Cedar Fair Executive Recognized by Gail McGovern

The president of the American National Red Cross, Gail McGovern, has recognized Sanduskian Lee Alexakos for her outstanding contributions to the organization’s vital blood collection program.

National Awards and Recognition Dinner 2017

Lee Alexakos, center, is flanked on the left by Gail McGovern, President and Howie Walz, Vice President of Recruitment

A Biomedical Partnership Award — presented recently at the Red Cross National Award Program in Washington, D.C. — cited Alexakos for expanding the partnership between the Red Cross and Cedar Fair Entertainment, where she serves as Vice President of Community Relations.

Cedar Fair—a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment—is a great corporate partner with Lee Alexakos at the helm. Her extensive work on the expansion of Cedar Fair’s partnership with the American Red Cross helped to increase revenue, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction for our organization. Her successful expansion campaign included gifting the Red Cross over 16 thousand free Cedar Fair admissions to be used to recruit blood donors during the difficult summer collection months; encouraging blood donations by offering prize packs of admission for four; and gifting and promoting a Grand Prize package including family admission, fast passes, and weekend overnight accommodations. The in-kind donations from this campaign were equal to over $1 million from Cedar Fair.

The success of the Cedar Fair partnership enabled laser marketing to our youth markets during a time of the year when it can be challenging to connect with our high school and university partners. Students stepped up to coordinate blood drives in their communities resulting in youth leadership opportunities plus education on the blood donation process and the patients we serve. Lee’s dedication to our organization and endless hours invested of her own time to ensure sponsor and donor engagement were crucial for our life saving mission during the challenging summer months.

The Red Cross is always in need of blood donations.  You can make an appointment to donate at 1-800-RED CROSS, or by logging onto redcrossblood.org.  You can also make an appointment on the Red Cross Blood App, which also records your donation history, and keeps track of your blood’s journey.

(Red Cross Volunteer Eilene Guy contributed to this story)

Red Cross Funding – 1900’s style

Looking back 100 years at the Stark County and Muskingum Lakes Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio.Centennial-Red-Cross-question)

July 5, 1917, the Red Cross was still not totally understood by many Americans.  Unusual in its charter, the Red Cross could have been considered both private and official.

As the Daily Times of New Philadelphia wrote on this date, “The government has adopted it officially as the auxiliary war relief service. The president of the United States by law is also the president of the Red Cross. Yet, the government does not finance the Red Cross.”

“On occasions, congress has voted contributions of money to it…but, the great volume of its funds spent for relief work is contributed by private individuals. Less than 30% of its receipts come from membership dues.”

They went on later to say that while many people were amazed that the Army did not increase their medical team to handle the increase in enlistees during WW1, that actually the Red Cross was found to be more efficient and cost effective.

At the time, all Red Cross volunteers were asked to join as dues paying members. $1 per year was expected unless the person was well-heeled financially, in which case they might pay $10 or $100 per year.

A local country club held a fund raiser for the Red Cross. Forty golfers played for club trophies and paid a penny a stroke, raising $50 for the Red Cross.

While not everyone could afford to donate, everyone could do something.  The newspaper reported that the Dover Bridge Club spent July 3, 1917 doing their part. Before having dinner, the members spent the afternoon sewing for the Red Cross.

Tuscarawas County was asked to contribute $30,000 toward the Red Cross War Fund in 1917. To get the word out, many papers provided free advertising to help with the cause. The example below appeared in The Daily Times in New Philadelphia.

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Readers might have been shocked to see that while the nation was supposed to be conserving and donating during war time, the city of Akron alone spent $2.7-million on liquor in saloons in the previous year.  Hmmm.

Today, you can do your part.  Donations couldn’t be easier. Donate by text, by email, by mail or online. You can even set up a monthly automatic donation.  All five links to giving are here.

 

 

Partners in Preparedness

Red Cross, Dominion Team Up to Distribute Emergency Preparedness Kits

It was no April Fool’s joke; we were really giving away Emergency Kits, sponsored by Dominion East Ohio, to help prepare people for potential disasters on Saturday, April 1st, at eight locations throughout Northeast Ohio.

About 4,000 kits were distributed, free of charge, to people who took the time to determine how much they knew about being prepared for emergencies, as spring storm season approaches.

John Gareis, Regional Manager, Preparedness and Community Planning, said, “With everyone’s efforts, we were able to touch the lives of nearly 4,000 families; 8,330 individuals – including 3,048 children; an increase of 1,382 lives touched over 2016’s very successful event.”

Residents received free Emergency Kits and timely preparedness information at Starwood Great Northern Mall and Starwood South Park Mall in Cuyahoga County, Starwood Belden Village Mall in Canton, New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia, Eastwood Mall in Niles, and at Walmart stores in Ashtabula, Wooster and Stow.

See our photo gallery from Red Cross/Dominion Preparedness Day here.

Red Cross Fire and Ice Ball

Fundraising Continues with KeyBank Challenge

A message from CEO Mike Parks

Thank you to our amazing Red Cross supporters who helped us host a successful “Fire & Ice Ball” on Saturday, March 25, 2017!  We couldn’t have pulled this off without all of your efforts…from table sponsorships, donations of auction items and programs,  sharing invitations with friends and family, and dedicating your evening to our lifesaving mission…it was a wonderful celebration!

To those of you in attendance, we hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did!  We certainly missed all of our friends who couldn’t join us, but we sincerely appreciate your support from afar.

For all of our Red Cross friends, we hope you will plan to join us at a future event, blood drive or neighborhood fire safety walk soon.  We could not fulfill the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross here in Northeast Ohio without your dedication to, and support of, our mission!

A special thank you to Beth Mooney of KeyBank for graciously accepting our Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian Award for 2017.  We are truly honored and grateful for the Inspirational Match of $25,000 that Beth announced on behalf of “Operation-Save-A-Life”.   Those funds will help our collaborative efforts to install new smoke alarms in every home, one neighborhood at a time.

If you would like to support “Operation-Save-A-Life” and take part in this Inspirational Match Campaign, please log onto  https://www.redcross.org/arcneohio-pub   to make a donation on behalf of the American Red Cross and KeyBank.   Please feel free to share this message with your friends.  Thank you for your generosity and commitment to the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland!

Best regards…Mike

Here are some photos from the Ball.  See dozens more in our Flickr album here.

Be Prepared for Spring Weather

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Flooding All Threats

Spring can be a time for devastating weather. It is the peak time of year for tornadoes, flooding, thunderstorms and other severe weather.

The American Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community.

Prepare

  • Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be informed.  See the Be Red Cross Ready Checklist
  • If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.

Tornado Safety

Southern Tornadoes and Storms 2017

Tornado devastation in Albany, Georgia, January 2017. Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross

Spring can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm spring days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day. The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?

  • Know the Difference
    • Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
    • Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornadoes, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
    • Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
    • Cloud of debris
    • Large hail
    • Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
    • Roaring noise

What to Do During a Tornado

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
    • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
    • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
    • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
    • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
    • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt and drive at right angles to the storm movement to get out of its path.
    • Stay away from bridge/highway overpasses.
    • If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket (if available).

Thunderstorm Safety

Icon Disaster

Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. The Red Cross has steps you can take if a severe thunderstorm is predicted for your area:

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath or shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees, and metal objects, such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts, and sheds are NOT safe.

Flood Safety

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Spring can be a time of year for flooding. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps include:

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Stay away from floodwaters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and less than 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
    • If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
    • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

Magics Learn Disaster Safety

Hurricane Season begins June 1.

And while that usually (usually!) isn’t a major factor when planning for Northeast Ohio weather, we do have plenty of disasters that we need to be aware of and plan for, here in NEO.

To that end, the Red Cross continues to help children in our communities learn about disasters that can (and do!) happen in NEO through our Pillowcase Project.

Nearly 300 students at Barberton Elementary School West had the opportunity to learn more about home fire safety and winter weather safety when kids from third to fifth grade participated in the program in February.

The volunteer team leading the education portion included members of the Advancement to Nursing program, high school students from Barberton and the surrounding communities.

To learn more about how to host the Pillowcase Program at your school, click here.

NEO Says Farewell, But Not Goodbye, to COO Charlotte Rerko

Northeast Ohio’s Loss is Erie, Pennsylvania’s Gain

We bid farewell, but not goodbye, to Charlotte Rerko today.

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Charlotte is the newly-named CEO of the Achievement Center of Erie, Pennsylvania, following her 3 ½ years of leadership as Chief Operating Officer for the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region.  She also served in a similar capacity for the West Virginia Region.

“Charlotte was invaluable to me when I started at the Red Cross two years ago,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO.  “And her value only grew as a trusted confidant.  I will be forever grateful for her passion for the mission of the Red Cross, and her loyalty to the organization.”

The Achievement Center of Erie, Charlotte explains, serves the needs of children, from autism to physical challenges to reading difficulties.  “A child is a child.  All have needs. The Achievement Center is dedicated to serving those needs, whatever they may be.”

Working for the welfare of children is a natural fit for Charlotte, the mother of 5 and a registered nurse.  But her bond with the Red Cross, and with Northeast Ohio remains strong.  She has agreed to assume the role of Community Volunteer Leader for the Greater Cleveland Chapter.

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From Left:  Laura Hauser, Board Secretary; Dick Pogue, Director Emeritus; Charlotte Rerko; Mike Parks, Regional CEO

“Who is better qualified to serve in that role than Charlotte?  It’s comforting to know that even though she won’t be here every day, I can tap into her knowledge base whenever necessary,” said Mke.

So we say farewell, knowing Charlotte will help the Achievement Center of Erie grow, but not goodbye, knowing she’ll still be here for us when we need her.

See a gallery of photos from Charlotte’s farewell party here.