Chief wins award: Red Cross honors Krites with Clara Barton honor

A member of the Wapakoneta Fire Department recently placed a plaque from the American Red Cross in his office — honored by the recognition but also believing he escaped the publicity which accompanies such a tribute.

Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites says he just set out his Clara Barton Award plaque after earning the honor this month.

“I was actually shocked and it was also very humbling,” Krites said after being presented with the award at a luncheon.

He received the honor for his work in Auglaize County.

The Clara Barton Award recognizes a volunteer who has displayed significant leadership and commitment to the Red Cross mission. The Red Cross mission is “to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

“Receiving this award doesn’t change anything for me because I just look at all the things I am involved in as part of my job and being involved with all the different organizations helps me be better at what I do,” Krites said. “It was a very nice compliment for the work I do, but it doesn’t change my opinion on how important I think it is to continue to serve on the organizations that I am a member of involved.”

Krites, who has been with the Wapakoneta Fire Department for 31 years, was named fire chief in January 2006. While being active in many organizations in Auglaize County, he serves as chair of the county’s Local Emergency Planning Commission.

With the American Red Cross, he serves as a volunteer, is a charter member of the Auglaize County Red Cross Auxiliary Board and currently serves as president of the board.

Krites said he is encouraged with the direction the American Red Cross is taking as former St. Marys Fire Chief Ken Cline continues to settle in as the new county director.

“I think the Red Cross is one of the most misunderstood organizations we have in the county,” Krites said. “It provides so many different programs, covers so many needs — many that people do not know about or go unnoticed.

“Even Ken was overwhelmed when he got involved and learned all the Red Cross does and is involved with,” he said. “It is pretty vast.”

Krites noted Cline was amazed at all the work the Red Cross does and how much he had to learn about all the different aspects and organizations the Red Cross is involved to help people.

If a fire or flood strikes, a family could be given food and shelter through the Red Cross, Krites said, noting Red Cross volunteers respond day or night to help local families.

“What is nice about our affiliation with the Allen County Red Cross, it gives us a broader reach for assistance,” Krites said. “If we do not have anyone local available at the time, it stretches out to Disaster Action Team, or DAT, members to help people here in Auglaize County. The Red Cross does a lot here.”