NEO Region Surpasses Goal for Number of Smoke Alarms Installed

Leads the Nation in Number of Smoke Alarms Installed


Volunteers from Global Prairie and the Maple Heights Fire Department helped install more than 100 smoke alarms on Thursday, April 28, 2016.  Photo credit:  Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Thousands of residents in Northeast Ohio are better protected from home fires, as the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region has surpassed its goal of installing 10,000 smoke alarms during fiscal year 2016.

As of Sunday, May 1, 2016, more than 10,500 smoke alarms had been installed in the homes of residents in the 22 counties served by the Northeast Ohio Region.

“This was truly a team effort in all five chapters, and reflects the efforts of the entire staff, our dedicated volunteers, and our valuable community partners,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO.  “At last count, Northeast Ohio still leads the nation in the number of installations, which is only fitting since this life-saving program started in Cleveland almost 25 years ago.”

The American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign was modeled after “Operation Save-A-Life,” an initiative between the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter and the City of Cleveland Division of Fire.  Through the program, valuable fire safety information is shared with residents, including how to develop an escape plan.  The installation of free smoke alarms is also offered.

The goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the U. S. by 25% within five years.

Residents in Northeast Ohio can learn more about the campaign, and can request a free fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installation by logging onto

See more photos from the Fire Safety Walk in Maple Heights with our partners from Global Prairie on our Facebook Page.  And read about recent smoke alarm installation events in Akron and Madison Township on our blog.

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They Went Over the (Black) River to Run for the Red (Cross)

Annual Fundraiser Draws Dozens of Participants

Despite gray skies and frosty temperatures, more than 80 runners and walkers turned out for the 2016 Run for the Red 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 23.  The event was held at the Bur Oak Pavilion in the Black River Reservation of the Lorain County Metro Parks.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

The top three finishers for men and women in various age groups received medals to commemorate their accomplishments.  Regional Major Gifts Officer Pam Zoltowicz had the honors of handing out the awards.  See the results of the run here.

Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter participated, along with her husband Joe and son Grant, who won the male 20-29 category, finishing the 3.1 mile run in 24:33.  He ran at a pace of under eight minutes per mile.  This was his first 5K.

The Red Cross thanks Moose Lodge 778 in Elyria and Nordson Corporation for their sponsorship of the 2016 Run for the Red.

Log onto to keep up to date with future fundraisers and other events, or to donate funds, blood, or to volunteer.


Lake to River Celebrates Volunteers

We love our volunteers!

Thank you so much to those who volunteer their time and heart to the Red Cross. Thank you to those who answer calls from people in our community in an effort to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency!

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On Thursday, April 21 the Lake to River chapter held a luau for their local volunteers. We want to thank and congratulation Jay Rosenthal (53 years) and Tab Alden (48 years) of service.  Nearly 50 volunteers, their guests and staff members attended the celebration.

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The Lake to River Chapter, which serves Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, and Trumbull Counties, has 225 volunteers.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, visit and click on “Volunteer”.

226 Smoke Alarms Installed in Madison Township

98 homes

228 residents

24 volunteers

226 smoke alarms

Those are the numbers associated with last week’s Fire Safety Walk in Madison Township, near Mansfield.  The Operation Save-A-Life event was part of a nationwide effort to reduce deaths from home fires 25% by 2019.

Red Cross staff and volunteers partnered with the Madison Township Fire Department and Target employees to enter 88 homes, share fire safety tips with 228 residents, and install 226 smoke alarms.

“Each home should have a smoke alarm on every floor,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland  Chapter.  “We appreciate the help we received from the Madison Township Fire Department and the local Target store to reduce the chances of fire fatalities in our community.”

There is no charge for the smoke alarms or for their installation.  Residents throughout Northeast Ohio are encouraged to log onto the Operation Save-A-Life  page at to schedule an appointment for a free fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installation.


Akron Mayor Helps Launch Operation Save-A-Life Partnership

One more family in Akron is now better protected from the dangers of a home fire.


Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and several members of the Akron Fire Department were joined by Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross on Thursday, April 21st to install smoke alarms in the home of  Amy Villagomez and her family.

The installation marked the official start of Operation Save-A-Life, a new partnership between the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department, designed to offer Akron residents free smoke alarms and valuable fire safety information.  Interested residents are encouraged to call the Red Cross Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030.

The Villagomez family was grateful for the new smoke alarms.  The alarms that had been previously installed in their home expired in 2009.

“I had no idea smoke alarms have an expiration date,” said Amy Villagomez, who lives in the home with husband Steve and their two children.


Smoke alarms have a 10 year lifespan.


Mayor Horrigan installed two smoke alarms in the Villagomez home.  One, supplied by the Akron Fire Department, is designed for hearing impaired residents.  It was installed on a wall in the bedroom of one of the children, who has a hearing impairment.  The alarm includes a strobe light when activated.

The mayor also installed a more traditional smoke alarm in a hallway of the home, supplied by the Red Cross.  The alarm has a lithium battery designed to last 10 years.

“The importance of having smoke detectors in all of our residents’ homes is vital to safety,” said mayor Horrigan, who was joined by Marilyn Keith, President of Akron City Council and Ward 8 representative.  The Villagomez family lives in Ward 8.

Keith Declan Horrigan

Prior to the smoke alarm installations, Mrs. Villagomez was given important fire safety information and assistance in designing a fire escape plan.

“A recent Red Cross study found that many people think they have up to 10 minutes to escape from a burning home,” according to Rachel.  “It is closer to two minutes. Smoke alarms save lives.”

Red Cross Cat

Operation Save-A-Life is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, designed to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires by 25% in a five-year time span.  Residents in other parts of Northeast Ohio can learn how to obtain free smoke alarms in their counties by logging onto

Photo credits: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross, and Bruce Ford/ City of Akron (with permission)




First Anniversary Reflections from CEO Mike Parks on Giving Day


CEO Mike Parks and Elsie Berger, age 95, and a Red Cross Volunteer since 1958

NEO CEO Thanks Volunteers and Donors

Members of our Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Family:

“THANK YOU!!!”   I realize those two simple words may not seem like much but please know they speak volumes when directed at you—members of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross family.  During National Volunteer Week last week, we recognized the tremendous work of our incredible Red Cross volunteers.  Throughout our Region this past year we have brought on more than 400 new volunteers.  Additionally, almost 80% more volunteers are actually recording their efforts and they’ve actually worked 18% more hours, as well as spending 10% more time on call.  Our volunteer to employee hour ratio has increased by almost 70% during the past twelve months.   Thank you to all of you who are taking the time to record your hours in Volunteer Connection—this is critical to our being able to accurately track your terrific efforts.

What’s really impressive is the phenomenal impact our volunteers have made during their time supporting the Red Cross.  For example, our Disaster Cycle Services team, working closely with our Chapter leadership, has responded to more cases, provided more resources, and helped install almost 10,000 smoke alarms throughout Northeast Ohio.  Whether coordinating events, supporting our members of the Armed Forces, greeting visitors and blood donors, raising funds, or teaching classes, you are helping the American Red Cross meet mission every day.

Last week also marked my one year anniversary with the American Red Cross—what an awesome year it’s been.  As I reflect on the immense privilege it has been to serve alongside this tremendous staff (paid and volunteer), I am reminded our volunteers are truly our nation’s finest and most dedicated, supported by some of the most professional employees with whom I’ve had the pleasure to serve.  Please accept my sincere thanks and genuine appreciation for all each of you do every single day to help prevent and alleviate suffering in Northeast Ohio.  I’m already excited to see what year number two has in store!!!

Best regards…Mike


3 Reasons and 4 Ways to #Help1Family on Red Cross Giving Day

GD16_Meals_FacebookNearly every eight minutes, the American Red Cross extends a helping hand to a family in need that has lost everything – the roof over their heads, their clothes, and their most cherished possessions – to a home fire.

The Red Cross has been busy helping neighbors in and around Northeast Ohio, but we need your help on one special day to continue to provide the emergency services that our neighbors depend on each and every day.

On April 21, you have a chance to help families in need whenever and wherever they need it by participating in the Red Cross’ Giving Day to #help1family. A donation of just $88.50 can provide a family with a day’s worth of food, plus blankets and other essentials.

We are proud of the work we accomplished to help people in Northeast Ohio last year:

  1. Installing 8,960 smoke alarms in NEO communities
  2. Provided 3,161 students with disaster readiness training through The Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney
  3. Responded to over 950 disaster incidents such as home fires or flooding

Spread the word about Giving Day – the more people who support Giving day means we can help more families.  Use your social media channels to reach out to friends and family and ask them to donate to #help1family by visiting

Here are four ways your donation will #help1family:

  1. GD16_Volunteer_FacebookSupporting a family in urgent need: provide funding to give a family a day’s worth of food, blankets, and other essentials.
  2. Supplying warm meals: help provide hearty, comforting meals to people impacted by disasters.
  3. Providing clean-up kits after a disaster strikes: make clean-up kits available for families in need that include vital items like a mop, bucket, and disinfectant.
  4. Deploying an emergency response vehicle for a day: Red Cross workers travel to impacted neighborhoods in fully stocked Emergency Response vehicles to provide food, water and critical relief.


Imagine the impact that we could have on our community if everyone wanted to #help1family.

Thank you.