Buddy Spong Named New Red Cross Director
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The Southern Pines chapter of the American Red Cross has a new executive director.
Buddy Spong, who is retiring as dean of student life at Sandhills Community College at the end of the month, will begin his new job Oct. 2. He replaces Joan Poole.
Spong is well-known in the community. He has been a longtime volunteer of the Salvation Army.
He said he had decided to make this year his last at the college. He has been a teacher and dean at Sandhills for 31 years.
When he heard that the position at the Red Cross was available, he jumped at the opportunity.
"It sounded like a great second career," he said. "It's a wonderful opportunity."
Poole announced she was leaving in April. Morris Pennington took over this year as the new chairman of the Red Cross board.
"My first challenge was to take on the project of replacing Joan Poole," Pennington said. "That was no easy task."
Poole had been with the Red Cross for five years. She decided to step down after buying an antiques shop in Fayetteville. She promised to keep working as a volunteer.
Pennington praised Poole for her work with the Red Cross.
"She really made this (chapter) one of the bright stars in the family of Red Cross chapters," he said.
Both Spong and the Red Cross lucked out that they found each other, Pennington said. Spong said that the interview process made him feel that he did have the qualifications to succeed in the position.
"The questions they asked forced me to ask what I bring to this position," Spong said.
What he came up with was his fundraising background, his contacts in the community, his public-speaking prowess and his history of working with and studying nonprofit organizations. He spent three years as a Kellogg Fellow studying nonprofits.
"I know Moore County pretty darn well," he said. "It's going to be a plus, I think."
Spong volunteered for more than 20 years with the Salvation Army, where he was executive director. It became a 20-hour-a-week job. The job with the Red Cross will be quite similar, he said.
"Taking that on full-time is exciting," he said.
Pennington said the Red Cross is excited about the energy and dedication Spong brings.
"This is a tremendous catch for us," he said. "We have a real positive future."
Leaving the college will be difficult, Spong said. The last year and a half have been exceptionally fun, he said, since the college opened up the Dempsey Student Center.
On Thursday, Spong spent the day walking around campus dressed as Thomas Jefferson, talking to students about the founding of this country for the college's Constitution day. It's that type of activity that he'll miss, he said.
"It will be really tough to leave," he said. "They've been a family to me for 30-plus years. It will be hard to walk away from that."
The Red Cross conducts blood donation drives at the college, so he will still get the opportunity to work with the people there. Spong said that he always enjoyed working with Poole on blood drives and other events.
Spong said that thanks to Poole's work, he'll be able to step right in and work toward the future.
"Joan Poole left the Red Cross in excellent shape," he said. "It's my job to take it to the next level."
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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