Interested in giving back to your community? Come to a Red Cross Volunteer Session!

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

January 23, 2020- Are you interested in making a difference in your community by assisting individuals in need?

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The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has a critical need for volunteers to respond to local disasters, to assist at blood drives and to transport lifesaving blood.

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The Red Cross will be holding informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. You’ll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll also have volunteer applications available at the sessions.

California Wildfires 2019

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Sessions

Saturday, January 25th and Saturday, February 29th

10-11 AM

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Sessions

Saturday, February 1st and Saturday, March 1st

10-11 AM

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Trumbull County Session

Wednesday, February 19th

8:30-10:30 AM

Hoge’s Restaurant

16128 E Liverpool Rd., East Liverpool, OH

To RSVP for one of the information sessions above, contact Gail Wernick at 216-431-3328 or gail.wernick@redcross.org.

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Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

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.

Hurricane Barry 2019

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

Third annual door decorating contest spreads holiday cheer and joy

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

December 19, 2019- Editor’s note: The winner of the 3rd annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) holiday door decorating contest has been announced by John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director. Like in previous years, we found his comments to be so entertaining that we couldn’t resist including them, along with photos of all 7 doors entered in this year’s competition.

OK, third year in a row. Was hoping for an upward trend. But, I suppose even Santa had tough years – that’s why he hired that bullied kid with the weird nose after all. Anyway, here we go.

Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager: Let It Snow

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Entire door decorated – with wrapping paper and an anorexic Santa straddling a let it snow ornament. Is this a Santa-came-in-like-a-wrecking-ball theme, borrowing from Miley Cyrus? First, that was 2013 and second, no one wants to see a naked Santa. So, thank you for at least putting clothes on him. I would have suggested a more timely approach – maybe Baby Yoda as Santa?

Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager: Merry Christmas with Santa’s Head and Three Big Snowflakes

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At first glance, meh. BUT, the Santa head is really nice. Very primitive – which is an “in” thing as far as decorating, as my wife tells me.  It’s not a chinoiserie Santa, but it’s still hot! Thank God it’s not “simple,” “clean” and made from “shiplap.” The long reign of terror under Joanna Gaines has come to an end!

Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz, AmeriCorps American Red Cross Corps: The Chimney

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Did we NOT cover this a year ago?  We do NOT do fires. Especially ones with so much inflammable….wait a second, flammable….wait, let me get my thesaurus……..WHAT?  They mean the same thing. Well, regardless, so much stuff above it that can catch on fire! Yeah, that snowman would have melted. Holy Santa, look at the size of that one elf in that photo! He’s like 8 feet tall! Must be related to Buddy from the movie.

Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties: Pedro the Penguin Ugly Sweater

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Just…what?

Tim O’Toole added the following comments on the door: I think the incorporation of the Pedro theme was very well thought out, however, Pedro lacking both thumbs and fingers, it is unclear how he would have typed the associated message.  So obviously some foul play here.

Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter: Honoring Our Heroes

Tim Reichel Door

Going for the heartstrings approach, huh?  Might as well have put baby Yoda up there again.  Wait, you don’t know about Baby Yoda?  Jeez, get Disney + and watch the Mandalorian. Great Western! Anyway…..re those patches organized is the same geographic alignment as they would be on a map? Thank Santa there is not a Coast Guard patch up there!

Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer: The Wreath

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Can you honestly suck up to Gail any more? “I took her leadership tips, posted them on my door and put a wreath around them.” I bet you have a Joanna Gaines tattoo on your lower back.

Chad Whitaker, Regional Disaster Manager, Mass Care and Logistics: Two Doormats

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Had you gone all in with the Jimmy Buffet theme, you’d be the win. BUT, two door mats is like have the nice hand towels in the half bath for guests to look at BUT NOT USE AT ALL! Step over the good one. Well, which one is the good one?

So, with that….

The runner up is Honoring our Heroes. Obvious effort went into getting the patches and putting others before oneself pretty much sums up what it’s all about, right? (Tim Reichel)

The winner is the terribly unsafe, out of proportion, big-elf having chimney! Love seeing those Red Crossers at work, enjoying each other’s company and serving our clients.  Obvious time (not safety efforts) went into this effort. (Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz)

It’s the spirit of giving that makes this holiday special. Every gift is a reflection of love that exists in our hearts. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

JB

Red Cross internship offers unique perspective and community-building skills for local social work students

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

November 8, 2019 – When Jessi Graber, a senior in Cleveland State University’s School of Social Work was considering internship opportunities, she was surprised to see ‘American Red Cross Disaster Relief’ as an option.

“I thought it was interesting because I knew about the Red Cross blood blood drives, but I never considered the Red Cross for case work,” said Jessi. “I got excited when I learned how much the Red Cross helps families and supports the community.”Jessi

Jessi applied to become a Red Cross Disaster Relief intern through her program at CSU. The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio partners with Cleveland State University to place students in internship programs, a requirement for graduates of its School of Social Work.

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“The internship program is a great opportunity for students to experience a unique side of social work,” said Ben Bellucci, Disaster Program Manager, American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland.

Out of more than a dozen applicants each year, five CSU students become interns in the Red Cross Disaster Services office. Interns work at the Red Cross between 13 and 18 hours per week supporting the recovery side of the Red Cross Disaster Program. They assist individuals and families displaced by man-made or natural disasters. A number of CSU students have also taken on support of the complete cycle of disaster services, including preparedness, response and recovery.

“We start each internship by building a plan for continual development,” said Ben. “Each week students provide their own assessment of themselves, how they did for the week and how they feel they are progressing in the internship. I add input as a supervisor on their progress toward achieving goals.”

Red Cross interns work for two semesters, beginning in August and ending in May. The program is structured to establish a baseline through the first semester and develop leadership and management skills during the second. Case work often adds context to class work for Red Cross interns.

“The social work competencies can be very academic in a classroom setting,” said Jessi. “But they come to life in the internship. I get to refer back to the things I’m learning, and it is a completely different perspective.”

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One of the strongest benefits of the Red Cross Disaster Relief internship is the unique pace. At the state and county levels, it is not uncommon for case workers to follow clients for a year or more. At the Red Cross, clients cycle through in 35 days, on average.

“Because it is such a fast environment, building a relationship quickly is important,” explained Ben. “Our interns become extremely detail-oriented and learn to make connections quickly. By the time they graduate, they are able to identify gaps and recovery roadblocks immediately and know how to work around them.”

For Jessi, the best part about the experience so far has been building relationships with clients and seeing a different side of the community. She spends time each day checking in with clients via phone, email or in person, ensuring their needs are being met and that progress is made.

“No two days are alike, because no two clients are alike,” said Jessi. “Being able to help families who have experienced significant trauma is why I became interested in case work in the first place.”

For more information on internships with the Red Cross, visit our website.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.