VA and ‘Got Your 6’ to Hold StorytellersX Event at Red Cross Regional HQ

Aimed at Strengthening Military-Civilian Relationships

One week after Veterans Day activities were held in Cleveland, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in collaboration with Got Your 6 and local Community Veteran Engagement Boards, will host StorytellersX at the American Red Cross Regional Headquarters in Cleveland.

It is one of several events taking place across the country, where veterans share their stories of post-military life.

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Adapted from Got Your 6’s national Storytellers programs — which have included a former VA Secretary, elected officials, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and educators — StorytellersX events are TEDx-type local activities featuring key Veterans connecting Veterans with their communities, all to help bridge the civilian-military divide.

“Research shows that the percentage of Americans who currently serve in the military is at its lowest point in history,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “StorytellersX will showcase the exemplary talents and experiences of some of our nation’s brightest Veterans and shift the conversation to more accurate perceptions of Veterans.

During StorytellersX, audiences will hear Veterans share how military service prepared them for civilian life and personal and professional success.

Confirmed speakers include veterans Brinton Lincoln, Danielle Krakora, Franklin Martin, Edgardo Padin and Joseph Wilgus. Additionally, we will welcome remarks from Susan Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System CEO, Michael N. Parks, USCG Rear Admiral (Ret.) and Red Cross Regional CEO, and Scott Blackburn, Chief Information Officer at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Holding this important event at Red Cross Headquarters highlights the strength of our partnership with these veterans’ groups,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces. “The Red Cross was born on the battlefield in 1881, and we continue to offer services to veterans, active members of the military, and their families.”

“The reality is that most Veterans are exceptional citizens with life experiences that few understand, VA Secretary Shulkin continued. “Veterans vote and volunteer more and serve their communities at higher rates than their civilian counterparts.”

The event will be streamed live on American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RedCrossCleveland/  Additional events, updates and live video streams can be found at: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/42467/va-got-6-announce-storytellersx-events-across-nation/

 

Assuring Financial Aid and an Amazing Volunteer when it is Needed Most

There are a vast number ways that the Red Cross partners with organizations, both regionally and nationally.

Take for instance, the relationship between the Red Cross and Asurint, a developer and designer of an integrated system of background screening products, which is headquartered in Cleveland.

Asurint runs the background checks for each and every registered Red Cross volunteer.

“Because so much of our work is done with the public, including children, it is vitally important that we know who our volunteers are,” said Gail Wernick, Regional Volunteer Services Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region. “We are sending volunteers to work with people during, what has to be, the worst period of their lives, and, sometimes, in the most intimate of settings, such as a shelter. We have to be sure that the volunteers don’t have something on their record that would exclude them from such work.”

Recently, Asurint gave back in a different way –  with a $10,000 donation for those affected by disasters.

Thank you, for being such a valued partner!

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Vermilion Volunteer is Happy to Help After Hurricane in Houston

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By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Paul Mueller is 83 years young. He helps when people need help. The people of Texas needed help. Helping makes him happy.

Paul got a call and packed his bags after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, Texas. The call came from the American Red Cross, an organization that Paul has been volunteering for since 2001. Over the past 16 years, he has answered similar calls five times, supporting those affected on the west coast during wildfires, in the south for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

This one, the largest hurricane to make landfall in the United States since 2005, created the need for Paul to help at a Red Cross food and supply distribution center on the outskirts of Houston. The former mechanical engineer and resident of Vermilion, Ohio, spent two weeks organizing and distributing food and water. He also served as a navigator from the passenger seat when trucking the supplies from the distribution center to residents in need.

 

 

Paul, a lifelong learner, took the opportunity to acquire a skill while in storm-ravaged Houston. He says he still needs a little work, but vows that he can handle maneuvering a forklift next time his phone rings, to assist in an American Red Cross supply distribution center!

Mr. Mueller reminds those who are on the fence about volunteering for the Red Cross that seeing the faces of those who are helped is worth it and then some. He said that the simple gesture of handing out bottles of water and donated non-perishable food items made him feel good inside.

Early September was a tough time for Texans, so Paul’s commitment to the Red Cross and his willingness to help strangers made a difference. He said he’ll be ready to serve again the next time the Red Cross calls on him following a disaster.

If you’d like to learn the skills necessary to help people affected by disasters, big and small, visit redcross.org/neo and click on the Volunteer tab.

 

Red Cross Volunteer Now a Member of Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

IMG_4813 (2)Brook Harless, a U. S. Army veteran from Stark County, is now a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

The Red Cross volunteer and board member was inducted, along with 19 other military veterans, as a member of  the Class of 2017 on Thursday, November 9th, just two days before Veterans Day. She is a member of the Board of Directors in the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, and volunteers as a caseworker for Service to the Armed Forces (SAF).

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“The service Brook provides to members of our military and their families is invaluable,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional SAF Director.  “She helps them connect during times of personal and family crisis.”

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Richard DeChant, Jr. sings the U.S. Coast Guard anthem during the 2017 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Also inducted, Richard DeChant, Jr. a veteran of the U. S. Coast Guard and a community partner with the Red Cross, as the Executive Director for the Veterans’ Initiative for Cuyahoga Community College.

According to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame guidelines, the Hall of Fame recognizes Ohioans who served in the military and then continued to contribute to their communities, state and nation in an exemplary manner.IMG_4876

 

Other members of the class of 2017 from Northeast Ohio include Cloyd McNaull (USAF) of Ashland County, John Evans, Sr. USAF and Army) and Holly Koester (Army) of Cuyahoga County, David Taylor (Army) of Medina County. Howard Friend (Army) of Mahoning County, Frona Liston (Navy) of Stark County, James Campbell (USAF) of Trumbull County, and Robert Hershey (Army) of Wayne County.

 

Veterans Day Message from Mike

The following is a message from CEO Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, United States Coast Guard (Ret.) for Veterans Day, 2017

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Mike Parks, RADM, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Greetings to the Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family!!   Yes indeed—winter weather has arrived in our Region—brrrrr!!!  Please be sure to review our recent blog posts on winter safety!

The past couple of years I’ve shared some historical perspectives about Veterans Day.  This year, I had the privilege of speaking to my 14-year-old daughter’s school assembly about the meaning of Veterans Day—the audience ranged from Kindergarten students to parents and teachers.

I found myself modifying my message for this multi-generational group, from defining the term “veteran”; describing the five branches of the Armed Forces; explaining that “freedom isn’t free” and that it has always required sacrifice from those who serve—as well as their families; appreciating and recognizing veterans, including actually engaging them; appropriately honoring our flag and the National Anthem; describing various training requirements; and clearing up the differences between Veterans Day (honoring those that have served), Memorial Day (honoring those that lost their lives in service of our nation), and Armed Forces Day (honoring those currently serving).

Their questions ranged from “Do you get badges in the military?”; “Who’s your boss?”; “Who founded the Coast Guard?”; to “Did you fight in World War I?”  (that last one stung a bit!).

As much as I enjoyed sharing time and some thoughts with these kids and parent/teachers—I think the video they showed at the beginning of the assembly does a tremendous job of explaining the importance of remembering our veterans—and not just on Veterans Day.  Please take two minutes to watch this clip I Fought For You.   To all of you who have served as a member of our Armed Forces—thank you for your service!  And thank you to all of you for all you do to help those in need in Northeast Ohio—each and every day!!  Semper Paratus (Coast Guard Motto—Always Ready)…Mike

“I Never Thought I’d Be the One”

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Maybe it wasn’t a tornado, but the damage done in Twinsburg by random microbursts looked almost as devastating.  The most troublesome of all was the strike which knocked down a 30,000-volt power line on Liberty Road, along with six transmission poles.  4,000 Homes were plunged into darkness during the storm.

Upon hearing that First Energy estimated power wouldn’t be fully restored for three or four days, a Red Cross shelter was quickly established at the Twinsburg Community Center.  Cots were set up, snacks and warm drinks were available and best of all, it offered a place to warm up, as temperatures began to dip into the 20’s and 30’s.twinsburg shelter

“This is rather remarkable,” related one woman.  “I’ve been contributing to the Red Cross for years, assuming that the money would go to assist people; but now, seeing what you all are doing here, now I know for sure that my donations have been well spent.”

“Are you employees or volunteers?” That was a recurring question from many of those staying at the shelter.  When they found out that 90% of us were volunteers, the usual response was something akin to “Well, God bless you for all that you are doing.”

Carrying in two trays of sub sandwiches donated by the local Subway shop in Twinsburg, many people were pleasantly surprised to find that there was no charge for the meals served three times a day. And on hearing that Subway had graciously donated that meal, I’m certain that Subway is going to have a number of appreciative new customers in return.Shelter app

“I never thought I’d be the one receiving help from Red Cross,” said another. “I watched the big disasters in Texas and Puerto Rico unfold on TV; but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be spending a night in a Red Cross shelter. Thank you so much be being available and ready wherever you are needed.”

If you ever find yourself in a weather-related power outage, it’s easy to find the closest shelter to you by checking the Red Cross Emergency app available for iOS and Android phones.

 

 Oh, (Cold) Snap! 10 Furnace Safety Tips

By: Sue Wilson, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Two years ago, 10 kids and two adults escaped a home fire in Lorain that began in the furnace.

Take a minute to consider your furnace. Here are 10 tips to keep your family safe when the temperature outside goes down, and the heat inside goes up.

  1. Have an annual furnace check up from a service professional to make sure that your system is running efficiently and safely. They’ll make sure there are no leaks, venting issues, broken parts or frayed wires that could be a hazard.
  2. Keep the area around your furnace clear. Don’t store anything potentially flammable near the furnace or water heater; especially newspapers, clothing, boxes, rugs, paint or chemicals. Vacuum dust, dog hair or anything that could sucked into a vent or open flame of a pilot light.
  3. Clean or change your furnace filter monthly. A dirty filter will cause your furnace to operate less efficiently and cost you money. It could also block airflow and increase the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) leaking into your home.
  4. Never use an oven or stove as an alternate heating source, as there is a serious risk of CO poisoning from fumes.
  5. Purchase a CO detector if you don’t have one and test and replace batteries of the ones you have in your home.
  6. Make sure your home has working smoke detectors. Change the batteries every 6 months. If you are in need of a smoke alarm, call the Red Cross at 330-535-2030 to request free installation by one of our volunteers.
  7. The area around your furnace and water heater should be a child-free zone to protect them from potential burns from hot vents or open flames, and to insures they will not inhale dangerous fumes.
  8. Space heaters are not intended to heat an entire home. Exercise extreme caution when using unvented, electric or propane space heaters, and follow instructions to lessen the chance of a fire or carbon monoxide exposure.
  9. If you smell gas, leave the area and call the fire department, or gas company.
  10. Make sure you have a fire escape plan, and that everyone in your home knows it and a designated meeting place once out. For more information on fire prevention click on this link on the Red Cross.