Red Cross Reminiscing

By Jorge Martinez, Regional Chief Operating Officer

“The door that nobody else will go in at, seems always to swing open widely for me.”  -Clara Barton

That is exactly what happened at the Regional Headquarters on Wednesday, April 25th. Our doors swung open and in came a wonderful band of brothers and sisters.  Our cherished Red Cross retirees met for their annual meeting and in attendance were nearly 15 retirees with over 300 years of dedicated Red Cross service.

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Red Cross retirees pose with Regional CEO Mike Parks on April 25, 2018

Together with staff members, bread was broken, stories were shared (most of them true) and hearts were warmed.  One of the highlights occurred when John Gareis – our Preparedness Lead Specialist who has been with the Red Cross for 42 years – joined the group.  He knew many of the retirees and collectively they shared their stories.  The stories were wonderful and entertaining, but at heart was the obvious humanitarian and volunteer spirit that is the Red Cross.  And yes, the retirees appreciated greatly having John serve as a bridge from their Red Cross of years gone by to the same and different Red Cross that exists today.

We are nothing if we don’t remember our past or fail to honor the giants on whose shoulders we stand.  The comradery in the room was palpable and it truly is a testament to the great organization which we all have the privilege of being a part of.  It was humbling to be in a room of Red Cross giants!

To quote William Shakespeare, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters).”

Globetrotters Thrill Fans in Wooster, Youngstown, Canton and Cleveland

Ambassadors of Goodwill live up to their name, designating Red Cross as official charity

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Photo credit: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

The Original Harlem Globetrotters are appearing in more than 250 cities during their 2017-2018 tour, and fortunately, four cities in Northeast Ohio were among them.

Fans got to see the the high-flying team play in Cleveland, Canton, Youngstown and Wooster after they kicked-off their North American tour in December.

The American Red Cross is the official charity of the Globetrotters, and during many of the games, fans got the chance to help provide critical funding for disaster relief, as Red Cross volunteers went out into the crowd to “Pass the Bucket.”

Donations made at Globetrotters games will help the Red Cross assist residents in local communities when they experience a disaster, like a home fire.  Our disaster workers, most of them volunteers, respond to about 64,000 disasters a year – the vast majority of them home fires.

The partnership between the Globetrotters and the Red Cross is part of the team’s “Great Assist” initiative. They pledge to spread 100 million smiles over the next 10 years with smiles, sportsmanship and service.

See more photos of Red Cross volunteers enjoying the Globetrotters and passing the bucket by clicking here.

Help Humanity – And Get a Tax Deduction

It’s been quite a year – Red Cross supporters, volunteers and donors achieved incredible things for families and individuals in need, in Northeast Ohio and throughout the country.

Here’s a look back at some of the incredible work we accomplished with the help of our partners in 2017:

  • We were able to provide 658,000 overnight shelter stays to people affected by imagejpeg_0 (002)disasters like Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, historic wildfires and hundreds of home fires. In Northeast Ohio, we responded to about 1,000 incidents, the vast majority of them home fires, helping more than 4,100 people.
  • We distributed more than 7 million disaster relief items during these countless disasters, helping families who had lost everything get back on their feet. In Northeast Ohio, we provided about $800,000 in financial assistance to residents who experienced a disaster.
  • More than 5.7 million people received Red Cross Health and Safety training, including life-saving emergency and first-aid information from Red Cross mobile apps.
  • IMG_4281Volunteers installed 418,460 smoke alarms, including more than 16,000 in Northeast Ohio to make homes safer, bringing the total number installed to more than one million since our Home Fire Campaign began in 2014.
  • More than 2.7 million people chose to give blood or platelets through the Red Cross, helping to save lives at about 2,600 hospitals throughout the country.
  • Over 76,900 military families benefited from emergency communication services provided by the Red Cross.

Each family we meet has a unique story. We were there when we needed to be, for those who needed us most, thanks entirely to supporters and donors.

The need won’t change in 2018, which is why we need to be ready before the next emergency. Will you make your year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Red Cross today?

Winner Declared for DCS Holiday Door Decorating Contest

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

(Editor’s note: The winner of the annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) Holiday Door Decorating Contest has been announced by a panel of judges…make that judge.  We found the insightful comments of John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director so entertaining that we are including them, along with photos of all 10 doors entered in this year’s competition.)

#1. SOOOO close to the automatic win.  Most innovative use of Solo cups. Three dimensional effort.  Trunk looks like real wood.  BUT, the theme was diluted by the Star Wars wrapping paper, then Santa head and stocking.  Shoulda stuck to the Star Wars theme with the movie coming out, maybe Santa with a light saber, ”May the force….of giving….be with you.”

 

door #1

Door #1

 

#2.  Gingerbread house.  VERY nice.  Stuck to the theme. Obvious work went into the lights, the window with “frosting” behind it. You know, you were this close to the auto-win. Ginger bread Disaster Responder holding a comfort kit woulda done it!

 

door #2

Door #2

 

 

door #3

Door #3

 

 

#3. It’s a lovely door and recognizes the season appropriately but is rather minimalist.  Was this done by some Disaster Program Specialist that was 12 cases behind in review and had to plan a Disaster Action Team meeting that evening?  I can see it now; ”FINE – I’ll decorate my door, Renee (Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program Manager).”

 

door #4

Door #4

#4. North pole.  Mail box for letters, elf, Santa, sleigh, presents. However, there is a lot of door left brown. At least tape up some printer paper and call it snow. 

#5. What kindergarten class was forced into making those paper rings?  Child labor laws and the Geneva Convention prohibit this kind of tyranny!  Seriously, though, a very cute door but why not, “Oh, Tannenbaum?”

 

door #5

Door #5

 

 

door #6

Door #6

 

 

 

#6.  Obviously, a lot of scissor time went into this one.  Simple but the message is immense.  Question, why isn’t the dove carrying a smoke alarm?  You know we gotta install about a jillion of these things, right?

 door #7

 

 

 

 

#7.  What….in…the…name of Clara?  Set aside the fact that there is a funky wreath with Mickey up in there, set aside someone thinks Zack (McAvoy, Disaster Program Manager, Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter) would end up on the “nice” list, and even set aside THE SIZE OF SANTA’S HEAD, there is … a…. fire… in this decoration.  ……A…..FIRE!  You know we are anti-fire in this organization, right?  I mean, Anti-Fire is like our Unofficial Eighth Fundamental Principle.  Does Santa set fires? No.  Did Smokey the Bear sneak in and set it? No, not his gig.  So, the home owner in this scene left an UNATTENDED FIRE burning in a residential structure…obviously with people at home. Might as well deep fry a turkey in the living room while you’re at it.

8. Absolutely gorgeous wreath, except for cutting off an elf’s leg and sticking it on there.  You barbarian.  “Oh, I got an idea, I’ll decorate my door with the body parts of those I slay in battle.”  What, you get your decorating tips from Game of Thrones?  Well, at least you aren’t trying to BURN DOWN A HOUSE LIKE SOMEBODY WE KNOW!  [Coughing…number7].

door #8

#9.  The Charlie Brownest Cubicle in All the Land Award goes to #9.  That being said…..wrapping paper? That’s it?  Owner of #9 has a vast canvas at his/her disposal and could have highlighted every holiday with room to spare! Heck, the owner could have drawn out the entire DR structure, the IAPs, STREPs and 5266s needed to respond to the fire that #7 is trying to start.

 

door #9

Door #9

 

 

door #10#10. Frosty the Snowman!  Simple design that’s fun and happy!  Obviously, not the resident of one home that shall remain nameless. You know the one; it’s the SEVENTH house on Burned to the Ground Lane.

And the winner is…wait a second, I’m not done with you #7.  I looked closer; Mickey Mouse toys and a Mickey Disaster Preparedness Activity Book.  Did….did a Preparedness person do this door? Are you telling me that someone that specializes in preventing Home Fire Disasters, someone leading the Home Fire Campaign, actually put a FIRE in their decoration?  We have an nation effort, have installed more than 1 million alarms, raised hundreds of thousands of dollar to keep this…campaign…going….wait a second. #7, it’s all about job security for you, isn’t it?  In that case, well played.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner is #2, the Gingerbread Door! (Decorated by Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Disaster Program Manager Debbie Chitester.)  It stayed on theme, didn’t try to do too much, struck the right balance between too much and too little, and obviously, wasn’t ON FIRE (looking at you, #7).

It has been my pleasure judging your doors and my comments are all in fun. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  May your holiday be filled with joy, rest, good food, and as few disaster calls as possible.

Thanks For Giving

A Thanksgiving Message from CEO Mike Parks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I will soon sit down for what I know will be a wonderfully delicious and far too filling turkey dinner with family and friends.  Yes—we have so much for which to be thankful—something that comes top of mind this time of year.  One of the many special things about working for the Red Cross is I get to see things for which to be grateful all year round—including the last three months.

This past three months have been nothing short of amazing.  The American Red Cross launched wide-ranging relief efforts to help people devastated by a historic hurricane season, deadly wildfires in California, and mass shooting incidents in Las Vegas and Texas.  Since Mid-August, the Red Cross has:

  • Provided 1.3 million overnight stays
  • Served more than 10.5 million meals and snacks, and
  • Distributed more than 6 million emergency relief items

In Northeast Ohio, we:

  • Deployed 119 volunteers and staff to support disaster operations as well as all four of our emergency response vehicles
  • Welcomed more than 100 new volunteers into our Red Cross family
  • Installed 7,262 free smoke alarms through the Home Fire Campaign, making 2,732 households safer.

This photo was taken in Puerto Rico, and shows Northeast Ohio COO Jorge Martinez negotiating a mud-covered road to deliver water to residents of Yauco.

Jorge Cropped

All of these things were accomplished while your American Red Cross continued to prevent and alleviate human suffering right here in Northeast Ohio, responding to home fires and other calamities.  Thank you to all of you for your support of time, talent, and treasure.  Yes—Northeast Ohio raised literally millions of dollars to support Red Cross relief efforts—thank you!!

I hope you each get a chance to spend some quality time with family & friends, enjoying fantastic food, watching fun football, and taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect on those many things for which we’re thankful and grateful.  Thank you again for all you do…Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Best regards…Mike

Editor’s note: Dozens of volunteers and donors from across the Northeast Ohio Region gathered at Regional Headquarters in Cleveland on Tuesday, November 21, for a “Thanks for Giving” celebration, in appreciation for their sacrifices and service to the Red Cross during the past several months.  A photo album of the event can be viewed by clicking here.

 

VA, Veterans to Help Red Cross Make Homes Safer

Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event to Take Place in Honor of Flag Day

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Homes in four Northeast Ohio cities will be made safer on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  That’s when the Red Cross, employees from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and various veterans groups will fan out in neighborhoods in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma to provide residents with home fire safety information and to install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

“This partnership with the VA and various veterans’ groups is an effort to provide continuing service to our communities,” said Jessica Tischler, Red Cross Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces.  “We intentionally planned it in honor of Flag Day, to focus on our military and veteran connected communities.”

Brinton Lincoln, a military veteran and member of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors, said, “The American Red Cross does so very much to support active military members, veterans and their families.  It is a true privilege for those of who have served within the armed forces, to give back to the Red Cross by sponsoring and partaking in this event.”

Homes to benefit by this home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event are located in areas near 4 Northeast Ohio VA facilities:

  • Akron: 55 W. Waterloo, Akron, OH 44319-1116
  • Canton: 733 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702-1018
  • Mansfield: 1025 South Trimble Rd., Mansfield, OH 44906
  • Parma: 8787 Brookpark Road, Parma, OH 44129

The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 250 lives as part of the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries. The long-term goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

More than 15,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio homes by the Red Cross and its partners since July 1, 2016.  Local residents can get more information about smoke alarm installations through the by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neoosal.

 

From Volunteer Manager to Volunteer

Buckhold Pat

By Pat Buckhold, Regional Volunteer Officer

You say “good-bye” and I say “hello”.  There’s a song for everything, I’ve always said.

After more years of paid employment than I care to admit, I came to realize over the past few months that it is time to transition to the next phase of my life.  I have been preparing for this time- retirement- for many years.  So many things to do, such little time.  And now it’s here.

I have never been at a loss for interests and things to do in my spare time, especially now that my children are grown.  In retirement, I saw myself as volunteering more than I do now, but what and where?  How could I really make a difference in this world and become, pardon the philosophical bent, the best version of myself?

Enter, the American Red Cross.  Over the course of the past three years as a paid staff member in Volunteer Services, the Red Cross quickly changed from an organization that I really did not know much about to one that I hold in the highest regard.  It has truly been an honor for me to be part of the Red Cross and to spread the good word to prospective volunteers about the life-saving services provided.  Being a volunteer with the Red Cross is more than just “something to do”.  As a volunteer with the Red Cross, an individual can engage in altruistic and compassionate work in many areas- Disaster or Blood Services, Health and Safety, Services to the Armed Forces or at a Chapter.  And the beauty of it all is that we are a volunteer-driven organization!  How good does that get?

So if you are wondering, well, what is she going to do now, don’t think about it another second.  Besides settling into this new life, I have also decided to transition into a volunteer position or two with the Red Cross.  Well, where is she going to be, you ask?  That, my friends, you will find out about in future blogs.

So stay tuned.  The best is yet to come . . .

Click here to see photos from Pat’s send-off with members of the NEO Red Cross staff.