News and Tribune

Clark County

October 16, 2012

Wilkins to step down as Clark County Red Cross director

Reception honoring 15-year career planned for Friday

JEFFERSONVILLE — Through happy and sad times, through fires, ice storms, wind storms, floods and tornadoes, Phyllis Wilkins has been there for Clark County.

On Friday, the Clark County Chapter of the American Red Cross will honor Wilkins, who is retiring from her post as the organization’s executive director after 15 years.

“We’re all faced with times of decision in our lives,” Wilkins said. “Just because you reach a certain age, you don’t get to take a pass on trying to make a difference. God has a plan for each of us. Chuck Ledbetter [Sr.] spoke of the restlessness in his heart being a call to serve others. I can relate to that. We just need to have our tools ready, and God will find us work.”

Scott Carr, the chairman of the Clark County Chapter’s board of directors, called Wilkins “a great asset for the Red Cross as the face of the organization to the local community.”

“The next person coming into the organization has some big shoes to fill,” Carr said.

Wilkins comes from a long line of Red Cross volunteers. Her grandmother, Bernice Hagest, was a 50-year volunteer with the Red Cross.

“Sometimes, it was difficult to tell the difference between my ‘real’ family and my Red Cross family,” Wilkins said. “That’s because my family has always been there providing support.”

As the Red Cross is a disaster-response organization, the highlights and lowlights of a career are marked by the various catastrophes inflicted upon a community. Understandably, Wilkins’ feelings about the past are mixed, but the power of communities to pull together have made her work enjoyable. The most recent disaster, the March 2 tornadoes that ravaged Henryville, Marysville and other parts of Southern Indiana, is a prime example of that.

“The unprecedented number of groups, organizations, volunteers, churches, local governments, schools, friends and neighbors who continue to provide assistance is a testament to the awesome world in which we live,” Wilkins said. “I have the utmost respect and gratitude to everyone who has helped those affected by this local disaster. Really, words just can’t express how sorry I am for the personal devastation suffered by our friends and neighbors.”

Mary Lou Densford, the Clark County Chapter’s service to the armed forces coordinator, has worked with Wilkins for 15 years. She said that Wilkins was easy to work with, but didn’t hesitate to challenge employees and volunteers to step out of their comfort zones.

“Phyllis encouraged her staff to think outside of their box and to try new things, new areas,” Densford said. “... She always did.”

Carr said the Clark County Chapter’s board of directors has formed a search committee to identify a new executive director, with the goal of having Wilkins’ replacement hired by the end of the year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Easter 2014 photos

Click on any photo to purchase it.

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
2013 Photos of the year

Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.