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

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

Pre-investing in disaster relief

Orville-based Smucker’s commits $500,000 to Annual Disaster Giving Program

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross must be prepared.  Prepared to set up safe shelters, deliver critical supplies, provide emotional support, and help people in need put their lives back together.

Thanks to members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP), we are able to respond whenever and wherever disasters occur.  And one Northeast Ohio company is now a member of the ADGP.

The J. M. Smucker Company is among more than 110 leading corporations and organizations that give to ensure the Red Cross can pre-position supplies, secure shelters, maintain vehicles and train volunteers nationwide, to help keep the Red Cross ready to respond, day and night.

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Richard Smucker – Photo credit/American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Richard Smucker, Executive Chairman of the Company, said, “At Smucker, we have seen first-hand how critical the Red Cross is in times of tragedy – most recently with the devastating wildfires in California last year. We have a facility in Chico, California, and while the facility was not damaged, 19 of our employees were displaced and 13 of those employees sadly lost their homes.”

Each year, the Red Cross immediately responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters around the country— from home fires to tornadoes and severe winter weather, hurricanes and floods to transportation accidents and explosions. The Red Cross not only provides food, shelter and clothing, but also offers comfort and care to help those affected by disaster during their time of greatest need.

“The J. M. Smucker Company and other members of our Annual Disaster Giving Program pre-invest in disaster relief,”  said Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region. “They also help us prepare communities for future disasters, and help families during the recovery process.  We are so grateful for their assistance. It’s because of their help that the Red Cross can always be there in times of need.”

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Richard Smucker received the Humanitarian of the year award in May, presented by the immediate past honoree, Beth Mooney of KeyBank.  From left: Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, Richard Smucker, Beth Mooney and Red Cross Regional CEO Mike Parks.

Read the latest story on the National ADGP here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross partners with Dominion Energy to distribute first aid kits

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

April 3, 2019- Dominion Energy and the American Red Cross want to make sure you are prepared. This Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at locations across northern Ohio they will supply you with the right tools. In return for five to 10 minutes of your time, you’ll be rewarded with a free, Red Cross First Aid Kit (valued at $35).

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Since 2013, “partners in safety” Dominion Energy and the Red Cross have held an annual Disaster Preparedness Day. Each person or family that agrees to take a short, six-question survey, will receive a quality, first aid kit along with literature stressing home safety.  Volunteers from each organization will be available to help people complete their surveys and hand out special co-branded bags with both organizations’ logos.

“Safety is one of Dominion’s core values,” explains Neil Durbin, senior communication specialist at Dominion. “That’s why this partnership is such a great fit for both organizations—we’re both centered on promoting safety. We also happen to each have offices in matching cities across the region.”

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Preparing for Preparedness Day turns out to be quite the project itself. John Gareis, regional manager for preparedness at the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said that the preparation starts way before the event and involves staff and volunteers from both organizations. Sites have to be reserved, insurance certificates need to be provided, negotiations have to occur with vendors, five pallets worth of specially branded kits need to be received and then combined with handouts, and cases of assembled kits need to be transported to local chapters. Volunteers then need to be recruited, trained and equipped for the day of the event. When volunteers walk in that Saturday morning, everything will be there ready for them.

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This Saturday, more than 3,000 first aid kits will be presented to families at nine locations across northern Ohio. “We hope that people will take the information they learn on the survey and share it with family and friends,” said John. “In that way, each year, in just four hours, we hope to touch the lives of up to 10,000 people. It’s a lot of work on our part but to be able to reach that many people in one weekend, it’s certainly worth the effort.”

One of the key messages that volunteers will be stressing is that gas appliances should be professionally inspected each year. “While people usually think about having their annual inspections done in the fall, summer is an ideal time to schedule them, when heating contractors aren’t as busy,” suggested Neil. You’ll probably save some money and you’ll certainly have more flexibility scheduling your appointment.

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“No matter how much insurance you have or no matter how safe you think you are going to be, anyone can have a disaster at any given time, which is unfortunate,” explained John.  “We’d rather put the effort into teaching or reminding people what to do, rather than responding after a disaster happens.”

Disaster Preparedness Day locations:

  • Belden Village Mall – Canton
  • Chief Supermarkets – Lima
  • Eastwood Mall – Niles
  • Great Northern Mall – North Olmsted
  • New Towne Mall – New Philadelphia
  • Target – University Heights
  • Walmart – Ashtabula
  • Walmart – Stow
  • Walmart – Wooster

Red Cross volunteers can still sign up on Volunteer Connection to assist at some locations. Residents are encouraged to come out and get a quality first aid kit, which is ideal for home or auto. Sometimes they go quickly so come early, if possible.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Missing Types Campaign Launched in Cleveland

N_tice _nything missing? A few missing letters may not seem like a big deal, but for a hospital patient who needs type A, B or O blood, these letters mean life.

As part of an international movement, the American Red Cross is launching the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. You may notice A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.

The sad fact is that blood shortages are not uncommon in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But they can be prevented when more people roll up a sleeve to give.

When blood types go missing

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Stephanie Aholt and son Benjamin.  Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross volunteer

“You never know whose life you might be saving,”  Stephanie Aholt told a group of Red Cross supporters and media gathered for a news conference to kick-off the Missing Types campaign in Cleveland.  Her two-year old son, Benjamin, lives with hemophilia B.  Just three days after his birth, Benjamin had lost more than 10% of his birth weight.

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“He was bleeding to death, and was in critical condition,” she said.  “Benjamin needed several units of blood and blood products.  Without the donations he received, he would not be alive today.”

 

The news conference was held in the law offices of Jones Day, which has been hosting_D5C6862 regularly scheduled blood drives for the past 20 years.  “In that time, our lawyers and staff have donated thousands of pints, most recently just two weeks ago,” said Paula Batt Wilson, Administrative Partner for Jones Day’s Cleveland office and active Red Cross Blood Services volunteer.

See more photos from the news conference here.

Join the movement

  1. Give blood – Schedule your appointment at org/MissingTypes or with the Blood Donor App.
  1. Recruit new donorsEncourage a friend or family member to roll up a sleeve too.
  2. Spread the word
  • Take a photo with one of these selfie signs and post it to your social media along with the message “I am the #MissingType.”
  • Write out your name with the A’s, B’s and O’s missing on the “blank” selfie sign, and take a photo with it. (Underscores are recommended. Example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss)
  • Visit RedCrossBlood.org to a Missing Types message on your social mediaWhat to expect at your donationGiving blood is simple. Commit about an hour of your day to help save a life.
    • Registration – Sign in, show your ID and read the required information.
    • Health check – Answer questions and receive a mini-physical.
    • Donation – Giving a pint of blood takes about 8-10 minutes.
    • Refreshments – Enjoy some snacks and relax before resuming your day.

     

Y_u _re the #MissingType p_tients need. Don’t wait until the letters A, B and O go missing from the hospital shelves. Schedule your appointment to give now.

Sound the Alarm a Success

Hundreds of Volunteers Install Thousands of Smoke Alarms in Three Weeks

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Volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village on May 12, 2018

Residents in more than 900 homes in Northeast Ohio can sleep more soundly knowing they now have working smoke alarms, installed over a three-week period this spring by volunteers with the American Red Cross and dozens of partners.

Nationwide, more than 103,000 alarms were installed in 43,000 homes during the same three weeks, as part of a Red Cross initiative known as Sound the Alarm. Save a Live.  Read more about the national results here.

Locally, nearly 2,500 alarms were installed in neighborhoods of Cleveland, Akron and Maple Heights between April 28 and May 12.  About 350 volunteers went door-to-door, installing free smoke alarms, changing batteries in existing alarms, and helping residents create escape plans.

40277366540_81f2ea6dbd_z“We have over 20 people here from KeyBank, and we think this is a great cause,” said Don Kimble, Chief Financial Officer at KeyBank and a member of the board of directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter. He volunteered to help during the final Sound the Alarm event in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood on Saturday, May 12.  “There aren’t many times you can volunteer and actually help save a life. It really helps out the community.”

More than 400 lives have been saved since the Red Cross began installing alarms nationwide in 2014.

“Anything can happen.  You never know what will cause a fire,” said Richard Demming, as volunteers installed new smoke alarms in his second-story home on East 55th Street in Cleveland. “Smoke alarms alert you to get out of the house.”

 

Another resident of East 55th Street, Stanford Simmons said, “It’s good for the community.  Volunteering is important. The fire department can’t do it all.”

The Cleveland Fire Department has been working with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms in homes since 1992.  Several firefighters accompanied the volunteers in Slavic Village on Saturday.

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Jamie Evans, upper left, and other volunteers from Third Federal Savings and Loan

Jamie Evans is a human resources employee with Third Federal Savings and Loan, which is headquartered in Slavic Village.   He was with a team of volunteers from Third Federal and said, “You could definitely tell people appreciated it.  A couple of residents were outside waiting for us.  We took out lots of old alarms, people who didn’t have the means to replace them.  It’s definitely a good program.”

425 alarms were installed in Slavic Village on Saturday, making 125 homes safer. Click here for more photos from the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village.

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FirstEnergy employees were among the volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Akron on May 11, 2018.

The day before, dozens of volunteers gathered in East Akron for another Sound the Alarm event. Among them was Murphy Montler, Director of Local External Affairs for FirstEnergy in Ohio and West Virginia.  He was heading a team of more than two dozen FirstEnergy workers.

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Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Board member Charles Brown and Murphy Montler of FirstEnergy

“We have a long-standing partnership with the Red Cross,” Murphy said.  “When they’re out dealing with disasters, we’re also dealing with infrastructure issues affecting our customers.”  Murphy noted that there has been a recent spate of fire fatalities in Akron, and that FirstEnergy workers volunteered to help the Red Cross make homes in Akron safer.

“This organization is so wonderful,” he said.  “It doesn’t operate without volunteers.  It’s a mission that people really connect with.”

Greg Sell, a resident of Eva Avenue in Akron, said he didn’t know the Red Cross offered free smoke alarm installations.  “Thank God for the Red Cross,” he said.  “I’ll be telling everybody.  Continue the good work.”  Click here for more photos from the May 11th Sound the Alarm event in Akron.

Sound the Alarm events WILL continue, year-round. Residents throughout Northeast Ohio can request a free home fire inspection and free smoke alarms by visiting soundthealarm.org/neo.  You can register to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/neo.

We are grateful for all our partners who helped us Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.

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Akron City Fire Department
Almost Family
ArcelorMittal
Asurint
BCD Travel
Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs
Case Western Reserve Students
Cleveland Central Catholic
Cleveland City Council
Cleveland Fire Department
Cox Automotive
DOVIA
First Energy Corporation
Franklin Myles State Farm
Huntington Bank
J & M Champions for Change
KeyBank
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center
Manheim Cleveland-Cox Automotive
Maple Heights Fire Department
Metro Health System
Mount Calvary Lodge
NAWIC
NLC LOANS
Ohio’s Choice Home Health
Prince Hall Masons
Red Cross Board, & Associate Board (Young Professionals)
Red Cross Club- CWRU
Robert W Baird
S&T Bank
Signet Jewelers
Stockyard Connection Block Club Metro West CDO/Stockyard Safety Committee
Team RWB
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Torchbearers
Westfield Group

 

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.