Disability Doesn’t Deter Disaster Services Volunteer

By Mark Cline, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays written by volunteers for the American Red Cross in the Northeast Ohio Region)

From my earliest memories, I can remember volunteering with my family, which taught me the value of giving back.  In Boy Scouts I obtained the rank of Eagle Scout. I was also an Explorer Scout with the Wickliffe Fire Department. That turned into a 20 year job of being a part-time fire fighter/EMT.  I later went to work for Continental Airlines, where I was on their Emergency Response Team, and I was an Explorer Post Adviser working with teens in an Aviation Post sponsored by Continental Airlines.  On one of my assignments, I worked an aircraft crash in Buffalo, NY, where 51 souls were lost.

After working some very physical jobs over the years,  my back developed issues and I began to receive Social Security Disability, but I wasn’t ready to retire to a rocking chair.  Working with Lake County RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), they introduced me to the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team in the Greater Cleveland Chapter.  All my emergency training and experience pulled together in one organization. I currently hold a number of positions with Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services (DCS).  I’m a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Leader, Administrator-on-call, DAT Induction Trainer, Pillowcase Presenter and DCS Volunteer Partner to our Disaster Program Manager.

Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services Volunteer Partner Mark Cline, assisting residents who were affected by home fires in Greater Cleveland 

All of these positions allow me the chance to give back in many different ways.  Being on call I get a chance to be instrumental in someone’s life.  When the team responds, we help people who hours before didn’t know what hit them.  Then we train and plan for the next response.  I am able to work along side WONDERFUL co-volunteers and employees, knowing that whatever challenge comes around the corner, we’ll be able to respond.

I may be on disability, but that doesn’t make me totally disabled.  Someday a rocking chair may be a major part of my day, but not right now.  The Red Cross gives me the ability to help and enjoy life, being part of amazing team or even more like a family. There will be another disaster around the corner.  I don’t know when, I don’t know what, I just know I’ll be part of the team responding to it.  Tomorrow there maybe time for that rocking chair and sleeping in, but today I’ve got things to do and places to go, and people to see!Mark Cline

Mark Cline just celebrated his first anniversary as a Red Cross Volunteer.  He lives in Euclid, and serves residents of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. 

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, or to begin an application, visit our volunteer page or call 216-431-3328.  To help the Red Cross train volunteers and provide them with the resources needed to assist people who experience disasters, big and small, visit our Giving Day page.

Team Effort Makes Maple Heights Neighborhood Safer

 

More than 40 homes in Maple Heights are safer, after volunteers from several veteran-related service groups partnered with the Red Cross and the Maple Heights Fire Department to install smoke alarms and share fire safety information on Saturday, April 22.

Volunteers from The Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, and Team Red White and Blue went door-to-door in a neighborhood near Maple Heights High school to check existing smoke alarms, replace batteries, and install new smoke alarms where needed.  They also shared valuable fire safety information.

The Mission Continues  empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.  The Cleveland 1st Service Platoon was launched this month.

Mikoyan Headen was grateful to have new smoke alarms installed in her home.  She survived a home fire as a child.  “Our house looked like burnt toast,” she said. “We lost everything and had to completely start over.”

Volunteers from another service group joined the Fire Safety Walk as well.  Three members of “We’re Not Famous, But We Made It” also installed smoke alarms where needed.  Volunteer James Davenport said, “Our members have hit bumps in the road along the way.  We want to make sure we give back to the community.”

It’s a perfect time to give back.  This is National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) and the Red Cross offers many volunteer opportunities.  Visit us at redcross.org/neo to begin the application process.

See more photos from the Fire Safety Walk in Maple Heights by visiting our Flickr page.

Marine Gains “Second Family” Volunteering for the Red Cross

By Manuel Andrews, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays written by volunteers for the American Red Cross in the Northeast Ohio Region)

My name is Manuel Andrews I am a volunteer Disaster Action Team (DAT) member in disaster cycle services. I’ve been a volunteer since July 2014.

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Red Cross Disaster Action Team member Manuel Andrews, assisting residents who were forced to flee their home due to an apartment building fire in Brunswick in 2016.

I moved to Ohio back in 2011 after serving 5 years in the Marine Corps. After a few years, it came apparent that I was missing something, so I sought to find work that related to what I did overseas in Civil Affairs. After finding several nonprofit organizations online, I found the Red Cross to be closest to what I had hoped to get out of volunteering. After a review of all the services the Red Cross offers we found that I would be a great fit at the Akron chapter as a DAT member. The experience alone made it easy to volunteer any time I had available. We provided smiles, coffee, snacks and jokes for first responders during long cold Ohio nights and helped provide immediate assistance to clients that lost their homes due to a disaster. I even got to volunteer on a national deployment to Florida and North Carolina, providing safety in shelters and food distribution sites.

The Red Cross offers a continued learning experience through annual mini-institutes and always make sure my volunteer time goes toward what I value. I could not be happier with my decision; I have gained a second family with the staff and volunteers. Now I’m a team leader and proudly serve my community as a Red Cross volunteer as often as I can.IMG_3752

Manuel Andrews is a resident of Akron, and serves residents in the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross, or to begin an application, visit our volunteer page or call 216-431-3328.  To help the Red Cross train volunteers and provide them with the resources needed to assist people who experience disasters, big and small, visit our Giving Day page.

Good Food, Good Drink, Good Cause

Fundraisers like this don’t come around very often.

Enjoy acclaimed Bodegas Salentein wines and an exceptional menu of appetizers crafted by Texas de Brazil this Wednesday, April 26.  Tickets cost just $35, and $30 from each ticket will benefit American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

Tickets are available here.  

Thank You, Volunteers!

During National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) we will feature the Red Cross stories of some of our 1,750 cherished Regional volunteers who help fulfill the Red Cross mission: to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. The generous donation of time, skill, and caring of ALL of our volunteers make us truly grateful.

Beginning Monday, you will read about a different volunteer each day.  We hope their stories inspire others to devote their time and expertise to help others in need.

Regional CEO Mike Parks offers his own words of appreciation to the volunteers of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region:

Dear Valued Volunteer,

As this year’s National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) begins, again I offer a sincere “thank you” for the tremendous support that you are to the American Red Cross and for all that you accomplish for our organization each and every day.  I continue to be invigorated everyday by the passion and energy that you bring to everything you do and to everyone that you work with at the Red Cross.  I am amazed by the incredible skill, knowledge and dedication that you, our volunteers, share with us as our trusted and valued colleagues.  As volunteers, you not only support and enhance the work we do, but also guide it.   We count on you and you are always there.  Again, thank you for all that you do as we carry out our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.  Happy Volunteer Week!

With grateful appreciation,

Mike Parks

RADM, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Chief Executive Officer

Northeast Ohio Region

American Red Cross

 

Hometown Heroes Donate Blood

 

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Aloft Cleveland Downtown, the high-rise hotel ascending from the East Bank of the Flats was the venue on Tuesday, April 18 for the Hometown Hero Blood Drive (formerly known as the Bloodsucker’s Ball,) the annual event sponsored by our partners at 98.5 WNCX.

 

Ronald Pitts of Cleveland said he donates as regularly as he can (donors can give whole blood every 56 days.)  “I’m O negative, so they really want my blood.”

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Red Cross blood donor Ronald Pitts of Cleveland

Type O negative blood is known as the universal blood type, because it can be transfused to patients of all blood types.  It is always in great demand and often in short supply.

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Karen Hausler believes that by donating blood regularly, she is not only helping others in need, but also herself.

“I think it rejuvenates the body,” she said.  “I’m 70, and I think it has helped me!”IMG_3760

 

Dave Popovich, Vice President of Programming for CBS Radio in Cleveland, made his annual donation of red blood cells for the Red Cross.

In all, donors contributed 276 pints of blood during the Hometown Hero event.

You can become a “Hometown Hero” by donating blood to the Red Cross.  Download  the Red Cross Blood App to schedule your appointment, or text BLOODAPP to 90999 from you smart phone, or visit redcrossblood.org.  You can also make an appointment by calling 1-800 RED CROSS.

 

 

 

 

 

Shelter Closes, But Casework Continues

Red Cross Workers Continue to Assist Dozens of Residents Forced to Flee from Fire

A shelter operated by the Red Cross for residents of the Studio City Apartments in Cuyahoga Falls closed today, after Red Cross caseworkers were able to ensure that all residents in need of shelter had suitable alternative housing.

Since Friday, April 14th, the Red Cross has been providing safe shelter, warm meals and comfort care daily for up to six residents who otherwise would have had no other housing alternatives.

“We are extremely grateful to the Cuyahoga Falls City Schools and the Riverfront YMCA for providing the space for us to operate a shelter for these residents,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer in Northeast Ohio.  “And we are especially grateful to the dedicated volunteers, many of whom gave up family time over the Easter holiday weekend, to provide the services that were needed following last week’s fire.”

Shelter Residents from Cuyahoga Falls play basketball with Red Cross Volunteers on Easter Sunday.  Photo credit: Zackery McAvoy/American Red Cross

Although the shelter has closed, Red Cross assistance will continue for the foreseeable future, as nearly 80 people who were forced to flee their homes on Thursday, April 13 are getting help from caseworkers, who are meeting with residents one-on-one to create recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help from other agencies.  Most of the work is being done by volunteers, who have received specialized training to help people following a disaster.

The Red Cross has a need for additional volunteers to help when the next disaster occurs.  Volunteer opportunities include not only casework and shelter help, but also response immediately following disasters, when people often experience their darkest hours.  Those interested in becoming trained Red Cross volunteers can visit redcross.org/neo, or call 216-431-3328 to begin the application process.

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 Red Cross shelter workers created this display to express their appreciation for the use of  Gordon Dewitt Elementary School in Cuyahoga Falls as a shelter over Easter weekend.