Christine Arnold is the new Service Center Manager of the St. Clair County American Red Cross Chapter in Pell City.

Originally born in Birmingham, Arnold moved to Florida several years later before arriving in Louisiana, where she lived nearly 30 years.

Arnold worked for the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina in a work-study program where she was an intern in the Capital Area Chapter. She answered telephones and handled customer service in Denham Springs, LA, 80 miles northwest of New Orleans. “The Capital Area was still recovering when I left,” Arnold said. “People were starting to move back into New Orleans.”

Arnold was also was a night shelter manager in Denham Springs and on the Emergency Services Disaster Assessment Team. The team met fire departments at the scene and assisted families with food and clothing, anything they needed help with immediately.

From Louisiana, Arnold moved north all the way to Rockville, Maryland and attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. She was begged to stay and help in Baton Rouge but already committed and was accepted to Wesley.

Arnold’s decision to move was based on Wesley offering a dual Master’s program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution tied in with Theological Studies. “I can’t pick the simple things,” Arnold said laughing. “I have to have the long title.”

“The program is pretty rare but I saw so many ties to conflict and theological studies. They were one of the only places offering that at the time.”

After a couple of years in Maryland, Arnold has been on the job nearly a month now. She started October 13 shadowing other service center managers in Bessemer and Shelby for the first week. “St. Clair County is a little different than those places. We don’t have the volunteer base here. We’ll have to build that up and get them prepared to serve,” Arnold said.

Arnold’s family has lived in Ashville since the early 1990s and now she calls it home too. “Living in this area and being connected in the community makes it so much easier to reach out to others,” Arnold said.

Arnold has a list of immediate goals now that she is settled into the position. First and foremost she said they must reach out to volunteers and build up the volunteer base. “Half of the emails I sent out to volunteers came back,” Arnold explained. “The list is dated, but I’m trying to regroup and reenlist.” Other specific needs include disaster services, health and safety instructors, help with fundraisers, services to armed forces and working with military families. “I’d eventually like to set up response teams to help after a fire,” Arnold said. “The biggest challenge is recruiting help and making sure everyone has the tools to serve in the capacity they choose.”

The Red Cross will be at the St. Clair County Health Fair on November 15 and the Lincoln Health Fair on November 22.

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