Former stay-at-home mom now leaves home to help others

A volunteer profile will post here each day during National Volunteer Week

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

April 10, 2019 – Barb Thomas has left her home in Canton to help with disaster relief operations four times since joining the American Red Cross as a volunteer in 2016.

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Barb Thomas, on assignment in during the Hurricane Florence relief operation in North Carolina in 2018

“The kids are grown now, and I have the time,” Barb said, shortly after returning from her latest deployment in Mississippi, where she served as staff services supervisor for Red Cross workers assigned to help flood victims.

“We were responsible for the ‘good hello and good goodbye’ for the volunteers and staff who participated in the deployment, and for keeping track of all the members on deployment,” she said.

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En route to Mississippi, 2019

Barb has deployed to southern Ohio, where flooding occurred last winter. She also left last fall to help with the relief effort following Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. A year before that, she responded to Hurricane Irma in Georgia.

The bulk of Barb’s volunteer work occurs closer to home, where she helps administer all facets of disaster cycle services. “I have assisted in a presentation to get people signed up for smoke alarms and have installed smoke alarms in homes,” which covers preparedness.  Response-wise, “I have been to numerous home fires, supported the fire department by providing canteening services, and worked in a shelter,” she said. “And I assisted in recovery with casework.”

But the time she has spent in other parts of the country to help those affected by disaster has made an impression on the former Human Resources professional.

“I have met some incredible people who have an amazing dedication to volunteering with the Red Cross,” she said. “They are client-focused and willing to pitch in wherever and whenever necessary.”

“Barb Thomas is a breath of fresh air, adding positive energy to our chapter,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “She is a true leader who is valued greatly by the staff and by other volunteers.”

When asked what she would say to encourage others to volunteer for the Red Cross, Barb said, “If you are interested in positively impacting individuals and your community, the Red Cross is an excellent organization. I have had direct contact with the public and individuals in need.”

She added, “It feels good to be part of an organization that supports the community on such a personal level.”

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Red Cross workers headed to Georgia in response to Hurricane Irma in 2017.  From left: John Muni, Barb Thomas, Tim Reichel, Craig Hitchcock, and Mark Behlke

To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Retired Firefighter Leads Red Cross Pro Football Hall of Fame Effort

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Every year, Canton, Ohio, rolls out the red carpet—and the gold jackets—as it hosts events celebrating gridiron greats and long-time legends being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And each year, the American Red Cross is part of the action as it provides first aid services throughout the two-week festivities.

Retired Canton City Fire Department Firefighter and Red Cross Volunteer Chuck Goldy acts as head coach for the Red Cross’ Pro Football Hall of Fame coverage. He has coordinated the effort and called the plays for six years.

“When I retired, I decided that I’ve been blessed all my career, and I wanted to continue to give back,” explained Chuck. “Now that I’m not working, I can plan and do more.”

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Chuck Goldy and Kim Kroh

“Red Cross relies on our volunteers each and every day in fulfilling our mission, and the Hall of Fame events are no exception,” said Kimberly Kroh, executive director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “Chuck is a dedicated Red Cross volunteer and leads the Hall of Fame events every year, spending dozens of hours before, during and after these events. His dedication is inspiring to me and is also why working side by side with volunteers is the best part of my job.”  See the video with Kim and Chuck, recorded after the 2016 Hall of Fame events here.

This year, the Red Cross staffed five Pro Football Hall of Fame events. It provided first aid stations as well as hydration and cooling stations.

First aid stations are staffed by those certified in CPR/AED who are trained to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies. At hydration and cooling stations, Red Cross volunteers distribute water and provide cold towels to bring down body temperatures. Volunteers check vital signs and provide cots so individuals can recover if in distress. Equipped with two-way radios tuned in to the Canton City Fire Department channel, volunteers are ready to connect individuals to paramedics on site, if needed.

The 2018 festivities kicked off July 22 with a community parade. It was staffed by 14 Red Cross volunteers who handed out approximately 800 cups of water to parade participants.

On Friday, Aug. 3, a fashion show and luncheon at the Canton Civic Center was staffed by 12 volunteers. That evening, 16 volunteers were on hand for the Enshrinee’s Gold Jacket Dinner, attended by 4,000 guests.  Red Cross workers treated one guest for vertigo issues.

The grand parade was Saturday, Aug. 4, and was staffed by 20 Red Cross volunteers. They distributed about 2,000 cups of water to parade marchers. With temperatures nearing 90 degrees, five individuals were treated for heat-related issues. They were high school band performers who had overheated under their heavy uniforms. After being assessed and cooled down, they were released to their parents and band directors.

Red Cross coverage culminated at the Enshrinee’s Roundtable Luncheon on Sunday, Aug. 5. Twelve volunteers staffed the event.

The Enshrinee’s Roundtable is Chuck’s favorite event.

“I enjoy the Roundtable,” he said. “The guys sit down with a sportscaster from the NFL Network. It gives an opportunity to hear their personal stories. It’s interesting to hear about their background. Some players have big hearts and they share what is meaningful to them and how they were raised. You get a better picture of who they are.”

“I’m not a huge football fan—but this is for Canton,” Chuck explained.

If you’d like to be like Chuck – and more than 1,500 other volunteers in Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/neo, and click “Volunteer” at the top of the page to begin the application process.

 

 

 

Mental Health Services Offered to Disaster Victims

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Kim Kroh, Executive Director, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter 

Did you know that the Red Cross offers mental health services to those who suffer from disasters? In the last seven weeks, Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 180,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected by hurricanes this season.

World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year.  Kim Kroh, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Executive Director of the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, has worked with trauma victims for two decades.  She offers this observation:

Disasters in general can be very traumatizing for the individuals involved. They may lose everything they own and possibly even the life of a family member. Trauma processing can take place with the support of family and friends but often it requires professional intervention, especially to avoid long lasting mental health difficulties resulting from unprocessed trauma.

Shootings and other acts of violence will cause trauma and often Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for the individuals involved in the violent act. In these situations, encouraging survivors to seek counseling would be most beneficial.

Licensed mental health professionals are among the volunteers who respond to disasters, from hurricanes to home fires.  For more information about volunteering for the Red Cross, visit our website at redcross.org/neo.

Stark County chapter hosts annual BASH

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The stage is set for a rousing military medical drama inspired evening at the 2014 BASH.

Strains of Moonlight Serenade filled the main hangar at the MAPS Air Museum on Saturday, April 12th. Guests adorned in their best scrubs, khakis and Hawaiian shirts milled about perusing over 150 silent auction items.

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Stark County Board Chair, Laura Mann and Chapter Executive, Kim Kroh, welcome guests from the event stage.

The BASH Auction, which pays homage to the 1970s and 80s TV show M*A*S*H, is an annual tradition for the Stark County Chapter of the Red Cross.  Guests come dressed for the evening as characters from the show or just as the world of military doctors and nurses it depicted.

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Tents and military vehicles set the atmosphere for BASH at the entrance to the MAPS Air Museum’s Hangar.

The event, which raised over $78,000 for Red Cross military, disaster and community services in Stark County, is a mix of both silent and live auction items. This year’s event featured a variety of items such as Disney World passes, quilts handmade by the Red Cross sewing group and the chance to adopt a puppy through the Stark County Humane Society.