Commemorating Flag Day in a special way at the VA in Cleveland

Story and photos by Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Sherwin-Williams workers make some of the best paint on the planet.  And while the color palette is vast, it was good ol’ red, white and blue that kept more than two dozen SW employees busy on Friday, June 14.  They planted more than 3,000 U. S. flags on the campus of the Cleveland VA Medical Center to commemorate Flag Day 2019.

Red Cross volunteers joined the Sherwin-Williams workers for the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System’s 2019 Flag Day Walk and Roll.

“We planted the flags to recognize the great work and the people who have supported our country and served over the years for us,” said Sean Osysko,  Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Sherwin-Williams.  “We’ve been around for 153 years and this is our opportunity to get out into the community and give back. It’s just what we do.”

After planting the flags in the morning, they walked alongside veterans being treated at the Medical Center, who were happy to be out in the sunshine and moderate temperatures.  Those veterans who were unable to walk were pushed along in wheelchairs.

“This is just one of the many ways we serve our veterans, active military members and their families,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Program Manager for Service to the Armed Forces in Northeast Ohio. “Here at the VA Medical Center, we serve coffee out of a mobile cart, we provide a phone battery charging station, and we offer resiliency workshops.”

 

VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System Director Sue Fuehrer, a member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter, thanked the Sherwin-Williams employees and the Red Cross volunteers for their efforts.  Afterwards, they enjoyed cake decorated like the Stars and Stripes –  wishing Old Glory a happy 242nd birthday.

For more photos from the 2019 VA Flag Day Walk and Roll, visit our Flickr album here.

For more information about volunteer opportunities to help our nation’s veterans, active military members and their families, visit us here.

N_tice _nything missing? Help the Red Cross fill the Missing Types

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Blood Region

June 13, 2019- When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. And when A, B, O and AB blood types are missing from hospital shelves, lives could be changed forever.

MT 2019_InfographicOn June 11 the American Red Cross partnered with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to launch the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new and current blood donors to donate and help ensure blood is available for patients in need this summer. The O’s in Long Live Rock disappeared during the launch, to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays in ensuring the main blood groups – A, B and O, are available whenever and wherever needed.

A sad truth is only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood each year, but every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. If more people roll up a sleeve to give, blood shortages can be prevented.

Why blood donors are needed

Tymia McCullough relies on blood donations to help battle sickle cell disease, an inherited disease that causes red blood cells to form in an abnormal crescent shape. Sickle cell disease patients can suffer a range of conditions, including acute anemia, tissue and organ damage, terrible pain and even strokes.

With no widely used cure, regular blood transfusions are one of the most common treatments for sickle cell disease. At one time, when McCullough arrived at the hospital, the blood type she needed for her transfusion was not available.

“It was the scariest, most frightening moment of a mother’s life, because I thought that she would not be able to get it,” said Susie Pitts, Tymia’s mother. “In that moment, in that experience, I was very afraid. I was scared for my daughter’s life ─ what was going to happen if she didn’t get the blood she needed?”

Eight hours later, the nurse came running through the door with the needed blood product.

Again, this past fall Tymia experienced a painful sickle cell crisis and needed to wait 10 long hours for the hospital to locate the blood she needed for her treatment. Thankfully, Tymia is better today, yet her experience illustrates the ongoing need for blood, and at times, the frightening reality patients face when needed blood supplies become critically low.

Make a difference today

  • Spread the word
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. Basic directions are also posted at the previous link for your convenience.)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to share a Missing Types message on your social media.

Commit about an hour of your day to give blood and help save a life. Patients need you.

Six things to know before donating:

  1. You don’t need to know your blood type.
    According to a national survey conducted earlier this year on behalf of the Red Cross, more than half (54%) of people believe they need to know their blood type to donate blood. This is simply untrue.
  2. Hydrate – drink an extra 16 oz. of liquid before and after donating.
  3. Enjoy a healthy meal rich in iron and vitamin C before donating – avoid foods high in fat just prior to donation.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
  5. Complete a RapidPass on the day of donation, prior to arriving, to save time.
  6. Remember to bring an ID.

Help fill in the missing types this summer. Schedule a donation appointment now.

Click here to visit out Flickr account to view photos from the Missing Type kick-off event at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Our thanks to Joann Fabric and Craft Stores for providing the material used to cover the letter “O” in the Long Live Rock sculpture.

This article was edited by Glenda Bogar,  American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross Cup to tee off at Canterbury Golf Club

Golfers invited to play at annual event June 24

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By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

The annual Red Cross Cup at Canterbury Golf Club promises to be a fantastic day filled with friendship, food and, of course, golf. The event is set at what has been nationally recognized as one of the top 100 golf courses in the United States and one of the finest in Ohio.

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The late Frann Zverina, seated, at the 2018 Red Cross Cup

The day will begin off the course  with the annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross, with breakfast provided by members of the Tiffany Circle, in honor of long-time Red Cross supporter, the late Frann Zverina.

 

Before the shotgun start, retired Cleveland Indians pitcher Jensen Lewis, the current co-host of the Indians Live broadcasts on Fox Sports Ohio will share some thoughts about the current state of the team.  And his Fox Sports Ohio colleague, Bruce Drennen will add his unmistakable voice to the event.

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Former Indians pitcher Jensen Lewis returns to the Red Cross Cup

After playing 18 holes, golfers will enjoy 19th hole festivities on the clubhouse patio, including food and drink, a silent and live auction, and an awards ceremony. The top three foursomes from each bracket (competitive and scramble) will receive recognition.

In addition, Cleveland sports legends Jim Chones and Campy Russell of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Jonathan Wells of The Ohio State Buckeyes will be on hand to offer their insights and field questions.

Proceeds from the Red Cross Cup will help fund vital disaster relief services.

Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, stressed the need to support continuing disaster relief efforts in Dayton, where a series of tornadoes on Memorial Day left a trail of heartbreaking damage and destruction.

“Having a major national disaster relief operation in your own backyard highlights the need for ongoing support,” Mike said, noting that more than 20 volunteers from Northeast Ohio have been deployed to assist residents affected by severe weather in Ohio and Oklahoma.

“It costs money to train and deploy our volunteers when they are assigned to help those impacted by a disaster. Combined with the costs of vehicles and other equipment, the need for ongoing support for disaster relief is obvious,” Mike said.

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Home Savings Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the Red Cross Cup.  Featured in this photo from the 2018 event are Michelle Polinko, Regional Chief Development Officer,  Matt Garrity of Home Savings, event chair Laura Hauser, and Regional CEO Mike Parks

Red Cross Cup golfers will receive shoe bags branded with the Red Cross Cup/CanterburyIMG_6027 logo, Red Cross first aid kits and Red Cross cooler bags. All golfers can also compete for the use of a new vehicle  on the hole-in-one contests sponsored by Deacon’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM.

To reserve your foursome, visit redcross.org/cup19, contact Mary Williams at eventsneo@redcross.org or call 330-203-5084.

Click here to see photos from the 2018 Red Cross Cup.

Click here to see photos from the 2017 Red Cross Cup.

Click here to see photos from the 2016 Red Cross Cup.

This post was edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

National CPR and AED Awareness Week highlights training importance

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

June 5, 2019- Today, people are used to seeing online news articles mentioning the tongue-and-cheek national holiday being celebrated that day, like National Cheese Pizza Day on September 7, National Old Stuff Day on March 2 or National Lipstick Day on July 29. Usually when we learn about these random celebrations, we often roll our eyes or chuckle and move on, but we often can miss when a day or week of true importance is upon us.

This week, the United States is celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week. In 2007, understanding the importance of proper CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training and usage to save the lives of Americans, Congress unanimously passed a resolution making June 1-7 a yearly week of awareness.

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The American Red Cross offers many opportunities to gain training in these valuable lifesaving skills. Visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class to find in-person, online and simulated classes near you.

If you opt for in-person training, you will have the opportunity to practice your new skills on the BigRed™ LightSaving Manikin. The state of the art manikin will increase a student’s confidence that they can save a life in emergency situations, as it is equipped with three interrelated sets of lights that provide immediate feedback to students on how they are performing CPR. Only the proper technique will show the success of blood circulating from the heart to the brain which improves a sudden cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Sharon Nicastro of Independence, Ohio is an individual who is familiar with Red Cross training and the importance of every person being prepared to help save a life.

Sharon has been a Red Cross CPR and first aid instructor in Northeast Ohio for 28 years. In fact, her role as a Red Cross instructor and seeing firsthand the impact it has on saving lives, led her to becoming an EMT.

For those who want to be CPR and AED trained but are on the fence because they are concerned it will have no impact on saving a life, Sharon has a few words of encouragement.

“It is important for people to learn CPR because bystanders can recognize that someone is suffering a cardiac emergency, call 9-1-1, perform CPR, and use an AED in the minutes before EMS arrives,” stated Sharon. “The care provided in those few minutes is just as critical as the care provided by EMS and hospital personnel. Those few minutes can mean the difference between life and death.”

Sharon

Sharon Nicastro

Jan and John Durkalski’s story highlights Sharon’s point.

Jan and John were on a run together when John suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed. Jan used her recent CPR training to help save her husband’s life.

Watch the below video to learn more about the Durkalski’s story and the importance of CPR/AED training:

You can download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies, including sudden cardiac arrest, at your fingertips. Download by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Join the Red Cross in celebrating National CPR and AED Awareness Week by signing up for a training class today!

Sandusky man assisted by Red Cross during family tragedy to serve on local board

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

In January 2018 a family’s life was forever changed. An early morning fire broke out at a Norwalk, Ohio, home. Multiple fire departments responded and battled the blaze. Tragically, the fire took the lives of a husband and wife, their adult son, his certified therapy dog and their family dog.

The event devastated the family, which is still trying to heal. In a matter of minutes, they lost their parents, grandparents, brother and uncle. The case was difficult on the firefighters, too. It was the first multi-fatality fire in the community in nearly 100 years.

Rob Griggs of Sandusky is the oldest son and big brother of the family. A former Marine and self-described multitasker, he feels he can handle having a lot placed on his shoulders.

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Rob Griggs and his sister, Tricia Costanzo at the Sound the Alarm event in Sandusky in April

“My family often looks toward me for answers,” he said. “But I didn’t have them myself.”

“There was never a chance to say goodbye,” Rob said. “There is no closure, and there never will be. It’s been really, really hard for all of us.”

Rob, who is general sales manager at Kasper Buick GMC, is now working to prevent other families from having to experience this hardship—first as an American Red Cross volunteer and soon as a board member with the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

 

On a Saturday in late April, Rob, his wife Cali, their 11-year-old son Zach and Rob’s sister Tricia Costanzo went door to door in Sandusky installing smoke alarms as volunteers during a Sound the Alarm event. That day, 129 smoke alarms were installed by two dozen volunteers—ultimately making 63 homes safer.

“My son loved it,” he said. “He was there knocking on all the doors. He and his sister lost two grandparents. It was their first loss . . . so it has been a process for them as well. He’s a good kid who wants to be part of helping.”

Rob stated that his family is now a “Red Cross family.” He explained that he and his wife Cali want “to give to any and every part of the Red Cross” and help in any way they can to bring more awareness to its needs.

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Rob’s wife Cali installs a smoke alarm in a home in Sandusky

“Rob informed me that he was incredibly touched by our Red Cross volunteers that night his family’s home caught fire,” said Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. “He never realized what the local Red Cross does in our communities every day and said he will forever be a Red Cross volunteer. I look forward to having Rob on our board and helping us advance our mission throughout the communities we serve.”

Rob’s advice:  Every six months, check your smoke alarms and replace them after 10 years. He will be vigilantly reaching out to friends and family and advocating on this issue as a family. He believes if he can help people be more secure or protect their homes, it will help him rest more easily at night.

“People don’t realize how important it is,” he explained. “It takes a few minutes of your life to check. It’s a few minutes you may never get back. . . . The time it took could have saved three lives.”

The Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm campaign is designed to reduce the number of home fire fatalities each year. To donate so that smoke alarms can be purchased and installed in local communities, visit redcross.org/donate or call 800-HELP NOW (800-435-7669).

A look back at the 2018 hurricane season

New hurricane season begins as spring storms continue to wreak havoc

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Hurricane season begins tomorrow, on June 1, and continues through November 30. Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season saw a total of 15 named storms with eight hurricanes. Two of note were Florence and Michael, collectively wreaking $50 billion worth of damage.

Hurricane Florence 2018

Ivanhoe, North Carolina, September 23, 2019. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Florence made landfall in the United States on September 14, as a Category 1 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. At least five people died in the storm.

Michael was only the fourth time a Category 5 hurricane touched down in this country when it made landfall on October 10 in the Florida panhandle. Fifty-nine deaths were directly or indirectly attributed to Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael video screenshots 2018

Panama City, Florida, October, 2019. Photo by Amy Anderson/American Red Cross

The American Red Cross was there helping residents affected, providing 3,200 disaster

Hurricane Michael 2018

Day 5 after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida.  Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

workers, comprised of nearly 90 percent volunteers. More than 150 of those workers were from Northeast Ohio. Working with partner agencies, the Red Cross served more than 1.93 million meals and snacks. As cleanup began, more than a quarter-million relief items like cleanup kits and shovels were distributed. More than 70 emergency response vehicles were mobilized to deliver food and relief supplies.

Tips during any high wind situation

While Northeast Ohio never takes the brunt of a hurricane, we can get our share of high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes, as the Dayton area experienced earlier this week. So what are some things to share with family members when preparing for high winds and inevitable power outages?

  • Never go near downed power lines. Report downed lines to the power company and keep people away.
  • Don’t risk a fire using candles – use only flashlights.
  • Keep a charged battery pack (preferably 20,000 mAh or bigger) for recharging cellphones until power returns.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain contents for as long as possible. Review these food and water tips during an emergency.
  • Only use portable generators, grills or camp stoves outside the home. Maintain adequate ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the home. Never refuel a hot generator. Wait for it to cool first.
  • Be sure to check on relatives, neighbors and friends, especially those with disabilities, accessibility and functional needs.

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What to do right now

Before power goes out, download these Red Cross apps for your cellphone:

Emergency – This all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.

First Aid – Get instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies.

Monster Guard – For kids aged 7-11. This app teaches preparedness for real-life emergencies at home with the help of Maya, Chad, Olivia and all the monsters.

 

 

From Northeast to Southwest: American Red Cross is Ohio-strong

NEO volunteers assisting residents affected by downstate tornadoes

More help from Northeast Ohio is on the way to tornado stricken Dayton and the surrounding area.  An Emergency Response Vehicle, which is stationed in Cleveland, will be deployed with a two-person crew to help provide meals and emergency supplies to residents affected by Monday night’s storms.

More than 130 Ohioans spent the night in 6 shelters last night.  They were among nearly 500 people who took refuge in more than 30 Red Cross and Community shelters in several states that have been hit hard by bad weather this week.

Red Cross volunteers Pam Williams and Monica Bunner working in Dayton

In addition to the ERV and its crew, six other disaster workers from Northeast Ohio are assigned to the relief operation, and are already in Dayton, fulfilling various roles – from mass care to government operations to reunification.

“Basically we help families reunite,” said Monica Bunner, a disaster volunteer from Medina. “Say someone is missing as a result of the disaster and could be in a shelter. The Safe & Well site allows one to register and send messages to loved ones to let them know they are OK.”

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                                           Photo credit:  Todd James/American Red Cross

Prepare in Advance

More spring storms are in the forecast this week for a vast swath of the country.  You can prepare for violent weather in the following ways:

Educate your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.

Assemble an emergency preparedness kit, which includes a battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio). For a detailed list of supplies to include, see updated Be Red Cross Ready Checklist.

Create a household emergency plan that includes your pets.

Stay informed about your community’s risk and response plans.

Download the Emergency App for iPhone or for Android.

Remember, if you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate.

Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.

Many kind-hearted people have offered to help, driven by the compassion that is typical of Northeast Ohioans.  While the Red Cross does not accept donations of items, we do encourage financial support. It is the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most, by allowing us to be flexible in the help we deliver.  Financial donations can be accessed quickly, and can ensure that we can provide the residents affected by the tornadoes what they need most.

You can donate to American Red Cross disaster relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.