Red Cross celebrates Black History Month

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

February 6, 2020- February is Black History Month and the American Red Cross is celebrating by paying tribute to the men and women who played a pivotal role in shaping the organization.

Here are some of the humanitarians who helped shape the Red Cross:

Steve Bullock – Serving Where the Need is Greatest

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Steve Bullock began his career with the Red Cross in 1962, working as a caseworker. His work took him and his family to military posts throughout the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Twenty years later, he became the Chief Executive Officer and Chapter Manager of the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Bullock culminated his career at the American Red Cross in 1999, when he was named acting president of the national agency in Washington, DC. He took on the role leading the organization after the resignation of Elizabeth Dole, who recommended him for the post. While serving as acting president, he headed a team of staff members and news media who brought 60,000 pounds of relief supplies to Macedonia to aid nearly 140,000 ethnic Albanian refugees driven from their homes in Kosovo.

Read our previous blog article to learn more about Steve Bullock and his impact on the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

Frederick Douglass – An Influential Ally in Founding the American Red Cross

Frederick Douglass

A leading spokesman of African Americans in the 1800s and friend of Clara Barton, Mr. Douglass offered encouragement when Clara Barton sought advice and support in her efforts to gain U.S. acceptance as a member nation of the global Red Cross network. Douglass’ name is on an appeal for funds after the 1882 Mississippi flood. He also, in his capacity as Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the American Red Cross when they were submitted to the municipal authorities. The articles legally documented the creation of the American Red Cross.

Gwen T. Jackson – A Dedicated Volunteer Leader Across Decades

Gwen Jackson

Gwen T. Jackson began volunteering with her local Red Cross chapter in 1961, and by 1989 she was the first African American to be appointed as the National Chairman of Volunteers for the American Red Cross. During her tenure, she implemented the results of the Volunteer 2000 Study, completed in 1988 to study the downturn in volunteerism and provide a blueprint for future growth.

While serving with the Red Cross, Jackson provided assistance during major disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and support during the Persian Gulf War. She later became a member of the American National Red Cross Board of Governors in 1992 and was re-elected for a second term in 1995. Jackson was presented with the Cynthia Wedel Award, an award given to outstanding Red Cross volunteers, for her 50 years of dedication and volunteer leadership in 2003. She currently holds an appointment as Chair Emeritus of the American Red Cross Milwaukee Chapter.

These leaders represent the Red Cross’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, to help deliver the mission of the Red Cross and to represent the communities we serve. We look forward to seeing the future leaders who will continue the legacy  of these great humanitarians and lead the Red Cross to great achievements.

Red Cross assists residents in apartment fire as month comes to a close

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

February 4, 2020- As January was coming to a close, some in Northeast Ohio were completing end of the month paperwork at work, while others were preparing for the Super Bowl. However, for Red Cross disaster action team members, it was another day of assisting residents suffering from a disaster and helping them get through the worst days of their lives.

During the evening of January 31, an apartment building on Lake Ave. in Cleveland caught on fire, even requiring one residents to be rescued by ladder. As the Cleveland Fire Department was battling the fire, the American Red Cross assisted residents displaced from the four story building.

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The Red Cross assisted 14 residents from the Lake Ave. apartments and provided $1,750 in immediate financial assistance.

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.

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.

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If you are looking more for an opportunity to personally touch the lives of an individual suffering a local disaster and experiencing the worst day of their lives, you can become a disaster disaster services volunteer.

Volunteers are the face of the Red Cross. Without their tremendous and selfless dedication, we would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio.

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Visit redcross.org/volunteer  to submit a volunteer application.

To learn more about the role of a disaster action team member, attend one of our upcoming volunteer information sessions in Akron, Cleveland and East Liverpool.

Photo credit: WOIO Cleveland 19

 

Vaccines, healthy choices, tissues and the crook of your elbow: Tips to stay safe during flu season

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer 

January 31, 2020- We are in the midst of the flu and respiratory disease season, schools in Northeast Ohio are closing due to student illnesses, and there are concerns about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (see the link below). The Northeast Ohio  Region of the American Red Cross offers information and recommendations to help keep you, your family and those close to you safe.

Flu safety is especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications, including children over 6 months, pregnant women, those living with a chronic medical condition, anyone living with or caring for someone at high risk, and those age 50 or older. If you are at high risk, update your vaccinations each year as directed by your physician.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children younger than 6 months are also at high risk of flu complications but are too young to receive a flu vaccine. Due to this, the CDC advises those who live with, care for or are around infants younger than 6 months to take special care to safeguard the child, including getting vaccinated. More information from the CDC is available here.

There are other preventative actions you can take. Foremost is practicing good health habits such as eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep. You can also help stop the spread of germs by frequently washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing (if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow), minimizing contact with sick people, avoiding others when you are sick, and adopting business and school practices that encourage those who are sick to stay home.

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When you or a loved one does get the flu, we recommend taking a number of steps. These include designating one person as the caregiver, keeping everyone’s personal items separate, disinfecting common surfaces, washing dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using very hot water and soap, washing your hands after handling dirty laundry, and wearing disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids. See more Red Cross information here.

Finally, regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the CDC states its investigation is ongoing and the situation rapidly evolving. Currently, CDC experts say, “While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat.” The CDC offers similar recommendations to those outlined above as well as taking flu antiviral medication if prescribed. Special considerations and care need to be taken by healthcare professionals, travelers and those who may have the infection. Information and updates are available on the CDC website.

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Stay safe this flu season. For more information on the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

American Red Cross statement on Novel Coronavirus:

Feeling good about giving blood again

“Time-out” ends for dedicated blood donor

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer correspondent

January 27, 2020 – It feels so good to be lying on a portable couch again, a needle stuck in my arm, donating blood to the American Red Cross.

It’s been almost two years since I was allowed give this lifesaving gift and it feels really, really good.

Fun – if sobering – facts:

  • There is NO man-made substitute for human blood for accident and burn victims, surgery and organ transplant patients, and those being treated for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.
  • Every day, the Red Cross needs about 13,000 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at some 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.
  • Only about 3 percent of the American population donates blood.
  • Every year, too many blood donors “disappear.” Some die (the World War II and Korean War generations were especially faithful blood donors); some start taking medications that shouldn’t be transmitted to a blood recipient; others drift away for personal reasons.

And some get “furloughed,” like I did.

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Eilene Guy giving blood again.  Photo credit: Don Guy for the American Red Cross

I’d been showing up at Red Cross blood drives pretty regularly for more than 15 years. I’m O positive, so my blood’s widely useful and I have “good veins,” so the phlebotomists love me.

But in March 2018 I took a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. The next time I showed up to give blood, I learned I was sidelined for one year, because the DR is a malaria risk zone. Nuts!

Then, in December 2018, I went to India. Even though I took anti-malaria medications, the one-year disqualification clock started again.

Like so many of the Red Cross blood collection protocols, this is mandated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, to protect the millions of people who receive blood.

This month I was finally cleared to donate again. And as I said, it felt really good.

In fact, donating felt even better than it did two years ago. The disinfectant they swab on the arm isn’t iodine anymore, so the “sting” of the needle is gone. Woo hoo!

“If every blood donor who has been temporarily deferred would come back at the end of their ‘time out,’ it would really help the blood supply,” said Christy Peters, regional biomedical communications manager. “Those folks have already shown that they’re generous with the gift of life. We want to welcome them back as soon as we can.”

The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. And this is National Blood Donor Month.

Next month, on February 11th, the largest blood drive of the year in Northeast Ohio takes place at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights.  Visit RedCrossBlood.org and use the promo code “Landerhaven” to make an appointment to donate there.  You can also find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive there.  Or can call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Google Play to get the free Blood Donor App.

 

 

Akron middle school students present creative ideas for disaster relief

By Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties

January 24, 2020- Two years ago I partnered with the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School in Akron. This year I was asked to partner with the STEM Middle School sixth grade on a project. They use problem-based learning in their school. The problem they were presented with was: How can we, as concerned citizens, work together to assist the emotional needs of survivors of natural disasters and consider:

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  • The structure of the response needed
  • The geographical location
  • The emotional needs of the young people affected

The class of more than 100 learners identified the American Red Cross as an organization that helps with disaster relief but was not sure how we did that. In mid-December I visited the classroom and talked about what we do during disasters, including sheltering, feeding, how we use GIS and mapping to make decisions, how we work with partners as well as how we deal with the emotional part of disaster relief. Their questions were thoughtful, and they had a lot of them.

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A month later, I was invited back for the presentations. “Impressive” and “amazing” were the words that kept coming out of my mouth. The students were separated into small groups and had been assigned various disaster types — flood, tornado, hurricane, drought, chemical spills, blizzards, etc. The solutions were unique, well thought out and, in some cases, mind blowing. I couldn’t believe sixth graders came up with these things!

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One team, assigned drought, developed a board game. This game was fun as well as educational. Through question and answer cards, it detailed how to conserve water or reasons drought happens.

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A few teams created websites. One for chemical spills addressed how to avoid them, what to do if one affects your home and who can help. They handed out a card with a QR code linking you to their website, and plan on distributing them around Akron so residents can learn more. Another website created a pen pal site for those affected by a disaster so they could connect with someone willing to share their experiences with others. One team created an augmented reality with a 3D cube that when you put your phone or tablet in front of the cube it showed, from all angles, a beach, the fish swimming in the ocean and the sun shining above it. The student said, “Well this is pretty basic.” Far from basic to me!

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This list can go on and on. I wish I had a few more hours to have walked through every display to hear all their ideas and presentations.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

Interested in giving back to your community? Come to a Red Cross Volunteer Session!

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

January 23, 2020- Are you interested in making a difference in your community by assisting individuals in need?

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The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has a critical need for volunteers to respond to local disasters, to assist at blood drives and to transport lifesaving blood.

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The Red Cross will be holding informational sessions across Northeast Ohio to help you learn about the many ways you can make a difference as a Red Cross volunteer. You’ll hear from current volunteers and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll also have volunteer applications available at the sessions.

California Wildfires 2019

Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga County Sessions

Saturday, January 25th and Saturday, February 29th

10-11 AM

Red Cross Regional Headquarters

3747 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH

Summit, Portage and Media County Sessions

Saturday, February 1st and Saturday, March 1st

10-11 AM

Red Cross Akron Office

501 W. Market St., Akron, OH

Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Trumbull County Session

Wednesday, February 19th

8:30-10:30 AM

Hoge’s Restaurant

16128 E Liverpool Rd., East Liverpool, OH

To RSVP for one of the information sessions above, contact Gail Wernick at 216-431-3328 or gail.wernick@redcross.org.

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Can’t make it to a volunteer session, but interested in volunteering? Click here to visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to submit a volunteer application.

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