Sound the Alarm on Home Fires

National, Local Effort to Prevent Fire Fatalities Gets  Underway This Week

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Every day, seven people are killed from home fires. It’s a staggering statistic, but true. If their homes had smoke alarms installed, who knows how many of those lives could have been saved? Watch this video.

Not content to accept this statistic, the American Red Cross is determined to reduce the number of injuries and deaths by at least 25 percent by the year 2020. From April 28 through May 13, smoke alarms will be installed in 100 at-risk communities across the United States.

In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross is partnering with local fire departments and corporate partners to install smoke alarms in homes that have none or have older ones that need to be replaced. If a smoke alarm is more than 10-years old, it needs to be replaced. The portion of the detector that senses the smoke can lose its ability to function properly after 10 years.

Teams of volunteers, both Red Cross members and other members of the community will be visiting areas throughout the country, and will be installing these smoke alarms at no cost to the homeowners. Locally, smoke alarms will be installed in communities in Cleveland and Akron.  Visit soundthealarm.org/neo for the dates of our home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.Sound_the_Alarm_2018-04-23 (002)

Volunteers – both trained and untrained – are still needed for a variety of tasks. If you can’t help on the installation dates, additional volunteers are needed before the event. People will be canvassing the neighborhoods and leaving flyers announcing the event, along with fire safety information. If you can walk, you’ve got the skills necessary.

 

On the day of the event, people with tool skills will do the actual installations, but other people are needed to provide safety information, to document the installations and to explain fire evacuation facts to the homeowners.

There’s something everyone can do, and you could be the next person who directly or indirectly saves someone’s life that is presently without smoke alarms. Visit us online to sign up for one of the volunteer opportunities.  Consider bringing family and friends to help as well.

Military Dad Honors Military Children

April is Month of the Military Child

By Jorge Martinez, Chief Operating Officer, American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region
Commander, United States Coast Guard (Retired)

Jorge

Jorge Martinez

Military members past and present are routinely honored throughout any given year in many ways, and rightfully so.  As a retired military officer, I can say that I feel more than adequately recognized for my service to our wonderful country.  Truth be told and as any member will tell you – it’s not why we serve.  And while not necessary it is appreciated.  However, it is not the individual that serves, but rather the family.  And most members will tell you that the service member has the easy job.

That was certainly true for me.

I would deploy for months on end carrying out the king’s work with people I loved and trusted while my family stayed back and did their valiant best to go on with life as normal — though always worrying but not showing it.  They too were serving honorably but doing so silently in the shadows.

I would get painful glimpses from time to time.

I remember one particular instance nearly 10 years ago when I was putting my then 6-year old son, Ben, on the school bus before heading out to sea myself for nearly 5 months.  He was the last of my two sons to head out that morning; my infant daughter was still asleep in her crib.

Ben was and is a very stoic kid.  Though we were very close, he never showed his emotion and I know he never wanted to disappoint me.  I hugged him when I put him on the bus and told him I loved him.  He sat in a window seat… and gave me a look that I will never forget.  It was a “you’re leaving me again, Dad” type of look and it cut right through me.  As soon as the bus pulled away, I hugged my wife and we both started to cry.  This was not an isolated incident.

Military families and their selfless service to our nation are all too often overlooked, especially the children’s service and sacrifice.  They go about their days like any other kid would and typically without complaint about a parent being gone for long periods of time.  They keep it together most of the time.  They didn’t ask for this, but deal with it they must and do.  It’s hard and it’s thankless… but it’s necessary.

Military children are my heroes!  They have a wonderful purpose and possess such quiet strength.  After retirement, I’ve been able to reflect on them and their journey of service and it’s an inspiring one to me.  Throughout my career, I have been blessed to be part of many great teams that have accomplished much.  But my greatest accomplishment (really my wife’s) is seeing my children grow up and be better than I ever could have been at their stage of life.

Our country’s military children have been inspiring and helping our military members for as long as we’ve been a country.  Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude.  If you agree, next time you see a military family thank them all… especially the children.  They’ve earned it.

The American Red Cross supports our nation’s military members, veterans, and their families through Service to the Armed Forces.  Learn more here.

Volunteer Profile: Jeanette Petrick

Greater Cleveland Chapter Volunteer is Passionate About Helping Members of the Military, Veterans and Their Families

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I always knew I’d do volunteer work with the military when I retired from nursing, so I contacted the Red Cross and they put me in just the right place,” says Jeanette Petrick of Strongsville.

Jeannette Petrick

Jeanette thrives on what she calls the “human contact” that she experienced as an acute care nurse and now as a volunteer for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

“I do casework, calling to follow up with families that have had emergency communications (through the Red Cross) with family members on deployment,” she says. “Usually that’s in connection with a death, or maybe an illness; sometimes it’s something nice, like a birth in the family.

“We check to be sure the communications went smoothly, but then as I talk with them, I might find out they need other services – like financial help to get their service member home for a funeral – and we can point them to other resources, either through the Red Cross or military support organizations or their communities.”

Jeanette’s compassion is obvious as she recounts the story of a young Navy wife who is pregnant while her husband is deployed on a ship. “She hasn’t seen him all that much in the last two years,” she says. “It reminds you just how much military families really do sacrifice.”

For Jeanette, supporting our men and women in uniform is more than a professional or even a humanitarian issue: It’s personal. Her father served in the Navy during World War II, she had brothers and cousins in the armed forces during the Vietnam era and her only son is now in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

“I love my country,” she says, “and I love that I can help people through the Red Cross.”

In Northeast Ohio, 62 volunteers like Jeanette are the manpower of the Service to the Armed Forces, according to their volunteer leader, Sharon Nicastro. In addition to active duty military, SAF serves veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard and their families.

If you’d like to fit into this vital volunteer role, or explore the many other volunteer opportunities within the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/neo, and click the volunteer tab, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

 

 

Volunteer Profile: Sue J. Miller

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Volunteer Makes a Big Impact 

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross Volunteer

Sue J. Miller is a Red Cross Volunteer who has not just an uplifting charisma, but an extravagant courage that inspires everyone around her. Five years ago when Sue decided to retire, she had many plans to keep herself busy,  but her main aim was to help people with anything she could.  According to Sue, her Richland County community had done a lot for her family and she wanted to give back by getting involved in voluntary work. That is when in 2015, Sue joined the Red Cross. Among many other duties that she performs by giving more than 30-hours per week at Red Cross, she is an active member of the Disaster Relief Team, Shelter Response Team and Food Canteen Team.

Sue Miller1

Sue J. Miller, left, and Sue K. Miller working at a canteen for first responders following a train derailment in Ashland County earlier this year.

The motivation to continue her extraordinary work comes from the community she serves. In her own words, “when people come to me and say thank you for everything you did for us, it fills my heart with satisfaction and happiness. I believe in the Red Cross mission of alleviating sufferings and pain of people and that is who I want to be”.

“Sue was one of our Chapter’s outstanding “stayployed” volunteers during the horrific national disasters last fall,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland (LEH) Chapter.” Her compassion and commitment to our mission is an inspiration to all of us. We are very lucky to have Sue in our LEH chapter.”

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It is also important to note that while Red Cross Volunteers leave no stone unturned in helping the communities around them,  the Red Cross as a body also takes care of its volunteers. When Sue had an accident while on assignment in 2016, she broke both arms. Not only did the Red Cross take care of her treatment logistics, but they also made sure to give her a call every Wednesday 9:00 am for the next eight weeks to make sure she was okay. For Sue, that compassion means everything.  Eventually, the whole story is about human love and care. Whether you give it in some form or receive it back in any other form. Be it a hug or a thank you from a community member.

The Red Cross is fortunate to have a volunteer like Sue J. Miller.

You can volunteer too, get started at redcross.org/neo!

Volunteer Profile: Rich Rock

Stark and Muskingum Lakes Volunteer Proudly Delivers Great Service

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Q:  So how do you deliver great service to a four-county area?

A:  With great volunteers, that’s how.

One of the best, according to Kim Kroh, Executive Director of Stark County & Muskingum Lakes Chapter is volunteer Rich Rock.  A volunteer who just received his 10-year pin, Rich does it all. “He is a Godsend. We’d be out of luck without him,” says Kim.

Sometime, more than 10 years ago, a lifetime friend of Rich’s, who had moved to Texas, mentioned his volunteer efforts with the Red Cross there, and suggested that Rich would probably enjoy volunteering as well. They had grown up together, enjoyed similar interests, and enjoyed serving the community, so Rich took his advice and signed up.  His friend was right, and Rich is still serving.

Rich is a DAT (Disaster Action Team) member as well as a general volunteer, distributing emergency preparedness kits at the mall in New Philadelphia on Preparedness Day.

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Rich Rock, second from right, and other Red Cross volunteers prepare to install smoke alarms with the New Philadelphia Fire Department

In addition, Rich also installs smoke alarms during the chapter’s home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.

Working as a DAT member, covering multiple fires and other catastrophes, he says he is always touched when he sees a family that has lost literally everything.  “It is heartbreaking to see,” says Rich.

He still recalls an event where the husband and wife had a major fire, not losing everything, but a significant loss nevertheless. By the time Rich arrived on scene, the husband had taken the car to run an errand. After spending quite some time talking with the overly stressed-out wife, he said he began to feel that they were making a personal connection.

When the husband returned, Rich made a tongue-in-cheek comment about the woman’s emotional state, at which the husband was taken aback.  Starting to laugh, the wife said, “Oh, don’t worry, that’s what I need now more than anything, just a chance to laugh about this horrific incident.”  Group hugs ensued, and Rich left feeling that he had made another good connection with the community.

“Those are the things that stick with you, and make you feel that it’s worth the effort,” says Rich.

If you like helping the community, do as Rich did, and VOLUNTEER.  You can start the process here.

Volunteer Profile: Dan Simcox

Lake to River Chapter Volunteer is a Former School Teacher and Principal

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Communications Volunteer Lead

April is National Volunteer Month and the Red Cross is featuring stories about some of the selfless volunteers that make up the team of people who help fulfill the organization’s mission. Today’s volunteer profile is on Dan Simcox, one of many everyday heroes who offer their time and talent to help those in their community.

Dan is a retired teacher and principal from Columbiana, Ohio. He grew up in Worthington, went to Muskingum College, and received his Masters from Youngstown State University. Dan credits his parents, teachers, and coaches as the biggest influences in his life.

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When Dan reflects on his incredible career in education, the memories he most treasures are what he calls the “smaller moments” like the extra 15 minutes he would take to sit down and listen to a student who was having trouble at home or school and in doing so, knowing he helped make their life a little easier. He treasures letters from former students that have come to him after those students went on to college.  A number of them have sent him the papers they wrote when given the assignment “Your life’s biggest influences besides your parents.” He sometimes reads those letters when he’s feeling nostalgic.

It’s is no surprise that a man who made a career of helping, teaching, and encouraging others would choose to volunteer with the Red Cross after retirement, which interestingly was just a short time before hurricane Katrina hit. At that time, Dan didn’t have a detailed understanding of exactly what the Red Cross did or how they operated. But he thought they could use some help so he volunteered and was quickly sent to New Orleans to work on an Emergency Response Vehicle in Mass Feeding. He said after the first day his supervisor told everyone that she was changing  the routes, since people were getting too emotionally involved with their clients. He didn’t understand then how that could happen. But that changed quickly. When it was time for him to go home, he thought, “How can I leave these people? What will they do without me?”

Yes, he got involved…and he has been a steady, hard-working, and passionate Red Cross volunteer ever since.

That is the volunteer spirit. That is the heart of Dan Simcox.

This week, appropriately during this time when the Red Cross is honoring its volunteers, Dan will lead a class on diversity.  He believes it is important for people who volunteer to understand they will be working in a very diverse world, using a plethora of different volunteers. He says to be effective, “we need to know how to use that diversity to our advantage by using different experiences and different world views to serve this diverse population in the best way possible.”

Dan says the most rewarding part of working for the Red Cross is that often you get the opportunity to be the first step towards someone’s recovery.  “After a disaster, a family may have lost everything and the future looks without hope,” Dan says. “But the Red Cross can tell them that there is a safe place for them and their children to stay for a few days, food to eat, and money for clothes and essentials, and that after they get rested we will help them find the resources they need to start the road to recovery.  The relief you see in their eyes when they realize there is a reason for hope is priceless. Through the Red Cross I can make the world a better place for someone who is having an extremely bad day.”

If Dan’s story inspired you to volunteer, you can find out more here.

Volunteer Profile: Megan and Tanya Williams

Volunteers Ensure American Red Cross Lifesaving Mission Continues

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Biomedical Services

April is National Volunteer Month, the perfect time to recognize all those individuals who help carry out the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross, not only as blood and platelet donors, but as blood drive volunteers. Every day, at blood drives across Northern Ohio, dedicated volunteers greet and register blood donors, serve as donor escorts and manage the blood drive refreshment area. These volunteers are vital in making blood drives successful and ensuring patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need.

Megan and Tanya Williams

Megan and Tanya Williams

Megan Williams began volunteering with the Red Cross as a student at Streetsboro High School. She now attends the University of Akron and continues to work with the Red Cross. She volunteers regularly at the Summit Donor Center and every year at the Sheraton Cuyahoga Falls Holiday Blood Drive. Megan even got her mom Tanya involved and now, volunteering at the Sheraton Blood Drive is something they do, together, every year. Megan says she enjoys helping out and the Red Cross is thankful for her dedication!

In addition to volunteering at blood drives, the Red Cross is always looking for more blood and platelet donors. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood products for those in need of transfusions. Donating is a simple way for those who are short on time to make a life-changing difference.

The Red Cross is hosting its annual Hometown Hero Blood Drive tomorrow at Aloft Cleveland Downtown on the East Bank of the Flats. Come to donate and enjoy a 98.5 WNCX live broadcast all day with Bill Louis and Michael Stanley, free goody bag with gifts from sponsors, complimentary parking and food.

Use the Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter code “WNCX” or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to schedule your appointment for the Hometown Hero Blood Drive today! To learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross visit RedCross.org/neo and click “Volunteer.”