New Red Cross director sees need for better communication

Mike Rohler is the new executive director of the Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Rohler says the organization's goals this year include implementing better disaster preparedness measures.
Photo by Andre Laird.

Michael Rohler is the new executive director of the Huntington Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Rohler, who officially started on Oct. 6, 2008, previously worked with the Tippecanoe County Chapter.

"I was a volunteer on the local and national level for four years," Rohler says. "I was also on the chapter's board of directors and was chairman of disaster services."

He adds that after several national volunteer assignments, he was encouraged to pursue full time opportunities within the organization.

"I was on an assignment in Texas during Hurricane Ike, when Huntington contacted me," Rohler says. "I accepted the position after I returned."

Rohler says that he was contacted by a chapter in Texas shortly after accepting the Huntington position.

"They knew I was on assignment, but didn't know where I was," he states. "I, however, do not regret taking the Huntington position. Since I've been here, I have found the community to be very welcoming and there is great leadership here."

With the New Year, Rohler says there are a few goals that the organization would like to work on accomplishing.

"One of our biggest obstacles as an organization is overcoming the economic times," he states. "The Red Cross relies heavily on donations and whenever the economy takes a hit, donations are also affected."

Rohler says that although Huntington County has not been severely affected by a loss of jobs, donations still reflect some decrease.

"We would like to streamline and develop new measures to efficiently operate our pro-grams," he states. "We have no intention of eliminating any programs. We just want to find more ways to maximize the use of our funds."

Rohler adds that the organization is in fact looking to expand upon some of the services it already provides.

"With the help of more grant opportunities, we are looking to expand our disaster services operations," he says. "This would include providing the public with more information of the Red Cross and the services offered."

One of the byproducts of informing the public is a potential increase in the volunteer base, which would offset expenses.

"There are many residents, including the retired and retired veterans, who have invaluable skills, that could be used to enhance our services," states Rohler. "By properly educating the public and offering training, their expertise would definitely make an impact."

Another area that Rohler says that he would like to improve is disaster preparedness.

After working with Huntington Emergency Management Agency Director Brandon Taylor during the recent ice storm, Rohler says he came to the conclusion that there is a need for better measures to assist and inform residents.

"Due to the loss of power, there was a breakdown in communication and letting residents know about what was going on," he states. "We definitely need to work on making sure we have measures in place to inform the public on what needs to be done and where they can go for help."

Informing the public also includes the schools , Rohler adds.

"We intend to hold informational sessions at area schools as well," he states. "There are still many students who think that the only service the Red Cross offers is blood donation."

Sessions are to be announced at a later date.

"The overall goal of the organization this year is to make sure we are doing everything possible to assist residents through the programs we offer," Rohler states. "We encourage residents to volunteer and lend their expertise."

For more information or to contact Rohler, call the Red Cross office at 356-2910.