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When a disaster strikes, the Red Cross Western Colorado Chapter promises to do what it takes to be there for those in need. Until recently, that included relying on MacGyver-like skills and a run-down emergency response truck better fit for the set of the Dukes of Hazzard.
The generosity of ExxonMobil, however, is allowing the Red Cross to finally put ol’ Bessie to bed and hit the road with new, reliable wheels they know they can depend on.
For the past 14 years, the Grand Junction-based Red Cross Chapter relied on a beat-up 1990 Suburban to respond to disasters and deliver key supplies such as food, water, cots and shelter supplies. The truck needs a jump-start every time to get the engine roaring. The heater and air conditioner don’t work — making for an uncomfortable ride during the cold winters and searing summers of the Western Slope. The windows don’t roll up or down, either. And the back door was broken.
“As you can imagine, we weren’t completely confident relying on this vehicle,” said David Hintch, CEO of the Western Colorado Chapter. “But with a little effort, patience and discomfort, we made it work. It wasn’t fun, but we got the job done.”
Red Cross disaster response workers won’t have to worry any more. A $45,000 grant from ExxonMobil has allowed the Red Cross to replace the 22-year-old truck with a new Chevy Suburban — one with more than enough towing capacity to pull the Red Cross supply trailer up mountain passes and anywhere they need to deploy. Not only can the new vehicle carry up to 10 disaster volunteers to an incident, but the Red Cross can also make sure that delicate equipment is securely transported safe from the elements.
“Frankly, the big thing is that it actually starts!” David laughed. “This donation is something that will do more than just support us in the here and now, it’s built our capacity to serve the community for years to come.”
“Our donation is part of our commitment to increasing Northwest Colorado’s emergency response capability,” said Matt Briney, ExxonMobil’s Piceance Operations Superintendent. “The new Suburban will ensure that when needed the American Red Cross will be there to help.”
The Western Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross invited local media to a media event and official handing off of the keys ceremony of the new vehicle from ExxonMobil to our local Red Cross chapter. The event took place at 10 A.M. on Thursday, July 1st at the Red Cross offices located at 506 Gunnison Ave. in Grand Junction. There was an opportunity to see the new vehicle — and the old vehicle — as well as the disaster trailers and equipment used by your local Red Cross. More importantly, media had an opportunity to speak with representatives from ExxonMobil including JD Estes the Piceance External Affairs Advisor, and Matt Briney the Piceance Operations Superintendent, and from the Red Cross David Hintch the Executive Director of the Western Colorado Chapter, Randy Bogart the Red Cross Board Chair, and other Red Cross staff and volunteers. .
Each year, the Western Colorado Chapter supports the local community by:
n Responding to an average of 60 local disasters and providing critical disaster assistance to local families;
n Managing four mass care emergency shelters, and deploying scores of local volunteers to respond to national disasters;
n Assisting in an average of 150 emergency-messaging cases for local military families with loved ones in the Armed Forces both here and abroad;
n Providing training to 14,000 people in life-saving skills such as First Aid/CPR, AED, aquatics and babysitting;
n Coordinating with the VA Hospital and other local groups to support military families and veterans in our communities.