September 1, 2011

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Article

The Consolidation Process

Streamlining a 130-year-old Organization

Peri Kinder

September 1, 2011

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Red Cross. The hundreds of volunteers in Utah provide consistent and fast response for people caught up in a disaster. Last year alone, more than 140 families in the state were displaced by home fires. Volunteers are ready with food, clothing and shelter to ensure family members have the basic necessities to get through the emergency.

The Red Cross also serves armed services members and their families by alerting active service men or women of a family emergency or the birth of a child. The around-the-clock, across-the-globe communication network transmits or receives nearly 1 million messages each year—at no cost to military families.

The overall result of the Red Cross reorganization—for employees, volunteers and clients alike—will be a more efficient approach to organizing training courses, reaching out to military personnel, responding to emergency situations and managing blood drives.

Embracing Change

Margaritis says the process has been a learning experience for all involved, and she emphasizes the importance of transparency and clear communication. As regular routines are changed, people experience fear and resistance. But making sure the employees and volunteers were contacted on a regular basis with information made the changes a little easier to implement.

“Identities change, their scope of responsibility or authority changes. . .we all respond to change and loss differently,” Margaritis says.

Although the reorganization is on-going, Margaritis is excited about the steps taken to ensure the humanitarian association will remain vital and become more effective in providing relief to disaster victims, helping people prevent and prepare for emergencies, and training new volunteers.

“We use new technologies, create new pathways and live our work in new ways to improve our services,” Margaritis says. “As a leader in this transition, I experience the changes and their corresponding losses and gains, both as a member of the team and as the leader. This experience helps me guide our entire team—staff and volunteers—into the future.”

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