The American Red Cross sent out pink slips to all staffers in their Bronx office, including borough executive director Enrique Vega on Wednesday, May 20. The Red Cross said Bronx services would not be interrupted by this action.
Vega and the staff at the Bronx Service Center’s 2082 White Plains Road office were dismissed as part of a 20 to 25% region-wide downsizing at the American Red Cross.
According to Mariane Darlak, senior director of marketing and public relations for American Red Cross, disaster relief operations in the Bronx will be coordinated out of their Manhattan headquarters.
“The economic situation and the current recession prompted this move,” Darlak said. “It is going to be business as usual. Our service will not be disrupted in terms of helping our clients and assisting people who are affected by emergencies in the Bronx. We are working with what we have.”
Darlak added: “We wouldn’t lay people off to bring in different people.”
Jim Carney, who sits on the Bronx advisory board to American Red Cross, said that a meeting is planned for Wednesday, May 27 to discuss the future plans of the White Plains Road center.
“The staff is being laid off but it does not appear that we are closing the center,” Carney said. “It is not exactly clear what the plans are. What we do know is that the staff has been given notice. The entire advisory board is extremely concerned.”
Carney added: “There are other cuts elsewhere, and I do understand the dire situation economically [of the American Red Cross]; it is a really difficult and trying time.”
Ironically the Bronx advisory board of the American Red Cross held a successful Stars of Life fundraiser on Thursday, April 30. However, the downturn in the national economy necessitated a realignment of resources.
“We had a successful fundraiser, but we knew that there would be layoffs,” Vega stated. “The Red Cross has to lay off 20% to 25% of its staff citywide.”
When asked about his years of service with the Red Cross, Vega was optimistic about the future.
“I am looking for a job, and I will see what the future brings,” Vega said. “I still want to serve the people of the Bronx like I have done for the last 21 years here at the Red Cross.”
Vega is the chairman of Community Board 9.