Lake Erie/Heartland heroes celebrated in Mansfield

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

Ten heroes were honored for their bravery in the American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. On October 4, the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet presented the Hero Awards to benefit the American Red Cross and to recognize the extraordinary acts, passion, courage and dedication of the volunteers. The event was held at The Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield.

The event commenced with Matti Lynn Chrisman, Miss Ohio 2008, singing the national anthem and Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Allison Miller providing a video message honoring the efforts and actions by the award recipients.

Ten individuals were awarded, and these are the stories of those honored:

Tracy M. Dodson, Call to Action Hero- While at the Wayne County Fair, Tracy witnessed a person in line in front of her go into cardiac arrest. Tracy, a nurse, administered CPR and continued CPR after the Red Cross First Aid Team arrived. Due to her rapid identification and quick action in stressful conditions, the individual regained a heartbeat and was conscious by the time the rescue squad arrived.

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Dr. Edward Adkins, Health Professional Hero- Dr. Atkins has been a primary care physician for more than 30 years. Along with providing quality, compassionate care to his patients in Ohio, Dr. Adkins does mission trips to third world countries to help heal individuals in dire need of health care. Dr. Adkins has provided care to individuals in Africa and he also traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

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Pauline Anderson, Spirit of the Red Cross Hero- Since 2006, Pauline’s quarterly blood drives have collected 1,956 blood donations, and will easily clear the 2,000 mark this year. These drives may have helped save nearly 6,000 lives. Pauline’s extraordinary work as a Blood Drive Coordinator began in 2001, when her step daughter put on a blood drive honoring the life of her mother, who passed away from leukemia a year earlier.

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Hunter Woodruff, Call to Action Hero- Hunter, while driving home from his job, had noticed a car trapped in flood water in Mansfield. Without thinking twice, Hunter pulled over and jumped into the flood water. Due to Hunter’s quick action, the driver of the sinking car was saved.

Officer Ryan Garner, A Presence to Remember- Officer Ryan Garner, a Mansfield K-9 officer, was a fixture of the community. Officer Garner had a passion for being a police officer and was dedicated to not only helping his fellow officers, but also helping individuals in need. Officer Garner passed away from lung cancer in May 2018.

 Officer John Fuller, Police Hero- Officer John Fuller was the first community policing officer in Mansfield, as well as the community’s first bike patrol officer. Officer Fuller was committed to bridging the gap between the police and the community. His love for the community was evident by his interactions with children and their families. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Officer Fuller took personal time and traveled to New York City to help locate individuals trapped in the rubble.

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Merris Welge, Community Educator Hero- Merris has volunteered his time educating the community through the North Central Ohio SCORE organization for 22 years. SCORE is a mentoring program that provides free counseling, advice and resources to people who are in business or who wish to start a business.

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Jan Wendling, Military Inspiration Hero- Jan, a Mansfield resident, served as a tank commander for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Following his return from the war, Jan served as a Mansfield police officer and helped develop the Mansfield Vietnam War Memorial.

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Missy Houghton, Animal Advocate Hero- Missy is the passionate director of the Humane Society of Richland County. She is making a difference locally through education and action. One animal Missy helped save was a cat named Vandy. Vandy arrived as a kitten with severe burns, missing an ear and an exposed skull. Missy was able to contact the Horizon Animal Hospital, which performed a skin graft surgery in April 2017. Vandy survived and has made appearances at Humane Society fundraisers.

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The event was managed by Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter volunteer board member Luke Beekman, who also produced a video honoring the award winners, which was shown during the event.

To view photos from the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet Hero Awards, visit our Flickr page.

The Aftermath of a Home Fire

By: img_3035Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Few expect a fire to destroy their home.   Wooster-area pastor, Nick Cleveland, certainly never expected his family to feel the devastation of a fire.

Nick was in the car when he received a call from his wife, Vicki.

“We’re all out of the house,” she said. “Our house is on fire. It’s bad.”

The couple tried to comprehend their loss as firefighters tackled the blaze. Thinking to the future, Nick and Vicki struggled to piece together their next steps. The fire had thrust them into a harsh reality.

“Where are we going to live?” Nick said. “Where are my kids going to be? Are they going to be okay?”

The situation overwhelmed them. They felt helpless, but they were not alone. Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie and Heartland Chapter knew they would need plenty of support. She started working right away to get them the things they would need.

“The minute that immediate tangible support shows up it is a game changer,” Nick said. “Immediate support turns helpless toward hopeful.”

The Red Cross gave them shelter when they had none, provided them financial assistance to purchase food and clothing, and began solving problems that Nick and Vicki had yet to even anticipate.

“When the Red Cross showed up… it helped turn our tragedy and helpless feelings toward hopeful ones,” Nick said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your help when we needed it most!”

The difficulties in home fires do not end with the fire. Through the weeks afterwards, the Red Cross and our volunteers help by ensuring those in need regain some of their lost stability.

Many believe, incorrectly, that they have 10 minutes to exit a burning home. The actual time is closer to two minutes. Education and preparedness is a critical during in a home fire. Through Operation Save-A-Life, we work with local firefighters and volunteers install smoke alarms and provide fire safety education.

“I’ll never forget July the fifth. Ever,” said Nick in a sermon shortly after the incident.

For more information on Red Cross fire preparedness initiatives visit Operation Save-A-Life.

Dining for a Cause

What pairs well with an amazing chef and a beautiful restaurant? Raising money to benefit the mission of the American Red Cross in Ashland, Erie, Holmes, Huron, Lorain, Richland, and Wayne Counties – of course!

On March 11, 86 people attended the Red Tie Affair at Chez Francois in Vermillion. The chef prepared an exclusive five course meal of seasonal favorites, paired with the finest of wines.

The event raised $15,500 for Red Cross services at the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

We would like to say a special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Columbia Gas, as well as our mission sponsor, Nordson Corporation. Other sponsors of the evening include Wickens, PolyOne, Buckeye CableSystem, Pepperidge Farm/ Payne Nickles (shared sponsorship), Bettcher Foundation, and Mercy Health.

For more photos from the event be sure to visit our Facebook page (and like us while you are there!)

Heroes in the Heartland Honored

Volunteers are the backbone of the American Red Cross. More than 340,000 people volunteered their time and talent to the Red Cross nationwide last year. Of that number, 350 volunteers are from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter, which covers seven counties, from Erie to the north to Holmes in the south. Many of them were honored during a celebration for “Everyday Heroes” on September 24.

Volunteers participate in a range of activities. They may provide assistance to people displaced by a disaster – like a home fire or flood – providing access to shelter, meals and other immediate needs. They provide disaster victim with mental health support, and help reunite family members separated by disasters. At large scale disasters, volunteers provide food and water to firefighters and other first responders. They help hold blood drives to make sure our hospitals have adequate supplies. Volunteers teach CPR and first aid, and provide services to military members and their families. And they travel, anywhere Red Cross services are needed.

Among the volunteers honored at Chapter headquarters in Wooster are Brenda Greegor, who logged more hours volunteering than any other board member. Pat Shaw was honored for being the most active blood services volunteer. Mike Priest was the volunteer who spent the most time at First Aid Stations. Ron Armentrout had most Chapter Services volunteer hours. And William “Bill” Chapman donated more hours working disasters than any other volunteer.

Bill also got top volunteer honors for most overall hours logged.

“Some of our volunteers have been with us for more than 40 years,” said Chapter Executive Director, Katie Myers-Griffith. “They provide invaluable services to the residents of the seven counties in our chapter. I can’t thank them enough.”

Those who attended the celebration for “Everyday Heroes” were treated to a picnic dinner, and several received raffle gifts provided by businesses in the community.
But the real gift is in knowing how dedicated Red Cross volunteers are always ready to help.

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If you are interested in volunteering in your community, please visit our website: http://www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.