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)

5 Years Later, Remembering the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti

by Wedley Charles, Intern at the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

January 12, 2010 I was being lured to sleep by the monotone voice of my physical education professor at Saint Cloud High School in Florida. He was rambling about the dangers that exist in the world and I decided to doodle. I was lost in my own world until he said “Disasters happen Wedley, you’ll never know when it’ll be your last day.”

I felt like a prisoner in my own mind when I arrived home. I couldn’t escape the words my professor told me. As I was walking towards my father I overheard breaking news from CNN saying there was an earthquake the magnitude of 7.0. The earthquake hit the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring cities.

My father, his bestfriend from Cap-Haitien, and I

My father, his best-friend, and I

My father went into an immediate panic. You could hear him mashing the buttons into the body of his phone. He was trying to contact all of his family members in Haiti, but he couldn’t reach them all. I remember him telling me stories of him growing up in a village in Cap-Haitien. The people of the village raised the children together teaching them local traditions and customs. He told me it would be his dream to have me go to his village and see his family. Now that the earthquake hit, I could no longer see those dreams.

Days later we discovered that my father lost two cousins and his wife at the time lost three family members. The deaths occurred northeast of the capital; La Gonave, Gonaives, Cap-Haitien.

The American Red Cross has supported more than 4.5 million Haitians since the 2010 earthquake. They have also contributed $98 million to improve the vital health care in Haiti. This allows families to have better access to quality medical care and clean water. $48 million dollars have been spent on job training, cash grants, and livelihood programs for the devastated communities. The Red Cross has also started programs to help entrepreneurs improve their business and marketing skills and they’ve trained nearly 10,000 people in construction techniques for emergency-ready homes. They provided safer sheltering conditions for 132,000 Haitians and upgraded or repaired more than 15,000 homes enabling them to remain safe far into the future.

Haiti 5 year Infographic

Haiti 5 year Infographic

The fundraising efforts of the Red Cross contributed $488 million for work in Haiti. The American Red Cross worked in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross and local Haitian organizations to support and sustain a permanent culture of preparedness.

Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross said “I have seen firsthand the destruction and shock in the days right after the earthquake, where people were just trying to get through the day with minimal food, water and health care. I have seen the steady progress and the return of a spirit of resiliency as Haitians have rebuilt their lives and communities. The pace of progress on the road to recovery is never as fast as we would like, but everywhere you look, there is a marked difference in Haiti, and I’m very proud of all that we have accomplished.”

Jessica’s Red Cross story

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Following my sophomore year as a marketing major at University of Dayton, I became involved with the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross through the Leadership Lorain County Internship Program. As the Communications Specialist Intern, I was responsible for increasing Red Cross awareness and donations through effective communications, public relations and the use of social media tools.

Previous to my assignment, I knew very little about the American Red Cross, but I was quickly amazed by this incredible organization. The American Red Cross is a non-profit organization and not a federal agency. As such, it receives no regular federal funding. The Red Cross also does a lot more than host blood drives. Each region is well equipped with a Disaster Action Team, Disaster Mental Health Team, and an array of other volunteers. They also offer services to the Armed Forces—from preparing soldiers and their families for deployment to getting those same soldiers emergency contact with their families while overseas.

Based on my experience, I do not think the public is well aware of the extent to which the Red Cross helps our local, as well as national, communities.

While attending a Friday Forum at the Cleveland City Club to hear President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, speak I met a volunteer who truly changed my life. The woman, who dedicates 100% of her time to volunteering, and I discussed her career in the medical field and a trip she took to India to treat patients in a poor village. I commended her on her voluntarism and expressed how I wished my future profession in the business world would allow me to help people the same way hers does. I commented that those in the medical field have the ability to go the extra mile and help people in a more profound way than any other profession. She informed me it is not an extra mile, but a different mile.

During my time at the Lorain County Chapter I helped prepare for the annual 5K Run for the Red, and have witnessed the chapter go through a merger with the Firelands Chapter. I also created several campaigns for different chapter events including Christmas in July which supported the annual Holiday Mail for Heroes and the Pillowcase Project sponsored by Disney. I contributed blogs on chapter events and also created a Social Media and Marketing timeline for the annual 5K. I also canvased for our 5K, made phone calls in hopes of obtaining donations, and spread Red Cross awareness whenever and wherever I could. As a marketing major, I believe I learned so much about my future profession as well as what it is like to work for a non-profit organization. I had the opportunity to become CPR Certified as well as take Disaster Overview and Fundamental courses.

Whether it was hearing a volunteer’s Red Cross Story, or learning something new about my major (or even myself), I was inspired every single day when I stepped over the threshold of that history Lorain County building. I could not agree more with President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, when she says, “the depth and breadth of all the Red Cross does still amaze me, and it’s an incredible privilege to play a part in it.” I plan on continuing my involvement with the American Red Cross as I complete the last two years of school and well into my future.

 

President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern speaks at event in Northeast Ohio

Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross, speaks at the City Club of Cleveland.

Gail McGovern, CEO of the American Red Cross, speaks at the City Club of Cleveland.

Gail McGovern spoke at the Cleveland City Club on June 20, 2014 about the transformation process that turned the American Red Cross into a 21st century emergency response and blood services organization.

She spoke about how the organizaiton was able to eliminate a $209 million operating defecit in two years after she began at the Red Cross in 2008. By consolidating the organization by getting all chapters on one email system, a common donor database, and a single website the Red Cross was able to become better stewards of the donor’s dollar. McGovern also shared some of the Red Cross stories she hears from people around the world, including one from a man who gave 103 gallons of blood — helping over 2,400 people — simply because he thought it was the right thing to do.

To view video from the June 20th event, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L5sIP52vx0

Charlotte share’s more photos from D.C.!

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Group Picture with Gail McGovernNortheast Ohio COO, Charlotte Rerko (2nd from left, bottom) is our little social butterfly! Here she is with American Red Cross CEO, Gail McGovern (center, bottom), department COOs and Chapter Executives from across the country during a recent trip to Washington D.C.

You’ll notice in the background are the gorgeous favrile windows crafted by Louis Tiffany for the Board of Governors room at the National Headquarters.