The situation with the American Red Cross operation in New Albany continues to deteriorate with the resignation of Sally Zemek, the local part-time staff member.
An ill-conceived plan to abolish the local Red Cross chapter and Zemek’s part-time job as its director has resulted in a situation that can best be described as a mess.
Responsibility for the mess lies squarely with the Red Cross Division 3 regional office in Texas that handles Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. The division announced with no notice and without consulting political and civic leaders in New Albany that the chapter would be closed.
After much criticism, the group said an office, not a chapter, would be retained here, but virtually all of the operation would be handled out the Red Cross office in Tupelo.
The shoddy treatment of Zemek and local officials has had several results. First, the highly respected Zemek was promptly recruited away to be the part-time director of the Lighthouse Enrichment Center, a local non-profit organization that provides home repair for elderly and disabled homeowners in Union County. Zemek will retain her other part-time job as director of the Union County Good Samaritan Center.
Second, as expected, Union County eliminated its $7,000 contribution to the Red Cross and New Albany voted to end its $5,000 contribution. It is not yet known whether the Union County allocations committee of the United Way will eliminate its $8,000 in annual support.
The Red Cross always has been a quality organization that provides help through staff members and volunteers. It’s too bad that poor regional decisions have sullied its reputation in our community.