Wanted: Northeast Ohio Heroes

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

October 2, 2019- Do you know a community member who entered a burning home to rescue a trapped family? A passerby who pulled a drowning child to safety? A neighbor who administered CPR or abdominal thrusts to a total stranger? A dog that alerted its family to a fire? Then the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio needs your help!

The Greater Cleveland Chapter and the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter 46405978995_5834726541_cwill once again honor local individuals in 2020 who displayed extraordinary courage to become someone’s hero.

The Red Cross is asking for assistance from local communities to help identify ordinary people who have placed themselves in harm’s way or have even risked their own lives to save another.

Greater Cleveland Chapter

Nominees must reside or work within Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga County. The heroic deed must have occurred in either 2018 or 2019.

Those individuals selected as heroes will be honored at the Greater Cleveland Heroes award breakfast at the Global Center for Health Innovation, 1 St. Clair Ave. NE, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 8:15 am.

Click here to learn more about the 2018 Greater Cleveland Hero award winners.

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Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter

Nominees must reside or work within Portage, Medina or Summit County and must have performed the heroic act in 2019.

All submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee. Individuals selected will be honored as local heroes at the Acts of Courage Awards ceremony to be held at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

To learn more about the 2019 Acts of Courage award winners and their extraordinary stories, click here.

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To nominate a hero, visit redcross.org/neoheroes.

The deadline to submit nominations for the Greater Cleveland Chapter and the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter awards is December 31, 2019.

Looking back at Las Vegas tragedy and lending a helping hand

By Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager

October 1, 2019- In many ways, it is hard to believe that two years have passed since the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and sometimes it seems like it was yesterday.

Palagyi, Renee

Renee Palagyi

I arrived two days after the shooting and spent the next three weeks leading disaster health services in the Family Assistance Center. During that time, the American Red Cross and its partners assisted more than 4,400 individuals who had been injured to some degree at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. I’m certain those numbers are a small reflection of the total number who were seriously impacted. I also believe that many of the 25,000 in attendance will carry scars from that night for the rest of their lives.

Each time my memories of that time move to the back of my mind, though, it seems they are awakened by another shooting. Just over a month ago, I went to Dayton to assist those friends and family members trying to make sense of the senseless.

I know most of us think when a tragedy occurs, “I wish there was something I could do. I feel so helpless.” If there is anything positive for me, it is that I AM able to go and help, in whatever small way.

The Red Cross is called upon to take a leading role and assist victims in the worst of times. Being a paid staff member or volunteer means that we can be there, listening to the stories and providing some small measure of comfort, a hug or a blanket around the shoulders.

I encourage those who feel helpless to think about volunteering. If not for these types of events, in some other way.

I’m sure many are familiar with the beautiful quote by Fred Rogers: When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ”

You, too, can be a helper.

To volunteer with the Red Cross and find your role as a helper, visit www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/volunteer.html.

Watch the following video to hear Renee reflect on the Las Vegas shooting:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Despite warm weather, it is time to prepare home heating for winter

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

September 30, 2019- Do not let the unseasonably warm temperatures confuse you, winter is indeed coming to Northeast Ohio and the cooler weather will be here in no time.

heating-enAs the leaves begin to change and the air gets crisp, it is time to inspect and get your home heating ready to safely warm your home.

HEAT YOUR HOMES SAFELY 

Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.

To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends you follow these steps:

  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves professionally inspected Kentucky Ice Stormand cleaned.
  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

SPACE HEATER SAFETY

With heating costs on the rise, many Northeast Ohio residents use alternative heating  sources, such as portable space heaters, to help minimize winter heating bills. This equipment is so common that it’s involved in roughly two of every five home heating fires.

The Red Cross recommends using a space heater that automatically shuts off. Other portable space heater safety tips include:

  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic title floor.
  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

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You can also help your family stay safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less.

For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.

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.”

Richard Smucker II

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

Lincoln Electric workers continue to make Euclid homes safer

Company workers install smoke alarms for the fifth consecutive year

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

More than 600 homes in the city of Euclid have been made safer in the past four years, thanks to the efforts of Lincoln Electric employees and the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  They have installed more than 1,700 free smoke alarms, provided free batteries for existing alarms and offered valuable fire safety information during an annual event that began in 2015.

During the most recent Sound the Alarm event on Saturday, Sept. 21, dozens of Lincoln Electric workers gathered in teams of four, going door-to-door, and installing 328 alarms in 123 homes.

“This is a way for our company to give back to the community where we work,” said Chris Mapes, chairman, president and CEO of Lincoln Electric. “Our employees are helping make the community safer with free smoke alarms and fire safety information provided by the Red Cross.”

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Lincoln Electric Chairman, President and CEO Chris Mapes rallies employees prior to the 2019 Sound the Alarm event.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Mike Parks, regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said, “Lincoln Electric has been a dedicated partner in our efforts to make the community more resilient and save lives, thanks to efforts such as this.”

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Mike Parks, left, and Chris Mapes- Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross volunteer

As has been the case every year since Lincoln Electric staff began installing smoke alarms in 2015, Euclid Fire Chief Chris Haddock grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken to provide the employees who volunteered their time with a hearty lunch before they embarked on their lifesaving mission. Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail rallied the troops and thanked them for helping save lives.

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Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail and Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross – Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross volunteer

Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes without working smoke alarms. But these lifesaving devices cut the risk of dying in a fire in half. That’s why the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, to prevent needless deaths and injuries. Through the campaign’s year-round Sound the Alarm events, like the one that took place in Euclid on Saturday, volunteers and partners install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans.

The national Red Cross effort is modeled largely after a program that began in the city of Cleveland in 1992. Since then, more than 200,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Greater Cleveland by the local Red Cross and its partners.

Residents who need smoke alarms in their homes can visit soundthealarm.org/neo or call 216-361-5535 to request a and installation appointment. To volunteer for a future Sound the Alarm event and to learn more about other volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

To see more photos from the Lincoln Electric Sound the Alarm event, visit our photo album on Flickr.

Edited by Glenda Bogar/American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross continues Hurricane Dorian relief efforts, prepares for future storms

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

September 23, 2019- Three weeks since Hurricane Dorian made landfall devastating the  Bahamas, the Red Cross is continuing to provide relief for those affected by the storm.

There is a very long road ahead for people who have lost everything to Hurricane Dorian. Getting relief to people in the Bahamas and helping people plan their recovery are the American Red Cross’ priorities.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

Thousands of people have evacuated the damaged islands via helicopter, plane and boat. They are staying on different islands with family members or at government-run shelters in the capital city. Some evacuees have joined loved ones in the U.S.

If you have lost contact with a US citizen traveling in the Bahamas, contact the U.S. State Department at 1-888-407-4747.

Families still remain on the devastated islands and are in need of basic relief, such as emergency supplies and hygiene items—which Red Cross teams are distributing on both Abaco and Grand Bahama.

Hurricane Dorian Bahamas 2019

The Red Cross has had to be flexible in our response to this crisis. The changing nature of this disaster—including on which islands affected people are taking shelter—means that aid is being delivered to storm survivors in places not majorly affected by the storm, such as Nassau.

Tele-connectivity challenges mean that many people still haven’t been able to get in touch with loved ones. In shelters, volunteers are helping evacuees make phone calls to their families. When necessary, volunteers are initiating missing persons cases with the hope of tracing loved ones.

Trained psychologists and nurses are providing comfort and mental health support to evacuees coping with emotional distress.

People remaining in communities damaged by Hurricane Dorian need emergency materials and help recovering from the storm. The global Red Cross network has started rolling out a major emergency relief effort.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

Red Cross shelter, water and sanitation, health, logistics, cash-as-aid and other sector specialists are on the ground supporting the Bahamas Red Cross.

There has been an outpouring of support from both the international and local community.

Hurricane Dorian Bahamas 2019

Thus far, the American Red Cross has committed $4.5 million to support those affected in the Bahamas by Dorian.

The American Red Cross has deployed 21 disaster response specialists to provide support to the relief operation in the Bahamas.

The American Red Cross is also working in close coordination with the U.S. government and community partners to support evacuees arriving in the U.S. from the Bahamas immediately following the hurricane.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

The Red Cross also stands ready to help again if the need arises.

Jim Celestino, a health service worker, was one of 20 disaster response workers deployed from Northeast Ohio to the southeast U.S. to assist with Hurricane Dorian. Watch the following video to hear Jim discuss his experience on his first deployment with the Red Cross and his call for others to become Red Cross volunteers:

Currently, we are in the middle of hurricane season, with tropical storms Karen and Jerry fast approaching Puerto Rico, Bermuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Tropical Storm Imelda has also also made landfall, forcing the governor of Texas to declare a state of disaster.

The Red Cross continues to remain prepared to respond to provide relief at a moment’s notice whenever a disaster devastates a community.

Visit redcross.org/donate to help support the Red Cross’ efforts to respond to and assist in the aftermath when the next storm such as Dorian strikes.

Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

 

Red Cross continues to support those affected by Harvey, Irma and Maria

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

September 20, 2019- Two years ago, three hurricanes hit the U.S. in less than a month, affecting thousands of people who lived in the paths of these storms. The American Red Cross quickly responded to these disasters, providing much-needed aid and support. Two years later, the Red Cross continues to support the areas hardest hit by these storms.

Cudjoe Key

Hurricane Harvey

Two years ago, three hurricanes hit the U.S. in less than a month, affecting thousands of people who lived in the paths of these storms. The American Red Cross quickly responded to these disasters, providing much-needed aid and support. Two years later, the Red Cross continues to support the areas hardest hit by these storms.

Hurricane Maria 2017

Since then, the American Red Cross has provided aid to those affected by the storm. Locally, the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross assisted by deploying 49 trained disaster workers from Northeast Ohio, the vast majority volunteers, who responded to the relief operation. Overall:

  • More than 46,000 damaged or destroyed households have been provided with recovery financial assistance.
  • More than 414,800 overnight shelter stays were provided in collaboration with partners.
  • More than 4.5 million meals and snacks were served together with partners.
  • More than 127,000 health and mental health contacts have been made.
  • The Red Cross awarded more than $59 million to support community-based recovery services by local nonprofits to provide services to the communities who were hardest hit.

Hurricane Irma

Just two weeks after Harvey, Hurricane Irma’s powerful winds and floodwaters hit the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and then took a destructive path across Florida. Irma was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005.

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Again, the Red Cross was there to provide aid to those who were impacted by the storm.  There were 29 deployments of staff and volunteers from among the Northeast Ohio disaster workforce who assisted with the relief effort.

  • More than 555,300 overnight shelter stays were provided in collaboration with partners.
  • More than 1.6 million meals and snacks were served together with partners.
  • More than 1.8 million relief items were distributed.
  • More than 62,500 health and mental health contacts have been made.
  • More than 9,200 damaged or destroyed households were provided with financial assistance totaling over $37 million.
  • The Red Cross continues to work with local organizations to provide continued support for long-term recovery efforts, awarding more than $15 million in grants.

Hurricane Maria

Maria was the third hurricane to hit the U.S. within a month and was the most intense hurricane to make landfall in Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. Another 17 workers from Northeast Ohio were deployed.

 

The Red Cross has been working with numerous partners on recovery efforts focusing on consistent power, clean water, community health and community resiliency.

  • More than 12.8 million meals and snacks were served together with partners.
  • More than 77,000 water purification filters were distributed.
  • More than 5.2 million relief items were distributed.
  • More than 40,800 health and mental health contacts have been made.
  • More than 2,700 generators were provided for people with medical equipment needs.

Interested in volunteering to help in the recovery efforts for disasters?

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There are many volunteer opportunities available in Disaster Response. Read our recent article on the requirements for becoming a disaster response volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer