---- — Toni Christensen, the manager of the American Red Cross Otsego Branch in Cooperstown, is retiring effective Nov. 30 after more than 10 years with the Red Cross, according to a media release from the Red Cross.
Christensen started with the Red Cross in the Cooperstown office on April 15, 2002. After splitting her time between the Cooperstown and Oneonta offices for three years, Christensen worked exclusively in Cooperstown and became a community leader, the release stated.
During her tenure with the Red Cross, Christensen organized more than 250 blood drives, started the popular Cooperstown Golf Classic, responded to more than 150 fires, helped 45 families per year with the Project SHARE energy assistance program, and aided more than 40 military families who needed help connecting with loved ones or with emergency loans.
With one military family, Christensen helped a serviceman return home just in time to see his daughter born. She also reunited families through the Red Cross holocaust tracing program, and fondly recalls reuniting a mother with the daughter she thought she lost during World War II.
“I have enjoyed my time with the Red Cross and helping so many wonderful people,” Christensen said in the release. “This job has proven to be far from boring with the many challenges we have faced over the last 10 years.”
Christensen supervised Red Cross relief efforts after several disasters, including a major flood in 2006 that forced 200 people from their homes and into a Red Cross shelter at State University of New York at Oneonta. According to the release, any people lost their holiday decorations because of the flood, and the Red Cross office became the collection point for replacement decorations.
“The office was filled with trees, lights, stockings, etc.; you could barely get the door to close,” Christensen said. “The Red Cross helped everyone who needed it.”
In 2004, Christensen and Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers comforted people who had to be evacuated from 12 homes because of a gas explosion.
“I was able to come up with a few ideas to find and return lost dogs to our clients,“ she said.
“Toni is fully dedicated to the Red Cross mission of alleviating human suffering, and she’s going to be difficult to replace,” Rosie Taravella, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Central New York Region, said in the release. “We are honored to have had her as part of the Red Cross family and we wish her the best in her retirement.”
Christensen, who lives in Laurens, is planning to move to Salt Lake City, where she said, she will read, paint and enjoy the mountain scenery.