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MEDIA ADVISORY-Red Cross, Francis Marion University and the Konduros Fishermen Fund Prepare for Hurricane Season and Future Disasters by Hosting Six-Day Training

FLORENCE – With the approach of hurricane season beginning June 1 and as you plan for your annual round of stories, there are great opportunities for a new perspective as the American Red Cross, Francis Marion University and the Konduros Fishermen Fund host division-wide disaster training. 

The inaugural Rachel Hodges Leadership Institute will be held at the FMU campus from May 19 – 24 and members of the media are invited to see first-hand how the Red Cross trains its volunteers and staff to respond to small and large scale disasters. In total, more than 350 Red Cross volunteers and staff will be traveling from eight states – ranging from Texas to Pennsylvania to attend this Institute.  

There are several opportunities throughout the six-day training for media to experience a behind the scenes look at how the Red Cross prepares and responds to more than 70,000 disasters each year. 

Red Cross volunteers, staff and instructors will be available for interviews, along with FMU leadership. Below is a list of activities that the media is invited to attend throughout the week.


Media Opportunities: 

Sunday, May 20: Disaster Kitchen Training – “Spirit of America” Exercise

Time: 9:30 a.m. – noon

Location: Francis Marion University, Parking Lot B

  • This is an instructor-led, basic level disaster course designed to give the participants the opportunity to learn how to work in a kitchen preparing meals for delivery to clients affected by a disaster.
  • As part of the course, participants will be conducting and exercising their ability to prepare meals in the Red Cross mobile kitchen, the "Spirit of America.” The "Spirit of America" is a fully self contained 53-foot trailer, designed to produce 30,000 hot “home-style” meals per day within heavily impacted disaster areas. Meals prepared in the unit can then be loaded onto mobile feeding trucks to be distributed to disaster victims throughout affected areas.
  • The media is also invited to eat lunch cooked by trainees.
  • Media schedule for Disaster Kitchen Training:
o    9:30 – 10a.m.  – opportunity to interview mobile feeding experts
o    10 – 11a.m. – opportunity to capture trainees cooking meals inside the “Spirit of America”
o    11– 11:30 a.m. – opportunity to capture trainees loading food into mobile feeding trucks for delivery
o    11:30 a.m. – noon – lunch provided to media

Monday, May 21: Interview with Red Cross and Francis Marion University Leadership

Time: 1 – 2 p.m. 

Location: Francis Marion University, Erwin Dining Hall

  • Jerry DeFrancisco, president of Humanitarian Services for the National American Red Cross, is traveling from Washington, D.C. to give the keynote speech at the welcome luncheon. DeFrancisco provides executive-level leadership and management oversight of operations for more than 1,200 Red Cross locations across the country and around the world. DeFrancisco reports directly to the President of the National American Red Cross, Gail McGovern. 
  • Former First Lady of South Carolina and Columbia Region of the Red Cross Board Chair, Rachel Hodges and Francis Marion University President Dr. Fred Carter will also be available for interviews. 
  • With advance notice they all can be available for interviews between 1– 2p.m. to talk about the importance of the Institute, the upcoming hurricane season and how the Red Cross is preparing now to be ready when the time comes.

Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday, May 24: South Carolina Hurricane Meeting and Exercise

Time: Wednesday, May 23 – 1– 5 p.m.; Thursday, May 24, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Francis Marion University, Leatherman 106

  • Staff and volunteer leadership will be participating in the annual South Carolina Hurricane Meeting and Exercise to prepare and practice emergency readiness and response plans for the upcoming hurricane season which lasts from June 1 – November 30.
  • Red Cross Leadership from South Carolina, the South area and National Headquarters will be available for expert interviews in hurricane readiness and response.

Also, during the week there will be various training sessions that will offer great media interview possibilities. The media is welcome to observe and interview participants, volunteers, staff and instructors throughout the week. To coordinate these interviews, please contact Anna Kate Christophillis at (803) 730-5506 or Angela Crosland at (843) 843-206-5579. 

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To make a financial contribution to the Red Cross, please send donations to: The American Red Cross, P.O. Box 91, Columbia, SC 29202. Donations can also be made by visiting or calling (803) 540-1242.  

About Francis Marion University

Francis Marion University is one of South Carolina's 13 public, coeducational universities. As one of the state's six comprehensive institutions, FMU prides itself on providing a strong liberal arts education.

The University offers a broad range of undergraduate degrees and a growing number of graduate programs in serving the needs of communities, businesses and industries of the Pee Dee region.


Last Published: June 5, 2012 3:00 PM
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