Smoke alarm sounds to save life of Olmsted Township resident

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

January 21, 2020- For many, a smoke alarm might be viewed as an annoyance that sounds off if we get dinner a little burnt. However, a smoke alarm is more than a random device that hangs out of sight around the house. It is a tool that could help save your life in the event of a home fire.

That was the experience of 86-year-old Olmsted Township resident Barbara Kovolenko.

On June 28, 2019, Barbara was awakened from a deep sleep at 1:23 a.m. to her smoke alarms screaming their alert. Barbara quickly realized this was not a false alarm. Her home was, in fact, on fire.

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Fire Chief Patrick Kelly with Barbara Kovolenko

Barbara, who requires oxygen, quickly remembered the information she received from the American Red Cross, which in partnership with the Olmsted Township Fire Department, installed smoke alarms in her home free of charge as part of a Sound the Alarm installation event. Using her newfound knowledge, Barbara evacuated the home to a safe location, did not enter her home again and waited for first responders to arrive on the scene and extinguish the fire.

In 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide initiative to reduce the number of fire-related deaths by 25 percent. As of the end of 2019, 699 lives had been saved across the country – among them, Barbara Kovolenko.

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To learn more about the importance of having working smoke alarms on every level of your home, or to ask for a home fire safety inspection and smoke alarm installation, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

To hear more about Barbara and this incredible story about the lifesaving impact of smoke alarms, listen to our recent episode of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region Podcast Be A Hero, featuring Barbara and Olmsted Township Fire Chief Patrick Kelly.

For more content on this incredible story, view this video of Chief Kelly interviewing Barbara, which was posted on the Olmsted Township Fire Department Facebook page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Advice from Mansfield mother after smoke alarm saves her children’s lives

The Red Cross responds, aids in the aftermath of devastating loss

By Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Manager, American Red Cross

January 8, 2020 – December 6, 2019, was a big day in Mansfield, Ohio. The town was anticipating the big game, the Mansfield High School Tygers taking on Trotwood-Madison in the Division III High School Football Championship game. It would be the first appearance in a state championship game for a team from Richland County.

Classes in the Mansfield schools were cancelled in preparation for the game later that evening.

On Springmill Street, five children were home playing. Their mom, Nancy Hines-Adkins, had an appointment to keep, so she left her 14-year-old in charge. Mom wasn’t gone long before the shrill siren of a smoke alarm alerted the children to a fire.

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Nancy Hines-Adkins, with children Samara and Sean standing behind her, and holding Brooklyn in her arms.

All five children escaped unharmed. One remembered mom’s instructions to run to the nearby fire station. But by the time firefighters were able to put water on the flames, everything inside the house was lost.

“The Red Cross has been very supportive,” said Nancy, two weeks after the fire occurred. “People call me from the Red Cross every single day to make sure me and my family are OK.”

The home on Springmill St. was gutted.

The family received immediate financial assistance, which was used to help them find lodging, food and clothing. Continuing care includes connecting the family to resources that can help them find another place to live.

Five days before Christmas, the children visited the Mansfield American Red Cross office on Smith Avenue to choose toys donated by employees of TravelCenters of America and the Red Cross.

Nancy knows that the help she received immediately after the fire was made possible only by the generous donations of the American public. “It’s very important for people who lose everything. In the blink of an eye everything is gone and they (the Red Cross) are there to help, so donate!”

She also has a vital message about smoke alarms: “They’re very important. Make sure you have them. It will save your life.”

Unfortunately for the Mansfield High Tygers, their quest for a state championship ended that night with an overtime loss. But Nancy is grateful that on that day, a smoke alarm alerted her children to the home fire, and that they escaped unharmed. They suffered a devastating loss of their home but no lives were lost.

Visit soundthealarm.org/neo to request smoke alarms for your home and to learn more about home fire safety. To make a donation to help families like Nancy’s, visit redcross.org/donate, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Visit our YouTube channel here to see a video featuring Nancy and her family.

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

 

 

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: January 3-5, 2020

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

January 6, 2020- For many in Northeast Ohio, the first weekend of a new year serves as a time to take down remaining holiday decorations, get a start on new resolutions and catching up on rest following the the holiday rush. However, for some, the new year can be a time to cope with loss and trying to rebuild.

This weekend, January 3-5, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to nine separate home fires in Cuyahoga, Richland, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties.

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Disaster Action Team (DAT) members assisted, 18 adults, 21 children and provided over $8,500 in immediate financial assistance to help individuals experiencing the worst days of their lives attempt to rebuild their lives.

 

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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Volunteers are the face of the Red Cross. Without their tremendous and selfless dedication, we would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio.

Be one of the many volunteers that make up 90 percent of the Red Cross’ workforce and help others in need in your local community by becoming a Red Cross volunteer today.  Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more and to apply

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: December 20-22, 2019

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

December 23, 2019- As Northeast Ohio residents scurried along in search of the perfect last minute holiday gifts for everyone on their list, the American Red Cross was assisting individuals experiencing the worst day of their lives.

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During the weekend of December 20-22, members of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Team (DAT) responded to 5 incidents, assisted 102 individuals and provided over $13, 900 in immediate financial assistance.

One of the disasters the DAT team responded to over the weekend was an apartment fire in Warrensville Heights. Currently, the Red Cross has assisted 89 affected residents of the Granada Gardens Apartments fire and provided $10,750 in immediate financial assistance.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

 

Red Cross and TravelCenters of America bring holiday joy to families following loss

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

December 20, 2019- On Dec. 18, the American Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Regional headquarters in Cleveland was a scene of giving, reunion and holiday spirit, as Red Cross volunteers and staff handed out toys to children whose families faced home fires this year. Now in its 21st year, the event is made possible by the generosity of TravelCenters of America, whose employees collected more than 600 toys this year.

In one of several festive gatherings, 17 families with 50 children braved the winter weather to attend. They were greeted by Red Cross representatives and guided to an age-appropriate section. Children then picked from an astonishing array of stuffed animals, games, books, dolls, play sets, toy vehicles, art supplies, learning kits and other toys.

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Holiday decorations and gift-wrapping supplies were available for adults, and cookies and cocoa were served. Many expressed gratitude.

“God has blessed us with the Red Cross and other agencies that help,” said Johnita Smith. “This definitely comes at just at the right time for me and my family, as Christmas would have been very hard without assistance. We are very grateful.”

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Similarly, Zoralys Cruz said her family lost everything and otherwise would not have had presents for Christmas, so the toy drive means a lot. She said her family is recovering little by little, and they are grateful for everything.

Nearly 200 more children in Northeast Ohio will receive toys thanks to TravelCenters of America. Similar events are occurring throughout Northeast Ohio. Each Red Cross chapter is holding toy distributions this week, and many volunteers are delivering to families who live far or are unable to attend.

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While the focus is on the families and children, Red Cross volunteers and staff also enjoy the event.

“The event itself is powerful on many different levels,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of Disaster Cycle Services for the Northeast Ohio Region. “People who have suffered horrible disasters now have something to give their children for the holidays. It is also important that our team members take part in this happy occasion. After all the tragedies and difficulties they’ve faced throughout the year, they, too, are lifted by it. Our team members see those who were initially met on their worst day, but now in a happy situation. That’s why I love it.”

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I can attest to that, as I was one of the responders who assisted Johnita’s family. I feel fortunate to have been able to help following a disaster. Participating in the toy drive, seeing a family I assisted, now in a festive setting, and helping them select toys made the season a bit brighter.

Over the next several weeks, the remaining toys will be distributed to families facing home fires and other disasters. Such tragedies are especially difficult during the holidays, particularly for children, and a toy can bring comfort as a family begins to recover. Thanks to the employees of TravelCenters of America, the Red Cross can lift their spirits and brighten their holidays.

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Watch the video below to hear a special message from Tina Arundel, manager, corporate communications for TravelCenters of America.:

Visit out Flickr page to view more photos from the toy giveaway event.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Fires force families to flee their homes

Disaster workers respond to nearly a dozen home fires in Northeast Ohio over the weekend

Nearly three-dozen people, including nine children were left homeless – at least temporarily – following weekend fires in Cleveland, Lorain, Eastlake, Mansfield and Cadiz, Ohio.  Disaster action team members responded, tending to their immediate needs by providing financial assistance, comfort kits that include personal hygiene items, and hope for finding a way forward.

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One of the fires near downtown Cleveland forced eight adults to flee in the middle of the night on Saturday.  Ben Bellucci, disaster program manager for the Red Cross of Greater Cleveland, said the tenants and property owners expressed heartfelt appreciation for the help being offered.

fire6“They had no idea we do this,” Ben said. “When I told them we respond to fires like these 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they were shocked.  They could not have been more appreciative.”

Financial assistance totaling more than $6,300 was distributed to the 34 people who found themselves out in the cold.  Additional assistance was also offered, including help replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses, and making connections with other community resources.

Only by the power of our volunteer workforce and the generosity of our donors are we able to provide such assistance.  There is no government funding for the help residents receive – on average, three times every 24 hours in Northeast Ohio.  To make a financial contribution, visit www.redcross.org/donate.  And to volunteer to help your neighbors by responding to home fires and other disasters, apply here.

Photo credit: Ben Bellucci, American Red Cross

Home fires keep NEO disaster responders busy

Weekend disaster report, November 1-3, 2019

More than three-dozen people in Northeast Ohio were chased from their homes by fire over the weekend.  They received comfort and care from trained Red Cross disaster responders, volunteers who, in some cases, traveled far from their homes to help those in need.2019 Euclid fire response

“Our volunteers worked long and hard this weekend to make sure people in need received immediate assistance,” said Renee Palagyi, senior regional disaster program manager. “Some drove an hour-and-a-half to get help to the people who needed it.  Some stayed after their shift was scheduled to end; some started before they were scheduled to start.  I can’t say enough about the dedication of our volunteers.”

Disaster Action Team (DAT) members are on-call during scheduled shifts, and when a call comes to the Red Cross from a fire department, a neighbor, or another source, the volunteers on-call respond.  They provide immediate financial assistance, comfort kits filled with toiletries and other necessary supplies, and other help for those affected by fire.

This weekend, Red Cross disaster responders distributed nearly $8,200 to folks affected by home fires in 11 separate cases, impacting residents in Cleveland, Canton, Youngstown, Sandusky, Ashtabula Chesterland, Lisbon and East Liverpool.

There is always a need for trained disaster responders to help people during their darkest hours.  Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more, and to apply to become part of the regional Red Cross workforce in Northeast Ohio.