“We are glad to be here to let you know about what’s going on with the services we offer in the area, and we’d appreciate your adoption of this proclamation,” Keeling said. “This is an annual process that has happened for over 75 years, all the way from the presidential level to counties and municipalities, but in West Virginia, I’m excited to say you’re the first to declare March Red Cross Month this year.”

The Allegheny Highlands Chapter covers 18 counties in Northeast and North Central West Virginia, as well as two counties in Maryland.

“We do have three team members that work in our disaster response area in Upshur County, so they’re the ones that help to coordinate when there is a local fire or a flood, making sure folks who are impacted have their immediate needs met,” Keeling said.

Dawn Onesto, disaster program manager for the Allegheny Highlands Chapter, said she works regularly with Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Steve Wykoff to help families affected by disasters.

“We had a multi-family fire that he called me about, and we were able to provide assistance to all three families that were affected,” Onesto said. “Recently, Ian Strader was able to pull this sweet lady out of her home during a fire, so I met with her over the weekend and talked to her — we’re very grateful that he was able to get her out.”

Keeling said they have also found great success with their blood drives in the county.

“I do want to call attention to the fact that we do collect a significant amount of blood in this county,” Keeling said. “We have gathered about 345 units of blood, and we have great partnerships with West Virginia Wesleyan, Upshur County High School and at least a couple of the Methodist churches here, so we appreciate all those folks who are working to deliver our humanitarian mission.”

The Red Cross representatives also requested a funding allocation of $2,000.

“That will go directly to the client services that we provide, so we make sure people have a place to stay in the immediate aftermath of a disaster,” Keeling said. “We provide food, clothing and any material resources in terms of medical supplies that may have been lost, like glasses.”

The commission said they would consider the request during their upcoming budget hearings, which are scheduled to begin March 7. During part of the budget sessions, the county decides if or where to allocate funds to outside entities.

The American Red Cross Month proclamation appears in full below:

Whereas, During American Red Cross Month in March, we recognize the compassion of people in West Virginia and reaffirm our commitment to care for one another in times of crisis; and

Whereas, This generous spirit is woven into the fabric of our community and advances the humanitarian legacy of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton — one of the most honored women in our country’s history — who nobly dedicated herself to alleviating suffering; and

Whereas, Today, kindhearted individuals in our community exemplify Barton’s commitment as they provide a beacon of hope for our neighbors in need; and

Through their voluntary and selfless contributions, they make a lifesaving difference in people’s darkest hours — whether it’s delivering shelter, food and comfort during disasters; providing critical blood donations for hospital patients; supporting military families, veterans and caregivers through the unique challenges of service; saving lives with first aid, CPR and other skills; or delivering aid and reconnecting loved ones separated by global crises; and

Whereas, Last year in Upshur County, the American Red Cross of Allegheny Highlands chapter assisted 9 families impacted by home fires, installed free smoke alarms, educated students in preparedness education, collected 345 units of blood at 13 drives, provided services to military members and families, and conducted CPR/First Aid training for 470 people.

Therefore, the Upshur County Commission recognizes the month of March in honor of all those who lead with their hearts to serve people in need, and we ask everyone to join in this commitment to strengthen our community.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!