Matthew Riddle has been working virtually since he became the executive director of the South Central Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020, and he is glad to finally be able to get out into the communities he serves.
“I really want to be part of the Hillsboro community, and I’m just really excited to finally see some light on the horizon and be able to get out and about in the community and get the Red Cross back out there,” he said.
Highland County is one of the 10 Ohio counties served by Riddle’s chapter of the Red Cross, also including Adams, Athens, Clinton, Fairfield, Fayette, Hocking, Pickaway, Ross and Vinton counties.
Riddle said the mission of the American Red Cross is to alleviate human suffering in the face of disaster through the mobilization of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
“Being part of this organization is an honor because you literally live that mission every day,” said Riddle. “We wouldn’t be anywhere without volunteers and without the generosity of the community.”
The Red Cross utilizes a number of programs to mitigate the impact of disasters. The organization’s disaster response team has responded to nine home fires in Highland County since July of 2021.
The agency connects military families and veterans with resources in response to emergencies and provides training to them in coping and resiliency skills.
The Red Cross also provides education and training to Highland County residents. The training includes vital lifesaving skills, first aid, CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training. “One thing that I’m really hoping to bring to Highland County is the director preparedness education,” said Riddle.
He said teaching important safety skills to children in the classrooms is a priority. Red Cross safety programs use the character Pedro the Penguin for children from grades K-2, and a program called the Pillowcase Project serves children in grades 3-5. These programs help children learn about what to do in the event of local disasters such as tornadoes, winter storms, earthquakes and home fires.
The Red Cross also has programs that provide free smoke alarms and installation. “We have 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms that we’ll install for free and put in as many as we can in the house,” said Riddle. “I want to come out and bring these projects into the schools in the Hillsboro area as we get into the spring.”
Riddle said he is planning two events in the upcoming months in Highland County. A program called Sound the Alarm will have volunteers canvass in-need areas door-to-door to provide smoke alarms and home fire education. A summer barbecue in conjunction with the local fire department is also being planned.
Riddle encouraged Highland County residents to get involved by volunteering through redcross.org/volunteer.
He said he is also looking for board members who live in Highland County because the area is not currently represented on the board.
Riddle can be reached at 740-260-5166.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.