Red Cross going virtual

Published 10:13 am Friday, August 22, 2014

FRANKLIN—The local chapter of the American Red Cross is closing its office this month. But that doesn’t mean an end to the services the agency provides to people in emergencies or preparing for disasters. Instead, its presence will take the form of “a virtual office.”

Reggie Gordon, CEO of the Red Cross in Eastern Virginia, confirmed the closure during a conference call in the North Main Street location on Thursday afternoon.

“The work will not stop at all,” he said. “All over the country Red Cross wants to be better stewards of any money it receives.”

The agency has been doing an analysis of its real estate holdings, and Virginia was chosen as one of the pilot states for the closing of leased offices or selling property owned by the Red Cross.

Gordon said that other locations, which are part of the study — though not necessarily to be closed — include Suffolk, Gloucester, Yorktown, Poquoson, Richmond and Halifax.

Making the decision easier to close the Franklin site was the coincidental timing of the lease, which expires at the end of August. Gordon added that it wouldn’t have made sense to renew the lease in light of the planned closures.

However, he added that if someone or some organization — such as a church — is willing to donate or share space, that would be welcomed.

“The Franklin and Southampton chapter will still have a presence and still have an advisory council,” said Cindy Darden. As the Disaster Program specialist at the Franklin site, she looks at this closure positively.

Having an office requires somebody to be at the site during regular operating hours, Darden said.

With cell phone in hand, now she’s freed up to move about when and where needed, such as educating the public or networking with organizations and people that can help the agency or its clients.

In addition to Franklin and Southampton, Darden’s responsible for Isle of Wight, Surry, Sussex, Emporia, Greensville, Brunswick and Dinwiddie.

Clyde Parker said the office that’s closing has been used for eight years, and before that there was a place across the street.

Further, the agency has had a presence in Franklin and Southampton since 1917. Parker is a volunteer who also serves on the board of directors for the American Red Cross in Norfolk, as well chairman of the Franklin-Southampton Advisory Committee.

“The Red Cross is not leaving,” Gordon said again for emphasis. “I’m very proud of the volunteers and work they do. This is the next step in our evolution.”

To contact the American Red Cross in Franklin and Southampton, call Darden at 651-9304.

You may also email her at