Daily Point of Light # 1955 Aug 1, 2001

Donna Early’s volunteer service spans throughout Summit County in Ohio. She is an active and dedicated member of their chapter of the American Red Cross. Early has served as Chapter Chair from 1996 – 1999, and prior to that appointment, she served two three-year terms on the Board of Directors. In addition to holding committee positions and offices, she also does volunteer work with the public.

Under Early’s leadership, the Summit County Chapter received the President’s Award for Cultural Diversity due to their increase in the number of minority volunteers. They also received the Ten-By-Ten Award for their Community Dinner program, which feeds up to 200 people in their community every month. At the present time, Early is implementing and developing a joint relationship between the International Institute and the American Red Cross. This partnership will provide comprehensive services to the Refugee Resettlement program. As a result of Early’s efforts in mobilizing the two agencies, necessary items and support will be more readily available to refugees who relocate into Summit County. This is just one example of how Early enabled the chapter to fulfill it’s humanitarian international mission along with the needs of the community.

The International Institute is located in Akron, Ohio and resettles over 400 refugees annually into the Summit County community. With limited resources and volunteers at the Institute and the international mission of the American Red Cross, the collaboration was fruitful. The agencies are providing transportation from the airport to the refugees’ new apartments and the Red Cross is also partially furnishing these dwellings. Their future goal is to be able to supply transportation to medical appointments and government offices also.

In addition to mobilizing the two agencies, Early has also touched upon the issue of refugee employment support. She founded a recruiting and staffing firm in 1981 and translated her desire to help others into a successful national agency. Early’s clients now include those she welcomed into the United States, and she is happy to aid people in becoming self-sufficient.

The Refugee Resettlement program has created more than 50 volunteer opportunities. These volunteers provide the support needed within the first months of the refugees new life. An ad hoc committee has been formed with volunteers and staff from both agencies. They looked to delineate and commit to serving the needs of the refugees.