RNC Operation Ends in Cleveland


That collective sigh of relief was offered up early Friday morning, following the conclusion of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The convention, by nearly every measure, was a smashing success.

Following more than a year of preparation, the American Red Cross Crossroads Division, with a heavy Northeast Ohio regional presence, coordinated and lead the ARC involvement and support for the event.

Preparations included recruiting and training volunteers, securing potential shelter locations, staging assets like Emergency Response Vehicles in various locations, and renewing partnerships with various public safety entities and groups like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Salvation Army.

None of our services was needed.


Red Cross workers underwent training during the operation that will be of benefit to those who will need our services during future disaster responses. And we increased our visibility in the community with news coverage of our preparations and social media messages about preparations, extreme heat safety, and the Red Cross Emergency App.

The Republican nominee wasn’t the only winner; the city of Cleveland shone, as evidenced by myriad media reports, almost universally positive.

For many Red Cross workers, the operation continues, with demobilization efforts.  We owe our volunteers our sincere gratitude for their dedication, which for one worker meant learning a totally new skill.


Photo credit: Todd James/American Red Cross

Note: the article referenced above was written by Eilene Guy…a Red Cross volunteer.
If you would like to volunteer for the Red Cross, while we can’t guarantee you’ll learn how to drive a forklift, you can rest assured you will feel like you are giving back to your community. Visit our website to learn more about volunteer opportunities, and be prepared to help the Red Cross help those in need.





Training Lifts Red Cross Worker to New Heights

American Red Cross volunteer

AKRON, July 17, 2016 – American Red Crosser Pam Williams is used to handling challenges.

In the last eight years, she has done some 25 disaster deployments all over the country.  As a government liaison, she sees to it that the Red Cross is working smoothly with whatever tribal, local, state and even federal agencies are also responding to a disaster.

“I haven’t severed diplomatic relations with a single state yet,” the slim, whitehaired volunteer from Akron, Ohio, said with a chuckle.

Williams admits it’s not always easy when “cranky politicians” take out their stress on her. She recalls with pride an episode that started with an angry emergency management director and his shelter manager who didn’t understand Red Cross policies. Williams went out of her way to patiently explain the “back story” of each and every procedure, adding hours to her days to smooth the local government-Red Cross relationship. Her reward: The shelter manager later wrote to her at home, asking how to become a Red Cross volunteer.

On the eve of what could be a busy assignment, as the Red Cross and its many partners get ready for the Republican National Convention, Williams seized a new challenge:  She took the training to become a forklift driver.

The Red Cross offers a staggering array of free courses, both on-line and hands-on, to teach disaster responders how to safely and effectively do their jobs – or jobs that they might just want to try.

“I know that we’re often short of forklift drivers, when a truck comes in with a load of supplies, and I thought ‘What the heck’,” Williams said, with an almost-mischievous smile. “You never know” when you might be able to fill a pressing need.

“It’s not necessarily hard to drive a forklift, but it’s nothing like driving a car,” she learned. With a zero-turning radius, “it feels like the back is going to slide right around in front of you. That took some getting used to.”

Using her light touch and attention to detail, Williams mastered the machine, much to the delight of her many male co-workers. “I didn’t hurt anybody. I didn’t damage any equipment or drop any loads,” she said with amused pleasure, “so it’s a good day!”

Now Williams’s car can sport a bumper sticker that proclaims: “My other ride is a forklift.”

Red Cross Ready for the RNC

Workforce Deployed to Provide Services if Needed

Preparations have been made, and Red Cross workers continue to work on their readiness for the 2016 Republican National Convention, July 18-22 in Cleveland.  The  Red Cross is among several organizations with plans to provide residents and visitors a safe and enjoyable experience.

The Red Cross responds to almost 66,000 disasters in the United States every year, ranging from home fires that affect a single family, to hurricanes that affect tens of thousands, to earthquakes that impact millions. In these events, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, health and mental health services to help families and entire communities get back on their feet.

During the Republican National Convention, most hotels in Northeast Ohio are booked solid.  The Red Cross is prepared to respond to any potential need to shelter and feed any residents or visitors who may be displaced,  and has recruited additional volunteers from Northeast Ohio and surrounding regions to help fulfill its mission.

Preparations have been made to open up to three shelters within a short time frame, in the event that a large number of Northeast Ohio residents or visitors to the area are displaced due to fires or other disasters. Opening and staffing three shelters could require more than 70 trained shelter volunteers around the clock. About 100 volunteers are ready to respond should the need arise.

The Red Cross is also prepared, along with our community partners, to provide water, snacks, and comfort in areas where those humanitarian needs may be needed.

The need for Red Cross volunteers in Northeast Ohio will continue following the Republican National Convention. If you are interested in supporting our readiness to assist people in need, click here to create a Red Cross volunteer profile and begin the application process.


Some like it HOT, 3 Ways to Stay Safe in this Week’s Heat

summer-heatSome like it HOT.

But with toasty Northeast Ohio temperatures expected over the next few days, it’s important that you keep three key things in mind to beat the heat: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. And don’t forget about your friends and neighbors, check on those most at-risk at least twice a day.

Stay Cool

  1. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  2. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.

Stay Hydrated

Your body may sweat more in these temps, which means you will be losing fluids.

  1. Drink more water than usual.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  3. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

Stay Informed

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app to learn more about how to treat heat related illnesses – like heat cramps or heat stroke.

For more information on at-risk populations, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/


Southern Baptists Join Red Cross To Provide Hot Meals For West Virginia Flood Survivors

By Carl Manning; American Red Cross Volunteer

Tommy Story is busy stirring the large vat of fragrant meat in the outdoor kitchen, the steam rising and wafting through his white beard.

The Gaston, Ky., resident is with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Team working with American Red Cross volunteers to cook and serve hot meals for those recovering from the West Virginia flash floods.

“For me it’s a true joy to be able to help out those in need. It’s a true labor of love,” said Tommy, part of the group operating the field kitchen outside the First Baptist Church of Fairlea, one of three kitchens the church group is operating.

As Tommy stirs, other volunteers are busy opening numerous cans of vegetables to start fixing the side dishes. It’s like watching a carefully timed dance, with volunteers quickly pivoting to avoid bumping each other with hot food.

The Southern Baptists have been doing this for about 60 years and for much of that time they’ve partnered with the Red Cross to provide needed nourishment for those recovering from a variety of disasters.

Karen Smith, of Shepherdsville, Ky., who oversees the Fairlea kitchen, says it’s really a time-tested partnership for both organizations.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the Red Cross and the Red Cross couldn’t do what it does without us,” she said. “We’re all working for the same end and that is to help the people who are hurting.”

The Red Cross purchases the food; the Southern Baptists cook it and put it in insulated containers which are loaded into a waiting fleet of Red Cross emergency response vehicles, or ERVs, for delivery where needed.

Among those rushing around is Joby Barrow, of La Center, Ky., making sure the right meals get to the right ERVs – including four trucks from Northeast Ohio.

“We do this because we’re supposed to help our neighbors and that’s more than the people next door,” she said. “We’re all in this to do what we can. We all do what we can do best.”

She watches as the forklift driver eases the pallet of food containers to the back of an ERV and again checks to make sure all is as should be.

With the food loaded, the ERV drives off and she waves before hurrying back to get ready for the next load.

To assist those affected by the West Virginia floods, please visit www.redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text WVFLOODS to 90999.


Tommy Story of Guston, Ky., is one of the volunteers with the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief helping run a field kitchen to cook meals for the American Red Cross to take to those impacted by the flash flooding in West Virginia. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)


Joby Barrow of LaCenter, Ky, is a Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteer who checks the food containers as they are loaded onto an American Red Cross emergency response vehicle to be taken to those recovering from the West Virginia floods. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)


Two Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief volunteers put plastic wrap around insulated food containers so they won’t spill from the pallet while being transported by forklift to a waiting American Red Cross emergency response vehicle for delivery to those recovering from the West Virginia flooding. (Photo by David Hendrix/American Red Cross)

Disaster Workers Kept Busy at Home and in West Virginia

Volunteers Respond to Home Fires, Flood Recovery During Independence Day Weekend

Nearly 70 Northeast Ohio residents were chased from their homes by fire during the 4th of July holiday weekend, as Red Cross volunteers responded to meet their immediate needs. Financial assistance totaling more than $13,600 was offered to 45 adults and 22 children, to be used for lodging, food, clothing, and other immediate needs.

“The Red Cross volunteers who responded to these families are Holiday Heroes,” said Jeremy Bayer, Disaster Program Manager for the Greater Cleveland chapter.  “They provided the initial guiding hand for these families during their darkest hour.”

In West Virginia, about 700 Red Cross volunteers, including several from Northeast Ohio worked through the weekend to help the thousands of residents affected by recent flooding.  There have been nearly 2,000 overnight stays in shelters operated or supported by Red Cross volunteers.  More than 13,000 meals and snacks have been served, 7,500 clean-up kits have been distributed, and tens of thousands of bulk items given to residents, many of whom have lost everything in the flooding.

The road to recovery for West Virginians affected by the flooding will be long.  Many face daunting challenges.  The Red Cross will be with them to help those staying in shelters transition to longer term housing.  And we need your help.

Log onto redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make a donation to disaster relief. Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  Your donation will help people recover from disasters big and small: big, like the West Virginia flooding, and small, like the individual home fires that affected so many families in Northeast Ohio this weekend.

Weathering Independence Day 2016 in West Virginia

CEO Mike Parks Credits Residents for Resiliency

More rain is in the forecast for West Virginia on the 4th of July, as residents there recover from historic flooding that hit the state in late June. The National Weather Service has posted a flash flood watch  through late Monday night for parts of West Virginia and eastern Ohio.

Mike Parks, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, is one of hundreds of Red Cross workers and volunteers who deployed to West Virginia, in response to the needs of the residents affected by the flooding.


Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

“The response of the residents of this great state to the devastation caused by the flooding is heartwarming,” Mike said.  “So many of them have so little, but so many of them give so much to so many.  Their generosity to each other, despite their own hardships is not only heartwarming, but also inspiring.”

Red Cross workers have been providing shelter, food, water, cleaning supplies and comfort kits to residents affected by the disaster, and will continue to help them as they plan to move forward with their lives.

Photo Credit: Mary Williams, American Red Cross

“The residents affected by the flooding have hope, hope that they can recover, and that gives them true independence, as we celebrate our nation’s freedom,” Mike added.

You can help the people of West Virginia, by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief.  Your donation will help people who suffer from disasters big and small.  Go to redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to donate.  Or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.