Safe and Well: Remembering the Boston Marathon 2013

As the day of the 2013 Boston Marathon began, I observed Facebook posts pop-up with happy scenes of runners victoriously running past my sister-in-law’s camera. She had volunteered for a second year to be at a hydration station along the route and had started the day really excited to be a part of something so integral to her adopted city.

Her posts applauded her racer friends, cheering them on through social media. Watching as her photos and posts came through my news feed, back here in Ohio it was just a typical day for me– laundry was folded, children were fed, toys were picked up and re-scattered.

Until the frightening news came through, a bomb had gone off at the marathon.

Our family didn’t have a clear concept of where my sister-in-law had been stationed or what was really going on in Boston. Phone calls would not ring through to her due to lines and circuits being jammed with callers. Two states away, we had no other way to confirm that she was okay.

That was, until one of the most beautiful Facebook posts popped up:

“I am NOT downtown. Praying for my friends and their families.”

And then she shared the link:

Safe and Well Share

The American Red Cross offers the Safe and Well system during a disaster to alleviate anxieties and provide peace of mind to individuals looking for loved ones who may have been affected. In the case of Boston, the Red Cross had 466 registrants who were separated that Monday.

The Safe and Well program information is primarily housed on its website, but as part of the registration process individuals may connect to their Twitter or Facebook page. This will allow the system to send out a select message such as “I’m safe” and a link to the main webpage, www.redcross.org/safeandwell. It can be initiated at Red Cross shelters, when individuals may not have access to the internet.

Safe and Well is also an integral part of Red Cross disaster preparedness/response apps, like the Flood, Tornado, Hurricane and Earthquake Apps. The apps can connect to the individuals Facebook or Twitter accounts to send out a message of safety to loved ones.*

As it turned out, my sister-in-law had been at an early hydration station which had closed. When the bomb went off, she was already at home. But without being able to know this, I am so thankful for social media which allowed her to reach out and communicate to her friends and family across the nation.

Our thoughts are with you today, City of Boston. Standing together you are truly strong.

- Mary, NEO Red Cross Communications

 

 

*The apps are available through the Google Play and Apple App Stores. For more information, visit www.redcross.org/apps

Coffee, Tea, Contacts and Red Cross Services – Oh my!

In celebration of March is Red Cross month, the Lorain County Chapter opened its doors to Lorain County chamber members for the networking event, “Coffee, Tea and Contacts”.  An overflow of local business members attended the event.

Much of the conversation focused on the good works performed by the Red Cross in the community including the Red Cross disaster response (and the partnership with the Animal Protection League that helps four-legged family members during a disaster), Pet First Aid training, the new Pet First Aid App, Babysitting Training Courses.

Lorain County Chapter President, Tony Gallo was also quick to mention to the 40 attendees that the April 5th Red Cross Red Tie Event would be the event of the year (and it was!)

 

Lorain County Chapter Executive, Rita Campbell stands with Lorain County Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo, during the March “Coffee, Tea and Contacts” networking event held at the chapter.

Lorain County Chapter Executive, Rita Campbell stands with Lorain County Chamber of Commerce President, Tony Gallo, during the March “Coffee, Tea and Contacts” networking event held at the chapter.

 

 

Charlotte share’s more photos from D.C.!

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Group Picture with Gail McGovernNortheast Ohio COO, Charlotte Rerko (2nd from left, bottom) is our little social butterfly! Here she is with American Red Cross CEO, Gail McGovern (center, bottom), department COOs and Chapter Executives from across the country during a recent trip to Washington D.C.

You’ll notice in the background are the gorgeous favrile windows crafted by Louis Tiffany for the Board of Governors room at the National Headquarters.

The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio celebrates National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12

Thank you.

Thank you to our Disaster Action Team members who rise at random hours to bring hope to those who have experienced a major fire in their home.

Thank you to those who spend time in our chapter offices greeting visitors, answering phone calls and making the Red Cross run a little more smoothly.

Thank you to our volunteers who walk through neighborhoods distributing information about fire safety. To those who drive residents to life saving medical treatments. And those who provide 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families.

To that more than 90% of our workforce who freely offer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community, “Thank you”.

Thank you to the more than 90% of our workforce who volunteer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community.

Thank you to the more than 90% of our workforce who volunteer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community.

What are the odds? A NEO Red Cross International Case.

The services provided by the Red Cross offers hope to so many in our community, in so many different ways.

Recently, a Restoring Family Links (RFL) client in Stark County was searching for his Registration Records. The RFL program, offered through our local chapters, is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The Movement is present in every country in the world and is supported by millions of volunteers.  As part of a global network, the movement assists individuals who are attempting to find family members who were separated by armed conflict or other situations of violence and disasters. Depending on the circumstance, the program can assist an individual with obtaining records.

The Stark County client filled out all of the necessary paper work with RFL caseworker, Barb. Once his request was processed, his records were sent to the chapter.

When Melissa, the International Affairs Manager, received the documents she attempted to contact the client but a recording stated that the phone had been disconnected.

“I hope his address is current. I will have to send him a letter advising him that his requested paperwork has arrived,” she mused out loud.

“How else will you find this man?” said a Red Cross volunteer working in Melissa’s office.  The volunteer asked for the client’s name.

“Oh my goodness! He lives across the way from my apartment,” she exclaimed when Melissa told her the name.

What are the odds?

The Red Cross volunteer went home that day and told her neighbor, the client, that his documents had come into the office that very day.

“I have been waiting for these papers. Now I can begin to move forward with my life!” he stated.

To learn more about our International Services, visit www.redcross.org/international or contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

Northeast Ohio rolls out the Disney Pillowcase Project

The Pillowcase Project, presented by the Red Cross and the Walt Disney Company, teaches students grades 3-5 about emergency preparedness.

The Pillowcase Project, presented by the Red Cross and the Walt Disney Company, teaches students grades 3-5 about emergency preparedness.

Thanks to a grant from the Walt Disney Company, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is now able to present The Pillowcase Project. The program provides disaster preparation education for third through fifth grade students. Kids learn how to create a disaster kit by packing essential items into a pillowcase for easy transport in times of emergency.

The project grew from stories of Loyola University students who packed their emergency belongings in a pillowcase during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The New Orleans chapter first developed the program and it has grown to include more than 59 Red Cross Regions.

In addition to preparing an emergency pillowcase kit, students will learn about geographic-specific hazards and practice resilience-coping skills. The program ties in to educational standards. During the class, kids will receive and color their own Disney pillowcase.

We are currently training presenters. If you are a registered volunteer (who has taken the Disaster Services Overview course) and are interested in being a presenter, please call John Gareis at 216-431-3219 or email John.Gareis@redcross.org.

Not a volunteer…yet? Get started today at redcross.org/volunteer.

Interested in hosting a presenter in your class or scout meeting? Call John Gareis at 216-431-3219 or email John.Gareis@redcross.org.

Learn more about Flood Safety Awareness with a new app from the Red Cross

On average, there are 89 fatalities and more than $8.3 billion dollars in damage each year as a result of flooding. Floods and flash floods are the most common, and costliest, weather related disaster in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the organization that monitors and manages weather and ocean related data, predicts that minor flooding will occur this spring in Northeast Ohio. That prediction does not take in to consideration the potential for flash flooding, a type of flooding that occurs when water rises in a short amount of time, quickly with little or no warning.

In an effort to get the word out about the deadly nature of flooding, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) observe Flood Safety Awareness week from March 16 through 22.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

To celebrate, the American Red Cross released a free, Flood app.  The app helps users gain more information about how to prepare for and respond to a flood in their area. It features interactive quizzes and awards users with badges that can be shared on social networks.

Want to build an emergency kit in preparation? The app can help with that!

Most importantly, the app can be used during a flood. It provides an audible and location specific alert when a Flood Warning or Watch is in effect, plus a toolbox of helpful features such as turning a smart phone’s camera flash into a flashlight and helping the user post the message “I’m safe” on social networks. It will also map out area Red Cross shelters.

The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store or visit redcross.org/apps