June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

Red Cross chapters to merge

The Medina County chapter of the American Red Cross will merge with the Summit and Portage counties chapter this summer.

Beth Kilchenman, executive director of the Medina County chapter, will retire July 11 after 27 years, and officials said it makes sense to reorganize the two chapters under one executive.

Joe Kuzma is the current executive director for Summit and Portage counties.

“We decided to join the two chapters under one chapter executive to maximize donation dollars in each community,” said Mary Williams, Northeast Ohio regional spokeswoman. “Because there will be only one figurehead, there’s only one salary, so less goes toward personnel overhead.”

Williams said Kilchenman still will spearhead the Medina County Twin Sizzler fund drive the week of July 4. The event is a five-day fundraiser on Medina’s Public Square.

Williams said operations and staffing will continue normally at all the chapters’ locations, but the merger will allow equipment, staff and volunteers to be shared more easily.

Williams said she didn’t expect the merger to affect the willingness of Medina County residents to support the Red Cross. She noted that the volunteer base in Portage County remained strong after that chapter merged with Summit County in 2008.

Representatives from both chapter boards will form a new board of directors. Williams said they will provide the same quality of service to all three counties. She said contributors can be assured that the Red Cross will continue to honor donor intent for specific programs, events and communities.

The American Red Cross of Medina County was formed in 1917 by Judge Nathan McClure, Lee Elliott, and C.D. Wightman. In 2008, the Medina County chapter and the Wadsworth Service Delivery Unit merged to unite the county.

The Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross serves 4.5 million residents across 22 counties by preventing, preparing for and responding to emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit individual chapters on Facebook or follow @NEORedCross on Twitter.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.