Thanksgiving Message from CEO Mike Parks, With Thanks to Plain Dealer Columnist Regina Brett



Volunteers from Lincoln Electric and Euclid Fire joined Red Cross volunteers and staff this summer to make a neighborhood safer                                                                                                                                                               Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Mike Parks, CEO of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region saw this column, written by Regina Brett in last Sunday’s Plain Dealer and was inspired to share the following with Red Cross staff and volunteers:

“I thought Regina did a remarkable job of capturing the importance of the holiday we celebrate this week.  I intend to share it with those gathered around our Thanksgiving table this year and felt moved to share it with all of you as well.

“Please accept my heartfelt thanks-not just this week-but throughout the year, for all you do to help prevent and alleviate human suffering throughout Northeast Ohio.

“I wish all of you a blessed and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

“Best regards…Mike”

Red Cross Assisting Dozens Displaced By Apartment Fire


Photo credit: Jeremy Bayer/American Red Cross

Residents Chased From Their Homes Close to Thanksgiving Holiday

Red Cross workers and volunteers were called for assistance after fire broke out in an apartment building in Geauga County early Monday morning.

45 residents have been affected by the fire, with several seeking assistance for overnight lodging, as temperatures dip to some of the coldest readings of the year.

The Monday morning fire follows another very busy weekend for Red Cross disaster workers, who were called to a dozen home fires, offering immediate financial assistance to more than 50 people for food, lodging, and other immediate needs.  Follow-up assistance, such as mental health services and referrals to other agencies will also be provided.

It was a similar story the weekend before, with a like number of people chased from their homes by fire, and receiving Red Cross assistance.

There is much to be thankful for: no fatalities were reported.

The American Red Cross is attempting to reduce home fire fatalities through Operation Save-A-Life.  With the help of local fire departments and other community partners, the Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, in many neighborhoods going door-to-door installing the alarms,  and offering residents valuable fire safety information.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

For more information or to schedule a free fire safety inspection for your home, visit the Operation Save-A-Life website.

Special Recognition For a Special Red Cross Volunteer

What HASN’T George Figel done as a volunteer with the American Red Cross?

The Akron resident was honored by the Center for Community Solutions as a “Most Treasured Volunteer,” at the agency’s Celebration of Human Services on Tuesday, November 17, 2015.  He is one of 5 “MTV” recipients for 2014-2015.

George currently volunteers 3-4 days a week as a Blood Donor Ambassador, greeting donors, helping them through the registration process, and making sure they’re comfortable after they make their donation.

During his nearly 30 years of volunteer service, George has: worked on local and national disasters, driven for medical transportation, helped maintain Red Cross facilities, worked with Youth Services, and represented the Red Cross at national conferences and local health fairs.

He has even taken pictures at various events.

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Photo credit: Jim  McIntyre/American Red Cross

George was accompanied by a contingent of Red Cross staff members, including Ann Catanese, Lynne Lisner and Lindsay Harris of Blood Services, and Debra Kellar of Volunteer Services.

Another Red Cross volunteer, Ruby Dailey of Warren was also congratulated as a Commended Volunteer. She has volunteered since 2000.

“These two volunteers are really dedicated to helping us support the mission of the American Red Cross,” said Pat Buckhold, Volunteer Services Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region.  “Their commitment to community service over such a sustained period of time shows just how much George and Ruby care about others.”

Other volunteers honored included Long Term Care Ombudsman Robert Blusko, Louise Dempsey of the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, Mr. Shirley Stevens of University Hospitals and Dr. Mark Massie of the West Side Catholic Center.


We LOVE Our Volunteers

When a family loses their home due to fire and the Red Cross responds, it’s more than likely a volunteer who helps that family find food, lodging and other immediate assistance.

More than 90% of the American Red Cross workforce is comprised of volunteers, people who donate their time and talent to help people in need every day.

Many volunteers have been with the Red Cross for years, in some cases, decades…providing disaster services, collecting blood, teaching CPR and First Aid, even answering phones.  We honor everyone who donates their time at various Volunteer Recognition Ceremonies throughout the region.

Volunteers from the Lake Erie /Heartland Chapter were honored during a ceremony in September.  Look for future articles on honoring volunteers from the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter and Lake to River, which covers Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.

Volunteers Offer Valuable Respite to Responders

Provide Canteen Services at Crash Site

Local, state and federal investigators on the scene of the crash of a corporate jet in Akron have a place to go, just a few steps away, to receive food and drink.  The Red Cross stationed an emergency response vehicle stocked with sandwiches and snacks, coffee and water just a few feet away from where the jet crashed into a four-unit apartment complex.

15 adults who lived there and in two neighboring residences have been displaced by the crash, and received initial financial assistance from the Red Cross for food, lodging, and other immediate needs.  Continuing assistance available includes help with recovery plans, mental health services and referrals to appropriate agencies.

Note the wording on the Emergency Response Vehicle: “All American Red Cross Disaster Assistance is Free.”  The Red Cross responds to about 70,000 disasters every year, thanks to the power of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors.  Interested in becoming a volunteer?  Apply online here. You can donate online to help others who suffer a disaster, or call 1-800 RED CROSS.  Or text the words red cross to 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation.

Message from Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region 
Offers Veterans Day Reflection

Fellow Red Crossers:

As we all know, the origins of the American Red Cross were found on the battlefields of our nation.  Our organization has a proud history of serving those who faithfully served our country, both in times of peace and in times of war.  That tradition lives on today.

On this day, we must remember that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I ended.  Though the Armistice was signed at 5 a.m., fighting continued till 11 a.m., killing nearly 11,000 more men.  In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.  Inscribed on the Tomb are the words:  “Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”  On November 11, 1921, President Harding stated:  “On the threshold of eternity, many a soldier, I can well believe, wondered how his ebbing blood would color the stream of human life, flowing on after his sacrifice…I can sense the prayers of our people…Let me join in that prayer. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come…”

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Photo Credit: Gwen Bochmann/American Red Cross Volunteer

Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all U.S. Veterans.  In 1958, President Eisenhower placed soldiers in the tomb from WWII and the Korean War. The soldier from Vietnam, buried by President Reagan in 1984, was identified by DNA tests as pilot Michael Blassie and was reburied in 1998 at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.

Photo Credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer, U. S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

To all those who have worn the uniform of our country—thank you for your selfless service to a grateful nation!  Best regards…Mike

Tiny Hands, Huge Hearts Help Heroes Celebrate Holidays

Caring Cubs Make Cards for Red Cross Military Mail Campaign

From the hands of babes.  Members of the Armed Forces will receive some holiday cheer this year thanks to the artistic abilities…and the service-oriented parents…of the children of Caring Cubs.

Dozens of families gathered on Saturday, November 7th in the Main Gallery of Cuyahoga Community College West in Parma, prepared to decorate holiday cards with pictures and messages to military men and women who will be away from home for the holidays.

“This is a perfect project for the children to engage in hands-on community service,” said Kelly Rudloff, a Caring Cubs Board Member.  “They like to color and draw, so they are doing an activity they enjoy while at the same time helping the Red Cross bring some holiday joy to members of the military.”

More than 375 cards were decorated by the Caring Cubs for U. S. service members.

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Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Caring Cubs was formed six years ago by parents who wanted to teach their children about philanthropy and service at a young age, by engaging them with age-appropriate activities.  Children as young as two years old are invited to be Caring Cubs.  Monthly events are held, with the aim to teach the children lessons on social responsibility.

The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. “We invite the public to send cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our Armed Forces, veterans and military families,” said Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to Armed Forces for the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region.  “Many of our service men and women will be separated from their loved ones this holiday season.  These cards will help brighten their holidays.”

Holiday Mail for Heroes is just one way the Red Cross honors and serves the military. Our unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army.  We provide three types of assistance beginning on the first day of enlistment: Emergency Services, Service to Military Families and Service to Military and Veterans Hospitals, including the Louis B. Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland.

If you would like to “Give Something That Means Something” for the holidays, you have until November 30 to create your cards for members of the military and get them to your local Red Cross office for distribution.  Click here for more information.