College of Health Sciences Staff Member Named Red Cross Hero of the Year
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 6, 2013) — Five years ago, Linda Allen, admission officer at the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences Student Affairs Office, sat in her church listening to a video about the need for volunteers at two personal care homes — Parkside Manor and Shady Lawn, both in Cynthiana, Ky. The words of one resident in the video made an indelible impression on Allen that she couldn't shake: “what people like you forget about people like us is that we are human and have feelings, too.” As a result of those words, Allen volunteered for a fall carnival sponsored by the group home and has been a volunteer continuously since that time.
As a volunteer at the homes, Allen organizes clothing, furniture and food drives, and spends time with the residents. When a new resident arrives, she brings them a welcome packet full of products from her donation drives including hygiene and grooming items, socks,
cap/gloves, city map, snack items, and writing materials. She speaks with them individually and helps them get adjusted to their new environment. For her it’s nothing, for the residents, it’s everything.
"I try to meet each and everyone’s personal needs. I listen to their individual stories about abandonment by family/friends, survival with no fiscal or physical resources, being moved from facility to facility to the point of not knowing where to call home, and being shunned by society," Allen said. "Through their trust and friendship I’ve been blessed beyond words and have received love that knows no limits. I’ve learned that 'less is more.' And, it’s love of God, family and friends that carries us through this life; all else is secondary."
It is Allen's dedication and compassion for people that earned her the Red Cross 2013 "Hero of the Year" Award. The award was presented to her May 16 at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort following the sixth annual Heroes Campaign, sponsored by the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The Heroes Campaign is a community awareness and fundraising campaign that seeks to recognize those individuals who are making a difference in the community, while also supporting the local Red Cross through financial contributions. “Our goals were to strengthen the local Red Cross chapter, educate our constituents about the programs and services offered by the American Red Cross, and recognize community heroes,” said Terry Burkhart, chief executive officer of the Bluegrass Chapter.
A campaign team of 33 community leaders, led by Connie Harvey of Xerox and husband Piers Harvey of Massage Envy, began work Feb. 4 and successfully raised more than $115,000 for local Red Cross programs and services. During the campaign, donors raising or contributing a minimum of $1,000 were eligible to nominate an individual as the 2013 Red Cross “Hero of the Year.”
Allen was one of 12 people nominated for the recognition.
She plans to keep volunteering and, in fact, will probably do more when she eventually retires from UK. The words of the group home resident on the video five and a half years ago still resonate with Allen today.
"Loneliness, low self-worth and despair have to be overwhelming emotions," she said. "I do this because my faith commands it. I don’t want anyone of them to feel unloved, alone or that they have no value in this life. We are all created the same; some of us just have to walk down a different path in this life."
UK HealtlhCare has sponsored the Heroes campaign since its inception six years ago. This is the second year in a row that someone from UK HealthCare received the Red Cross 'Hero of the Year' Award. Last year's award winner was Vicki Blevins Booth with Kentucky Pink Connection.
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