Family connection leads local volunteer to a passion for the Red Cross

A volunteer profile will post here each day during National Volunteer Week

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

April 8, 2019- As a child, Alice Martinez was surrounded by stories about the Red Cross. Her father, who immigrated from Switzerland, would inundate her with stories about the Red Cross being founded in Switzerland, how the Red Cross’ logo is an inverse of the of the Swiss flag and even informed her that her family raised St. Bernard dogs, which the Red Cross would use for rescues.  These stories not only showed Alice her family connection to the Red Cross, but it started her on a path to helping others.

Alice’s first interaction with the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio came in the 1980’s, when she worked for the Red Cross of Lorain County, then under the leadership of Clarence Wills. For six years, Alice worked as a transportation specialist.

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Alice Martinez

Following transitions to new employment opportunities and retirement, Alice was searching for opportunities to give back in her spare time and naturally she was drawn back to the Red Cross, an organization for which she says she always had a passion for its mission.

As a volunteer, Alice was deployed for the first time. In 2017, she was deployed following the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Irma. While deployed, Alice worked in shelters and helped take care of displaced residents who just lost everything. Even though the work was demanding and difficult, she found it rewarding.

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Alice Martinez teaching students about dangers of frostbite

Currently, as a youthful 73-year-old, Alice is a fixture for the Red Cross of Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. One area where she has made a significant impact is the Pillowcase Project, a Red Cross initiative, inspired by Loyola University students carrying their valuables in a pillowcase following Hurricane Katrina, to teach elementary school students about emergency preparedness. As a former teacher, Alice found the program a natural fit for her experience. She looks forward to entering a classroom or presenting to a group of children to teach them the importance of being prepared before an emergency occurs.

“Alice Martinez is a great ambassador of the Pillowcase Project and has been one of my program leads since the beginning,” said John Gareis, the regional preparedness & community planning manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Alice has a passion for our programs and has a great rapport with the kids. Alice is the backbone of our Pillowcase Project!”

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Alice Martinez, sixth from the left, at Great Northern Mall during the 2019 Dominion Preparedness Day

To Alice, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and knowing she is helping to save lives is enough of a reward for her. In fact, yesterday, April 7, Alice drove from her home in Avon Lake to Salem, OH to teach a group of 4-H members.

Are you interested in volunteering with the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio like Alice Martinez? For more information and to learn about volunteering opportunities near you, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

New Yorker brings her preparedness training to Cleveland as Red Cross Corps

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

April 5, 2019- An internship in New York set a college student on the path to helping others here in Northeast Ohio. Mackenzie Heilman was finishing her senior year at State University of New York when she took an internship at the American Red Cross Central New York Chapter in Syracuse. During her internship, Mackenzie received preparedness training. She became certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.

Mackenzie1After graduating and while she was looking for full-time work in her field, her husband suggested she pursue volunteer work. The Red Cross’ Northeastern New York Chapter Albany office was close to their home. She began to volunteer for their home fire campaign, assisting with the region’s Sound the Alarm events.

When Red Cross staff in the Albany office learned of her extensive training and previous Red Cross internship, they told her about the AmeriCorps program. The program offers participants a full-time position that pays a stipend. AmeriCorps workers serve an 11-month term.

Her first assignment as an AmeriCorps worker was from January through December 2018 with the Red Cross’ Albany office. Along with Sound the Alarm, her job was helping with the Pillowcase Project. This project is aimed at educating children about being prepared in the event of an emergency. It teaches them how to make emergency preparedness kits out of pillowcases so they are ready if they need to leave home at a moment’s notice.

Last fall, she deployed to the National Disaster Operation Coordination Center in Fairfax, Virginia, during hurricane and wildfire season. She worked the fusion desk, answering calls and receiving emails. This role fields calls and communications from people experiencing home fires, flooding and hurricanes, and alerts Red Cross leadership 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center then tracks disasters across the country and maps them. She was there for one week in October between Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Hurricane Michael in Florida.

Mackenzie moved to Northeast Ohio at the end of December 2018 after her husband landed a job at the Cleveland Clinic. Armed with her training and Red Cross experience, she took a second assignment with AmeriCorps. Her term began in February and will end in January 2020.Mackenzie2

Her job as a Red Cross Corps member through the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter is administering the Home Fire Campaign, the Pillowcase Project and other preparedness programs across Greater Cleveland. 

She said the best parts of her job are getting to work in an organization where she enjoys being, working with volunteers, schools and clients, and making a difference in the community.

Mackenzie recommends that others get involved in the AmeriCorps program.

“You don’t need a specific background and as long as you do the work, you will get paid and gain great experience,” she explained. “Besides preparedness, Red Cross Corps workers can also go on call and sometimes meet with clients who have experienced disasters. There is an opportunity to deploy to a hurricane or fires.”

This possibility interests Mackenzie. She wants to be DAT member.

Mackenzie“I would love to deploy and get into the dirty work to help those in need—and personally be there with the victims,” she said.

She certainly would be ready. Mackenzie specializes in feeding disaster victims and prepping food. She is an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver, having been trained in Albany on the special features of the vehicle. She said she would readily hop in and drive an ERV to feed people in need, if they needed her.

You don’t have to be a Red Cross Corps worker like Mackenzie to be prepared for emergencies. Anyone can learn important lifesaving skills by taking a class with the Red Cross. To find a class near you, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

Red Cross partners with Dominion Energy to distribute first aid kits

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

April 3, 2019- Dominion Energy and the American Red Cross want to make sure you are prepared. This Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at locations across northern Ohio they will supply you with the right tools. In return for five to 10 minutes of your time, you’ll be rewarded with a free, Red Cross First Aid Kit (valued at $35).

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Since 2013, “partners in safety” Dominion Energy and the Red Cross have held an annual Disaster Preparedness Day. Each person or family that agrees to take a short, six-question survey, will receive a quality, first aid kit along with literature stressing home safety.  Volunteers from each organization will be available to help people complete their surveys and hand out special co-branded bags with both organizations’ logos.

“Safety is one of Dominion’s core values,” explains Neil Durbin, senior communication specialist at Dominion. “That’s why this partnership is such a great fit for both organizations—we’re both centered on promoting safety. We also happen to each have offices in matching cities across the region.”

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Preparing for Preparedness Day turns out to be quite the project itself. John Gareis, regional manager for preparedness at the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said that the preparation starts way before the event and involves staff and volunteers from both organizations. Sites have to be reserved, insurance certificates need to be provided, negotiations have to occur with vendors, five pallets worth of specially branded kits need to be received and then combined with handouts, and cases of assembled kits need to be transported to local chapters. Volunteers then need to be recruited, trained and equipped for the day of the event. When volunteers walk in that Saturday morning, everything will be there ready for them.

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This Saturday, more than 3,000 first aid kits will be presented to families at nine locations across northern Ohio. “We hope that people will take the information they learn on the survey and share it with family and friends,” said John. “In that way, each year, in just four hours, we hope to touch the lives of up to 10,000 people. It’s a lot of work on our part but to be able to reach that many people in one weekend, it’s certainly worth the effort.”

One of the key messages that volunteers will be stressing is that gas appliances should be professionally inspected each year. “While people usually think about having their annual inspections done in the fall, summer is an ideal time to schedule them, when heating contractors aren’t as busy,” suggested Neil. You’ll probably save some money and you’ll certainly have more flexibility scheduling your appointment.

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“No matter how much insurance you have or no matter how safe you think you are going to be, anyone can have a disaster at any given time, which is unfortunate,” explained John.  “We’d rather put the effort into teaching or reminding people what to do, rather than responding after a disaster happens.”

Disaster Preparedness Day locations:

  • Belden Village Mall – Canton
  • Chief Supermarkets – Lima
  • Eastwood Mall – Niles
  • Great Northern Mall – North Olmsted
  • New Towne Mall – New Philadelphia
  • Target – University Heights
  • Walmart – Ashtabula
  • Walmart – Stow
  • Walmart – Wooster

Red Cross volunteers can still sign up on Volunteer Connection to assist at some locations. Residents are encouraged to come out and get a quality first aid kit, which is ideal for home or auto. Sometimes they go quickly so come early, if possible.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

April is National Pet First Aid Month

By Sue Wilson, Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer

April 1, 2019- You probably have a first aid kit at home or in your car. You know you should have some knowledge in first aid basics to handle anything from minor cuts and scrapes to a broken bone or even something more serious to help a friend or family Red Cross pet photo 2018member in an emergency. But first aid for your pet? It may not be something you think about until you find your dog ate that dark chocolate bar you left out on the counter. Or your bug-swatting cat got stung by the bee he was playing with.

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. The American Red Cross has a number of resources and tips available to pet owners so you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available.

Download the App. The Red Cross free Pet First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on what to do in emergencies, how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans, and suggestions for a first aid kit. The app will also help owners keep their pets safe by learning what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel.

Another important resource on the app is suggestions for how to put together a first aid and emergency kit. See the list below. The app also provides access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.

The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting GETPET to 90999, by going to redcross.org/apps, or by searching American Red Cross in app stores.

Take a pet first aid class. Pet owners can take the Red Cross online Pet First Aid Course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at Trio_CatDogFirstAidtheir own pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the course. Participants can stop and pick up where they left off if the course can’t be completed in one sitting. The interactive course includes:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so owners can notice if there are any irregularities
  • Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being

Additional resource. Each year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center examines its data and releases the Top 10 categories of toxins pets come in contact with each year. Find the list of top 10 toxins and other important information here.

Recommended items for your pet first aid kit: Leashes, food, water, toys, medical records and an animal carrier for evacuation purposes, gauze pads, cotton balls, adhesive tape, fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with Superstorm Sandy 2012veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet), ice pack, disposable gloves, blunt end scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, oral syringe or turkey baster, liquid dish washing detergent (for bathing), towels, flashlight, alcohol wipes and artificial tear gel.

Both the Cat and Dog First Aid online course and the Pet First Aid App are not intended to replace veterinary care. But knowing some first aid basics, and having a pet first aid resource can be reassuring to any pet lover until you can get your pet to a veterinarian.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

A hero saves a life with CPR

Honored with National Certificate of Merit

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 29, 2019 – Three weeks.  That’s the amount of time that elapsed between Sheila Burke’s certification for American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, and the incident that required her intervention.

Three weeks after receiving her certificate for learning the lifesaving skill in 2018, Sheila found herself performing CPR on a woman who had overdosed on drugs.  It happened at Monarch House, a sober living environment dedicated to women in recovery from addiction.  Monarch House is part of Recovery Resources, where Sheila was an employee.

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Sheila Burke

“I never thought I’d ever use CPR in my lifetime, and there I was, three weeks after taking the course,” she said prior to a recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter.  She was invited to attend the meeting and to receive the American Red Cross Certificate or Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

The certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, and the signature of the chair of the American Red Cross.

The certificate was accompanied by a citation, which reads, in part, ” Ms. Burke was taking part in a meeting when she was witness to a woman starting to lose consciousness in her chair.  Ms. Burke jumped into action and ran to the victim to check for signs of life. The woman has stopped breathing, did not have a pulse and was turning blue.   After assessing the situation, Ms. Burke instructed a bystander to call 9-1-1.  She started to perform CPR.  Ms. Burke had suspected an overdose of drugs and asked a bystander to retrieve a dose of Naloxone, which was administered.  The woman appeared to regain color and signs of life.”

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Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, left, Sheila Burke, and Mike Parks

“We are honored to recognize Sheila for her quick-thinking and decisive action,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “She is a testament to the value of every person learning First Aid and CPR, and how to use an AED.”

Red Cross courses are listed on our website.  You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS for information on First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguard, Swimming, and Babysitting courses.

Photo credit: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

 

#Help1family affected by a disaster this Giving Day

March 27, 2019 – Have you ever wondered how much it costs to help a family affected by a disaster, such as a home fire? Have you wanted to provide support but figured there was nothing you could do?

Following a year of record disasters, the American Red Cross is asking everyone to #help1family today, March 27, on Red Cross Giving Day.

EVERY 8 MINUTES, DONATIONS HELP FAMILIES

207701-05-Giving-Day-2019-Social-Media-1200x1200-FB3Every eight minutes, the Red Cross helps someone affected by a disaster. Last year, Red Cross disaster workers—90 percent of whom were volunteers—helped millions of people during a second consecutive year of record wildfires, hurricanes, tragic shootings and other large crises—all while responding day and night to home fires in communities across the country.

In fact, home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster—often, devastating homes, livelihoods and cherished possessions. Just in January and February of this year, Red Cross volunteers across the country responded to almost 11,000 home fires, assisting nearly 33,000 people affected by these fires. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross responds to three home fires, on average, every 24 hours.

#HELP1FAMILY ON MARCH 27

You can provide hope to people across Northeast Ohio affected by local disasters by donating on Red Cross Giving Day, a 24-hour fundraising campaign. Our goal is to help 25,000 families affected by home fires or other disasters, and we need your support. Visit redcross.org/givingday to provide urgent relief, like food, shelter and other essentials for families who need it most. You can also give by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10, or by saying, “Alexa, make a donation to Red Cross Giving Day” on your Alexa-enabled device.

  • Support a family in urgent need for one day: A gift of $88.50 can provide a family of three with a day’s worth of food, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus blankets and other essentials in the aftermath of a disaster.
  • Supply warm meals: A donation of $60 can help provide six people with a nourishing meal that includes a main course, snacks and drinks to those impacted by disasters.
  • Deliver cozy blankets: A gift of $30 can ensure that children and families stay warm and can get a good night’s sleep with six comforting blankets.

You can also use the hashtag #help1family on your social media accounts to let others know you are supporting families in need and to encourage others to donate on Giving Day.207701-05-Giving-Day-2019-Social-Media-1200x1200-FB

The Red Cross is grateful for any generous support to help people in need on Giving Day and throughout the year. During March, we honor the volunteer heroes who fuel our lifesaving work every day—a tradition dating back more than 75 years, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt first proclaimed March as Red Cross Month to raise awareness for our humanitarian mission.

On behalf of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, thank you for considering a donation. Your generosity will help a family recover from one of the worst experiences of their lifetime.

Premier Partner Program & sponsors

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

March 25, 2019- Recently, the American Red Cross presented Kalahari Resorts & Conventions with its Premier Blood Drive Partner award. The Premier Partner program recognizes blood drive sponsors who have collected at least 50 pints in a year. Last year, Kalahari collected 115 pints of lifesaving blood for local patients.

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Kalahari Resorts & Conventions recently received the Premier Blood Drive Partner Award earlier this year. L to R: Angie Reyes, HR Director, Iryna Pylypenko, Employment Manager, Mary Ann Benton, Brian Shanle, General Manager

More than 80 percent of blood donations are made at blood drives organized by volunteer sponsor groups and coordinators. Right now, blood drive hosts are needed for spring and throughout the year. A blood drive is a commitment to help meet the needs of seriously ill or injured patients. Blood products are essential for the treatment of accident victims, surgical and sickle cell disease patients, those receiving cancer treatments, premature babies and others.

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James Lassiter III of Garfield Heights donated blood at a recent Kalahari hosted blood drive in February

Every single day, the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region needs to collect 500 pints of blood to meet the needs of patients at more than 50 local hospitals. This cannot happen without the support of blood drive sponsors. Become a blood drive sponsor and help save lives! To learn more about hosting a blood drive, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-a-blood-drive/learn-about-hosting/why-host-a-blood-drive.html or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).