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.

Retired Firefighter Leads Red Cross Pro Football Hall of Fame Effort

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Every year, Canton, Ohio, rolls out the red carpet—and the gold jackets—as it hosts events celebrating gridiron greats and long-time legends being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And each year, the American Red Cross is part of the action as it provides first aid services throughout the two-week festivities.

Retired Canton City Fire Department Firefighter and Red Cross Volunteer Chuck Goldy acts as head coach for the Red Cross’ Pro Football Hall of Fame coverage. He has coordinated the effort and called the plays for six years.

“When I retired, I decided that I’ve been blessed all my career, and I wanted to continue to give back,” explained Chuck. “Now that I’m not working, I can plan and do more.”

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Chuck Goldy and Kim Kroh

“Red Cross relies on our volunteers each and every day in fulfilling our mission, and the Hall of Fame events are no exception,” said Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “Chuck is a dedicated Red Cross volunteer and leads the Hall of Fame events every year, spending dozens of hours before, during and after these events. His dedication is inspiring to me and is also why working side by side with volunteers is the best part of my job.”  See the video with Kim and Chuck, recorded after the 2016 Hall of Fame events here.

This year, the Red Cross staffed five Pro Football Hall of Fame events. It provided first aid stations as well as hydration and cooling stations.

First aid stations are staffed by those certified in CPR/AED who are trained to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies. At hydration and cooling stations, Red Cross volunteers distribute water and provide cold towels to bring down body temperatures. Volunteers check vital signs and provide cots so individuals can recover if in distress. Equipped with two-way radios tuned in to the Canton City Fire Department channel, volunteers are ready to connect individuals to paramedics on site, if needed.

The 2018 festivities kicked off July 22 with a community parade. It was staffed by 14 Red Cross volunteers who handed out approximately 800 cups of water to parade participants.

On Friday, Aug. 3, a fashion show and luncheon at the Canton Civic Center was staffed by 12 volunteers. That evening, 16 volunteers were on hand for the Enshrinee’s Gold Jacket Dinner, attended by 4,000 guests.  Red Cross workers treated one guest for vertigo issues.

The grand parade was Saturday, Aug. 4, and was staffed by 20 Red Cross volunteers. They distributed about 2,000 cups of water to parade marchers. With temperatures nearing 90 degrees, five individuals were treated for heat-related issues. They were high school band performers who had overheated under their heavy uniforms. After being assessed and cooled down, they were released to their parents and band directors.

Red Cross coverage culminated at the Enshrinee’s Roundtable Luncheon on Sunday, Aug. 5. Twelve volunteers staffed the event.

The Enshrinee’s Roundtable is Chuck’s favorite event.

“I enjoy the Roundtable,” he said. “The guys sit down with a sportscaster from the NFL Network. It gives an opportunity to hear their personal stories. It’s interesting to hear about their background. Some players have big hearts and they share what is meaningful to them and how they were raised. You get a better picture of who they are.”

“I’m not a huge football fan—but this is for Canton,” Chuck explained.

If you’d like to be like Chuck – and more than 1,500 other volunteers in Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/neo, and click “Volunteer” at the top of the page to begin the application process.

 

 

 

Volunteer Profile: Rich Rock

Stark and Muskingum Lakes Volunteer Proudly Delivers Great Service

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Q:  So how do you deliver great service to a four-county area?

A:  With great volunteers, that’s how.

One of the best, according to Kim Kroh, Executive Director of Stark County & Muskingum Lakes Chapter is volunteer Rich Rock.  A volunteer who just received his 10-year pin, Rich does it all. “He is a Godsend. We’d be out of luck without him,” says Kim.

Sometime, more than 10 years ago, a lifetime friend of Rich’s, who had moved to Texas, mentioned his volunteer efforts with the Red Cross there, and suggested that Rich would probably enjoy volunteering as well. They had grown up together, enjoyed similar interests, and enjoyed serving the community, so Rich took his advice and signed up.  His friend was right, and Rich is still serving.

Rich is a DAT (Disaster Action Team) member as well as a general volunteer, distributing emergency preparedness kits at the mall in New Philadelphia on Preparedness Day.

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Rich Rock, second from right, and other Red Cross volunteers prepare to install smoke alarms with the New Philadelphia Fire Department

In addition, Rich also installs smoke alarms during the chapter’s home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.

Working as a DAT member, covering multiple fires and other catastrophes, he says he is always touched when he sees a family that has lost literally everything.  “It is heartbreaking to see,” says Rich.

He still recalls an event where the husband and wife had a major fire, not losing everything, but a significant loss nevertheless. By the time Rich arrived on scene, the husband had taken the car to run an errand. After spending quite some time talking with the overly stressed-out wife, he said he began to feel that they were making a personal connection.

When the husband returned, Rich made a tongue-in-cheek comment about the woman’s emotional state, at which the husband was taken aback.  Starting to laugh, the wife said, “Oh, don’t worry, that’s what I need now more than anything, just a chance to laugh about this horrific incident.”  Group hugs ensued, and Rich left feeling that he had made another good connection with the community.

“Those are the things that stick with you, and make you feel that it’s worth the effort,” says Rich.

If you like helping the community, do as Rich did, and VOLUNTEER.  You can start the process here.

Canton Fire Department Helping to Give Wildfires the Boot

On a busy Wednesday afternoon, several fire fighters are standing in front of Station #4 on Cleveland Ave in Canton.

Clothed in their turnout gear pants and department t-shirts on a balmy fall afternoon, they are chasing down cars that stop at the red light.

Their efforts to pass the boot (literally collecting change in a large turnout gear boot) for those affected by the California wildfires resulted in $900 in just a few hours!

We are so grateful for our partners, like the Canton Fire Department. Each day we work – hand in glove – to serve those affected by home fires throughout Northeast Ohio.

But it is particularly amazing to see them supporting the bigger picture of our mission – as we work to help those affected by large scale disasters.

And just what have we been doing to help in California?

  • Since the fires began, the Red Cross, community and government partners have provided more than 27,900 overnight stays in emergency shelters.
  • With the help of partners, the Red Cross has served more than 171,000 meals and snacks, and provided more than 12,700 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.
  • The Red Cross has distributed more than 135,000 emergency relief items such as masks, gloves, rakes, trash bags and comfort kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items to people in need.
  • To help people recover and get back on their feet, the Red Cross has opened more than 940 cases, reaching more than 2,300
  • More than 1,100 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground now

If you would like to support our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies – visit redcross.org/donate.

Canton Volunteer Reflects on More Than Two Decades of Service

By Nila Welsh, American Red Cross Volunteer, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter

(Editor’s note:  Nila Welsh is a Canton-based Disaster Action Team member.  She has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1994, and has been assigned to three-dozen national disaster relief operations.  This is her Red Cross story.)

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Red Cross volunteers Nila Welsh, left, and Elinor Carosello

It wasn’t too long after my husband and I returned from the Peace Corps in 1989 that we found we needed something to do.  We lived for two years in an under-developed part of the Solomon Islands, and due to the hot weather on the equator, we had led a quiet life and missed working with people.

One day I read in the newspaper that the Red Cross needed volunteers.  That was 23 years ago, when I first became a part of such a great organization.

After taking all the classes offered and responding to local disasters, we became qualified to respond to national disasters.  Our first call was to respond to flooding in Missouri along the Mississippi River in 1995. Nothing prepares you for the devastation of a flood or hurricane when people have nowhere to go. The Red Cross sets up shelters and we volunteers do our best to help people affected by disasters rebuild their lives.  My husband was a good listener.  He would sit and listen.  People need that – need to know that others care, and that if material things are all they lose, the Red Cross can help.

We found that what matters most in life is how we live and how we treat each other – how we can give back for what we have been blessed with.  People find it hard to believe that we don’t get paid to do what we do. They don’t know what they’re missing.

We don’t know how long we have in this life, but as long as we are here we will continue to do our best.

 

Celebrating Chapter Centennial at BASH

BASH 2017 not only brought together Red Cross supporters, family and friends, it also marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Red Cross chapters in Stark County, Dover and New Philadelphia.

About 285 people enjoyed dinner at the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton.  Several placed bids on some coveted auction items, including an adorable puppy.

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Jennifer McNemar offered the winning bid for Kimber

As usual, many guests played along with the M*A*S*H theme, dressing in Hawaiian shirts, medical attire and military uniforms.  Thanks to their generosity, about $95,000 was raised to help support Red Cross disaster relief work in what is now the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter.

“We had a great evening,” said Kim Kroh, Chapter Executive Director. “I am so appreciative of the way our community supports the Red Cross.  Their support helps us provide vital services to people when they experience a home fire or some other disaster.”

Additionally, Heather Zuniga received a special award for performing CPR on Don Joliat after he was pulled from the Meyers Lake YMCA pool. Her efforts saved his life.

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You can help support the work of the Red Cross by visiting redcross.org/donate and selecting YOUR LOCAL RED CROSS from the drop down menu under support.