Volunteer Profile: Jeanette Petrick

Greater Cleveland Chapter Volunteer is Passionate About Helping Members of the Military, Veterans and Their Families

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I always knew I’d do volunteer work with the military when I retired from nursing, so I contacted the Red Cross and they put me in just the right place,” says Jeanette Petrick of Strongsville.

Jeannette Petrick

Jeanette thrives on what she calls the “human contact” that she experienced as an acute care nurse and now as a volunteer for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

“I do casework, calling to follow up with families that have had emergency communications (through the Red Cross) with family members on deployment,” she says. “Usually that’s in connection with a death, or maybe an illness; sometimes it’s something nice, like a birth in the family.

“We check to be sure the communications went smoothly, but then as I talk with them, I might find out they need other services – like financial help to get their service member home for a funeral – and we can point them to other resources, either through the Red Cross or military support organizations or their communities.”

Jeanette’s compassion is obvious as she recounts the story of a young Navy wife who is pregnant while her husband is deployed on a ship. “She hasn’t seen him all that much in the last two years,” she says. “It reminds you just how much military families really do sacrifice.”

For Jeanette, supporting our men and women in uniform is more than a professional or even a humanitarian issue: It’s personal. Her father served in the Navy during World War II, she had brothers and cousins in the armed forces during the Vietnam era and her only son is now in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

“I love my country,” she says, “and I love that I can help people through the Red Cross.”

In Northeast Ohio, 62 volunteers like Jeanette are the manpower of the Service to the Armed Forces, according to their volunteer leader, Sharon Nicastro. In addition to active duty military, SAF serves veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard and their families.

If you’d like to fit into this vital volunteer role, or explore the many other volunteer opportunities within the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/neo, and click the volunteer tab, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

 

 

Volunteer Profile: Sue J. Miller

Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter Volunteer Makes a Big Impact 

By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross Volunteer

Sue J. Miller is a Red Cross Volunteer who has not just an uplifting charisma, but an extravagant courage that inspires everyone around her. Five years ago when Sue decided to retire, she had many plans to keep herself busy,  but her main aim was to help people with anything she could.  According to Sue, her Richland County community had done a lot for her family and she wanted to give back by getting involved in voluntary work. That is when in 2015, Sue joined the Red Cross. Among many other duties that she performs by giving more than 30-hours per week at Red Cross, she is an active member of the Disaster Relief Team, Shelter Response Team and Food Canteen Team.

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Sue J. Miller, left, and Sue K. Miller working at a canteen for first responders following a train derailment in Ashland County earlier this year.

The motivation to continue her extraordinary work comes from the community she serves. In her own words, “when people come to me and say thank you for everything you did for us, it fills my heart with satisfaction and happiness. I believe in the Red Cross mission of alleviating sufferings and pain of people and that is who I want to be”.

“Sue was one of our Chapter’s outstanding “stayployed” volunteers during the horrific national disasters last fall,” said Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie/Heartland (LEH) Chapter.” Her compassion and commitment to our mission is an inspiration to all of us. We are very lucky to have Sue in our LEH chapter.”

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It is also important to note that while Red Cross Volunteers leave no stone unturned in helping the communities around them,  the Red Cross as a body also takes care of its volunteers. When Sue had an accident while on assignment in 2016, she broke both arms. Not only did the Red Cross take care of her treatment logistics, but they also made sure to give her a call every Wednesday 9:00 am for the next eight weeks to make sure she was okay. For Sue, that compassion means everything.  Eventually, the whole story is about human love and care. Whether you give it in some form or receive it back in any other form. Be it a hug or a thank you from a community member.

The Red Cross is fortunate to have a volunteer like Sue J. Miller.

You can volunteer too, get started at redcross.org/neo!

Volunteer Profile: Rich Rock

Stark and Muskingum Lakes Volunteer Proudly Delivers Great Service

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Q:  So how do you deliver great service to a four-county area?

A:  With great volunteers, that’s how.

One of the best, according to Kim Kroh, Executive Director of Stark County & Muskingum Lakes Chapter is volunteer Rich Rock.  A volunteer who just received his 10-year pin, Rich does it all. “He is a Godsend. We’d be out of luck without him,” says Kim.

Sometime, more than 10 years ago, a lifetime friend of Rich’s, who had moved to Texas, mentioned his volunteer efforts with the Red Cross there, and suggested that Rich would probably enjoy volunteering as well. They had grown up together, enjoyed similar interests, and enjoyed serving the community, so Rich took his advice and signed up.  His friend was right, and Rich is still serving.

Rich is a DAT (Disaster Action Team) member as well as a general volunteer, distributing emergency preparedness kits at the mall in New Philadelphia on Preparedness Day.

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Rich Rock, second from right, and other Red Cross volunteers prepare to install smoke alarms with the New Philadelphia Fire Department

In addition, Rich also installs smoke alarms during the chapter’s home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.

Working as a DAT member, covering multiple fires and other catastrophes, he says he is always touched when he sees a family that has lost literally everything.  “It is heartbreaking to see,” says Rich.

He still recalls an event where the husband and wife had a major fire, not losing everything, but a significant loss nevertheless. By the time Rich arrived on scene, the husband had taken the car to run an errand. After spending quite some time talking with the overly stressed-out wife, he said he began to feel that they were making a personal connection.

When the husband returned, Rich made a tongue-in-cheek comment about the woman’s emotional state, at which the husband was taken aback.  Starting to laugh, the wife said, “Oh, don’t worry, that’s what I need now more than anything, just a chance to laugh about this horrific incident.”  Group hugs ensued, and Rich left feeling that he had made another good connection with the community.

“Those are the things that stick with you, and make you feel that it’s worth the effort,” says Rich.

If you like helping the community, do as Rich did, and VOLUNTEER.  You can start the process here.

Volunteer Profile: Dan Simcox

Lake to River Chapter Volunteer is a Former School Teacher and Principal

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Communications Volunteer Lead

April is National Volunteer Month and the Red Cross is featuring stories about some of the selfless volunteers that make up the team of people who help fulfill the organization’s mission. Today’s volunteer profile is on Dan Simcox, one of many everyday heroes who offer their time and talent to help those in their community.

Dan is a retired teacher and principal from Columbiana, Ohio. He grew up in Worthington, went to Muskingum College, and received his Masters from Youngstown State University. Dan credits his parents, teachers, and coaches as the biggest influences in his life.

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When Dan reflects on his incredible career in education, the memories he most treasures are what he calls the “smaller moments” like the extra 15 minutes he would take to sit down and listen to a student who was having trouble at home or school and in doing so, knowing he helped make their life a little easier. He treasures letters from former students that have come to him after those students went on to college.  A number of them have sent him the papers they wrote when given the assignment “Your life’s biggest influences besides your parents.” He sometimes reads those letters when he’s feeling nostalgic.

It’s is no surprise that a man who made a career of helping, teaching, and encouraging others would choose to volunteer with the Red Cross after retirement, which interestingly was just a short time before hurricane Katrina hit. At that time, Dan didn’t have a detailed understanding of exactly what the Red Cross did or how they operated. But he thought they could use some help so he volunteered and was quickly sent to New Orleans to work on an Emergency Response Vehicle in Mass Feeding. He said after the first day his supervisor told everyone that she was changing  the routes, since people were getting too emotionally involved with their clients. He didn’t understand then how that could happen. But that changed quickly. When it was time for him to go home, he thought, “How can I leave these people? What will they do without me?”

Yes, he got involved…and he has been a steady, hard-working, and passionate Red Cross volunteer ever since.

That is the volunteer spirit. That is the heart of Dan Simcox.

This week, appropriately during this time when the Red Cross is honoring its volunteers, Dan will lead a class on diversity.  He believes it is important for people who volunteer to understand they will be working in a very diverse world, using a plethora of different volunteers. He says to be effective, “we need to know how to use that diversity to our advantage by using different experiences and different world views to serve this diverse population in the best way possible.”

Dan says the most rewarding part of working for the Red Cross is that often you get the opportunity to be the first step towards someone’s recovery.  “After a disaster, a family may have lost everything and the future looks without hope,” Dan says. “But the Red Cross can tell them that there is a safe place for them and their children to stay for a few days, food to eat, and money for clothes and essentials, and that after they get rested we will help them find the resources they need to start the road to recovery.  The relief you see in their eyes when they realize there is a reason for hope is priceless. Through the Red Cross I can make the world a better place for someone who is having an extremely bad day.”

If Dan’s story inspired you to volunteer, you can find out more here.

Volunteers – The Lifeblood of the Red Cross

National Volunteer Week  – Spotlighting Red Cross Volunteers: Pam Williams

By Pat Kunklier, Red Cross Board Member and Communications Volunteer

Volunteers help neighbors in need and carry out more than 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross.

Pam

Pam Williams, a Red Cross national disaster volunteer and chairperson of the board of trustees of the Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties, said that at national disasters “we are seeing the country at its worst, but people at their best.”

Pam cited a mother who had just lost everything she owned in a flood, staying in a shelter and with no idea where the next home might be for her and her family. But this mother pointed across the room to another group of people and asked that they be helped first because “they can use the help more.”

Pam said, “When I see this kind of spirit it puts a lot of things in perspective.”

She added, “If we can do anything to make the situation even a little less stressful, frightening, hopeless for people who really are having the worst days of their lives, how can we not feel blessed to have been given the opportunity.”

If you’re not already a Red Cross volunteer, please:

  • Volunteer at local or national fires, floods and other disasters. Disaster volunteers provide comfort and care, using Red Cross resources to help victims with food, clothing, shelter and more. Red Cross provides volunteer disaster training.
  • Become a health and safety instructor. With Red Cross training, you could teach CPR and other life-saving skills.
  • Donate blood. Save lives with your blood donation.

To volunteer, please complete an application at redcross.org/neo. Visit the “Volunteer” link. You’ll first be asked to create a Red Cross ID.

Thank you for your generosity.

Thank You, Volunteers!

During National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) we will feature the Red Cross stories of some of our 1,750 cherished Regional volunteers who help fulfill the Red Cross mission: to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. The generous donation of time, skill, and caring of ALL of our volunteers make us truly grateful.

Beginning Monday, you will read about a different volunteer each day.  We hope their stories inspire others to devote their time and expertise to help others in need.

Regional CEO Mike Parks offers his own words of appreciation to the volunteers of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region:

Dear Valued Volunteer,

As this year’s National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) begins, again I offer a sincere “thank you” for the tremendous support that you are to the American Red Cross and for all that you accomplish for our organization each and every day.  I continue to be invigorated everyday by the passion and energy that you bring to everything you do and to everyone that you work with at the Red Cross.  I am amazed by the incredible skill, knowledge and dedication that you, our volunteers, share with us as our trusted and valued colleagues.  As volunteers, you not only support and enhance the work we do, but also guide it.   We count on you and you are always there.  Again, thank you for all that you do as we carry out our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.  Happy Volunteer Week!

With grateful appreciation,

Mike Parks

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

Chief Executive Officer

Northeast Ohio Region

American Red Cross

 

Volunteering with our Armed Forces and International Services

When many people think of the Red Cross, they may conjure up images of people in red vests at the scene of a national disaster, or the roadside sign announcing a blood drive. While both of these functions are true of the Red Cross, we also support America’s Military FamiliesIMG_4080

By providing unwavering commitment to members of the U.S. military, its veterans and their families the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) continues to grow and develop more than a century after Clara Barton first recruited nurses to support the U.S. Army. Today, with the help of our dedicated volunteers, the Red Cross is meeting the needs of a changing military while expanding services to veterans.

Here in Northeast Ohio our dedicated cadre of volunteers serves as caseworkers to service members and their families in times of emergency, outreach educators, and in many more functions.

When asked why they want to volunteer with SAF, most of them, like Jamie Bricker, expressed a love for helping service personnel and their families.  Katlin Vorndran stated that she was impressed with how grateful clients are for the SAF program and with how the Red Cross is there to assist the families of service members with their most urgent needs.

Bruce Foster shared the story of an experience that happened shortly after the death of his own father. He was contacting SAF clients to complete our satisfaction survey and was caught off guard by a client’s compassion towards him.  Understanding the turmoil that was going on in his own life, the client pressed him to be truthful about his well-being and then proceeded to praise him for extending such compassion to those he didn’t know during a difficult personal time.

Many of our SAF volunteers serve dual roles between Services to the Armed Forces and our International Services. For Nicole Rolf, the overlap in working cases for both International clients and Armed Forces clients gives her the opportunity to gain a better understanding of new cultures and interacting with people from all walks of life.

Amylynn Smith appreciates how unique our internationally recognized organization is, and that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (to which the American Red Cross belongs) are respected throughout the world -even in areas of conflict.

When Alassane Fall moved to Cleveland from Senegal, he had a great respect for the missions of International Red Cross movement and sought out volunteer positions with the local Red Cross. He has a boundless desire to make a difference in this world, and wants to help those in need in his community.

If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities with our Services to Armed Forces or International Services, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328.