ADA – The local American Red Cross branch office, located at 704 N. Oak, room #16, provides the community with prevention and safety services, disaster/emergency services, military supports during times of war and Holocaust victim research for families of lost loved ones.  The Pontotoc County branch is part of the Heart of Oklahoma Chapter based out of Norman.  The Heart of Oklahoma Chapter supports Pontotoc, Garvin, Cleveland and McClain counties.  Pontotoc County’s representation on the board includes two board members, Kennedy Brown and David Hathcoat. 

“We were selected to serve on the Heart of Oklahoma Board and are the representatives from the Ada area.  We provide reports to the board as to what our local needs are here in Pontotoc County,” said Brown.  “We have the full support of the Heart of Oklahoma Chapter and have been more than pleased to date with the emphasis given to our branch office.”

Elaine Rhynes serves as the branch manager for Pontotoc County. 

“The county branch provides the operations for the county with the extended supports of the Chapter.  The relationship allows for a strong community branch while ensuring continuity of services for the future.

“It is the responsibility of the local branch to be strong in programming as well as fiscally fit to serve the county needs.  The monies needed to support the local branch are not awarded to the county, they are raised right here within the community for the community we serve, Pontotoc County.

“A primary supporter of the monies needed to aid in emergency and disaster services and conduct business in the Pontotoc County Branch office are provided by funding made available by the Ada Area United Way.  The American Red Cross and the United Way are longtime partners in fundraising and supporting the local communities across the country,”  Rhynes said.

Fortunately, the Pontotoc County Branch is located in a thriving community that acknowledges the need for community support for such agencies as the American Red Cross.  Funding for the local branch includes funding partnerships with the United Way as well as the support of individuals and businesses throughout the community.

“One in six people will be impacted by a Red Cross program, which means that even if you don’t utilize a Red Cross program you probably know someone who has or will,” said Christina Adcox, Regional Operations Officer.

The major portion of the branch office funding is utilized to support the emergency needs of families after disaster.  Often in Pontotoc County this ‘disaster’ is house fire. However, as in previous years, the supports from emergency and disaster can and have been related to ice storms and power outages as well as flash floods.  Regardless of the emergency disaster need, the local American Red Cross will be there and the funds provided by the United Way assist them in fulfilling their mission.

“What makes the Red Cross unique is everyone qualifies for our services,” said Adcox. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, if you have an emergency need following disaster we are here to help you.”

“When the American Red Cross responds to a house fire we are there to provide the ‘immediate’ needs of the family to ensure that they have a place to stay for the next few days, that they have clothing and food, and emergency supports are available if the family has life sustaining medical needs.  These supports are available because of the supports of the local community and their financial contributions,” Rhynes said.

“The public doesn’t really know all the Red Cross is involved in,” said Brown, “only that when an emergency situation develops, the Red Cross responds.  We also have public services program all the time like CPR and first aid training.” 

Rhynes said, “The American Red Cross is not limited to supporting the needs of residents during times of emergencies and disaster.  The scope of services includes providing preventative programs to assist the community in being prepared for emergencies as well as safety training.  As well as CPR and first aid for the lay responder and professional rescuers there are also programs designed to support safety programs for aquatics, baby sitting training, dog and cat first aid, HIV/Aids, bloodborne pathogens, environmental safety and hand washing techniques for pre-school children.”  

The health and safety courses in Pontotoc County are coordinated by Douglas Gordon, who serves as the AmeriCorp worker for the branch.  For more information regarding class schedules and registration please contact Douglas Gordon, Health and Safety Coordinator at the Pontotoc County Branch Office via e-mail at dgordon@arcok.org or (580) 332-2402. 

Upcoming courses of interest include weekly CPR courses offered on Tuesday evening from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm and first aid on Thursday evening from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm.  Additionally, CPR and first aid courses are offered the second and fourth Saturday’s from 9 am to 5 pm.  The cost vary, dependent on the components, pre-registration is required for this course.

Three new programs will be introduced to the Pontotoc County Branch in December and January.  The baby sitting boot camp will commence on Wednesday, Dec. 26 and conclude on Thursday, Dec. 27.  Classes will begin at 9 am and end at 3 pm both days at the branch office.  The cost is $60 and will include a baby sitters training kit.  Pre-registration is required.

The next two programs are related but not the same, Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid.  These courses are new to the American Red Cross and provide participants with some knowledge about how to care for their pet in the event of an emergency before veterinarian care is available.  The Dog and Cat First Aid courses will be held Saturday, Jan. 19, 2008, from 9 am to 3 pm. at the branch office.  Pre-registration is required for this course.

The branch office also provides onsite training for businesses that need or desire a large group of individuals trained at their location.  For information about how to schedule a class for your business or organization call (580) 332-2402 and speak with Douglas Gordon or e-mail him at dgordon@arcok.org.

Individuals interested in supporting the local branch with their time and talents as a volunteer may contact Ms. Doris Postoak, Administrative Assistant, at dpostoak@arcok.org or by calling (580) 332-2402. 

“In addition to your financial supports, the branch office is also seeking disaster volunteer supports to service the 35,000 residents in Pontotoc County.  Volunteers are needed for all areas of Pontotoc County, Byng, Latta, Roff, Vanoss, Ada, Stonewall and Allen.  A volunteer orientation will be held at 704 N. Oak, room #16, Ada, OK, Sunday, Jan. 13 from 3 – 4 pm.  Volunteers will discover a variety of ways to serve the local community.  Interested individuals may contact Doris to register for this orientation,”  said Rhynes.

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