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.

Canton South High School teacher awarded American Red Cross Certificate of Merit

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

September 13, 2019- For Canton South High School, the new school year began with a celebration of heroism and life.  At the school’s first staff meeting, the American Red Cross presented Kristen Smith, one of the school’s teachers, with its Certificate of Merit. It is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

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The award was given to Kristen for her efforts that helped save a fellow teacher’s life. Last January, Kristen—who is trained in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED—recognized the signs when a colleague began to choke during lunch. She quickly reacted, confirmed that the teacher was indeed choking, and performed abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from her colleague’s airway.

Kristen’s colleagues nominated her for the Certificate of Merit over summer break, worked with Red Cross representatives to verify her remarkable actions, and helped plan for the award’s presentation. At the school’s first staff meeting, Kristen was surprised with the award.

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Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the American Red Cross’ Stark & Muskingum Lakes Chapter, presented the award. “It was such an honor to present Kristen Smith with the Certificate of Merit, one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross,” she said. “It amazes me how one second can change someone’s life, and Kristen did just that when she saved the life of a fellow teacher.”

Jeff Moore, principal of Canton South High School, said, “Kristen exemplifies what we want all of our staff and students to be, someone who takes their education/training and uses those for the betterment of others, someone who is caring and is not afraid to be involved. We could not be more proud of Kristen and all she represents in Wildcat Nation.”

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The Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is proud to have been part of the presentation and to have prepared Kristen for her heroic actions. The skills she learned certainly helped her save a life.

The American Red Cross offers a number of First Aid, CPR, AED and other classes throughout the year. If you would like information, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

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If you wish to nominate someone for a lifesaving award, visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifesaving.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to see more photos from Kristen’s award presentation.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Volunteers create quilts to help give those suffering from a local disaster a sense of home

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

August 26, 2019- Imagine that one day your home, unfortunately, is lost in a home fire. On the darkest day of your life, when you have lost everything you own, you stand there lost, unsure of how you will ever recover.

Now imagine an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) member standing next to you providing you comfort and guidance on the many ways the Red Cross could assist you. Then the DAT worker provides you and your family with a handmade quilt, giving you a sense of home and reassurance that you will get back on your feet.

This is the experience of residents in Carroll, Harrison, Stark and Tuscarawas Counties who have been affected by a local disaster.

The quilts are a project of compassion for a group of Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter volunteers. Hazel Betz, Dolly Gibas, Carol Krantz, Martha MacLachian, Irene McGill, Pat Mercier, Wilma Nicholson, Donna Phillimore and Jean Phillimore, more affectionately known as the “sewing ladies,” channel their love with each stitch and patch.

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“The impact the sewing ladies have on individuals who are facing the worst day in their lives cannot be understated,” said Kim Kroh, executive director for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “These women show that everyone has a part to play in helping get people back on their feet following a local disaster. The simple act of creating quilts with compassion has a lasting and powerful effect on individuals who have lost everything. They truly are instrumental members of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.”

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The nine women meet at the chapter’s Canton office. Amid batting and fabric donated by JoAnn Fabrics, the ladies share laughter and friendship, and like an assembly line, the ladies each have a specific task. From organizing fabric to finishing touches, the group takes pride in every detail to let people suffering from a local disaster know that someone cares.

Once the quilts are complete, there is one last detail. Each quilt gets a special tag sewn into a corner. The tag, which has heart symbols, reads “Handmade by the American Red Cross Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.”

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Once they are done, the quilts are placed inside an emergency response vehicle. Each family who suffer a home fire or other local disaster receives one quilt per bed inside the residence.

This year, the sewing ladies of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter were able to partake in a special honor. During the Crossroad Division meeting in Columbus, in honor of Division Vice President Sue Richter’s 50th anniversary with the Red Cross, Sue was presented with a special quilt, sewn by the women, which featured the Red Cross’ symbol.

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Carol, Dolly, Donna, Hazel, Irene, Jean, Martha, Pat and Wilma exemplify what it means to be a Red Crosser. Not only do they show that there is a volunteer opportunity to fit anyone’s interest, but with each stitch, and every quilt made, these women provide hope and a warm sense of home during someone’s darkest hour.

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If you would like to use your skills and interests to help others and become a Red Cross volunteer like the sewing ladies, please visit redcross.org/volunteer to find opportunities in your area.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross volunteers provide Hall of Fame care during induction ceremonies

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

 August 8, 2019- Fans who enjoyed the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony events in Canton, Ohio, were treated to top-notch care and attention from the American Red Cross.

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It’s important to stay safe and hydrated while outside on hot summer days. That’s why Red Cross volunteers were present to give those enjoying the festivities a cold bottle of water and provide medical attention if needed.

Events began July 21 during the community parade. As crowds were enjoying the procession, volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter passed out cooling towels and water and provided medical attention at a first aid tent.

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Festivities continued Aug. 2 with two events. The first event was a fashion show luncheon, where 17 Red Cross volunteers were on hand. Later in the day, 18 volunteers staffed the enshrinement gold jacket dinner. At both events, the Red Cross volunteers where present in areas where food was served and worked with the hosts to spot anyone who needed medical attention.

The Hall of Fame enshrinement celebration came to an end Aug. 3 with two final events.

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The day began with the grand parade. As fans enjoyed local bands and floats, 26 Red Cross volunteers handed out water and cold towels to help beat the heat. The Red Cross also provided an inside cooling room and a first aid station at the Malone University Johnson Center.

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The day ended with a roundtable discussion luncheon featuring this year’s inductees. Inside the Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center, 17 Red Cross volunteers were present to spot and provide any necessary medical attention.

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If you’re interested in learning how you can volunteer for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328 to learn about all the different opportunities in your area.

To view photos from the grand parade, visit our Flickr page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Photo credit: Tom Newman, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

Visit our Flickr page to view photos from the 2019 Hometown Heroes BASH.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Former stay-at-home mom now leaves home to help others

A volunteer profile will post here each day during National Volunteer Week

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

April 10, 2019 – Barb Thomas has left her home in Canton to help with disaster relief operations four times since joining the American Red Cross as a volunteer in 2016.

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Barb Thomas, on assignment in during the Hurricane Florence relief operation in North Carolina in 2018

“The kids are grown now, and I have the time,” Barb said, shortly after returning from her latest deployment in Mississippi, where she served as staff services supervisor for Red Cross workers assigned to help flood victims.

“We were responsible for the ‘good hello and good goodbye’ for the volunteers and staff who participated in the deployment, and for keeping track of all the members on deployment,” she said.

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En route to Mississippi, 2019

Barb has deployed to southern Ohio, where flooding occurred last winter. She also left last fall to help with the relief effort following Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. A year before that, she responded to Hurricane Irma in Georgia.

The bulk of Barb’s volunteer work occurs closer to home, where she helps administer all facets of disaster cycle services. “I have assisted in a presentation to get people signed up for smoke alarms and have installed smoke alarms in homes,” which covers preparedness.  Response-wise, “I have been to numerous home fires, supported the fire department by providing canteening services, and worked in a shelter,” she said. “And I assisted in recovery with casework.”

But the time she has spent in other parts of the country to help those affected by disaster has made an impression on the former Human Resources professional.

“I have met some incredible people who have an amazing dedication to volunteering with the Red Cross,” she said. “They are client-focused and willing to pitch in wherever and whenever necessary.”

“Barb Thomas is a breath of fresh air, adding positive energy to our chapter,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “She is a true leader who is valued greatly by the staff and by other volunteers.”

When asked what she would say to encourage others to volunteer for the Red Cross, Barb said, “If you are interested in positively impacting individuals and your community, the Red Cross is an excellent organization. I have had direct contact with the public and individuals in need.”

She added, “It feels good to be part of an organization that supports the community on such a personal level.”

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Red Cross workers headed to Georgia in response to Hurricane Irma in 2017.  From left: John Muni, Barb Thomas, Tim Reichel, Craig Hitchcock, and Mark Behlke

To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

NEO Red Cross disaster response team was busy during first half of FY ’19

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

As the ball dropped in Times Square, it not only marked the end of 2018, but it also marked the closure of the first half of fiscal year 2019 for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.

dunham ave 2The Red Cross runs on a fiscal year calendar that runs from July to June. The first six months of FY ’19 were especially active for the Red Cross responding to local disasters and assisting residents in need in the region.

During the six-month period, Northeast Ohio disaster services workers responded to 804 cases, assisting 1,409 adults, 784 children and provided $400,041 in financial assistance to those affect by the disasters, such as home fires. To show the impact on the region, during the same six-month period in FY ’18, the Red Cross responded to 648 cases, assisted 1,130 adults, 712 children and provided $343,576 in financial assistance.

Unfortunately, disasters do not respect zip codes or county borders, as every region in Northeast Ohio was impacted from July to December. However, no matter where an emergency occurs, the Red Cross will be there to assist those in need. Below are FY ’19 numbers for all five regions:

  • Greater Cleveland: 379 cases, 1,021 individuals assisted, $152,437 in financial assistance
  • Lake to River: 140 cases, 394 individuals assisted, $77,559 in financial assistance
  • Lake Erie/Heartland: 114 cases, 330 individuals assisted, $70,647 in financial assistance
  • Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties: 104 cases, 269 individuals assisted, $60,028 in financial assistance
  • Stark and Muskingum Lakes: 67 cases, 182 individuals assisted, $39,370 in financial assistance

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to support the residents of Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

If you cannot assist financially, there is another way you may help the Red Cross assist IMG_1758those in need. 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 truly the face of the Red Cross.

If you are interested in making an impact in your local community, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.