Holiday Message from Mike Parks

Mike

American Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, Northeast Ohio Region

Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family:  Between Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day and New Year’s (among others)—we’re well into this year’s “Holiday Season.”   Please accept my sincere thanks and grateful appreciation for all each of you do every day to help serve those in need in Northeast Ohio.  Thank you!

As we close out calendar year 2015 (as well as the first half of FY 2016) and reflect back on your accomplishments, it’s been an incredibly busy year.  Here’s just a partial list of some of those successes:

Opened more disaster cases and provided more direct client assistance than the same time last year.

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Prescious Givens and her family received housing assistance after their home caught fire

Installed more than 6500 smoke alarms (our target was 6500 but we upped our annual goal to 10,000).

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Lincoln Electric CEO and Red Cross Board Member Chris Mapes installing smoke alarms in Euclid

Reached more than 2800 students with the Pillowcase Project  (our target was 3000 but we got materials for 500 additional).

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Students created pillowcases at Wilcox Elementary School in North Ridgeville

Migrated almost 2200 volunteers (including Biomedical Services) to Volunteer Connection.

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Volunteer George Figel of Akron

Recruited more than 300 new volunteers to the American Red Cross.

Created an integrated American Red Cross Board combining Chapter & Biomedical Boards.

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Inaugural meeting of combined board

Achieved 100% participation in our annual Board Campaign while exceeding our financial goal by almost 10%.

 

 

 

 

Partnered with both the Veteran’s Administration and the USO to better serve our members of the Armed Forces.

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American Red Cross CEO Mike Parks,  with Ohio Army National Guardsmen

 

Updated all Northeast Ohio American Red Cross websites and revitalized an informative Blog.

Upgraded our building facilities and streamlined our automotive fleet.

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Remained well-within our annual expense budget through careful stewardship.

Hired and onboarded more than a dozen new enthusiastic Red Cross employees.

 

Tim O'Toole

Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole

And as you know—that’s just scratching the surface of all you’ve accomplished throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.  As many of us take time to celebrate with families and friends, I want to say a special “Thank You” to those staff and volunteers who have, and will be providing critical assistance during this holiday period.  We wouldn’t be the American Red Cross without you!  As I’ve said many times since joining this fine organization, the American Red Cross is all about “caring”…”caring for those we serve” and “caring for those who serve.”   It seems fitting that in this special season of giving, we remember those who give so much to help those in need.  Thank you to all of the Northeast Ohio American Red Cross family.  I wish you and yours Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.  I’m already excited about what 2016 will bring—I hope you are too.   Best wishes…Mike

The Pillowcase Project Presented To North Ridgeville Students

Fifth Graders Learn About Preparing and Coping With Potential Emergencies

Students at Wilcox Elementary school in North Ridgeville are now better prepared for potential disasters, thanks to American Red Cross volunteer Alice Martinez and The Pillowcase Project.

Alice teaches students in grades 3, 4 and 5 about hazards they may encounter in Northeast Ohio, and how to prepare for and cope with emergencies.  As part of the class, students are given sturdy pillowcases, provided by Disney, which they decorate and take home.  The students are instructed to fill those pillowcases with supplies they may need to take with them should they be forced to leave their homes in a hurry.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by college students in New Orleans in 2005.  As hurricane Katrina approached, many students were seen leaving their dorms with pillowcases slung over their shoulders.  They were carrying whatever they could fit into those pillowcases.

The instructions are tailored for the region where they are taught.  With winter weather approaching, the children at Wilcox elementary were reminded of the potential dangers posed by extreme winter weather conditions, as well as tornadoes, flooding and home fires.

On Monday, October 19, a news crew from WKYC Channel 3 recorded The Pillowcase Project Presentation in the fifth grade classroom of Mrs. Pam Ventimiglia.  Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins interviewed some of the student about what they learned, and a videographer recorded them decorating their pillowcases.  You can see Monica’s report here.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

The program is part of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.  It began in Cleveland as Operation Save-A-Life in 1992, following a spate of deadly home fires.  The goal of the national campaign is to reduce the number of deaths caused by home fires by 25% over a five-year period.

The Red Cross has also designed youth app, called Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies, based on The Pillowcase Project and was also sponsored by Disney as part of this program.

Preparing the Community (And the Volunteer Jobs that go with it)

By: Debra, Regional Volunteer Specialist

September is Preparedness Month and throughout Northeast Ohio the Red Cross is asking that individuals, families, and businesses to be Red Cross Ready.  Red Crossers know that preparedness begins with them; by taking a few simple preparedness steps they help save themselves and their family when an emergency strikes and are taking action to bolster their resilience should the unthinkable happen.  From July 2014 through June 2015 the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 967 incidents across 22 counties, providing comfort and hope to those affected.

Red Cross volunteers expand on this promotion for preparedness through their actions of volunteering;  passionately sharing resource information with members of their community, to help change behavior and reduce the risk of injury and loss due to an emergency. 

Three years ago The Pillowcase Project was implemented in Red Cross regions nationwide. The program, which was developed after Hurricane Katerina and through support from Disney, focuses on reaching young students (3rd-5th grade) and sharing preparedness resources and resiliency techniques.  Volunteer Pillowcase Project Instructors complete a training course that hones their preparedness knowledge and presentation skills and readies them to conduct classroom instruction and interactive activities in schools, summer camps, youth programs and after-school settings.  The program empowers students to act as advocates for disaster preparedness in their homes and communities, as well as teaches them how to use coping skills to help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.

Community Disaster Education (CDE) Presenters continue to encourage adult community members, organizations and agencies by promoting and conducting public speaking and/or booth support on how to prevent and prepared for emergencies. Preparing the nearly 4.5 million residents Northeast Ohio home is no small feat, but Red Cross volunteers participate in many community outreach events across our area, helping to educate over 75,000 individuals annually.

If you are interested in volunteering to prepare your community in either of these capacities, please visit our website: www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer on the left side of the screen. You will be dropped directly into the application process. You may also call 216-431-3328 or email, NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina

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Ten years ago, the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, Hurricane Katrina barreled its way onto land, causing devastation from Florida to Texas.  And the Red Cross launched the largest disaster response in its 134 year history, involving more than 245,000 disaster workers and volunteers who helped millions of people with shelter, food and funds to help them get back on their feet.

John Gareis and Tony Rivera of the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross were among the relief workers dispatched to the hurricane-affected region.  They were featured this week in a story about the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, aired by WKYC channel 3.

As noted in the story, the Red Cross established the Safe and Well website to let family and friends know you’re OK after a disaster.  And to help children be better prepared for future disasters, the Pillowcase Project was launched.  It teaches students in third, fourth and fifth grades how to create a disaster kit by packing essential items into a pillowcase for swift escape and easy transport in the face of emergencies.

If you are a registered volunteer who has taken the Disaster Services Overview course and are interested in presenting a Pillowcase Project to children, please call John Gareis at 216-431-3219 or email him at John.Gareis@redcross.org.  If you are not a volunteer yet, log onto redcross.org/volunteer to get started.

And as we note the tenth anniversary of hurricane Katrina, millions of people in Florida and along the Gulf Coast are breathing a bit easier, as all tropical storm warnings and watches were dropped following the weakening of what once was tropical storm Erika.  But it serves as a reminder that this is peak season for hurricanes, and the Red Cross is ready to assist, whenever and wherever needed.

Jessica’s Red Cross story

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Jessica Sandoval, a summer intern with the Lorain County Chapter, displays her Leadership Lorain certificate.

Following my sophomore year as a marketing major at University of Dayton, I became involved with the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross through the Leadership Lorain County Internship Program. As the Communications Specialist Intern, I was responsible for increasing Red Cross awareness and donations through effective communications, public relations and the use of social media tools.

Previous to my assignment, I knew very little about the American Red Cross, but I was quickly amazed by this incredible organization. The American Red Cross is a non-profit organization and not a federal agency. As such, it receives no regular federal funding. The Red Cross also does a lot more than host blood drives. Each region is well equipped with a Disaster Action Team, Disaster Mental Health Team, and an array of other volunteers. They also offer services to the Armed Forces—from preparing soldiers and their families for deployment to getting those same soldiers emergency contact with their families while overseas.

Based on my experience, I do not think the public is well aware of the extent to which the Red Cross helps our local, as well as national, communities.

While attending a Friday Forum at the Cleveland City Club to hear President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, speak I met a volunteer who truly changed my life. The woman, who dedicates 100% of her time to volunteering, and I discussed her career in the medical field and a trip she took to India to treat patients in a poor village. I commended her on her voluntarism and expressed how I wished my future profession in the business world would allow me to help people the same way hers does. I commented that those in the medical field have the ability to go the extra mile and help people in a more profound way than any other profession. She informed me it is not an extra mile, but a different mile.

During my time at the Lorain County Chapter I helped prepare for the annual 5K Run for the Red, and have witnessed the chapter go through a merger with the Firelands Chapter. I also created several campaigns for different chapter events including Christmas in July which supported the annual Holiday Mail for Heroes and the Pillowcase Project sponsored by Disney. I contributed blogs on chapter events and also created a Social Media and Marketing timeline for the annual 5K. I also canvased for our 5K, made phone calls in hopes of obtaining donations, and spread Red Cross awareness whenever and wherever I could. As a marketing major, I believe I learned so much about my future profession as well as what it is like to work for a non-profit organization. I had the opportunity to become CPR Certified as well as take Disaster Overview and Fundamental courses.

Whether it was hearing a volunteer’s Red Cross Story, or learning something new about my major (or even myself), I was inspired every single day when I stepped over the threshold of that history Lorain County building. I could not agree more with President and CEO of the American Red Cross, Gail McGovern, when she says, “the depth and breadth of all the Red Cross does still amaze me, and it’s an incredible privilege to play a part in it.” I plan on continuing my involvement with the American Red Cross as I complete the last two years of school and well into my future.