Chris and Jim Davis named 2019 Festival of Trees honorary co-chairs

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

November 18, 2019- The American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter named Chris and Jim Davis the 2019 honorary co-chairs for the annual Festival of Trees, which will be held on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster.

Jim and Chris Davis

Chris and Jim Davis

The event helps raise funds for the Red Cross to help residents who are affected by disasters like home fires and flooding in Ashland, Holmes, Richland and Wayne counties.

The Davis’ were both born and raised in Orrville, Ohio and attended Orrville High School together. Both have led a life of service, with Chris serving as a teacher and director at the Trinity Christian Pre-School for 28 years and Jim a police officer at the Orrville Police Department. Currently, they own and operate the Orrville Dairy Queen, which Jim’s mother and father purchased in 1984.

“We support the American Red Cross and their mission, which is to prevent and alleviate human suffering,” said Chris Davis. “I think of them as the number one second responder, right after police and fire, our first responders. Your contribution to help stays here for local disaster services and programs.”

The Festival of Trees, one of the area’s premiere holiday events since 1990, has generated funds for local Red Cross disaster relief for families experiencing home fires, floods or tornadoes.

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The fundraising event features beautifully decorated holiday trees, wreaths, centerpieces and baskets donated by local artisans and decorators. The holiday decorations will be auctioned at the event.

Additionally, local companies have donated wonderful and unique items for the auction, such as a ride for two on the Goodyear blimp and a trip to Disney World.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the event, visit redcross.org/trees19.

Akron Brass remains a local champion through Red Cross partnership

By Mike Arthur, Disaster Program Manager, Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter (South)

November 15, 2019- When I have trouble with my work equipment, I call the Red Cross information technology (IT) department and they help me fix the problem. At worst, it means I’m not very productive for a short period of time. In my previous career as a firefighter, if I had trouble with my equipment it could have resulted in injury or death.

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For the last 100 years, the Akron Brass Company has made quality equipment to ensure that firefighters are able to put fires out and save lives. Every firefighter knows about Akron Brass, and how good their products are. I recently had the opportunity to visit their offices and got to meet many of their staff members. Akron Brass is an incredible partner of the American Red Cross. This year alone they have provided funds to support our Home Fire Campaign and are the presenting sponsor of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Festival of Trees event in Wooster next month. In addition, the company actively participates in hosting blood drives, including the Wooster Battle of the Badges event, which pits the police against the fire department in a friendly competition.

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I was at Akron Brass headquarters on Friday, November 8th, when employees assembled 150 comfort kits for veterans.

The Akron Brass Company is a world leader in fire products, as well as a local champion for Wayne County and the state of Ohio.

To view more photos from the Akron Brass care kit assembly event, visit our Flickr page.

Smoke alarm helps save lives in Wooster

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

October 25, 2019- Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you might have as little as two minutes to escape? Something as simple as a smoke alarm can alert those inside of a fire in its early stages, providing critical time to vacate the home and call for help. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t have working smoke alarms, or don’t have enough devices within their home.

One American Red Cross volunteer, Barbara Buchwalter, experienced first-hand how powerful a simple device like a smoke alarm can be.

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Joe Kiefer

“I was given a business card at a senior event,” said Barbara. “We knew we didn’t have enough smoke alarms for the size of our home. A fireman came and installed several alarms. Within the same week, our stove caught fire and the smoke alarm went off.  The fireman that installed the alarms also responded to the fire that afternoon. I believe my husband and I were saved, because we had our old alarms replaced.”

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Lieutenant Joe Kiefer was the Wooster firefighter who provided the services that saved the lives of Barbara and her husband. He said that the smoke alarm not only saved lives that day, but it minimized the damage the fire caused. With the fast actions of the homeowners, Joe and his fellow firefighters were able to quickly respond and put out the fire before it spread to other areas of the home.

Joe was recently named Wooster firefighter of the year, and his work with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign was mentioned as one of the reasons for his nomination.

The Buchwalters are among the 642 people whose lives have been saved after smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross and its partners alerted them to the danger in their homes. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross and its partners have installed over 42,000 smoke alarms through its Home Fire Campaign.

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Joe Kiefer with his wife Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter

Smoke alarm installations are available to any community member through their local chapter of the Red Cross. Many fire departments, like the Wooster Fire Department partner with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms the Red Cross provides. Fifteen to 30 minutes is all it takes to install smoke alarms in a home. Joe said that it also provides the firefighters an opportunity to answer any questions the homeowners may have, and to point out any potential fire hazards within the home.

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Joe Kiefer with Ashland mayor Matt Miller

“It’s a great way to get [firefighters] face-to-face with their community members,” Joe said.

“It’s a simple thing people can do—there’s no reason not to have smoke alarms,” according to Joe. To learn more about how you can prepare your home in case of a fire, visit the Red Cross Home Fire Safety page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: October 18-20, 2019

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

October 21, 2019- While residents of Northeast Ohio were enjoying the warm fall weekend weather and getting ready for Halloween, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Teams (DAT) were responding to individuals experiencing the worst day of their lives.

The Red Cross responded to 12 incidents, including several home fires, in nine counties, affecting all five regional chapters.

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As part of the weekend response, Northeast Ohio DAT volunteers assisted 26 adults and 14 children, and the Red Cross provided more than $7,000 in immediate financial assistance.

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

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As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

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Also, without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer today.

Red Cross helps prevent home fires as part of Ashland Day of Caring

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

October 18, 2019- Support for neighbors and the community was in full swing on October 17, 2019, as part of the 25th annual Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring.

Organizations from all across Ashland County dedicated the day to volunteer their time to assist residents who are elderly, disabled and disadvantaged with tasks, such as light yard work, to help improve local communities.

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The American Red Cross was one of the organizations that took part in the day of caring.

Volunteers from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter and partners visited homes across the county to help prevent home fires and make communities safer.

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As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross installed free smoke alarms in homes that had no or nonworking smoke alarms.

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Along with installing smoke alarms, volunteers provided residents with important fire safety tips and information on how to develop an escape plan, to ensure their family is prepared and safe in the event of a home fire.

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate or how to become involved, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO. The site also includes fire safety and prevention tips, checklists and more fire prevention and preparedness tools.

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To view more photos from the Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring, visit our Flickr page.

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).

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter recognizes volunteers

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

May 1, 2018- The hard work and dedication by volunteers is the engine that makes the American Red Cross run. Over 90 percent of the Red Cross’ workforce is actually made up 46772326605_af5e91764a_zof volunteers. During an emergency, may it be a natural disaster or a home fire, volunteers are ready at a moments notice to help comfort and help individuals during the worst moments of there lives without expecting anything in return. That is why it is important to recognize and thank these amazing volunteers.

“I am always amazed by the passion of our volunteers here in Northeast Ohio,” said Gail Wernick, regional volunteer services officer. “Without expecting any compensation in return, our volunteers go through various training and are always eager and happy to lend a hand to someone in need. It is truly inspiring.”

Throughout the year, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio holds volunteer recognition events throughout the region to say thank you and to honor everything they do each and every day. Recently, the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter held two recognition events for volunteers in the chapter’s north and south region.

Click here to view photos from the Lake Erie/Heartland North volunteer recognition event.

Lake Erie Heartland North Volunteer Recognition (13)Click here to view photos from the Lake Erie/Heartland South volunteer recognition event.

The Red Cross of Northeast Ohio once again thanks our volunteers from all 22 counties we serve. Without you, we would not be able to fulfill our mission and help ensure the safety and well being of the residents of Northeast Ohio.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328 to learn about opportunities in your area.