After six years, Red Cross opens office
Lexington Park site first of several planned in So. Md.
After closing its La Plata regional office after Hurricane Irene six years ago, the American Red Cross recently opened a new office in Lexington Park to expand its local presence and enhance its outreach efforts.
Open for about a month, the new location is in Lexington Park, next to a pet wellness clinic in a complex in Millison Plaza across from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
The office will allow the Red Cross to host health and safety trainings in the new space and raise awareness of its services, said Jason Marshall, the organization’s Southern Maryland director.
“My job is to revitalize the services we offer,” Marshall said, noting the organization had an informational booth at the St. Mary’s crab festival earlier this month and plans to do the same at the oyster festival in October.
“Our main job down here is disaster response,” Marshall said.
The Red Cross offers emergency hotel stays, food and clothing for those who are displaced as a result of natural or man-made disasters such as floods, house fires, hazardous material spills and car accidents, according to the nonprofit agency.
In April, Red Cross helped a total of 27 people in the tri-county area displaced due to home fires — three in Charles, 17 in Calvert and seven in St. Mary’s, according to the organization’s most recent progress report.
It offers a great deal of comfort for folks who are often distraught after catastrophes to hear that they have a room to stay that night and food for the kids, said Bob Kelly, chief information officer for the St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services and Technology, whao works with the Red Cross closely.
There used to be a Red Cross office in each of the three counties before the organization consolidated them into one office in La Plata, Kelly said. In the past few months, Red Cross told Kelly’s department that the organization is shifting its focus from a regional approach to a county-centered approach.
“It’s a good thing for the county; it’s a good thing for Red Cross,” Kelly said, noting the new office space gives them a place to convene for meetings and provide training for volunteers.
After the closing of its La Plata location, Red Cross coordinated service in the region from its Annapolis office, according to Marshall.
“We never left Southern Maryland,” he said. Six on-call disaster volunteers provide 24/7 assistance to residents in St. Mary’s County.
“Our volunteer numbers are going way up,” Marshall said. The regional chapter has about 400 volunteers in Anne Arundel, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties, which is about a 300 percent increase compared to two years ago.
The new office will also be able to provide support for about 30 volunteers in St. Mary’s, he said.
Considering the ser vices Red Cross offers, being in a community is essential, said Amanda Hollins of Sunderland, chair of the board of directors in the region.
“It’s who we serve,” she said. “We are working to establish our presence” in Southern Maryland to increase the organization’s visibility and raise awareness of its ser vices.
The organization is also looking for donated space in Calver t and Charles counties to establish new offices, Marshall said. The Lexington Park office has one volunteer who keeps the office open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
For residents who are in an emergency situation, call 410-624-2040 to talk a live Red Cross caseworker for further assistance.
Open for about a month, the new office is located next to a pet wellness clinic in a complex at the Millison Plaza across from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.