Get to know our Board Members: Pat Exarhos

By Erin Thayse, American Red Cross Volunteer 


Pat Exarhos_2093As a thirty-two year resident of Appleton, Pat Exarhos understands the importance of being active within her community. She started as a manager at Kimberly-Clark Corp in their Research and Development department in 1989 and grew into director and interim VP roles. While at Kimberly-Clark, she was instrumental in co-founding the Kimberly-Clark women’s network. Pat decided to be even more involved in the business community as a co-owner of Breadsmith stores in both Appleton and Green Bay. While her careers in the corporate world and as a business owner ended in 2011 and 2005 respectively, her activism in the community has been going strong. Pat has been a member of the Greater Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity since 2003, currently chairing the Leadership Development committee. She has maintained strong relationships with assisting women’s organizations by being part of the Women’s Fund, Mid-Day Women’s Alliance and Women’s Joint Organizations Event Committee since 2012. Pat brings a wealth of experience to the Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross through all her past and current endeavors.

American Red Cross

Board Member Since:  April, 2013

Responsibilities/Duties as a Board Member: I joined the Major Gifts and Programs & Facilities committees.  Since I am a new board and committee member, I am in learning mode regarding the responsibilities and duties but I am excited to help in any way I can!

You are a very active volunteer. How did you get started in volunteering? I have been volunteering since I moved to the Appleton area. I wanted to learn more about and give back to the community. Initially, I was involved in blood pressure screening and car seat training programs. When my children were young, my volunteerism was aligned with their school and extra-curricular needs and interests.  In recent years, I have found my own areas of passion that matched with my skills – and volunteered where needed.

What motivates you as a volunteer and board member? The mission of the Red Cross; it is hard to argue with the very critical needs it represents. Red Cross has an excellent reputation so I am honored to be part of this volunteer organization.

 How did you become involved with the Red Cross? I was attending the local Red Cross fundraiser, Dancing with Our Stars event as my husband’s boss was a local celebrity dancer. I met a former colleague, Pete Dulcamara, and he recruited me to apply for a Board position. 

What do you hope to accomplish by being a board member? I hope to help this Red Cross chapter accomplish its goals, especially on the committees I am serving. As I think about people I know, I would like to get the word out about the Red Cross and recruit more volunteers. There are more people like me who want to give back. Beyond that, I am learning more about the organization – for example, I am in the process of taking disaster relief classes as I would like to serve in this area. So this is a growth opportunity for me as an individual.   

Where do you feel the Red Cross can grow while a board member? I am still learning; as a person new to the organization, I think the visibility of the local Red Cross chapter could increase resulting in more dollars and volunteers from the local area.


My First American Red Cross Experience

By Erin Thayse, Red Cross Volunteer

Me at 13!

Me at 13!

When you are thirteen years old, ways to earn an income are limited. My parents did not believe in allowances so babysitting was my second choice. My mother said I would be more marketable if I was “certified” so she signed me up for the American Red Cross Babysitting Training.

I was familiar with the American Red Cross building at 2131 Deckner Avenue as it was passed on our way to Cub Foods. Walking into the building by myself, there were signs letting me know the babysitter course was held in the basement, first door on the left. Down the stairs I went into a room lit with fluorescent lights containing a U shaped table. Since I was a shy thirteen year old, I stationed myself next to another girl sitting by herself and hoped she was not holding the seat for a friend.

In the following weeks of class, about ten of us learned how to perform CPR, the baby Heimlich maneuver, how to change a diaper and properly feed a baby.  Some of us caught on better than others due to experience with younger brothers or sisters while others performed just well enough to pass. Our instructor was understanding but firm, an older woman who probably had taught the class for years and had practiced the techniques on her own children and grandchildren.

We all had one common thought: while we were prepared to perform the life saving techniques we learned in class, we NEVER wanted to use them in our actual babysitting careers. With such great power comes great responsibility and the Babysitting Training instilled in us how great of a responsibility we were undertaking.

We earned our certification and handed a laminated card to put in our respective wallets to show potential employers of our qualifications. I did have a couple of regular families I would babysit for, all with older kids who did not require bottles or diaper changes. Through it all, I was fortunate enough not to use any of the preparedness skills learned at the Red Cross on my kids (I do remember having to treat my own second degree burn after making lunch on the stove though).

When I walked into the Deckner Avenue location some sixteen years later to start my new journey as an American Red Cross volunteer, I still remembered where the Babysitting Training was held. Maybe I will be in front of the class teaching potential babysitters with the new CPR techniques…but probably not. I was a much better babysitting pets than I was kids.

Training for Babysitters from the American Red Cross

Our course has changed quite a bit in 16 years, but one common theme remains the same: this class provides the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and responsibly care for infants and children.

Learn how to help kids have fun, while keeping them safe and following household rules with Babysitting Basics and Babysitter’s Training from the Red Cross. To learn more about these two programs and to sign up for a class near you click HERE.