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: and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email,