Volunteer Provides Leadership at Many Levels

Some of us plan barbecues and college football watch parties on Labor Day Weekend.

Not Pam Williams.

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Pam, chairwoman of the board of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter was waiting to find out if she’ll be headed to the Houston area in response to Hurricane Harvey.

As of Monday night, nearly 300 shelters were open in Texas and Louisiana, with about 35,000 people spending the night.  3,760 Red Cross workers have been deployed to the disaster relief operation so far, including 30 from Northeast Ohio.

In addition to her board responsibilities, Pam is a Red Cross volunteer, and, if needed, would deploy as the assistant director for external relations on the Division Response Management Team.

Over the last ten years, Pam has been deployed around 30 times, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“I get to see the country at its worst, but people at their best.” Pam said.

Pam recalled working with Native American tribes in Montana when asked what was the most interesting thing she’s done on deployment.

“Sometimes it’s the people who have been affected that make the biggest difference. I remember a family during a storm who were offered aid. They pointed to the next family and said ‘they need it more.”

She realizes that what she does isn’t for everyone. If someone were on the fence about volunteering in a crisis, she would ask them why they wanted to do it.

“You have to have a passion for it. It’s not just about being on TV.”

There are a few things that Pam hasn’t done yet on deployment that she’d like to; “I’ve never been deployed to a wildfire. As much as you don’t want it to happen to anyone, I’d like to have that experience. I’d also like the opportunity to ride along in an ERV (emergency response vehicle).”

Pam’s a retired school teacher by trade, and even with 30 deployments under her belt, she’s not ready to kick back and enjoy retirement just yet.

“I’ll keep going as long as I believe I’m contributing. I had two great mentors when I got started, and I’d love to mentor the folks who are coming up.”

If you would like to become a trained volunteer with the skills needed to help people affected by disasters big and small, visit our volunteer site to begin the application process.  Expedited training is currently taking place throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.

New Chapters Heed the Call During WWI

Looking back 100 years at the Summit, Portage & Medina Counties Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

April 18, 1917 – The Akron Evening Times ran a story that Kent planned to organize a Red Cross chapter in that community.  A meeting had been held the night before with pastors of Kent churches all in attendance, along with officers of church organizations, lodges and clubs. A follow-up meeting was to take place that week to make sure the people of Kent did their part in the war crisis.

April 20, 1917 – Barberton began work to organize a Red Cross chapter and communicated their desire to do so to the national office in Washington.

By June 1917, Akron had already formed a Red Cross Chapter primarily for men. It was followed by an auxiliary for women on June 30, 1917. Election of officers found Mary Gladwin elected as president of the women’s auxiliary. She had just returned from serving in Serbia the year before. She was also named to the Akron executive committee along with six gentlemen.

At the June 30 meeting, 24 members of Battery B lined up on either side of the church entrance as people arrived. Upon the start of the meeting, they marched into the auditorium and joined in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Wasting no words, Miss Gladwin addressed their first meeting and scolded the Akron citizenry for their lack of patriotism during the recent deployment of troops the prior week as they headed off to Columbus. Her concern centered around the fact that in the “American” residence districts of Akron, there were entire blocks with not one American flag on display.

Centennial SPM-Submarine-U14[1]

November 1, 1917 found the formerly organized chapter in Medina to be doing an excellent job with their sewing.  Unfortunately, a German submarine sank a boat filled with Red Cross supplies. When a local Medina member told District Supervisor Mrs. Harrison Ewing that,  “I don’t think I want to knit if that is to be the fate of my work,” Mrs. Ewing would have nothing of it, responding “Don’t think, KNIT.” That appeared to be the end of that conversation, and discussion turned to lack of yarn and the need to prepare Christmas packets.

By the beginning of December, the yarn had been received and was already knitted into sweaters for the troops.

Girl Red Cross Workers.

Schools were already starting to organize their own chapters, with Seville and Medina schools ready to go. Children all over were raising money for the Red Cross in support of starving children in Belgium and Poland.  One little girl wrote the following:

“Dear Red Cross,

I have earned another dollar for the poor children. I have piled up all the pumpkins, and hauled four loads of chips, and pulled some weeds for the pigs and picked up all the scattered beans. I am eight years old today.”

 

With such dedication from someone so young, how could adults not pitch in?

Today, you can do your part.  Volunteer or donate.  Volunteers can learn more here.

Donating couldn’t be easier. Donate by text, by email, by mail or online. You can even set up a monthly automatic donation.  All five links to giving are here.

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All photos creative commons licensed

We Love When Our Corporate Partners Lend a Hand!

Last Thursday began Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s week of volunteering at organizations across the Akron area, and involving more than 1,100 of its local employees.

“It is vital to our mission to provide volunteer opportunities to our local corporations,” said Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter. “Not only does it help us get the work done, but it allows individuals, like those from Goodyear, to see with their own eyes the power and need for our services in the lives of those who we serve.”

Our first team of 16 employees from Goodyear headed out into the community to install 111 smoke alarms, and provided education to 34 homes as part of Operation Save-A-Life.

Several volunteers have stated that it is an experience that they would like to repeat in the future.

On Tuesday, 17 team members helped to make our Akron office a little more beautiful by cleaning out and planting new flowers in the beds facing West Market St. Volunteers also helped clean and organize the garage area.

See more photos on the chapter’s Facebook page, or sign up to be a volunteer the rest of the 358 days of the year!

Akron and the World Owe Thanks to Mary E. Gladwin

Looking back 100 years at the Summit, Portage & Medina Counties Chapter

(Editor’s Note:  This is the first in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio)

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Have you ever asked yourself, “What will I be remembered for?”

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Mary E. Gladwin 1887 – Photo courtesy of University of Akron Archives*

I’m not sure if Mary E. Gladwin (1861-1939) ever asked herself that question, but if she had, her answer could certainly put any of us to shame.

Born in England, Mary and her family moved to Akron in 1868. At age 26, she graduated from Buchtel College (which later became Akron University) and began to teach.  Moved by her father’s stories of being saved by a nurse on a French battlefield, she longed to do more than teach. Moving to Boston in 1894, she began training as a nurse at Boston City Hospital.

During the Spanish-American war, she moved to Cuba as a Red Cross volunteer, followed closely by a stint in the Philippines. After years of service in the field, she was readmitted to Boston City Hospital’s School of Nursing, receiving her degree in 1902.

Early in 1904, Gladwin served in Hiroshima, Japan during the Russo-Japanese War, where she received multiple awards for her service. Later that year, she returned to serve as Superintendent for Beverly Hospital in Massachusetts. That was followed by a move to New York City, taking the same role at Woman’s Hospital.

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Mary Gladwin (standing 4th from right) attending to patients during the Russo-Japanese War*

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Mary Gladwin in Belgrade with two Serbian officers-Photo Courtest of University of Akron archives

In 1913, the greatest natural disaster to ever hit Ohio was the Great Dayton Flood. Gladwin answered the call and moved back to Ohio to direct the Red Cross’ nursing services.  Staying in Ohio, she moved to Cleveland later in 1913, organizing and directing the Visiting Nurses Association of Akron.  Eventually, she became president of the Ohio State Nurses Association, and director for the American Nurses Association.As World War I broke out in 1914, Gladwin went with the Red Cross to Belgrade, Serbia, caring for 9,000 soldiers in a hospital with a designed occupancy of 1,000.  Care ranged from battlefield injuries to fighting the typhus plague.

Returning in 1916, she became an incorporator and member of the first Board of Directors for the Summit County Chapter of the American Red Cross.  The chapter received its charter on June 29, 1916 and one day later, the women’s auxiliary was formed.

Heading back to Europe, she once again was on the front lines in Serbia and then Salonica, Greece, until the war ended in 1919. Returning to the US, after becoming the first recipient of the Florence Nightingale Medal, she decided her new focus would be nursing education and directed various schools of nursing until her death in Akron in 1939.

While we can all be in awe of her remarkable life of service, we can also see how perfectly her life’s work mirrored the mission of today’s Red Cross – “preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

If you’d like to be remembered for something, become a volunteer. Learn more by logging on to the Red Cross website.

*(Note: All photos from the Mary Gladwin Papers at Archival Services at The University of Akron.

 

 

 

 

 

Smoke Alarm Requests Spike

Red Cross, Partners Hard at Work to Fulfill Requests Following Fatal Akron Fire

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating fire in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood on Saturday, December 3, hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents called the Red Cross to request free smoke alarms.

The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, free installation, and free home fire safety inspections for every residence in need in Northeast Ohio.  This initiative, known locally as Operation Save-A-Life, began in Cleveland in 1992.  It has since been rolled out nationwide, with the goal of reducing serious injury and death due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department went door-to-door in the neighborhood where the fatal fire occured, offering to install smoke alarms in every home.  Many media outlets covered the effort, including the Akron Beacon Journal, WEWS, WJW, and WOIO.

“It’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this for the community to say, ‘Yes, we need smoke detectors,’ ” Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter told the ABJ.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every floor, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page on the Red Cross website, or call 330-535-2030 in theAkron area, 216-361-5535 in Greater Cleveland, or 866-319-7160 in the Youngstown area.

Another Successful Save-a-Life Saturday

Would you know how to save someone’s life if they dropped to the ground in front of you?

Thanks to our ongoing partnership with the Cleveland Clinic Akron General, over 30 community members now know how to perform hands-only CPR.

Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR for short, is a vital skill. The Red Cross has set a goal of having one person in every household able to perform CPR. Through programs like Save-a-Life Saturday (which is held annually) and our free Citizen CPR courses, we are well on our way!

Here is a quick video that demonstrates how to perform CPR:

 

 

To learn more about our Citizen CPR course, contact your local chapter. For a complete listing of First Aid and CPR certification courses near you, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

 

Photos: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

 

Akron Mayor Helps Launch Operation Save-A-Life Partnership

One more family in Akron is now better protected from the dangers of a home fire.

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Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and several members of the Akron Fire Department were joined by Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross on Thursday, April 21st to install smoke alarms in the home of  Amy Villagomez and her family.

The installation marked the official start of Operation Save-A-Life, a new partnership between the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department, designed to offer Akron residents free smoke alarms and valuable fire safety information.  Interested residents are encouraged to call the Red Cross Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030.

The Villagomez family was grateful for the new smoke alarms.  The alarms that had been previously installed in their home expired in 2009.

“I had no idea smoke alarms have an expiration date,” said Amy Villagomez, who lives in the home with husband Steve and their two children.

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Smoke alarms have a 10 year lifespan.

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Mayor Horrigan installed two smoke alarms in the Villagomez home.  One, supplied by the Akron Fire Department, is designed for hearing impaired residents.  It was installed on a wall in the bedroom of one of the children, who has a hearing impairment.  The alarm includes a strobe light when activated.

The mayor also installed a more traditional smoke alarm in a hallway of the home, supplied by the Red Cross.  The alarm has a lithium battery designed to last 10 years.

“The importance of having smoke detectors in all of our residents’ homes is vital to safety,” said mayor Horrigan, who was joined by Marilyn Keith, President of Akron City Council and Ward 8 representative.  The Villagomez family lives in Ward 8.

Keith Declan Horrigan

Prior to the smoke alarm installations, Mrs. Villagomez was given important fire safety information and assistance in designing a fire escape plan.

“A recent Red Cross study found that many people think they have up to 10 minutes to escape from a burning home,” according to Rachel.  “It is closer to two minutes. Smoke alarms save lives.”

Red Cross Cat

Operation Save-A-Life is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, designed to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires by 25% in a five-year time span.  Residents in other parts of Northeast Ohio can learn how to obtain free smoke alarms in their counties by logging onto redcross.org/neoosal.

Photo credits: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross, and Bruce Ford/ City of Akron (with permission)