Mike’s Memorial Day Message

By Mike Parks, RADM, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region

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Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family:  This weekend we will commemorate Memorial Day—the last official observance during Military Appreciation Month.  Six days ago we observed Armed Forces Day (May 19th) when we recognized all those who have, or are serving, in our Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard).   This day of commemoration began in 1949 when President Truman proclaimed it would be observed on the third Saturday in May.

We also recognize military spouses’ incredible impact to our lives and communities during this month on Military Spouse Appreciation Day which is observed on the Friday in May right before Mother’s Day ever since President Reagan proclaimed it so in 1984.

As we prepare to recognize Memorial Day, which is often associated with the unofficial start of summer (especially for boaters and anglers on the shores of Lake Erie), we should remember that Memorial Day honors those almost 1.2 million servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving our great nation.  The last Monday in May is set aside for our nation to Honor, Remember, and Never Forget the fallen and their sacrifice.

So as we put burgers on the BBQ in our backyards this weekend, take in some baseball, basketball, or boating, let us not forget why we have this long weekend.  We’re fortunate to live in a part of the country where small town Memorial Day parades are everywhere—please take one in—stand and place your hand over your heart when “Old Glory” passes by—thank a veteran for their service—simply put, remember and honor the sacrifice that has paid, and continues to pay, for our freedom!  As members of the American Red Cross—we’re privileged to serve in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that has a long history of serving our Armed Forces of this world’s greatest nation—an organization that has it’s very roots in the battlefield.  Thank you for what you do and for Honoring, Remembering, and Never Forgetting!  God bless the United States of America.

Yours in service,
Mike Parks.

127 Homes Made Safer in Maple Heights and Akron

Simultaneous Sound the Alarm Events Held Last Saturday

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

More than 300 smoke alarms were installed in homes last Saturday as the American Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign hit the halfway point. The nationwide effort to install 100,000 smoke alarms across the country, and to save lives, began on April 28. The final Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in Northeast Ohio takes place this Saturday in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.

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Sound the Alarm in Maple Heights, 5/5/18

On Saturday, May 5, 204 alarms were installed in 77 homes in Maple Heights. In Akron, 50 homes were made safer, as 115 smoke alarms were installed. In addition, volunteers from the Red Cross and a number of civic groups and corporate partners offered residents valuable fire safety information and helped them create escape plans.

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Sound the Alarm in Akron, 5/5/18

“The Red Cross and our partners helped save lives by making homes safer and communities more resilient,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “And we are truly grateful for the invaluable partnerships that are either created or strengthened through the Sound the Alarm campaign, with local fire departments, community groups like the VA, and corporations like KeyBank helping families throughout the Region.”

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Volunteers from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, including Director Sue Fuehrer, center, with Regional Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, right

You can see more photos from Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events here.  There is still time to volunteer for one of the three remaining Sound the Alarm events. Join the effort to end home fires in Akron this Thursday, May 10 and Friday, May 11, and in Cleveland on Saturday, May 12. Visit soundthealarm.org/neo for more information.

Firm Steps Up During Urgent Appeal for Blood Donations

You can’t miss the banner as you drive just east of downtown Cleveland on I-90.

It’s huge.

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The timing of the message, hanging on a wall facing north at Jergens Inc. couldn’t be better. There is an urgent need for blood and platelet donors, due to a donation shortage this winter.  But even if there wasn’t a shortage, that banner would still be hanging, urging motorists to become blood donors.

“We hang the banner at this time every year,” said Jack Schron, President and CEO of Jergens Inc.  They also hold employee blood drives, 4 or 5 a year, about every 56 days – which is the amount of time donors must wait before giving blood again.

“It’s just the right thing to do, a way to give back,” said Schron, who added, “A lot of people can write a check, but as I tell my kids, only you can decide whether to give your blood and your time.”

Schron shared his motivation for hosting regular blood drives as he donated another pint.  His 83rd.  The CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, Mike Parks, joined Schron as they both gave the gift of life.

 

“We want to recognize loyalty,” said Parks.  “When you look at the culture of this company, the 25-year employees, it’s evident that this company really values loyalty.”

Parks gave a “Challenge Coin” to long-time Human Resources Director, Kathy Puskas, for organizing the blood drives at Jergens for the past 25 years.

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Mike Parks gives a Challenge Coin to Kathy Puskas, long-time Human Resources Director at Jergens Inc. for organizing more than 100 blood drives at the Cleveland manufacturing plant

As we recently noted, severe winter weather, in addition to seasonal illnesses and hectic holiday schedules, have collectively contributed to about 28,000 fewer donations than what was needed in November and December. Blood and platelet donations are being distributed to hospitals as fast as they come in. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

“The Red Cross is grateful to Jergens, and so many companies throughout Northeast Ohio who host regular blood drives throughout the year,” said Christy Peters, External Communications Manager for the Northern Ohio Region.  “If they did not open their doors and allow us to have blood drives, we could not continue to meet the needs of local hospitals. Every blood drive sponsor is a vital part of our lifesaving mission.”

Eligible donors can schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“Hey, if you can do it,” says Schron, “go for it!”

Thanks For Giving

A Thanksgiving Message from CEO Mike Parks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I will soon sit down for what I know will be a wonderfully delicious and far too filling turkey dinner with family and friends.  Yes—we have so much for which to be thankful—something that comes top of mind this time of year.  One of the many special things about working for the Red Cross is I get to see things for which to be grateful all year round—including the last three months.

This past three months have been nothing short of amazing.  The American Red Cross launched wide-ranging relief efforts to help people devastated by a historic hurricane season, deadly wildfires in California, and mass shooting incidents in Las Vegas and Texas.  Since Mid-August, the Red Cross has:

  • Provided 1.3 million overnight stays
  • Served more than 10.5 million meals and snacks, and
  • Distributed more than 6 million emergency relief items

In Northeast Ohio, we:

  • Deployed 119 volunteers and staff to support disaster operations as well as all four of our emergency response vehicles
  • Welcomed more than 100 new volunteers into our Red Cross family
  • Installed 7,262 free smoke alarms through the Home Fire Campaign, making 2,732 households safer.

This photo was taken in Puerto Rico, and shows Northeast Ohio COO Jorge Martinez negotiating a mud-covered road to deliver water to residents of Yauco.

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All of these things were accomplished while your American Red Cross continued to prevent and alleviate human suffering right here in Northeast Ohio, responding to home fires and other calamities.  Thank you to all of you for your support of time, talent, and treasure.  Yes—Northeast Ohio raised literally millions of dollars to support Red Cross relief efforts—thank you!!

I hope you each get a chance to spend some quality time with family & friends, enjoying fantastic food, watching fun football, and taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect on those many things for which we’re thankful and grateful.  Thank you again for all you do…Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Best regards…Mike

Editor’s note: Dozens of volunteers and donors from across the Northeast Ohio Region gathered at Regional Headquarters in Cleveland on Tuesday, November 21, for a “Thanks for Giving” celebration, in appreciation for their sacrifices and service to the Red Cross during the past several months.  A photo album of the event can be viewed by clicking here.

 

Veterans Day Message from Mike

The following is a message from CEO Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, United States Coast Guard (Ret.) for Veterans Day, 2017

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Mike Parks, RADM, U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.)

Greetings to the Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family!!   Yes indeed—winter weather has arrived in our Region—brrrrr!!!  Please be sure to review our recent blog posts on winter safety!

The past couple of years I’ve shared some historical perspectives about Veterans Day.  This year, I had the privilege of speaking to my 14-year-old daughter’s school assembly about the meaning of Veterans Day—the audience ranged from Kindergarten students to parents and teachers.

I found myself modifying my message for this multi-generational group, from defining the term “veteran”; describing the five branches of the Armed Forces; explaining that “freedom isn’t free” and that it has always required sacrifice from those who serve—as well as their families; appreciating and recognizing veterans, including actually engaging them; appropriately honoring our flag and the National Anthem; describing various training requirements; and clearing up the differences between Veterans Day (honoring those that have served), Memorial Day (honoring those that lost their lives in service of our nation), and Armed Forces Day (honoring those currently serving).

Their questions ranged from “Do you get badges in the military?”; “Who’s your boss?”; “Who founded the Coast Guard?”; to “Did you fight in World War I?”  (that last one stung a bit!).

As much as I enjoyed sharing time and some thoughts with these kids and parent/teachers—I think the video they showed at the beginning of the assembly does a tremendous job of explaining the importance of remembering our veterans—and not just on Veterans Day.  Please take two minutes to watch this clip I Fought For You.   To all of you who have served as a member of our Armed Forces—thank you for your service!  And thank you to all of you for all you do to help those in need in Northeast Ohio—each and every day!!  Semper Paratus (Coast Guard Motto—Always Ready)…Mike

KeyBank Volunteers Help the Red Cross Make Homes Safer

About 60 homes in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood are now safer, after volunteers from KeyBank helped the American Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department distribute valuable fire safety information, including home escape plans on Saturday, October 7, 2017.  They also helped install more than 150 smoke alarms.

“It’s been proven that working smoke alarms save lives,” said Don Kimble, KeyBank Chief Financial Officer and member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter. “I’m grateful to our employees who helped make a neighborhood safer by installing smoke alarms in so many homes.”

The Sound the Alarm Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event took place on the day before the start of National Fire Prevention Week.  The Red Cross promotes fire prevention all year long, offering safety tips that can help make your home safer.

“There’s no better time to develop a fire safety plan for your family than this week,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “And working smoke alarms cut the risk of serious injury or death due to home fire in half.”

See our photo album of the event on Flickr.  For more information on the Red Cross Home Fire Safety Campaign, visit our website at redcross.org/neo.

 

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.