A Week at Lake to River

And What a Week it Was!

As I write this it is Friday night and I am reflecting on our amazing Northeast Ohio volunteers and the Lake to River volunteers so dear to my heart. This has been a week of unrelenting high temperatures and seemingly unrelenting disasters.

Since Sunday, just five days ago, the Lake to River Chapter has, thanks to our volunteers and donors, accomplished the following:

· Canteen for an explosion in Mahoning County that involved several fire departments. Good news is that no one was hurt

· Responded to six home fires

· Held First Aid/CPR classes

· Sent Smoke Alarm teams out on Tuesday to install and were blessed on Friday to have Red Cross volunteers from Canton help install alarms in another 15 or so homes. Thank you to our Canton colleagues for your time and talent.

· Held our 7th annual Acts of Courage event that raises vital dollars to support our mission. Without the help of volunteer’s, name tags would not get done, no one would know where to sit and cars may have parked on an active runway at the 910th Airlift Base.

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday board members, DAT volunteers, support volunteers and others will help us man two locations at the Thunder Over the Valley airshow this weekend. All this in 90 degree heat.

· Saddest of all, for two days we canteened for 50 fire, police, park and rescue divers who were looking for a 16-year-old boy in Mosquito Lake.

In this week our volunteers have experienced the joy of our Acts of Courage Event, got to meet one of the Thunderbird Pilots, met two WWII veterans who were honored, and the sadness of helping multiple families who lost everything in a fire and also had to watch from inside the crime scene tape as divers dragged the lake for a child.

This is the work of the Red Cross; it is what we do across Northeast Ohio and this country.  Our mission is powered by these mighty volunteers whose heart, compassion and knowledge make a difference every day.

As a Chapter Executive, I am humbled by their resiliency and grateful for what they do for us whenever and wherever there is a need. I know all the Chapter Executives and staff share my passion for each and every one of you.

It has been a long, tough week but if next week is even tougher, I know we are up to the challenge. Now it’s time for a Friday night glass of wine!

A grateful Executive Director…Karen Conklin, Lake To River Chapter.

*The Lake to River Chapter serves Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson Counties.  See  our photo album here.  Photos provided by Paul Wadowick, Red Cross Communications volunteer.

 

Super Heroes Honored at Air Base

By Karen Conklin, Executive Director, Lake to River Chapter

Lucky Lake to River Volunteers were honored on April 27th at a VIP event at the 910th Airlift Wing. If you have ever been on a military base you know it’s tough to get through security. Our thanks to the 50 volunteers who sent in the required information a week ahead of time so that security at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station could clear them to get on the base.  Super Heroes was the theme because we know our military are heroes but so are our Red Cross volunteers.

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The Lake to River Chapter Board of Directors

Prior to the social event, the Lake to River Board of Directors met and also held the annual meeting.  The Board of Directors is working hard to make the 7th Acts of Courage event June 14th the best ever. The following volunteers will be serving another three-year term on the board. They are Kelly Becker, Patti Davis, Lou Joseph, Tifinie Lacomb, Amy Lower, Florence Wang and Phil Wilson. We thank them for their commitment and leadership.

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Major Scott Julian

Thanks to Major Scott Julian (also a Red Cross Board Member) who gave a quick synopsis of the role of the 910th Airlift Wing. Did you know they fly the C-130 Cargo Planes and are the only base that is activated for oil spills or to spray for the Zika Virus?

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Melissa Papini

Good food, camaraderie and lots of laughs were everywhere as Disaster Program Manager Melissa Papini led the group in the “toilet paper” challenge. How many squares would you take if handed a roll of toilet paper at the table with strangers? Lesson learned, you have to tell something about your life for every square you take.  In some cases, as the kids say “TMI” –  too much information was hilariously shared.

The group appreciated the warm messages from Mike Parks and Kristen Gallagher, both of whom had family obligations.  Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole personally thanked all “our heroes for their volunteer work to turn helplessness into hope.” We could never meet mission without our volunteers according to Tim. We also got to bid a kind farewell to Pat Buckhold, who will soon trade her Red Cross staff hat for a volunteer hat in our amazing organization.

K9Highlights for all were our four legged furry heroes on our Lake to River Canine team, who help with Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) and disaster response. These furry friends and their amazing trainers fully embrace the meaning and purpose of therapy dogs wherever they go. Quick to share a furry high five, they are trained to know they are “working” when they don their Red Cross vests and are “just dogs” when out of uniform.

We thank all who came and appreciate your constant devotion to our mission. One final question from me:  “How many squares of toilet paper would you need?” One of the best parts of my job is knowing the incredible resumes of those who do our important work. Lake to River and all Red Cross volunteers are Super Heroes.Debra Paul Pat

If you have an interest in volunteering for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/neo and click the volunteer tab, or call 216-431-3328.  You can also send an email to NEOVolunteer@redcross.org.

Photos by Red Cross volunteer Paul Wadowick, pictured to the right with Debra Kellar and Pat Buckhold of Volunteer Services.  View the photo album here.

Volunteers Pass the Bucket for Donations from Globetrotter Fans

Dozens of volunteers fanned out at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown on Saturday with buckets in hand, hoping for donations at the Harlem Globetrotters  game.

They weren’t disappointed.

“The crowd was fantastic.  Most everyone dug into their pockets to put a buck or two in our Red Cross buckets,” said volunteer Gary Offerdahl. “We got 5’s, 10’s and 20’s too. Most everyone was very generous.  And not only did we collect some money for the Red Cross, we had a lot of fun, too.”

The Globetrotters have designated the Red Cross as their official charity, as part of the team’s The Great Assist initiative.  The Pass the Bucket effort in Youngstown was the first such attempt to collect funds directly from fans at a Globetrotters game.

“This partnership brings two great American organizations together in order to achieve a common goal—to help people in need and to put smiles on people’s faces,” said Howard Smith, President of the Harlem Globetrotters.

“This was so worthwhile,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter.  “We got to meet a lot of the people we serve in the community, and we got to get up close and personal with some REALLY tall basketball players.  Our volunteers will remember this day for a long, long time.”

WKBN covered the effort, airing the story during the 11:00 news Saturday night.

If you aren’t able to donate to the Red Cross at a Globetrotters game, but would like to contribute to the life saving mission of the Red Cross, you can make a donation here, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also text the word ASSIST to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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Click here for ticket information and the schedule for the Globetrotters 2017 World Tour.

 

Smoke Alarms Installed on MLK Day of Service

Austintown, Boardman Residents Receive Fire Safety Information Along with Smoke Alarms

Among the many community groups taking part in the 2017 MLK Day of Service was the Red Cross.  Volunteers from the Lake to River Chapter visited homes in Austintown and Boardman to distribute valuable information meant to keep families safe in the event of a home fire. They also installed smoke alarms where needed.

Four teams of volunteers fanned out to install more than 60 alarms in 27 homes.  Their efforts were covered by WKBN.

Smoke alarms cut the risk of serious injury or death due to home fire in half.  The Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign, know locally as Operation Save-A-Life, in 2014, with the goal of reducing the number of fire-related deaths by 25%  over a fire year period.

So far, more than 130 lives across the country have been saved because residents were alerted to fire in their homes by smoke alarms.

If you are in need of smoke alarms in your home, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page.

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Photo credit:  Paul Wadowick/American Rede Cross volunteer

Ashtabula Residents Get Free Smoke Alarms for Their Homes

Ashtabula Fire Department, Aqua Ohio Workers Help Red Cross Make Neighborhoods Safer

Residents who live in close to 100 homes in Ashtabula now have working smoke alarms, thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross, the Ashtabula Fire Department and Aqua Ohio.

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More than 20 volunteers fanned out throughout Ashtabula on Thursday, October 20 to provide residents with fire safety information and to install, at no cost to the residents, smoke alarms featuring batteries with a 10-year lifespan.

“We urge residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms, especially at this time of year, when we’re about to turn the clocks back,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter of the Red Cross. “And even if the batteries are good, if the alarm is more than 10 years old, it should be replaced because the sensors are out-of-date.”

Gary Offerdahl, the Red Cross volunteer who coordinated the installation event, called it a success. “We’re protecting more people from smoke and fire casualties and possibly fatalities, which is the motivating factor.”

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Ashtabula resident Carmen Rocco receives fire safety information in his home from a Red Cross volunteer on Octiber 20, 2016

Now in its second year, the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is meant to reduce the number of fatalities caused by home fires by 25% over a five year period.

The Red Cross has more smoke alarms to install, thanks in part to the generosity of the United Way of Ashtabula County and the Ashtabula Foundation.  Companies interested in helping make residents safer in their homes by allowing their employees to participate in similar smoke alarm installation events can call 866-319-7160.

Photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross Volunteer

Acts of Courage Recognized, Heroes Honored

They’re all heroes.

Nine “Acts of Courage” and the people who performed those acts have been recognized in the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter, which covers 5 counties in Northeast Ohio, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.  The 2016 Acts of Courage and the Spirit of the Red Cross Award ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 14 at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Mercy Health-Youngstown and Mercy Health Foundation are this year’s Spirit of the Red Cross award recipients, for best exemplifying leadership in the community, compassion for its people and dedication to the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. Mercy President Paul Homick was on hand to receive the award.

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Among the heroes honored were ten employees of Molded Fiber Glass, who performed CPR and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive a fallen coworker.

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Linette Derminer was honored for TWO Acts of Courage.  She founded the KEN heart foundation in honor of her son, who died of sudden cardiac arrest while at football practice.  Through the foundation, Linette donates AEDs to various organizations and helps teach schools, coaches and the community about sudden cardiac arrest in young people.  She was also honored for donating a kidney to a police officer, who she met through her work with the foundation.

David Denovchek was also honored for being an organ donor.  He volunteered to donate part of his liver to save the life of a very sick four-year old girl.

 

16-year old Anna Cristo was honored for saving her mom’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Adam Robertson, Jerrod Ladd and Stephanie Bonilla received the Act of Courage award for saving the life of a man at Hollywood Gaming and Mahoning Valley Race Course, by performing the Heimlich and CPR for several minutes until EMTs arrived.

 

Matt Miller and Jack McDonald were also honored for performing CPR, after a softball teammate collapsed during batting practice.

 

Austintown roofers Gary Jones, Chris Denno and Richard Markel received the Acts of Courage Award for pulling two people from a burning car.  Michael Lewis ran into a burning apartment building-several times-to alert his neighbors and to carry one of them out of the building. And Tina Vincenzo was honored for applying first aid and providing comfort to the victim of a car crash who was pinned inside his vehicle.

We congratulate all the winners of the 2016 Acts of Courage Awards. And we thank all Red Cross donors and volunteers who help us fulfill our mission: to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

If you know a hero, someone who without regard to his or her own welfare, acts to help another human being, let us know with an email to contactneo@redcross.org.  And if you’d like to help us continue our mission, by providing emergency assistance to residents who are driven from their homes by fire or floods, or by teaching lifesaving CPR, or helping a member of the military get home in an emergency visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to donate.  OR text  REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Photo credit: Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross volunteer

Weather, Water and Home Fires: Our Weekend Update

As Red Cross chapters across the east coast began to ramp up a Winter Storm response for this past weekend’s weather, the Lake to River Chapter (covering the eastern edge of Ohio) began a response of a different kind.

In the shadow of the massive response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., the Ohio Village of Sebring announced that testing had revealed elevated levels of lead in water from the Village of Sebring Public Water System.  In response, the Mahoning County emergency management agency (EMA) has established a bottled water distribution at the local community center (305 W. Texas Ave.)

Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women, infants and children.

The Red Cross has been supporting the volunteers who are distributing water. We have been attending to their needs – providing meals, coffee, drinks and snacks – as they see to the needs of the community.

According to our partners at the Mahoning EMA, the State of Ohio is working to meet the bottled water needs of the community. No donations are required at this time.

Additionally, we continued to respond – as we do every day – to home fires throughout the region. This weekend, alone, we responded to 13 home fires. Through the generosity of our community, we were able to provide financial assistance to these families for things like shelter, emergency clothing, warm coats, food and hope to help them through the next few nights.

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering in your community, visit our page www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer in the left-side menu. You can also reach our Volunteer Services department at 216-431-3328 or by emailing, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.