Highlights from the NEO Region in FY 17

More than 15,000 smoke alarms installed.  More than 31,000 residents enrolled in Preparedness, Health and Safety courses. More than 150,000 units of blood collected. Emergency services provided to more than 1,800 families of service men and women. More than $850,000 in financial assistance provided to more than 4,200 residents of Northeast Ohio since June 1, 2016.

These are some of the highlights of our fiscal year.  They were shared with the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Chapter during the annual meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2017.  Many of the highlights were featured in  a video shown during the meeting.

Laurie Laidlaw, Donna Rae Smith and Lorraine Frankino-Dodero were recognized as Red Cross Visionaries. Lorraine was also honored as Philanthropist of the Year, for the generous gift her family foundation recently made to help us purchase a new Emergency Response Vehicle.

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Board Chairman Shawn Riley, Lorraine Frankino-Dodero and CEO Mike Parks

CEO Mike Parks recounted the response to a recent fire in Cleveland, which affected a family of 12, and introduced Gary Grano and Talib Zayed, the two Red Cross volunteers who provided assistance to the family.

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The meeting ended with a call to action: to help the Red Cross install 100,000 smoke alarms in September and October, during the Sound the Alarm. Save a Life initiative. Everyone is invited to join us, by volunteering to Sound the Alarm, when we will install smoke alarms in the homes of residents in Cleveland and Akron.  Or by providing financial support at redcross.org.

Memorial Day Remarks from CEO Mike Parks

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Mike Parks, Regional Chief Executive Officer and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral (Retired) delivered the keynote address at the Memorial Day commemoration for the city of Pepper Pike.  In his remarks, Mike noted how Memorial Day and the Red Cross both have their roots in the Civil War, and that the Red Cross continues to provide Service to the Armed Forces. He also wrote the following message to Red Cross workers in the Northeast Ohio Region:

Members of the NEO Red Cross Family:    Memorial Day is such a special day when we pay homage to those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might be able to enjoy the freedoms we do each and every day.    As many of you know, both Memorial Day and the Red Cross have their origins in the Civil War.  The first Memorial Day—then known as Decoration Day—was in 1866 when Civil War soldiers’ graves were adorned with flowers.  And of course, Clara Barton’s service providing aid and comfort to soldiers as a nurse during the Civil War inspired her to begin the American Red Cross. 

 Thank you all for all you do each and every day to help pay it forward and never taking our freedom for granted.  Just a reminder, the National Moment of Remembrance Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 to “encourage people of the US to give something back to their country which provides them with so much freedom and opportunity.”  

I encourage all of us to join together on this Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m., wherever we may be, whatever we may be doing, to contemplate the cost of our freedoms…the freedom to speak our mind…to live where we’d like…to practice whatever religion we choose…to vote…to travel anywhere in this great…the freedom to be anything we choose to be…the freedom to dream…because we are all Americans and we can come together, to honor those who have given their all—so that we may be free! 

I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of singer Lee Greenwood…you know the tune:  “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.  And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me!” 

Have a great day & God Bless the USA!  Best regards…Mike

Red Cross Fire and Ice Ball

Fundraising Continues with KeyBank Challenge

A message from CEO Mike Parks

Thank you to our amazing Red Cross supporters who helped us host a successful “Fire & Ice Ball” on Saturday, March 25, 2017!  We couldn’t have pulled this off without all of your efforts…from table sponsorships, donations of auction items and programs,  sharing invitations with friends and family, and dedicating your evening to our lifesaving mission…it was a wonderful celebration!

To those of you in attendance, we hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did!  We certainly missed all of our friends who couldn’t join us, but we sincerely appreciate your support from afar.

For all of our Red Cross friends, we hope you will plan to join us at a future event, blood drive or neighborhood fire safety walk soon.  We could not fulfill the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross here in Northeast Ohio without your dedication to, and support of, our mission!

A special thank you to Beth Mooney of KeyBank for graciously accepting our Steve D. Bullock Humanitarian Award for 2017.  We are truly honored and grateful for the Inspirational Match of $25,000 that Beth announced on behalf of “Operation-Save-A-Life”.   Those funds will help our collaborative efforts to install new smoke alarms in every home, one neighborhood at a time.

If you would like to support “Operation-Save-A-Life” and take part in this Inspirational Match Campaign, please log onto  https://www.redcross.org/arcneohio-pub   to make a donation on behalf of the American Red Cross and KeyBank.   Please feel free to share this message with your friends.  Thank you for your generosity and commitment to the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland!

Best regards…Mike

Here are some photos from the Ball.  See dozens more in our Flickr album here.

Mike’s New Year’s Challenge

A message to all American Red Cross Volunteers in Northeast Ohio:  Happy New Year!!  I trust this finds you well and that you enjoyed your holidays.  First, thanks to all of you who worked over the holidays—your support to our clients was critical in their times of need and instrumental to their roads to recovery.

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Second, I’d like to offer you each a challenge for the new year–2017.  It’s something I’ve said to almost every gathering of volunteers since I started more than a year and a half ago so a number of you have heard it before.  I challenge each of you to recruit one volunteer in the next 12 months.  I ask each of you to identify one individual you know that is, or can become, passionate about our Red Cross mission of caring for others, and is someone that you’d like to work with because they’re nice, and convince them to join our effort by becoming a Red Cross volunteer!  If every current volunteer accepts and meets this challenge, we’ll double the number of volunteers we have to better serve the 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio.  Now that’s exciting!!

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Finally, thank you all for your tremendous support to the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio—we literally could not perform our essential mission without you—thank you!!  Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2017!!  Best regards…Mike

 

Ordinary People Honored for Taking Extraordinary Action

Recognized with Highest Award the Red Cross Offers

Lifesavers.  When we hear that word, we think of surgeons, firefighters, police officers, lifeguards.

Add teacher and massage therapist to the list.

Two people who have been certified by the Red Cross for their lifesaving skills have now been honored after putting those skills to use.

Certificates of Merit were awarded to Natasha Alexander-Cooley and Molly O’Donnell.  The certificates, signed by President Barack Obama, cite their “selfless and humane action in sustaining a life.”  They are the highest award given by the Red Cross to someone who sustains or saves a life by using the skills learned during Red Cross training.

Natasha, an educator at Tremont Montessori School in Cleveland, was honored for saving the life of a choking student, by performing several abdominal thrusts until food was dislodged from the choking boy’s throat.

Molly, a licesned massage therapist and trained First Aid/CPR/AED instructor, was cited for her efforts to save the life of her Instructor Trainer, who suffered cardiac arrest prior to the start of their class earlier this year.

“The Red Cross trains people to react to emergency situations, and these individuals did exactly what they were trained to do,” said Charlotte Rerko, Regional COO and a Registered Nurse.   “It was an honor to present these awards to them.”

Charlotte was also honored with a Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.  She also responded to the stricken CPR Instructor.

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Mike Parks, Charlotte Rerko and Shawn Riley

The awards were presented by Mike Parks, Regional CEO, and Shawn Riley, Board Chair, during the quarterly meeting of the Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors on Thursday, December 8.  There’s a photo gallery from the meeting on the Greater Cleveland Chapter Facebook page.

The Red Cross teaches not only First Aid/CPR/AED, but also Basic Life Support, Babysitting and Childcare, and Lifeguarding.  Go to redcross.org/take-a-class to learn these live saving skills.  You may be called on someday to take extraordinary action in order to save a life.

CEO’s Veterans Day Message

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Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Veterans Day Program 2015

By Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Family Members:   Yes…it’s Veterans Day and we have Red Cross members representing us in parades and festivities around the country in honor of those who have served our grateful nation.  For those of you who are veterans—thank you for your faithful service.  For those of you who have family members who are or were veterans, thank you for supporting them.  As every person who has worn the uniform of this country will attest—support from family and friends was crucial to their success.    And thank you to all the Red Crossers who support our Servicemen and Servicewomen every day of the year.

Here is a blog post that I thought you might find interesting from the Senior Vice President for the American Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces (SAF), Koby Langley, it really gets to the heart of why we do what we do.

As we pause from our Red Cross duties to reflect on Veterans Day, I thought it fitting to share some historical thoughts with you about one of the American Red Cross’ most distinguished leaders who was also arguably one of the greatest military leaders in our nation’s history, General George C. Marshall:

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2nd Annual City of Cleveland Veterans Day Parade

“By the summer of 1949, President Truman was mulling over means of bringing Marshall back into public service as head of the American Red Cross. There were signs that Basil O’Connor, head of the American Red Cross since 1944, might soon retire. Why not, thought the President, give Marshall that job? It would associate him again with public affairs in a way that carried fewer burdens than had his previous appointments.

Basil O’Connor had been named by President Roosevelt to succeed Norman Davis as Chairman of the Red Cross when Davis died in 1944. O’Connor was very hardworking but had managed to offend and alienate some of the older Red Cross leaders. Many of the disagreements had been smothered during the war, when the Red Cross had given outstanding service to servicemen, refugees, prisoners of war, and others desolated throughout the world.

Part of the trouble came from the apparent domination of the organization in the late thirties by wealthy and socially prominent Eastern-establishment figures on the Red Cross board of governors. Active heads of chapters in other cities and regions complained that they had no voice in operations. Volunteer workers, a highly important part of the Red Cross’s activities, charged that they were not used or involved in decisions. These charges and complaints boiled down to the bitter feeling that a very few people ran the organization.

In 1946, the Red Cross made a decision to create a special committee headed by E. Roland Harriman, Averell Harriman’s brother, a partner in Brown Brothers, Harriman, and manager of the North Atlantic region of the Red Cross during the war. He and his committee members undertook to meet some of the chief complaints of others in the organization, and their proposed changes were approved by Congress and President Truman in the spring of 1947. The President of the United States was to appoint the President, and the board of governors was enlarged and rearranged to give far more representation to the chapters. Chairman O’Connor now became President.

Despite O’Connor’s efforts to stop controversy, sharp criticism persisted. By 1948, it was evident that the organization needed a leader of great stature who had not been associated with the infighting, and who could respond to the claims of all factions without prejudice. O’Connor made it plain that he was ready to step down.

Truman naturally thought of Marshall. His appeals for the European Recovery Program were of the exact kind needed by the American Red Cross. During the war he had sought public support for Red Cross drives, and his war’s-end reports praised the organization’s service to the men of the armed forces and their families. His 1948 speeches for ERP showed his effectiveness in convincing the same types of people that the Red Cross needed. Few were aware of another factor that made him so desirable as O’Connor’s successor. As Pershing’s aide in France after World War I and later in the United States, he came into contact with many Eastern- establishment figures, whose influence was still needed by the Red Cross. He was perhaps the one person who could bridge the gap between the factions…”27280817982_d96f924a01_z

“Marshall set out to eliminate friction, to fire the workers with enthusiasm, to smooth out dissension. In the early months of the year he spent as head of the Red Cross, he was on the road constantly. In the last months, the coming- of the Korean War gave added emphasis to the Blood Bank program, and to morale-building services concerned with the troops and their families, thus gaining added support for overall programs.

The number of personal trips he made surprised even him. Near the end of 1949, he wrote Queen Frederika of Greece, who had asked about his new job, that although he was at Pinehurst for the winter, he would be traveling constantly on Red Cross business from January 15 until March 7, some 20,000 miles. Since taking over in October, he had covered 9,000 miles. In fact, he said, he would be increasingly busy until he took a few days off for rest in August.”    From George C. Marshall: Statesman 1945-1959 by Forrest C. Pogue

Mike’s Louisiana Report #1

Greetings…I’ve been in Baton Rouge since last Friday responding to DR063-17–a flooding incident that is the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012 with more than 60,000 homes and 7,000 businesses destroyed. I am assigned to a new pilot concept in Louisiana called the Red Cross Liaison Network along with other Regional Executives and Executive Directors from around the country to provide dedicated support to specific Parish Government and community leaders. This focused-care approach has enabled the relief operation to better understand and better meet community-specific needs, especially those arising on short or no notice.

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Photo Credit: Mike Parks/American Red Cross

I’ve been assigned to Livingston Parish, one of the hardest hit regions–the devastation of homes and business that I’ve witnessed first hand has been incredible. One of my responsibilities is to check in on our shelter operations–there are currently three Red Cross shelters operating in Livingston Parish. Imagine my surprise when I rolled into one shelter and ran into two volunteers (Jeff and Tom) from Canton, who had just arrived to support the operation. It was a treat to see fellow Northeast Ohio teammates engaged in supporting these folks who have lost so much, and in many cases, everything. It’s a privilege to serve alongside such dedicated Red Cross volunteers.

The Red Cross’ work here is far from done and will require many more volunteers and resources. I’d like to thank all those from Northeast Ohio who have already deployed to help with this disaster. And for those who are considering doing so, be forewarned that it’s hard work, but it’s incredibly meaningful and rewarding when you can be on the ground helping those in such desperate need–doing what the Red Cross has done since its founding 135 years ago–caring for and helping those in need. I appreciate everyone’s support back home in Northeast Ohio. The Red Cross is still facing the need for tremendous resources to respond to this disaster, and everyone’s support is greatly appreciated.

Michael N. Parks