Serving country and community: Dave Riegler, U.S. Army veteran and Red Cross volunteer

A Veterans Day volunteer profile

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

Editor’s note: Regional CEO Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message follows this profile of a volunteer and a veteran.

On Veterans Day, we honor, celebrate, and thank all who served in the United States armed forces, and we at the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region are especially proud and thankful for the many veterans who continue to serve our communities as Red Cross volunteers. Dave Riegler, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and volunteer based at the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, is one of these extraordinary individuals.

Dave RieglerDave began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2005. While recovering from a major surgery, he saw the coverage and call for volunteers after Hurricane Katrina and knew he could help.

And his help has been extraordinary. After serving at a call center in Washington, DC following Katrina, Dave has taken on a number of critical roles and responsibilities over the last 14 years. Dave estimates he has deployed about a dozen times to major disasters and regularly assists in our region. His responsibilities include logistics, warehousing, and database operations, and he often uses his skills to locate and procure needed resources.

Dave’s assistance is greatly appreciated. Rachel Telegdy, Executive Director for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter, stated, “Dave is the type of volunteer that will always step in to help in any way. No matter the day or time I know I can call Dave and never worry about the job getting done. His get it done attitude is commendable and his smile is contagious!”

Dave’s military and private sector accomplishments are also exceptional. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 28 years, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. In addition, Dave had a 40-year career at Goodyear. He began as a machinist and, after earning his engineering degree, moved to corporate engineering. He retired from both the Army and Goodyear in 1997.

Dave is also involved with a number of veterans’ and service organizations, including the Mogadore Lions Club, VFW, a retired military officers’ group, and is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He has a busy Veterans Day and week ahead.

During the interview, Dave’s giving nature was apparent. When asked what he most enjoys about volunteering with the Red Cross, Dave replied meeting people within the organization and helping those in need. He also mentioned that, over the years, he has given blood every time he could. Helping was the major theme in our discussion.

Dave noted how the military and the Red Cross share a commitment to training. When he deploys to a disaster, for instance, the Red Cross ensures everyone has the needed skills.

And he expressed how serving helps instill a sense of personal satisfaction, as well as providing perspective and understanding. For instance, Dave mentioned that there are things in life where we may ask why we’re even bothering. While working with the Red Cross, he sees why.

Finally, Dave said he appreciates being thanked when someone learns he is a veteran. He is sure to thank fellow veterans as well. To Dave and all veterans, on behalf of all of us in the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, thank you.

 

CEO’s Veterans Day message                                                                                     By Mike Parks, American Red Cross

Memorial Day Blog

Greetings to our Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family:  Today, Veterans Day, we have the privilege to honor those members of our armed forces who have faithfully served our great nation.  I use the word “privilege” intentionally because I recently had the “privilege” to attend the funeral of the last remaining World War II Coast Guard POW in Buffalo, NY when the Coast Guard and the community honored this fallen hero whose remains were finally returned home after 77 years.  LT Thomas James Eugene “Jimmy” Crotty was the youngest of five boys and a girl born to Irish immigrants in Buffalo’s old Fifth Ward in 1912.  He also was the captain of the Coast Guard Academy’s football team, president of his graduating class, and a gifted young officer who was sent to rescue passengers off the burning liner Morro Castle and later served as a special deputy on the Bering Sea Patrol.  He was a hero of Corregidor and a survivor of the Bataan Death March.  And on July 19, 1942, Crotty, was dying of diphtheria in the squalid Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp, soon to be given last rites at the edge of a mass grave and lost to his countrymen for 77 years.  I was humbled to be in attendance as Coast Guard paid tribute to LT Jimmy Crotty and his family for their sacrifice.  It was a sobering reminder of all those men and women who have worn the uniform of this country, serving with distinction and humility, so we can all enjoy the freedoms we so often take for granted.  The link below is a short clip of the service honoring LT Crotty.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lt+james+crotty+pow&qpvt=lt+james+crotty+pow&view=detail&mid=BB19DF23AE7D12EB7805BB19DF23AE7D12EB7805&&FORM=VRDGAR

 A bit closer to home, our own Cleveland Cavaliers honored service members at a recent home game.  I’ve included a clip of the moving halftime ceremony featuring our Greater Cleveland Chapter board member, Nic Barlage of the Cavs, recognizing the commitment and dedication of a service members.

https://www.nba.com/cavaliers/video/teams/cavaliers/2019/11/06/2871694/1573003408385-19-20-salute-service-halftime-2871694

Within less than a week, I was privileged (there’s that word again) to observe two moving and meaningful tributes honoring members who served in our armed forces.  I remain moved and humbled by their sacrifices and by those of so many other soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. On this Veterans Day, we all will have the opportunity and privilege, should we choose to seize upon them, to thank and honor those who have served, or are serving our nation, in uniform—please do!  To all of you reading this who have served in the armed forces—thank you for your service and for your sacrifice!  I often come across people who express their regret in having not served in the military.  I always tell them they can still serve now by supporting our military and their families in any number of ways.  November marks Military Family Appreciation Month—I would like to take a moment to thank every spouse, parent, sibling, child, and loved one who supports our men and women of the armed forces—as the above video clips confirm—families make great sacrifices as well. 

 In closing, I hope you share my sincere gratitude in serving in the world’s premier humanitarian organization that traces its roots back to supporting those on the battlefields and continues to serve our armed forces each and every day.  Stay well, stay safe, and remember to thank a veteran and their family!!  Best regards…Mike

Michael N. Parks
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (Retired)
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

Pre-investing in disaster relief

Orville-based Smucker’s commits $500,000 to Annual Disaster Giving Program

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

When disaster strikes, the American Red Cross must be prepared.  Prepared to set up safe shelters, deliver critical supplies, provide emotional support, and help people in need put their lives back together.

Thanks to members of the Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP), we are able to respond whenever and wherever disasters occur.  And one Northeast Ohio company is now a member of the ADGP.

The J. M. Smucker Company is among more than 110 leading corporations and organizations that give to ensure the Red Cross can pre-position supplies, secure shelters, maintain vehicles and train volunteers nationwide, to help keep the Red Cross ready to respond, day and night.

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Richard Smucker – Photo credit/American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Richard Smucker, Executive Chairman of the Company, said, “At Smucker, we have seen first-hand how critical the Red Cross is in times of tragedy – most recently with the devastating wildfires in California last year. We have a facility in Chico, California, and while the facility was not damaged, 19 of our employees were displaced and 13 of those employees sadly lost their homes.”

Each year, the Red Cross immediately responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters around the country— from home fires to tornadoes and severe winter weather, hurricanes and floods to transportation accidents and explosions. The Red Cross not only provides food, shelter and clothing, but also offers comfort and care to help those affected by disaster during their time of greatest need.

“The J. M. Smucker Company and other members of our Annual Disaster Giving Program pre-invest in disaster relief,”  said Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region. “They also help us prepare communities for future disasters, and help families during the recovery process.  We are so grateful for their assistance. It’s because of their help that the Red Cross can always be there in times of need.”

Richard Smucker II

Richard Smucker received the Humanitarian of the year award in May, presented by the immediate past honoree, Beth Mooney of KeyBank.  From left: Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, Richard Smucker, Beth Mooney and Red Cross Regional CEO Mike Parks.

Read the latest story on the National ADGP here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Memorial Day message from CEO Mike Parks

Members of the NEO Red Cross Family:

I wanted to share a few thoughts about the meaning of one of the most special times of the year.

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving their country in the Armed Forces (more than 1.265 million people have given their lives!). Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday, “Memorial Day,” in 1971.

Although Waterloo, New York is known as the birthplace of this holiday because of the community remembrance event it held in 1866, the first national commemoration was held at Arlington National Cemetery in 1868.  At that ceremony, former Union General and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield, gave a speech before 5,000 participants who then helped decorate more than 20,000 soldiers’ graves.

Memorial Day BlogGarfield inspired the crowd when he proclaimed, “We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” I still find those sentiments spoken by a Northeast Ohioan inspiring more than 250 years later!

Memorial Day has become synonymous with the unofficial beginning of summer with parades and backyard barbeques, and for many, a three-day long weekend.  As appropriate and enjoyable as all those things are, my sincere hope is that as members of an organization that also traces our roots back to the Civil War, we will not forget the real meaning of this important day when we honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we still enjoy each and every day.

The more of these special commemorative days I celebrate, the more I avoid wishing others a “Happy” Memorial Day—instead I like to encourage them to have an enjoyable weekend as they “honor” Memorial Day.  So as you take in a parade (don’t forget to stand and put your hand over your heart when the American Flag passes by as it’s carried by a marcher), enjoy a barbecue with friends, take in a ballgame, or take a family trip, I hope you each have an enjoyable weekend as you honor Memorial Day and remember those who gave their all so we could enjoy our weekends in peace and freedom!

Thank you for all you do as dedicated members of the world’s premier humanitarian organization!!

Enjoy and stay safe.

Best regards,

Mike Parks- Regional CEO and U. S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral (Retired)

A hero saves a life with CPR

Honored with National Certificate of Merit

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

March 29, 2019 – Three weeks.  That’s the amount of time that elapsed between Sheila Burke’s certification for American Red Cross Adult First Aid/CPR/AED, and the incident that required her intervention.

Three weeks after receiving her certificate for learning the lifesaving skill in 2018, Sheila found herself performing CPR on a woman who had overdosed on drugs.  It happened at Monarch House, a sober living environment dedicated to women in recovery from addiction.  Monarch House is part of Recovery Resources, where Sheila was an employee.

sheila Burke

Sheila Burke

“I never thought I’d ever use CPR in my lifetime, and there I was, three weeks after taking the course,” she said prior to a recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter.  She was invited to attend the meeting and to receive the American Red Cross Certificate or Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross Training Services course.

The certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States, who is the honorary chairman of the Red Cross, and the signature of the chair of the American Red Cross.

The certificate was accompanied by a citation, which reads, in part, ” Ms. Burke was taking part in a meeting when she was witness to a woman starting to lose consciousness in her chair.  Ms. Burke jumped into action and ran to the victim to check for signs of life. The woman has stopped breathing, did not have a pulse and was turning blue.   After assessing the situation, Ms. Burke instructed a bystander to call 9-1-1.  She started to perform CPR.  Ms. Burke had suspected an overdose of drugs and asked a bystander to retrieve a dose of Naloxone, which was administered.  The woman appeared to regain color and signs of life.”

sheila award

Greater Cleveland Chapter Board Chair Chris Mapes, left, Sheila Burke, and Mike Parks

“We are honored to recognize Sheila for her quick-thinking and decisive action,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “She is a testament to the value of every person learning First Aid and CPR, and how to use an AED.”

Red Cross courses are listed on our website.  You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS for information on First Aid/CPR/AED, Lifeguard, Swimming, and Babysitting courses.

Photo credit: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Thanks for Giving 2018

Volunteers and donors share stories and a meal at second annual event

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It was a family affair.  Our NEO Red Cross family.

Dozens of volunteers and donors gathered on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at Regional Headquarters in Cleveland to hear CEO Mike Parks offer his sincere appreciation for the time, talent and treasure they donate to help fulfill the Red Cross mission.

Red Crossers from all five chapters – Greater Cleveland, Lake Erie/Heartland, Lake to River, Stark and Muskingum Lakes, and Summit. Portage and Medina Counties were represented at the Region’s Thanks for Giving event.

Visit our Facebook page to see Mike’s message, along with a video message from National Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, and a couple of mission moment videos: one addressing the Red Cross effort to help those affected by wildfires in California,  the other with a leukemia survivor who is now an advocate for blood donations.  And see photos captured by communications volunteer Cal Pusateri in our Flickr album.

If you’d like to join our volunteer workforce, visit redcross.org/neo to explore the many volunteer opportunities available.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Please donate blood!

A message from Regional CEO Mike Parks

Northeast Ohio Red Cross Family:  This is truly a special time of year.  This holiday, Thanksgiving, perhaps more than any other, is truly reflective of the nature and character of the American Red Cross.  As we give thanks for all our bountiful blessings, we can’t help but reflect upon the countless people our organization has helped in their times of need.  This season is about caring about others—and that’s what the Red Cross does each and every day of the year.  Simply put, when there is a need–the American Red Cross shows up, cares, and serves.  For that, I’m incredibly grateful—to say nothing of the gratitude felt by those we serve.

Speaking of which, it’s been said we should begin each day with a grateful heart.  I am so grateful for all our partners & stakeholders, generous donors (blood products and financial), amazing volunteers, and dedicated staff who help us prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies each and every day.  Because of you—we’re able to accomplish the American Red Cross humanitarian mission—thank you!!

IMG_6437One of those missions is providing the nation a safe and secure blood supply.  It’s regrettable that less than 40% of our nation’s population CAN give blood (for a variety of reasons).  What’s far more regrettable is that less than 10% of that population CHOOSES to give blood.  My challenge to all of us is to not be part of that 90% of the population that can give but chooses not to donate this life saving product.  Please find time over the next five weeks to donate blood to the American Red Cross.  If you can’t donate, then please encourage a family member, colleague, and/or friend to give.  Every donation counts!!  Thank you in advance for making a difference and helping save lives!

If you’re travelling…please stay safe!  Thank you again for all you do as part of the world’s premier humanitarian organization!! I wish you and yours a wonderfully enjoyable & safe Thanksgiving.

Best regards…Mike

Mike’s Veterans Day Message

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

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Mike Parks

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918 the Allies signed the armistice to end World War I.  That day, originally celebrated as Armistice Day, has evolved over the last 100 years into Veterans Day to honor the service and sacrifice of all veterans.  

This Veterans Day, as we commemorate the centennial of the end of the “war to end all wars,” (as World War I was originally known), we acknowledge it was anything but that as we also honor those brave and dedicated men and women who served in World War I, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf,  Iraq & Afghanistan, as well as those millions of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have secured our freedom during the intervening times of peace.

As we participate in parades, school assemblies, or other events honoring our veterans, please take time to reflect on those veterans that you know personally, be they family, friends, colleagues, or even acquaintances you meet in your daily activities.  Please thank them for their service—that thank you goes a long way and costs us nothing but a few seconds of our time—and it means more than you can imagine to those selfless servants. 

It’s with that gratitude in mind, I thank all of you, especially those who have worn the uniform of our country, for all you have done and continue to do to serve our nation and help support our veterans and the members of our Armed Forces.  As you know, our American Red Cross has a long and distinguished history of serving those in uniform as our genesis can be traced back to the battlefields of our Civil War.  Red Crossers have been serving men and women in the Armed Forces, and their families since our organization’s creation.  This week, we had the privilege of hosting the members of the Crossroads Division Service to the Armed Forces team here in Cleveland—just another reminder of how vitally important the American Red Cross is to the members of our military.  Thank you for recognizing and celebrating our veterans this Veterans Day!  Best regards…Mike