Division VP celebrates 50 years with the Red Cross

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

January 3, 2020- The start of the new year is a time to not only look forward to the future, but also to reflect on the past. It is fitting that 2020 is synonymous with vision. 2019 was a milestone year for Sue Richter, Crossroads Division vice president.

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Last year, Sue Richter celebrated her 50th anniversary with the American Red Cross, a trailblazing career that started during her time spent in Vietnam.

Sue exemplifies what it truly means to be a Red Crosser. Despite her career achievements and prominent title, Sue views no task too small when helping others in need and advancing the Red Cross’ mission.

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During a recent Sound the Alarm event in Bedford Heights, Sue joined volunteers to install free smoke alarms to help keep families and neighborhoods safe from home fires.

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During a recent regional staff meeting, the Northeast Ohio Region was honored by Sue taking time out of her jam-packed schedule to speak with employees. Her leadership was on full display.

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Having experienced Sue’s mission driven attitude and leadership numerous times, the region presented Sue with an award and a quilt designed by volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, as recognition for her remarkable 50 years of service.

Sue also graciously spoke to Jim McIntyre during a recent episode of the Northeast Ohio Region podcast Be A Hero.

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Sue Richter with her husband Frank

During the episode, Sue talked about career, how the Red Cross helped her meet her husband Frank and of the many Red Cross heroes she admires, she singled one out for making a big impact on her life.

From everyone in Northeast Ohio, thank you Sue for blazing a trail for many, being a role model to all and for continuing to spread the Red Cross’ mission each and every day!

Resolve to prepare for home fires as Northeast Ohio rings in the new year

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

December 31, 2019- While celebrating the beginning of a new year, many of us make resolutions to change something in our lives. As you think about your 2020 resolutions, consider resolving to keep you and your loved ones safe from home fires year-round.

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Fire preparation safety is critically important in our area. So far in 2019, the American Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Region has responded to 890 home fires. Winter is an especially prevalent time for home fires, as heating fires are the second leading cause.

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In Northeast Ohio and throughout the nation, home fires are the most frequent disaster, sadly taking an average of seven lives every day in the U.S. But you can help prevent tragedies by taking two simple steps: practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less and test your smoke alarms monthly.

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WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

  1. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, placing them inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  2. Test smoke alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it. Smoke alarms typically need to be replaced every 10 years. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model.
  3. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. Talk to children regularly about fire safety and teach them not to be afraid of firefighters.
  4. Create and practice a home fire escape plan until everyone in your household can escape in two minutes or less — at least twice a year. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  5. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows to meet.

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Additional information and free resources are at redcross.org/homefires.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN

Sound the Alarm -  Minnesota 2018

For more than five years, the Red Cross has been working to reduce home fire deaths and injuries through its Home Fire Campaign, which grew out of an initiative that began in Cleveland. Through the campaign, Red Cross volunteers and community partners go door to door in high-risk neighborhoods to install smoke alarms and educate families about home fire safety.

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So far, the campaign has saved as many as 14 lives in Northeast Ohio and 682 lives nationally. It has also reached 62,656 people locally and more than 2.2 million across the country by:

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  • Installing more than 2 million free smoke alarms, 62,656 of them in Northeast Ohio.
  • Reaching more than 5 million children through youth preparedness programs, 16,273 of them in our region.
  • Making more than 838,000 households safer from the threat of home fires. 22,308 homes are here in Northeast Ohio.

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For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, to request an alarm or help with the initiative, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Volunteers celebrating volunteers

By Kim Kroh, Stark and Muskingum Lakes executive director

December 26, 2019- Stark and Muskingum Lakes volunteer, Barb Thomas, was attending a disaster services department meeting earlier this month and was looking for ways to inspire, uplift, and build camaraderie among the disaster team. ‘Tis the season, and what better way to recognize volunteers than to host a holiday party.  She laughs, saying she may have overextended herself because only 4 disaster volunteers (out of 20) raised a hand indicating an interest in attending a holiday party.

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Nonetheless, Barb got right to work, and her first step was recruiting helpers. Tom and Gwen Johnson eagerly volunteered to assist. Planning was officially underway, and the invitations were distributed. Tom hung all the decorations, and being 6’3”, he was perfect for the job. Gwen used her handy scrapbooking tool to punch out dozens of snowflakes, and Barb made a keepsake ornament for every volunteer.

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Together they transformed the disaster services office into a space with intimate ambiance, colorful lighting, snowflakes, holiday trees, and festive tinsel spiraling down from the rafters. Appetizers, desserts, and punch were on the menu and each volunteer brought a dessert or appetizer to share. The invitation also requested the volunteers to wear an ugly Christmas sweater and holy moly, there were some doozies!

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All in all, more than 30 people attended the party, sharing laughs and creating new memories. Job well done Barb! You were very successful in building camaraderie and reminding our volunteers, being one yourself, just how valuable you are to YOUR American Red Cross!!

Happy Holidays from CEO Mike Parks

December 25, 2019- As residents across Northeast Ohio gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, Regional CEO Mike Parks has issued his annual holiday message.

Watch the message below to learn about the impact the Red Cross has made in the lives of those affected by disasters in 2019 and Mike Parks’ hope for 2020:

Also, Regional CEO Parks experienced what he considers to be a miracle one week before Christmas Eve.  And one week before Christmas, several children who went through the trauma of a home fire in 2019 experienced the miracle of holiday gifts, thanks to generous employees of TravelCenters of America and Red Cross volunteers.

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Listen to a special holiday episode of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s podcast Be A Hero, where Mike Parks discusses his experience and the miracles the volunteers of the Red Cross perform every day. Listeners can subscribe to Be A Hero on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

Happy Birthday, Clara, you really started something

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

December 24, 2019- One hundred ninety-eight years ago, Clarissa (Clara) Harlowe Barton was born on Christmas Day, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.

Many of her skills and interests reflect the services afforded by today’s American Red Cross, the organization she founded in 1881 and served for 23 years as its president. Each of the four main lines of service here in Northeast Ohio can be traced back to her influence.

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Teaching life safety, swimming and first aid classes

Clara started teaching when she was just 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, she moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey and opened a free public school. The Red Cross has been offering classes to the public since the early 1900s.

Blood services

As a nurse, when the Civil War erupted, Clara was determined to help however she could, experiencing combat first at Fredericksburg, and eventually earning the nickname, “Angel of the Battlefield.”

The Red Cross eventually developed the first nationwide civilian blood program in the 1940s. We now provide more than 40 percent of the blood products in this country.

Service to the military and their families

As the Civil War concluded in 1865, Clara was authorized by President Lincoln to open The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army to identify the fate of missing soldiers for grieving parents, family and friends. In 1867, when Clara closed the office, 63,183 letters had been answered and 22,000 missing men were identified.

When the Red Cross was first chartered by Congress in 1900, the organization’s primary mission was to provide services to the members of the American armed forces. Just since Sept. 11, 2001, the Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families during deployments and emergencies.

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Disaster response

In addition to helping the military, our congressional charter also mandates that the Red Cross provide disaster relief in the United States and around the world.

It’s a hard fact to comprehend but somewhere in the country, we respond to an emergency every eight minutes. That’s 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 52 weeks a year that our disaster teams are available to answer the call of those in need.

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To render all these services, the Red Cross depends on volunteers. Today there’s a significant need for volunteers to staff our disaster response teams.

If you could afford to be on call four times per month, you could experience the ultimate satisfaction of helping someone in their most desperate hour of need. There’s no greater feeling than to bring assistance to someone who has lost everything they own in a home fire. Consider volunteering by starting your online application here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

 

Happy first day of winter!

Helpful tips to keep you safe during the longest season in NEO

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

December 21, 2019- Although December 21st is the first official day of winter, Northeast Ohio has already experienced enough frigid days and nights to let us know this is just the beginning of the long winter ahead. Here are some safety tips to help you prepare, and some of these you may not have thought about!

The Hands Have It 

  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets: It’s a natural instinct to put your hands in your pockets when you go outside, but don’t do it! If you slip and fall you can’t react to balance or catch yourself on the ice.
  • Mittens are warmer:  Gloves may be more fashionable, but mittens are warmer. When your fingers are touching one other they generate more body heat and keep your hands warmer.

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Before You Shovel 

  • Warm up your muscles by stretching and marching in place for a few minutes before you head out to shovel. You will work more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuring yourself if your muscles are warmed up.
  • Avoid caffeine and cigarettes. They increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, which is not good for your heart.
  • Use rock salt and kitty litter for safer walkways. The salt helps melt the ice and kitty litter adds traction.

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Car Safety Kit

It can happen to all of us, a car breakdown, a flat tire, a big snowstorm. It’s always good to be prepared before going on the road in cold weather.

  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep a safety kit in the car that includes: An emergency drinking water prep kit: a tin can, matches, candle, and paper cup in the car in case you would ever get stuck. Just melt some snow with these supplies if you run short on water.
  • A small shovel, a blanket, a flare and jumper cables.

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Protect Your Pets

  • Bring your companion animals indoors.
  • Ensure that you have supplies for cleanup for your companion animals, particularly if they are used to eliminating outdoors (large plastic bags, paper towels, and extra cat litter).
  • Create a place where outside animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather:  Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice, and rain. Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
  • Provide a feral cat shelter, food and water.
  • Report to the humane society or other local authorities if you see a pet chained outside with no protection from the elements

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Additional tips from the American Red Cross: 

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order. Never leave electrical devices or live flames unattended.
  • After a winter storm, immediately report any downed power lines or broken gas lines in your area or workplace.
  • Be a good neighbor. Winter weather can be tough on all of us, but especially the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Check on an elderly neighbor, or anyone you know that may live alone and have special needs.

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Find more winter safety tips from The American Red Cross HERE.