By Danielle Nelson
*This article is posted on The Express Times website
An American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley volunteer prepares a vehicle ahead of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. (Express-Times File Photo)
Even before the official announcement was made, congratulations were heard throughout the lobby.
“Welcome to your new home. You have a new neighbor,” were some of the greetings shared today as Keith Weinhold, the chairman of board of directors for the Cetronia Ambulance Corps, announced its building will be the new headquarters for the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Larry Wiersch, the chief executive officer for Cetronia Ambulance Corps, handed over the keys and access cards to Peter Brown, the executive director of the local Red Cross chapter. The organization moved from Hanover Township, Lehigh County, to 3939 Broadway in South Whitehall Township.
“These are the keys to the castle, which are completely owned by the American Red Cross,” Wiersch said.
Although the Red Cross now has the keys, the organization won’t move in until early 2015. The outside of the building will remain the same, but the inside will be renovated extensively, Brown said.
“The office space probably has not been renovated in 20 to 30 years,” Brown said. “We will convert part of the garage space to a training, meeting, and storage facility because we don’t need quite as such garage space as the ambulance corps has needed.”
Brown said that after looking at close to 40 buildings, the ambulance corps building met its needs.
“We have access to transportation. We have a garage facility. We have the ability to reconfigure the space for the training and storage that we need to operate and we have a community support that embraces nonprofits and emergency response,” Brown said.
The Red Cross will begin the bidding process for design work this summer and renovation will commence in the fall. The chapter plans to provide trainings like AED, CPR and first aid to more than 300 volunteers, helping the community prepare and stage for disasters such as Superstorm Sandy.
The Lehigh Valley Chapter sold its facility on Avenue A near the Lehigh Valley International Airport in March of 2013 to Service Electric, which allowed the Red Cross to stay in the building for a year.
Since then, the nonprofit organization has been operating on Marcon Boulevard in Hanover Township.
After 59 years, the Cetronia Ambulance Corps will move just a few blocks away to 4300 Broadway. Wiersch said Cetronia had outgrown its location.
“Our hope would be to match the history of Cetronia Ambulance Corps and be in this facility for the next 50 years or more,” Brown said.
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