Memorial Day message from CEO Mike Parks

Members of the NEO Red Cross Family:

I wanted to share a few thoughts about the meaning of one of the most special times of the year.

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving their country in the Armed Forces (more than 1.265 million people have given their lives!). Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday, “Memorial Day,” in 1971.

Although Waterloo, New York is known as the birthplace of this holiday because of the community remembrance event it held in 1866, the first national commemoration was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868.  At that ceremony, former Union General and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield, gave a speech before 5,000 participants who then helped decorate more than 20,000 soldiers’ graves.

Memorial Day BlogGarfield inspired the crowd when he proclaimed, “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” I still find those sentiments spoken by a Northeast Ohioan inspiring more than 250 years later!

Memorial Day has become synonymous with the unofficial beginning of summer with parades and backyard barbeques, and for many, a three-day long weekend.  As appropriate and enjoyable as all those things are, my sincere hope is that as members of an organization that also traces our roots back to the Civil War, we will not forget the real meaning of this important day when we honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we still enjoy each and every day.

The more of these special commemorative days I celebrate, the more I avoid wishing others a “Happy” Memorial Day—instead I like to encourage them to have an enjoyable weekend as they “honor” Memorial Day.  So as you take in a parade (don’t forget to stand and put your hand over your heart when the American Flag passes by as it’s carried by a marcher), enjoy a barbecue with friends, take in a ballgame, or take a family trip, I hope you each have an enjoyable weekend as you honor Memorial Day and remember those who gave their all so we could enjoy our weekends in peace and freedom!

Thank you for all you do as dedicated members of the world’s premier humanitarian organization!!

Enjoy and stay safe.

Best regards,

Mike Parks- Regional CEO and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral (Retired)

Sound the Alarm was a ringing success

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

May 24, 2019- Sound the Alarm 2019 wrapped up in Northeast Ohio on May 12. With a total of 21 events over a two-week period, more than 1,500 homes were made safer by the installation of 3,743 smoke alarms.

After responding to dozens of fires as an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, it’s always sad to see a family lose all their possessions; but far more heart-wrenching is when a family member is hurt or a pet dies. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a minute or two that makes the difference in who survives and who doesn’t. Sound the Alarm’s purpose is to make sure the number of home fire fatalities is significantly reduced each year.

First-hand experience

David Leatherwood, who still carries the scars of being in a home fire when he was younger, was appreciative when approached by volunteers in Lorain during the Sound the Alarm event. “It makes me feel so much better knowing that my whole house is now protected by smoke alarms,” said David. Volunteers from Ford Motor Lorain plant installed new alarms, replacing his old ones that were already more than 10 years old.

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Volunteers Stephanie Pinskey (L) and Dionna Seplight (C) discuss the importance of replacing smoke alarms every 10 years with homeowner David Leatherwood (R).

Stephanie Pinskey, one of the Ford volunteers commented, “I can’t believe the power of the Red Cross brand. Not one of the people we met today ever hesitated about letting us come in to install alarms in their homes. With all the mistrust of strangers these days, this was heartwarming to know people really trust Red Cross and their volunteers.”

By the numbers

Begun in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign can already count 582 lives nationally that have been saved, thanks to smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers. In that time:

  • More than 709,000 households have been made safer
  • More than 1,700,000 smoke alarms have been installed
  • 1,300,000 youth have been educated through the campaign

Not just a two-week event

Installing smoke alarms for those who need them is a year-round activity for Red Cross. In Northeast Ohio, anyone who needs alarms installed can visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO and be placed on a list for free installations. Cleveland, where the smoke alarm program began, has been making homeowners safer since 1992, when businessman Sam Miller partnered with Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department to lower the number of fire fatalities each year. This year marked the milestone of the 200,000th alarm to be installed in Cleveland.

In addition, fire prevention safety education has helped make sure that people know that they only have two minutes to safely leave their home in case of fire and that their children need to know what to do in case an alarm sounds. Families are encouraged to plan two escape routes from each room and to practice their escape drills twice a year.

Even though this year’s Sound the Alarm has wrapped up, Red Cross still accepts donations for additional alarms to be purchased and installed throughout the year. To donate, visit redcross.org/donate or call 800-HELP NOW (800-435-7669).

Catch the excitement of this year’s events by viewing photos on our Flickr page.

See photos from our Cleveland-West Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Youngstown Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sandusky Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ravenna sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Parma sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sound the Alarm kick-off news conference here.

See photos from our Carrollton Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ashland Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Mansfield Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Slavic Village Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Medina Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Norwalk Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/7 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/9 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Lorain Sound the Alarm event here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Photos provided by Cal Pusateri, Doug Bardwell, Eric Alves, Jim McIntyre and Karen Conklin – American Red Cross.

Hometown heroes honored by American Red Cross of Stark and Muskingum Lakes at annual event

By Amiti Sharma

May 21, 2019- On May 2, the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross held its annual Hometown Heroes BASH in downtown Canton, Ohio, at the Cultural Center for the Arts. The event was created to honor local residents for their accomplishments in demonstrating compassion, selflessness and courage during emergency situations. These individuals managed to take the appropriate action in extremely urgent, time-sensitive matters by relying on their knowledge, contacting local authorities, administering first aid and more.

Members of the Red Cross community throughout Stark and Tuscarawas counties attended and participated in the evening wine pull and silent auction. After attendees spent time mingling, dinner was served, and the program recognizing individuals began.

This event honored the following:

Thomas Smith III, Jason Saylor, and Jennifer Bethal  – These police officers and dispatcher came to the aid of a local mother who was on her way to the emergency room with her two-year-old daughter when she had to pull over after the child began to have a seizure. The officers not only arrived at the scene quickly, but they transported the mother and her infant daughter to the emergency room in their police vehicle, saving valuable time since no emergency vehicle was available.

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Aribella Wetrich – Upon seeing her grandmother experience a medical episode of nausea and dizziness, the four-year-old girl dialed 9-1-1 and contacted the local police.

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Sabrina Seal – Sabrina supports and cares for persons with disabilities as a member of the Carroll County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She was honored for going above and beyond to assist an individual with disabilities by driving him out of state to a safe home to remove him from a potentially abusive environment.

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Bethany Lewis, Erin Hodgson and Gareth Evans – Witnessing a high school football game official collapse on the field, Bethany, Erin and Gareth  teamed up to administer CPR with an AED (automated external defibrillator) while calling an ambulance to transport the official to the hospital, where he ultimately recovered.

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Nick Harper – Nick has designated himself as the handler of K-9 Recon if Sergeant Mike Hickman were to be injured or killed in the line of duty. This will prevent the canine from having to be put down if  there was a situation where the dog is out of the police car and teams are not able to approach Hickman since the dog is trained to not leave his handler’s side.

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Tye Lauener  – Tye, an Alliance police officer, immediately responded to a car accident while off duty by rushing to the driver’s side, directing another driver to contact 9-1-1, attempting to  CPR until the driver became responsive, and finally helping to stabilize her until emergency medical technicians arrived at the scene.

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Jack Liberator – Jack was the recipient of the inaugural Jack B. Liberator Lifetime Community Excellence Award, which was named for him. He was recognized for his early efforts to teach specialized classes in emergency medical care to Columbus fire departments and for developing  the first statewide curriculum in emergency victim care and rescue procedures.

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A special thank you to Hometown Heroes BASH committee members, including chairman Devin Williams for his efforts to organize the event, along with all Red Cross volunteers who selflessly dedicate their time to support and promote Red Cross activities. Additional thanks goes to the Canton Cultural Center, Gather Flower Studio and Lemon Leaf Catering.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Help now: Type O blood shortage

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

Spring is a busy time of year for many people, but the need for blood and platelets doesn’t let up. Last month, more than 11,500 fewer donations were collected than needed as spring break schedules and end of the school year activities contributed to a low turnout of blood donors. As a result, the American Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and urges type O donors to give now to ensure blood is available for patients in need of lifesaving treatments or facing traumas.

Type O_Critical need

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a two-day supply of type O blood available for emergency rooms – where it can be most critical. Type O donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in. Type O blood is the most needed blood group by hospitals but is often in short supply. Here in the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region, approximately 500 pints of blood are needed every day to help meet patient needs. The Region serves more than 50 hospitals who depend on the Red Cross for a strong, local blood supply.

Monroe Carell Jr Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee 2019

All eligible donors – especially type O donors – are urged to roll up a sleeve as soon as possible. In thanks for helping meet patient needs, those who come to donate blood or platelets with the Red Cross May 1-June 10 will receive a $5 Amazon.com Gift Card via email. (Restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/Together.)

Don’t wait – help now!

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donors can also give throughout northeast Ohio at the Red Cross donation centers in Parma, Akron and Cleveland.
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a type O #BloodShortage and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Make an appointment to give now.

The J. M. Smucker Company honored, big news unveiled at Wrapped in Red Gala

Thank you.

That was the main purpose for throwing the Wrapped in Red Gala on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Global Center for Health Innovation in downtown Cleveland. To say, “Thank you” to the many donors who contributed to the bloodmobile campaign for the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio.

More than $530,000 was donated to the campaign.

“We are happy to announce that we have met our goal and have ordered the new bloodmobile,” Regional CEO Mike Parks said from the ballroom stage. “The Red Cross could not fulfill its mission to keep the nation’s blood supply whole without your generosity. Thank you!”

That wasn’t the only newsworthy item of the evening. Richard Smucker, executive

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Richard Smucker

chairman of The J. M. Smucker Company, announced, “I am very excited to share this evening that we will be increasing our support of the Red Cross and will now be an Annual Disaster Giving Program supporter.”

The Orrville-based company has committed $500,000 to pre-disaster planning.

With this level of support, Smucker’s will ensure the Red Cross can pre-position supplies, secure shelters, maintain vehicles and train volunteers nationwide to help keep the Red Cross ready to respond, day and night. This support also ensures the Red Cross can remain on hand to assist people as they recover following disaster.

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From left: Chris Mapes, Richard Smucker, Beth Mooney, Mike Parks 

The announcement of the increased level of support was made after Smucker’s was presented with the Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian Award, for its embodiment of the spirit of the Red Cross, through its contributions to the welfare and quality of life in the community. In addition to the Red Cross, the company supports a wide range of organizations locally and nationally.

The evening began in the atrium of the Global Center, where about 300 guests enjoyed local treats like Lake Erie walleye sliders, potato and cheese pierogi from the West Side Market, and locally crafted beer, along with red and white wine selections.

“Red and white, just like our blood cells,” WKYC’s Sara Shookman said, before auctioning the single item of the evening: a ticket package to the upcoming Major League Baseball All-Star game and associated activities, donated by Bank of America, and a dugout suite at Progressive Field for an Indians game, provided by FOXSports Ohio.

Following the brief formal program, the ballroom dance floor became the venue for an “After-Party,” sponsored by the Red Cross Young Professionals Council.

“The YPC Wrapped in Red Gala After-Party marks a strategic shift in the Greater Cleveland chapter’s fundraising mission and mindset, which does rely on financial resources, but also illustrates the inclusion of the younger generation in their future plans,” said Steve Siemborski, co-chair of the YPC. “I, along with the rest of the young professional community, am extremely proud to represent the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross as we celebrate the purchase of a new bloodmobile.”

YPC co-chair Andrew Bales added, “With such a strong group of young professionals in the Northeast Ohio region, we can significantly impact those in need, whether it is through a blood drive, Sound the Alarm campaign or any other volunteer capacity.”

Photos from the Wrapped in Red Gala can be viewed here.

To make an appointment to donate blood, whether it be at the donor site in Cleveland or Akron, a blood drive in the region, or aboard a Red Cross bloodmobile, visit redcrossblood.org.

 

A Donut Dollie recalls her year spent serving the armed forces in Vietnam

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Rosanna Sprague is fearless. She was a Donut Dollie.

“After generals and congressmen, no one scares me,” the Cleveland Heights woman said, recalling the year she spent in Vietnam, from 1970 to 1971. She served her country with the American Red Cross in a program called Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO).

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The American Red Cross SRAO team in 1970.  Rosanna Sprague is second from the left.

“Armed with nothing but cookies and homemade entertainment programs, the Donut Dollies risked their lives every day as they tried to fulfill their mission and cheer up the U.S. troops,” according to the website promoting a documentary called The Donut Dollies.

On average, more than 280,000 servicemen participated in recreation activities in Vietnam and neighboring countries every month during the eight years of American combat activity (1965-1972). Many took place at Red Cross recreation centers, where there would typically be a piano, books, pool and ping pong tables, and a kitchen, “to make snacks for the guys. Kool-Aid was very popular,” Sprague said. That was confirmed by Allen Lynch, a Medal of Honor winner who recently visited Red Cross headquarters in Cleveland while promoting his memoir.

“Those girls played a crucial role in Vietnam,” Lynch said. “It was just a comfort to see someone from home.

That’s what many of the men called the Donut Dollies, according to Sprague. “99% of the time, the CO of the firebase wanted us there, so he did everything necessary to make us feel welcome and comfortable.”

The Donut Dollies split their time between forward firebases and Red Cross Recreation Centers, like the ones at Cam Ranh Bay and Danang, where they brainstormed ideas for games and fashioned whatever pieces and parts were needed to make the games work. They also worked up song and dance routines.

“During Christmas of 1970, my unit at Long Bing created a parody of the Bob Hope Show, with a story line, singing and dancing, some jokes . . . just a special way to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to the guys on the firebases who didn’t or couldn’t get into the main city for the real show,” Sprague said. They performed about seven shows a day for the week leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Day, they performed in three hospitals.

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Rosanna Sprague, left, played the role of Bob Hope during a Christmastime parody of the comedian’s USO shows.

 

“I do believe we made a lot of military a little less homesick that Christmas,” she said.

The Red Cross provided other services to members of the military in Vietnam, including more than 2 million emergency communications between servicemen and their families. Red Cross field directors and chapter staff at home assisted an average of 27,800 servicemen each month with personal and family problems. Vital service to the Armed Forces continues today, with volunteers providing humanitarian support to service members, veterans and their families around the clock and around the globe.

Back home, Rosanna Sprague now serves as an Ambassador at the Destination Cleveland Visitor’s Center, where people from around the world come to learn about the city. “I have so much fun welcoming them and relating easily to all kinds of people on so many levels. I learned that in Vietnam, too!”

The third Saturday in May is recognized each year as Armed Forces Day.  For information about Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org or call 216-431-3328.

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

Tips for a summer of water fun on International Water Safety Day

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer and former nine- year board member

As warm weather arrives in our area after a long winter, many are anxious to get in andSwimming and Water Safety manual 2014 enjoy the many natural water resources Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have, from magnificent Lake Erie and its islands, to the beautiful Cuyahoga River. In the Akron area, thousands enjoy boating, swimming and water skiing on the Portage Lakes in additional to local ponds, lakes and pools. It is crucial that adults and children are committed to water safety and take precautions as they prepare for a summer of water fun.

May 15th is International Water Safety Day, and the American Red Cross encourages you to “do your part, be water smart.”  The goal of Water Safety Day is to spread awareness Aquatic Centennial Campaign 2016of the ongoing drowning pandemic in the United States and around the world, and educate people to be safe in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old. But people of all ages can drown in all kinds of situations.

Here are some water smart safety tips to get ready for summer fun:

  • Talk to your family, and all adult caregivers, about the importance of water safety and commit to safety rules. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and share it on your social media. Use the hashtags #PledgeItOn and #IWSD. Challenge your friends and family to join you and take the pledge as well.
  • Download the Red Cross Swim App for a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Water safety information for parents for a variety of aquatic environments (waterpark, pool, beach, lake) is also included as well as a progress-checker for swim lessons.
  • Learn to swim. People can find age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for themselves and their family members by contacting their local aquatic facility and asking for American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs, or by visiting redcross.org/watersafety.

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Water safety goes beyond the outdoors. International Water Safety Day is a good time to think about water safety around the house, too:

  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use.
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Install fences around home pools.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Take a CPR or First Aid Class through your local Red Cross.

Find more water safety tips here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer