NEO Says Farewell, But Not Goodbye, to COO Charlotte Rerko

Northeast Ohio’s Loss is Erie, Pennsylvania’s Gain

We bid farewell, but not goodbye, to Charlotte Rerko today.

IMG_3729

Charlotte is the newly-named CEO of the Achievement Center of Erie, Pennsylvania, following her 3 ½ years of leadership as Chief Operating Officer for the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.  She also served in a similar capacity for the West Virginia Region.

“Charlotte was invaluable to me when I started at the Red Cross two years ago,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO.  “And her value only grew as a trusted confidant.  I will be forever grateful for her passion for the mission of the Red Cross, and her loyalty to the organization.”

The Achievement Center of Erie, Charlotte explains, serves the needs of children, from autism to physical challenges to reading difficulties.  “A child is a child.  All have needs. The Achievement Center is dedicated to serving those needs, whatever they may be.”

Working for the welfare of children is a natural fit for Charlotte, the mother of 5 and a registered nurse.  But her bond with the Red Cross, and with Northeast Ohio remains strong.  She has agreed to assume the role of Community Volunteer Leader for the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

IMG_3677

From Left:  Laura Hauser, Board Secretary; Dick Pogue, Director Emeritus; Charlotte Rerko; Mike Parks, Regional CEO

“Who is better qualified to serve in that role than Charlotte?  It’s comforting to know that even though she won’t be here every day, I can tap into her knowledge base whenever necessary,” said Mke.

So we say farewell, knowing Charlotte will help the Achievement Center of Erie grow, but not goodbye, knowing she’ll still be here for us when we need her.

See a gallery of photos from Charlotte’s farewell party here.

Smoke Alarm Goal Achieved: More Than 10,000 Installed So Far

Mission accomplished.

For the second year in a row, the Northeast Ohio Region has reached the goal set for the number of smoke alarm installations in homes throughout our communities.

And there are still nearly four months to go before the close of the fiscal year, June 30th.

The goal was 10,000 smoke alarms.  As of Monday, March 6, Red Cross workers, volunteers and community partners had installed more than 10,100.  “While we continue to seek our own internal goal of exceeding our installation totals from last year (approximately 13,000) we still must take a moment to recognize all of the hard work that has gone into achieving the national target at this point in FY 2017,” Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole wrote in a message to the Northeast Ohio staff.  “As one of the smallest regions in the nation we still are among the leaders in this effort.

The annoncement couldn’t come at a better time: this weekend, we are urged to TEST our smoke alarms as we TURN our clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time.  It’s also a good time to take these steps to make sure our households are prepared for emergencies:

  • Install smoke alarms. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, they should install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or if ordered to evacuate.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.

The installation of smoke alarms is just one part of the Operation Save-A-Life  campaign. Providing free home fire safety inspections and disseminating valuable fire safety information are also critical components.  And volunteers perform the majority of the work involved in making our communities safer.

You can volunteer to help the red Cross make our communities safer at redcross.org/neo, where you can also apply for a home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installation.

The fiscal year ends on June 30th.  We’ll let you know how many MORE smoke alarms our volunteers, staff and partners are able to install by then.

Stay tuned.

 

While You Were Celebrating…

By: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and enjoyed your three or four-day weekend. It’s always great to have some time off – unless that’s when disaster strikes.

Over this past holiday weekend, disaster did strike – over a dozen times throughout the 22-county area served by the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross. Red Cross workers, mostly unpaid volunteers, responded to a vast variety of emergencies; providing physical, emotional and financial support to those affected.

resident-keith-dulin-receives-help-from-red-cross-volunteers-bill-geschke-and-felicia-lee-3

Keith Dulin receives help from Red Cross volunteers Bill Geschke and Felicia Lee after a fire damaged his apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I am trying to give back to people who are less fortunate,” Geschke said. “I volunteer for other organizations, but the work I do for the Red Cross gives me the most satisfaction.” Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

After a plane went missing in Lake Erie off Burke Lakefront Airport, a Family Assistance Center team and Disaster Mental Health were deployed to the scene to help. The Family Assistance Center was set up January 1st and continues to aid families of the passengers. Meals, beverages and snacks have been served to 12 to 30 people daily.

During the weekend leading up to and including New Year’s Day, six home fires and one carbon monoxide poisoning incident found Disaster Assistance Teams being dispatched to Richland, Mahoning, Cuyahoga, Huron, Lorain and Summit counties. Providing lodging, clothing and financial support, the teams helped more than two dozen adults and children with their immediate needs.

A power outage on New Year’s Day in Harrison county wasn’t how 120 people envisioned starting the new year. Luckily, the Red Cross was there at the Scio Fire Department’s Community Room, providing meals and snacks for those without power.

The day after New Year’s Day, four more fires broke out in Cuyahoga, Mahoning and Lorain counties; many of them affecting multiple families. Once again, Disaster Assistance Teams were there to provide aid and lodging reimbursement for the more than two dozen people affected.

While the fires, poisoning and air fatality were totally unexpected; those are the very reasons the Red Cross is always prepared to be of assistance, and why volunteers play such a crucial role helping residents in Northeastern Ohio communities.

If you have an interest in volunteering, log onto redcross.org/neo

Louisiana Floods 2016

August 18, 2016. Denham Springs, Louisiana. Tears fill Fonda’s eyes as she ran, arms opens, from her flooded Louisiana home. Her first request? “I want a hug,” says Fonda Buckley as she embraces Red Cross volunteer Cora Lee. Photo by: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

and click on the volunteer tab, or call 216-431-3328.

Thankful for YOU, NEO

Thank you for all the support you give to the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio!

Without you, none of this would be possible. So, today, we are thankful for you.

To learn more about our services in NEO, visit http://www.redcross.org/neo.

At 80, She’s Still Going Strong

Passionate About Donating Blood, Running 

By Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross Volunteer

Eighty years young, Jean Toth lives a life bigger than you would imagine.  At first, you meet a petite lady who, like others, arrives with desire to help others with a donation of blood.  Then she mentions that she’s eighty years old.  Your interest is piqued.  Now, you are ready to hear more of Jean’s story.

Jean raised her children like we all would.  When she arrived in her forty second year of life, Jean was ready for other challenges.  “That’s when I started training for the marathon and donating blood,” she said.  That would be thirty-eight years, ago.  Jean shared, “I didn’t donate before a marathon.”  When asked how many times she’s donated, Jean replied, “I don’t know how many I’ve done.”  This calculates to a probable minimum of 152 units or 19 gallons to a high of 228 times or 28.5 gallons between then and now.  Along with the training runs, Jean qualified at a Columbus, Ohio marathon and did run the Boston Marathon in 1982 and 1985.  Jean stated, “I still run eight to ten miles about three times a week.  Does she still run the marathons? “No, not anymore,” Jean clarifies.  “I started running half marathons this year.  There are others who are there at the end, so I’m not alone.”  She added, “I can donate blood more often, now.”

When Jean volunteered that she takes vitamins, diet was the next question.  “I eat lots of salad, vegetables, rice, pasta, and some meat.”  Further inquiry discovers that her five children gave her eight grandchildren who in turn made her a great grandmother twelve times. And there is one great, great, grandchild.  Other achievements also came to light.  Jean has earned twelve trophies, contested in light weight body building four or five years, and is in the Wickliffe Hall of Fame for Sports.

With all said and done, maybe we can say that Jean C. Toth is truly Eighty-Years-Strong.

eightyyearsstrong-002

Jean C. Toth at the LaMalfa Blood Drive, October 27, 2016  Photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross Volunteer

 

 

Working Locally to Affect Change Globally

By Jessica Tischler, International Services Director, Northeast Ohio Region

Each year, disasters around the world devastate the lives of millions of people.  The American Red Cross is taking action to help save lives by:

-Providing urgent assistance to people affected by disaster in countries across the globe;
-Helping to vaccinate children against measles;
-Investing in disaster preparedness, making communities less vulnerable;
-Reconnecting families separated by international war and disaster;
-Educating about international humanitarian law.

In Northeast Ohio, we are actively engaged with reconnecting family members who have been separated by international war and disaster, and with educating individuals in our community about International Humanitarian Law.

I had the pleasure of recently meeting with Asma Sameen Bangash of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent.  Asma is an attorney based in Peshawar, Pakistan, and serves as a Communication Officer focusing on International Humanitarian Law.  She is visiting the United States as a Fellow in a U. S. State Department-sponsored program, studying U. S. law and policy, and is spending time in Washington and in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve University.

img_2799

Jessica Tischler, Director of International Services, Northeast Ohio Region and  Asma Sameen Bangash of ICRC

As a member of the ICRC, Asma interacts with the Red Crescent Society in Pakistan, and expressed an interest in learning about the programs and services offered through the American Red Cross. I was happy to explain to her the many ways in which the Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors in Northeast Ohio.

For more information about Red Cross International Services, click here.