Penn Yan Red Cross office is closing

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Yates County Red Cross Director Carol Oswald in the soon-to-be closed Chapter headquarters on East Elm Street.

As of Sept. 4, the Yates County Red Cross office on East Elm Street will be closed, and the Red Cross office in Seneca Falls will serve a new region that includes Yates County.

A letter sent by Western New York Regional Chief Executive Officer Nancy M. Blaschak last week explains that she has been working with divisional leadership, staff, volunteers and board members to create an organizational structure for the new region.

The Western New York Region is the result of the combination of the Rochester and Buffalo Regions.

The closure of the Penn Yan office means that Director Carol Oswald's full-time job is being eliminated. Offices in Geneseo, Hornell and Bath will also be closing and eight other part-time positions will be eliminated.

Oswald said she has loved her job and working in the Yates County and Penn Yan community for the past 11 years, and was contemplating retirement when she learned of the changes herself in mid-August.

"I hope this will have a minimal impact on Yates County," Oswald said, adding that she hopes Lynne Tyler, the executive director in the Finger Lakes Chapter office in Seneca Falls is able to keep local volunteers engaged.

"Today's communications allow things to be covered this way. The Penn Yan phone will ring in Seneca Falls," Oswald explains.

She later added that no matter what, there will always be people in the community who are willing to help neighbors in their time of need, and that isn't likely to change.

Tyler will be tasked with ensuring training, classes, and community services continue.

Oswald says she is working with other Yates County area organizations to take over the local initiatives that are not missions of the Red Cross — emergency utility funding, emergency food, and the Needs 'N Things pantry.

One of the Yates County Chapter's biggest fund-raising events has been the Keuka Lake Triathlon held at Keuka College in June. Oswald says she will be talking with the triathlon organizer this week to discuss the event.

"Decisions like this are never easy, and I assure you they are not taken lightly. These are changes in management structure only, and our communities should see no changes in terms of the services provided by the American Red Cross," wrote Blaschak.

Her letter continues, "Lifesaving classes will still be offered; local disasters like home fires will be responded to; and volunteers will continue to be recruited, trained, and utilized in all communities. The Red Cross will continue to collect blood and will provide emergency communications in times of need for members of the military and their families. Moving forward, I will be working with Board members, staff and volunteers from across the Region to ensure that each of our communities continues to receive these high quality services they've come to expect from the American Red Cross."