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Red Cross To Stay In Towanda Area

By Rick Hiduk

The desperate call for new office space for the American Red Cross/Bradford and Sullivan Counties (BSC) Chapter took flight through a variety of channels when representatives of the local branch of the emergency services organization realized that it would be without a home by the end of July. Now, the Red Cross has come in for a safer landing than expected, finding not only a temporary home at the Bradford County Airport in South Towanda but a long-term commitment.

“It’s very good news,” said chapter executive director Irene Melly, who had barely begun her new job in Towanda when she learned that the office would have to be moved from the Main Street location that the Red Cross shared with the Chamber of Commerce because the building was being sold. A subsequent plan to move operations to the Progress Building next to the Route 6 bridge when the Red Cross was unable to reach an agreement with the Endless Mountains Transportation Authority.

“We have to be here to effectively serve the public,” Melly remarked in reference to providing disaster relief services, conducting blood drives, and coordinating volunteers. It had been reported that the BSC Chapter would have to move to Scranton if it could not find a suitable dwelling with rent at $500 per month or less.

Initially, the Bradford County Airport Authority (BCAA) offered two small, adjoining offices to the organization for two months at no cost while the Red Cross looked for a more permanent location, so Melly was pleasantly surprised when BCAA extended the use of the office space to one full year, with a renewable lease option, at $200 per month. The two months en gratis remained intact with the new deal.

“They knew that we were in distress,” said Melly, who, along with BSC volunteers Nancy Bendinsky and Dave Douglas, began moving into the building last week and are fine-tuning the placement of computers, files, and other office equipment.

“We’re putting stuff where we need to,” said Melly, who noted that filing cabinets have been positioned is a spare corner across the hangar from the office space, training manikins and other supplies are in a storage bin less than five minutes away, and items that are not used as frequently have been stowed at her mother’s house in Stevensville.

Despite the fact that things seem a little spread out at the moment, the computers are up and running, and Melly, BSC’s only paid employee, is already reverting her attention to the organization’s key priorities.

“We do what we have to do to make it happen. Good things take time,” she remarked, confident that the elements of running the office will fall into place as Melly coordinates fundraising efforts, which will include a “boot drive” in conjunction with the Wysox Volunteer Fire Company. She is also interested in having the Red Cross make a presence at BCAA fly-in breakfast events.

In the meantime, Melly and BSC rely on the support of the chapters that are part of the Scranton Red Cross region, which encompasses Red Cross chapters serving Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, Pike, and Lackawanna Counties, in addition to Bradford and Sullivan Counties. For more information on programs offered in the region, as well as volunteer opportunities and other ways to support the local Red Cross, readers may log onto www.redcross.org and type in a local zip code.

The new BSC Red Cross address is 415 Airport Road, Towanda, and Melly may be reached directly at 570-265-2797.



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