When Perneatha Evans moved back to the Golden Triangle from Las Vegas, she knew she wanted to make a difference in the community.
What better way to do that than to volunteer with the American Red Cross, she thought.
“Whatever I was doing, I wanted to make a difference. And I knew that I could make a difference working for the Red Cross,” Evans said.
So she offered her time, making phone calls, handling administrative duties, anything she could do to help.
Evans wasn”t on the job more than two months when she dealt with her first major disaster — a series of storms that ravaged areas around Lowndes County, including the town of Smithville, which still is slowly recovering from the storms.
Evans was manning the phones and helping coordinate the effort. And the phone was ringing non-stop. Mostly, people wanted to know how they could volunteer to help and where they could bring relief supplies like food, water and toiletries.
“It was definitely eye opening,” said Evans. “You see the pain first hand.”
Originally from West Point, Evans moved to back to the area to be near family in Columbus and West Point.
While volunteering for the Red Cross office in Columbus, Evans also was job hunting.
She had experience in environmental and medical labs, as well as project management and customer service and was looking for work in those areas.
What she wasn”t looking for was full-time employment at the Red Cross.
“No, I did not think it would turn into a full-time position,” Evans said.
But when a supervisory position became available due to the recent retirement of former Red Cross of Columbus Director Becky Thomas, Evans took interest in the job. And Red Cross leadership noticed her dedication to the cause.
“She”s a perfect fit for the Red Cross,” Patty Tucker, manager for the Northeast Mississippi chapter of the Red Cross, said. “She just has that giving spirit and that spirit of wanting to help.”
Coincidentally, Thomas, who retired after a decade with the Red Cross, also started as a volunteer, never imagining she would be heading operations in Columbus.
Evans started her role as Red Cross of Columbus” branch office coordinator on Aug. 15. The Red Cross held a reception to welcome her to the post and introduce her to the community, Thursday night at Mississippi University for Women.
After a recent realignment of the American Red Cross, which put the Columbus office under the Tupelo umbrella, Evans” first order of business is to network and let the community know they still can depend on their local office.
“We just want people to know that the Red Cross is still in Lowndes County, and we are still providing local services,” Evans said.