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Editor's Voice: Her compassion touched many in Middletown

Posted 2/25/14

As executive director of the Middletown chapter of the American Red Cross, Nancy Schenck has helped victims of fires and floods. The aid of a compassionate person is invaluable in such times of distress – but Schenck touched the lives of those in …

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Editor's Voice: Her compassion touched many in Middletown

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As executive director of the Middletown chapter of the American Red Cross, Nancy Schenck has helped victims of fires and floods. The aid of a compassionate person is invaluable in such times of distress – but Schenck touched the lives of those in need even beyond her role of finding emergency shelter for those who were displaced by flames or floodwaters.

 

But she also managed a fund in her 19 years at the helm that was unique to the Red Cross’ eight regional chapters, a fund that provided money for groceries, rent and electricity. It was funded by a generous benefactor who specified in his will that the chapter would receive interest earned on some investments after his death. Because of the bequest, Schenck provided staples to countless grateful residents. Her compassion even more profoundly touched the Middletown area.

 

Schenck retired from the Red Cross on Friday, Feb. 21, with a potluck luncheon hosted by co-workers and friends at the Red Cross headquarters in Harrisburg. A farewell celebration in her honor is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 2 at Wesley United Methodist Church, 64 Ann St., Middletown.

 

While a committee of volunteers advises the Middletown chapter, it was Schenck who was the one who made things happen. Whether it was assistance in the face of disasters, grocery vouchers, or blood drives, Schenck was the organizer, with help from other dedicated residents when needed. Often she was the only employee in the Middletown office.

 

The Red Cross closed the Middletown office, once located in borough hall, in 2011, but Schenck returned to the borough to help victims of the flood brought by Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. She could summon help in any emergency – she had what Royalton Mayor Judy Oxenford, a former member of the local chapter committee, calls a list of “little resources,’’ shelter and heating oil and anything else needed in a pinch.

 

Schenck credits the help of local officials and volunteers with aiding those in need. When she became executive director in 1995, she had left a career in the banking industry, and the Red Cross was a much-needed job and a strange, new opportunity, she said. But for all intents and purposes, Nancy Schenck was the Red Cross in Middletown, and her compassion was far-reaching.

 

If everyone who was touched by her work attends her farewell at Wesley UMC, the church should be packed.

 

While the chapter office is now closed, local volunteers will continue to operate the chapter in Middletown. The Red Cross' good deeds will continue here.

 

But Nancy Schenck’s work was one more thing that made Middletown special. She will be missed.

   

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