Festive Canfield Fair Offers Volunteers Opportunities and Fun

By Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter
Photos by Mary Williams/American Red Cross

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Who remembers the Lennon Sisters? How about Journey? “Don’t stop believing!” Are you a Band Perry fan? Do you enjoy Toby Keith? These artists have all entertained at the Canfield Fair! Toby Keith will once again perform on Sept. 3 at this year’s fair.

The Canfield Fair (Mahoning County) is the largest county fair in Ohio. More than 350,000 visitors will come through the gates from Aug. 29 through Labor Day. At the Lake to River Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Canfield Fair is a big deal. We’ve been smelling those french fries and hot sausage sandwiches for weeks. Over 437 vendors participate in the fair and, by the way, parking is always free.

IMG_1654For decades, the Red Cross has played an important role at the fair. Each day the blood mobile is there collecting lifesaving blood. In the medical building, board members and volunteers staff our booth, where we pass out smoke alarm application forms. We work in three-hour shifts. Most help at our booth, then take in the sights, sounds and, of course, the food. Our volunteers get free tickets to the fair! We may have some shifts available.IMG_1681

Another important service we provide—and have been for the past half-century—is the first aid station. This is such an important part of IMG_1626the fair that 20 years ago, the Canfield Fair Board constructed a Red Cross building, where onsite care is provided. They also built a secondary site on the opposite side of the fairgrounds. Certified Red Cross volunteers help scribe (keep records)  and do minor triage for fair injuries that are overseen by a doctor. EMS plays a part, transporting the injured via golf carts to immediate help. Ambulances (and even a helicopter) are a call away if needed. Historically, the most frequent fair injuries have been bee stings, animal bites and blisters. So if you attend, wear comfortable shoes, don’t stick your hands in the animals’ stalls and do eat lots of yummy fair food. Who cares about the calories?

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Since 1846 the Canfield Fair has been serving up fun times and great memories. If you are interested in volunteering, call our office at 330-392-2551 and ask for Vickie. If you’re not yet a volunteer, visit our website and click the “Volunteer” tab at the top of the page to start the process.

Volunteer Profile: Dan Simcox

Lake to River Chapter Volunteer is a Former School Teacher and Principal

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Communications Volunteer Lead

April is National Volunteer Month and the Red Cross is featuring stories about some of the selfless volunteers that make up the team of people who help fulfill the organization’s mission. Today’s volunteer profile is on Dan Simcox, one of many everyday heroes who offer their time and talent to help those in their community.

Dan is a retired teacher and principal from Columbiana, Ohio. He grew up in Worthington, went to Muskingum College, and received his Masters from Youngstown State University. Dan credits his parents, teachers, and coaches as the biggest influences in his life.

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When Dan reflects on his incredible career in education, the memories he most treasures are what he calls the “smaller moments” like the extra 15 minutes he would take to sit down and listen to a student who was having trouble at home or school and in doing so, knowing he helped make their life a little easier. He treasures letters from former students that have come to him after those students went on to college.  A number of them have sent him the papers they wrote when given the assignment “Your life’s biggest influences besides your parents.” He sometimes reads those letters when he’s feeling nostalgic.

It’s is no surprise that a man who made a career of helping, teaching, and encouraging others would choose to volunteer with the Red Cross after retirement, which interestingly was just a short time before hurricane Katrina hit. At that time, Dan didn’t have a detailed understanding of exactly what the Red Cross did or how they operated. But he thought they could use some help so he volunteered and was quickly sent to New Orleans to work on an Emergency Response Vehicle in Mass Feeding. He said after the first day his supervisor told everyone that she was changing  the routes, since people were getting too emotionally involved with their clients. He didn’t understand then how that could happen. But that changed quickly. When it was time for him to go home, he thought, “How can I leave these people? What will they do without me?”

Yes, he got involved…and he has been a steady, hard-working, and passionate Red Cross volunteer ever since.

That is the volunteer spirit. That is the heart of Dan Simcox.

This week, appropriately during this time when the Red Cross is honoring its volunteers, Dan will lead a class on diversity.  He believes it is important for people who volunteer to understand they will be working in a very diverse world, using a plethora of different volunteers. He says to be effective, “we need to know how to use that diversity to our advantage by using different experiences and different world views to serve this diverse population in the best way possible.”

Dan says the most rewarding part of working for the Red Cross is that often you get the opportunity to be the first step towards someone’s recovery.  “After a disaster, a family may have lost everything and the future looks without hope,” Dan says. “But the Red Cross can tell them that there is a safe place for them and their children to stay for a few days, food to eat, and money for clothes and essentials, and that after they get rested we will help them find the resources they need to start the road to recovery.  The relief you see in their eyes when they realize there is a reason for hope is priceless. Through the Red Cross I can make the world a better place for someone who is having an extremely bad day.”

If Dan’s story inspired you to volunteer, you can find out more here.

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