Super Heroes Honored at Air Base

By Karen Conklin, Executive Director, Lake to River Chapter

Lucky Lake to River Volunteers were honored on April 27th at a VIP event at the 910th Airlift Wing. If you have ever been on a military base you know it’s tough to get through security. Our thanks to the 50 volunteers who sent in the required information a week ahead of time so that security at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station could clear them to get on the base.  Super Heroes was the theme because we know our military are heroes but so are our Red Cross volunteers.

board meeting

The Lake to River Chapter Board of Directors

Prior to the social event, the Lake to River Board of Directors met and also held the annual meeting.  The Board of Directors is working hard to make the 7th Acts of Courage event June 14th the best ever. The following volunteers will be serving another three-year term on the board. They are Kelly Becker, Patti Davis, Lou Joseph, Tifinie Lacomb, Amy Lower, Florence Wang and Phil Wilson. We thank them for their commitment and leadership.

Major Julian

Major Scott Julian

Thanks to Major Scott Julian (also a Red Cross Board Member) who gave a quick synopsis of the role of the 910th Airlift Wing. Did you know they fly the C-130 Cargo Planes and are the only base that is activated for oil spills or to spray for the Zika Virus?

Melissa

Melissa Papini

Good food, camaraderie and lots of laughs were everywhere as Disaster Program Manager Melissa Papini led the group in the “toilet paper” challenge. How many squares would you take if handed a roll of toilet paper at the table with strangers? Lesson learned, you have to tell something about your life for every square you take.  In some cases, as the kids say “TMI” –  too much information was hilariously shared.

The group appreciated the warm messages from Mike Parks and Kristen Gallagher, both of whom had family obligations.  Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole personally thanked all “our heroes for their volunteer work to turn helplessness into hope.” We could never meet mission without our volunteers according to Tim. We also got to bid a kind farewell to Pat Buckhold, who will soon trade her Red Cross staff hat for a volunteer hat in our amazing organization.

K9Highlights for all were our four legged furry heroes on our Lake to River Canine team, who help with Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) and disaster response. These furry friends and their amazing trainers fully embrace the meaning and purpose of therapy dogs wherever they go. Quick to share a furry high five, they are trained to know they are “working” when they don their Red Cross vests and are “just dogs” when out of uniform.

We thank all who came and appreciate your constant devotion to our mission. One final question from me:  “How many squares of toilet paper would you need?” One of the best parts of my job is knowing the incredible resumes of those who do our important work. Lake to River and all Red Cross volunteers are Super Heroes.Debra Paul Pat

If you have an interest in volunteering for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/neo and click the volunteer tab, or call 216-431-3328.  You can also send an email to NEOVolunteer@redcross.org.

Photos by Red Cross volunteer Paul Wadowick, pictured to the right with Debra Kellar and Pat Buckhold of Volunteer Services.  View the photo album here.

From Masury to the Mediterranean

Mahoning Valley Native Works with Red Cross to Help Migrants

By: Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

 

Red Cross and MOAS migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea 2016

Jenelle Eli stands aboard the Responder rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea, some 13 nautical miles off the Libyan Coast.  Photo credit: Mathieu Willcocks/MOAS

When she thinks back to last October, Mahoning Valley native Jenelle Eli remembers working aboard the Responder. She remembers the Mediterranean Sea, gently rocking against the hull of the ship. She remembers looking through inky blackness of the night. And through that shroud of darkness, she remembers the hundreds of migrants trying to escape their own deaths.

Eli is the International Communications Director for the American Red Cross. Last October, she shared her experiences aboard the Responder on a Red Cross blog. The Responder is a search and rescue vessel that operates to provide lifesaving services to those adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. Packed into unstable rafts, these migrants often undertake the perilous journey to cross the sea with the hope that it will have a safe ending.

Eli warns of the risks that migrants face. “If boats weren’t out there to rescue people,” Eli said, “there’s no doubt that they would die at sea.”

After helping migrants reach safety, Eli works to improve their lives. However, despite all the travelling her work entails, “Ohio will always be my home,” she explains. Throughout her journeys, she remembers her beginnings in Masury, Ohio — a small community in Trumbull County, where neighbors are friends and strangers are friendly.

When she was a student attending Ohio University, she found her passion for helping refugees. During her college career, she volunteered with international students, learning of the hardships they faced.

“Some of my friends’ families…were in danger every day,” Eli said. “They weren’t sure if they’d have a home to return to once their degrees were finished—or if they’d even be safe back home.”

Years later, she ended up on the Responder. But on those late nights aboard, when the waves rocked the ship and the winds fell silent, Eli remembered back to Ohio, and she missed it.  She missed the forests and nature. And she missed her friends and family.

“I miss being in the presence of my mom and dad every single day,” Eli said. When she’s travelling abroad, she misses the simple things, such as tap water or pierogi and pepperoni rolls.

Eli understands how overwhelming this is for those who want to help. People should not feel helpless when they hear about the migration crisis, Eli said. “Refugees from all over the world have settled in Cleveland, Akron, and Erie, PA. Anyone who wants to help can do so by welcoming refugees and volunteering with families right here in the USA.”

To learn more about the global Red Cross response to the migration crisis, visit redcross.org/migrationcrisis.  Click here for information on other international services offered by the Red Cross.

 

 

Red Cross and the 910th Airlift Wing team up for “Feel the Heat” event

IMG_4036IMG_4080 IMG_4095 IMG_4133 On Monday, October 27 the
American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley and the 910th Airlift Wing teamed up to conduct a mock aircraft crash disaster training event at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The 2014 “Feel the Heat” event simulated a mock aircraft crash. The 910th Civil Engineer Fire Department responded to contain the aircraft fire while the American Red Cross provided care and comfort to simulated survivors. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the high level of readiness of the air station’s first responders and the everyday work of the area’s American Red Cross staff and volunteers who respond to the plight of those in need of their services in our community. An audience of invited guests and area media outlets were on hand to observe the exercise.

Designed to showcase the partnership between the Red Cross and the military, this exercise was the second event to take place as part of the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

“This exercise is another example of community partnership and support. Since Clara Barton, the Red Cross has been committed to helping our military. We are proud to continue that tradition with our 910th Air Reserve Station and, in doing so, making our community a safer place.”

For more information about the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative, the Youngstown Air Reservation Station and more photos of the event, please visit their site.