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.

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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!

Festive Fundraiser: Festival of Trees

That was some sleigh.

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Six feet long and four feet wide, with wispy garland, clusters of red berries, a padded red leather seat and a strip of festive bells, the sleigh proved to be the item that generated the most heating bidding during the 2018 Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter presented by Schaeffler.  In the end, close to $60,000 were raised for general disaster services in the local counties served by the chapter.

The sleigh went for a winning bid of $1,600.

Half of the more than 180 bidders placed their bids online, a first for the Festival of Trees. Also a first, the Blue Barn Winery in Wooster as the venue for the Festival.  With its rustic yet elegant decor,  the 85 guests in attendance enjoyed fine food and wine in an intimate setting compliments of Certified Angus Beef and Wooster Country Club.

The funds raised will benefit residents of Wayne, Holmes, Ashland, Richland, Huron, Lorain and Erie Counties who experience a disaster like a home fire.  “The local Red Cross assisted close to 300 families last year, distributing more than $180,000 dollars to help them during their darkest hour,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.  “The money raised at this year’s Festival of Trees will continue to help our neighbors recover from disasters like home fires and floods.”

You can help support the mission of the Red Cross by making a donation at redcross.org/neo, or by calling 1-800 Red Cross.

More photos from this year’s Festival of Trees can be seen by visiting our photo album on Flickr.  Photos from the November 17th preview event can be seen here.

 

Cedar Fair Executive Recognized by Gail McGovern

The president of the American National Red Cross, Gail McGovern, has recognized Sanduskian Lee Alexakos for her outstanding contributions to the organization’s vital blood collection program.

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Lee Alexakos, center, is flanked on the left by Gail McGovern, President and Howie Walz, Vice President of Recruitment

A Biomedical Partnership Award — presented recently at the Red Cross National Award Program in Washington, D.C. — cited Alexakos for expanding the partnership between the Red Cross and Cedar Fair Entertainment, where she serves as Vice President of Community Relations.

Cedar Fair—a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment—is a great corporate partner with Lee Alexakos at the helm. Her extensive work on the expansion of Cedar Fair’s partnership with the American Red Cross helped to increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction for our organization. Her successful expansion campaign included gifting the Red Cross over 16 thousand free Cedar Fair admissions to be used to recruit blood donors during the difficult summer collection months; encouraging blood donations by offering prize packs of admission for four; and gifting and promoting a Grand Prize package including family admission, fast passes, and weekend overnight accommodations. The in-kind donations from this campaign were equal to over $1 million from Cedar Fair.

The success of the Cedar Fair partnership enabled laser marketing to our youth markets during a time of the year when it can be challenging to connect with our high school and university partners. Students stepped up to coordinate blood drives in their communities resulting in youth leadership opportunities plus education on the blood donation process and the patients we serve. Lee’s dedication to our organization and endless hours invested of her own time to ensure sponsor and donor engagement were crucial for our life saving mission during the challenging summer months.

The Red Cross is always in need of blood donations.  You can make an appointment to donate at 1-800-RED CROSS, or by logging onto redcrossblood.org.  You can also make an appointment on the Red Cross Blood App, which also records your donation history, and keeps track of your blood’s journey.

(Red Cross Volunteer Eilene Guy contributed to this story)

Nurses Needed…ASAP

Looking back 100 years at the Lake Erie / Heartland Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

If history proves anything, it might be that we need to learn from our mistakes.

In 1898, when the USS Maine exploded off Cuba’s shores, war was declared with Spain, and the U.S. Army was deployed.  Despite knowledge that yellow fever was most likely to afflict people during the rainy summer season, the U.S. forces launched their offensive on June 22.  Less than 400 soldiers died during the conflict, but more than 2,000 succumbed to the disease during the occupation that followed.

Sixteen years later, the United States initially resisted being drawn into World War I.  However, after learning that the Germans were suggesting Mexico attack the U.S., President Wilson asked for and received a declaration of war in 1917. With America preparing to enter yet another foreign war, the nation hoped to be more prepared.

A military draft was established and of the 10-million men interviewed, 4.7-million were selected. This required a tremendous increase in medical care as well as production of arms and ammunition for the troops. The Army Medical department increased its hospital capacity from 9,500 to 120,000 beds stateside alone.

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Sunday morning, February 4, 1917, Mrs. Alice Montgomery, secretary of the local Red Cross chapter in Sandusky received a 300-word telegram from American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Instructions were two-fold.  Set up a “roomy, centrally located headquarters, rent free, and equipment for same…” to produce medical supplies and comfort bags. Secondly, names of nurses and potential nurses were to be collected.

Courses of instruction in nursing would be provided by the Bureau of Nursing Services in Washington.  Doctors and graduate nurses could also report to the Bureau in Washington. Volunteer men could also take first aid courses and organize a “sanitary corps” locally.

Wasting no time, Mrs. John Renner, president of the Sandusky chapter, organized a meeting for that very afternoon and began the work of rolling gauze and preparing medical supplies.

Monday, February 19, Huron began formation of their own chapter, hoping to attract at least 35 to 40 women locally. By April, they already reached 60, and set their new goal for 200. Men were asked to join as well as women.

Unfortunately, twenty years later, history was destined to repeat itself and a huge case of influenza struck our troops, first on our shores and shortly thereafter in the European theater, starting in France. Crowded, unsanitary conditions in camp and in the trenches were ultimately determined to be the cause this time, but not until more than one million men were affected with 30,000 of them dying before they even reached France.

History books are lax in mentioning it, but health related deaths exceeded combat deaths in World War I. Total non-combat deaths reached 63,000, while combat deaths accounted for 53,000.

Many were saved however, thanks in part to the Red Cross having assisted with the job of recruiting experienced nurses for the Army Nursing Corps, along with organizing many ambulance companies. The Red Cross also organized 50 hospitals of 1,000 beds each, at American universities across the country.

Today, the need is still there. Fortunately, not for war-related injuries specifically, but the Red Cross continues to prevent and alleviate human suffering in a multitude of emergencies.  Please consider volunteering at http://neoredcross.org.

Red Tie Affair A Sumptuous Treat

Fundraiser Helps Support Disaster Relief in Northeast Ohio

The American Red Cross supporters who attended the 2017 Red Tie Affair at Chez Francois in Vermillion not only helped ensure the mission of the Red Cross would continue, they ate like kings and queens.

The five course meal was paired with choice California wines and served at one of Northeast Ohio’s most celebrated restaurants, making it it an evening to remember.

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Click here for our photo album from the Saturday Night event.  Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer.

Sandusky Women Answer the Call

Looking back 100 years at the Lake Erie / Heartlands Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

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From the Centennial Mound in Washington Park, Sandusky

In March 1916, as a U.S. expedition of more than 10,000 troops were chasing Pancho Villa back into Mexico, and Company B of the National Guard was being federalized to control our border at El Paso, Texas, the Red Cross Sandusky Chapter was being formed.  Realizing we might also be deploying troops to Europe, the National Office was requesting more and more chapters to join the organization.

By June 1916, fifty women had already expressed interest in joining at a meeting held in the Carnegie Library in Sandusky. They began making “ditty” bags for the men of Company B.  Described in the Sandusky Star-Journal as “…most convenient and attractive little affairs. Fashioned of the familiar khaki, with blue braid binding, and red flannel leaves, they each hold 6 needles, 6 safety pins, 3 darning needles, 2 rows of common pins, a spool each of khaki and white thread, six each of khaki colored and white buttons, and a pair of scissors.”

Saturday, August 19, 1916 at 3:00 p.m., with charter-in-hand, more than one hundred volunteers gathered at G.A.R. Hall in Sandusky to elect officers and directors for this newest Chapter of the American Red Cross. Plans were formulated for their first regular meeting which would take place in October.

At the October meeting, the guest speaker was Miss Elizabeth Perkins, field secretary of the National Red Cross, recently back in the US after serving in hospitals along the French front. She brought a request for “comfort bags” that could be given to the troops in the French hospitals. 50,000 were needed nationally, and it would be a proper project for the new chapter. They were needed by November 15 to be shipped and received in time for Christmas distribution.

Each 9” x 12” bag would contain a pair of socks, a razor or pocket knife, handkerchief, pencil, writing tablet, pipe (no tobacco), harmonica or game (no playing cards), box of hard candy or bouillon cubes, wash clothes, cake of soap, pocket mirror, and a comb or jar of Vaseline. Each bag would have a card included with the name of the donor.

Unfortunately, while the chapter was waiting for its charter, all the dues collected to that point had been sent in to the national office, and the chapter found itself without operating funds. Suggestions were received that the entire Erie County should be included in the chapter, giving them a larger base of members and financial support.

Eventually, the Lake Erie / Heartland Chapter of the Red Cross would expand to what today includes Ashland, Erie, Holmes, Huron, Lorain, Richland and Wayne Counties.  That’s quite an expansion from the original small chapter in Sandusky, so, you could say they certainly took those directions 100 years ago, to heart.

What hasn’t changed, is that the Red Cross can still use more volunteers and more donations. Visit redcross.org/neo to get involved.

Lifeguard Honored for Saving Classmate’s Life

“I let you save my life!”

Allison Uplinger teased Baylie White as the two graduates of Shelby High School walked through the hallways of their alma mater on Thursday, January 5th.  Baylie had just received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the highest award offered by the Red Cross (so high, in fact, that it is even signed by President Obama) for a lifesaving act.

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Allison Uplinger and Baylie White at Shelby High School, after Baylie received the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for saving Allison’s life

Last spring, while Baylie and Allison were finishing their senior year, Allison began to choke in the cafeteria.  Baylie, who has received Red Cross First Aid training as a certified lifeguard, knew immediately what was happening, and what to do.  After several sharp blows to Allison’s back, the food was dislodged and Allison was able to breathe again.

“I have been lifeguarding for several years, and so I always renew my first aid certification,” Baylie said after receving the framed certificate on the stage of the Shelby High School Performing Arts Center.  The award was given by Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, and board member Chris Hiner, the President of Richland Bank.

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Chris Hiner, Lara Kiefer and Baylie White at the Shelby High School Performing Arts Center

Allison, who has not yet received Red Cross First Aid training, said it’s on her to-do list.  “Since I plan to be a teacher, I know how important it is to be able to help a choking child.”

The Red Cross offers training in First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguarding, even babysitting.  Some classes can be taken online.  You can search for the class most convenient for you here.

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Shelby High School Principal John Gies joined Chris Hiner and Lara Kiefer in congratulating graduate Baylie White for her Certificate of Merit, award to her after she saved the life of classmate Allison Uplinger last spring.  Photos by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross