Volunteers provide disaster relief for hidden concerns

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

The American Red Cross continues to assist residents affected by hurricanes in the Southeast.  Among the disaster relief workers who are playing a role are mental health volunteers.

Red Cross mental health volunteers are a treasured group of individuals. They are all licensed independent health practitioners: psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers and psychiatric registered nurses.

California Wildfires 2018

In addition to being licensed professionally, mental health volunteers must take specialized Red Cross training in disaster mental health which, for the most part, is far different than what they do in their daily full-time jobs. The specialized training is based on many years of experience in disaster relief, from those who have lost precious mementos in a home fire to the victims of 9/11 and everyone in between.

Red Cross mental health volunteers provide immediate crisis management. They instruct clients in becoming more resilient and help them cope with the various emotions they may experience following their loss. While mental health volunteers do not do long-term counseling, if they determine a client would benefit from long-term intervention, they will make a referral to a proper mental health specialist. They will not refer the client to themselves or to any other member of the team.

California Wildfires 2017

“Many victims and survivors do not recognize the need for intervention or do not want to be judged or labeled if they are struggling with recovery,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of disaster cycle services for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “Our disaster mental health volunteers can help them to recognize the normal and destigmatize the need for counseling.”

Northeast Ohio is particularly fortunate to have some of the finest and most experienced mental health volunteers. They never fail to step up as needed even though the majority have full-time positions or time-consuming private practices.

Edgardo Padin, a mental health volunteer from Northeast Ohio, deployed to assist in the 2018 California wildfires. Recently, he discussed his experience assisting individuals who lost their homes with their mental health needs.

Tennessee Wildfires 2016

While it is easy to see the physical damage that a home fire or a hurricane can cause, it is not often as easy to see the internal effects a disaster can have on an individual. On World Mental Health Day, it is important to recognize the disaster mental health volunteers who assist with disaster relief efforts to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

For more information on the Red Cross’ disaster mental health services or to become a volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Lake Erie/Heartland heroes celebrated in Mansfield

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Ten heroes were honored for their bravery in the American Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. On October 4, the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet presented the Hero Awards to benefit the American Red Cross and to recognize the extraordinary acts, passion, courage and dedication of the volunteers. The event was held at The Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield.

The event commenced with Matti Lynn Chrisman, Miss Ohio 2008, singing the national anthem and Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing Commander Colonel Allison Miller providing a video message honoring the efforts and actions by the award recipients.

Ten individuals were awarded, and these are the stories of those honored:

Tracy M. Dodson, Call to Action Hero- While at the Wayne County Fair, Tracy witnessed a person in line in front of her go into cardiac arrest. Tracy, a nurse, administered CPR and continued CPR after the Red Cross First Aid Team arrived. Due to her rapid identification and quick action in stressful conditions, the individual regained a heartbeat and was conscious by the time the rescue squad arrived.

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Dr. Edward Adkins, Health Professional Hero- Dr. Atkins has been a primary care physician for more than 30 years. Along with providing quality, compassionate care to his patients in Ohio, Dr. Adkins does mission trips to third world countries to help heal individuals in dire need of health care. Dr. Adkins has provided care to individuals in Africa and he also traveled to Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

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Pauline Anderson, Spirit of the Red Cross Hero- Since 2006, Pauline’s quarterly blood drives have collected 1,956 blood donations, and will easily clear the 2,000 mark this year. These drives may have helped save nearly 6,000 lives. Pauline’s extraordinary work as a Blood Drive Coordinator began in 2001, when her step daughter put on a blood drive honoring the life of her mother, who passed away from leukemia a year earlier.

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Hunter Woodruff, Call to Action Hero- Hunter, while driving home from his job, had noticed a car trapped in flood water in Mansfield. Without thinking twice, Hunter pulled over and jumped into the flood water. Due to Hunter’s quick action, the driver of the sinking car was saved.

Officer Ryan Garner, A Presence to Remember- Officer Ryan Garner, a Mansfield K-9 officer, was a fixture of the community. Officer Garner had a passion for being a police officer and was dedicated to not only helping his fellow officers, but also helping individuals in need. Officer Garner passed away from lung cancer in May 2018.

 Officer John Fuller, Police Hero- Officer John Fuller was the first community policing officer in Mansfield, as well as the community’s first bike patrol officer. Officer Fuller was committed to bridging the gap between the police and the community. His love for the community was evident by his interactions with children and their families. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Officer Fuller took personal time and traveled to New York City to help locate individuals trapped in the rubble.

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Merris Welge, Community Educator Hero- Merris has volunteered his time educating the community through the North Central Ohio SCORE organization for 22 years. SCORE is a mentoring program that provides free counseling, advice and resources to people who are in business or who wish to start a business.

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Jan Wendling, Military Inspiration Hero- Jan, a Mansfield resident, served as a tank commander for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Following his return from the war, Jan served as a Mansfield police officer and helped develop the Mansfield Vietnam War Memorial.

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Missy Houghton, Animal Advocate Hero- Missy is the passionate director of the Humane Society of Richland County. She is making a difference locally through education and action. One animal Missy helped save was a cat named Vandy. Vandy arrived as a kitten with severe burns, missing an ear and an exposed skull. Missy was able to contact the Horizon Animal Hospital, which performed a skin graft surgery in April 2017. Vandy survived and has made appearances at Humane Society fundraisers.

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The event was managed by Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter volunteer board member Luke Beekman, who also produced a video honoring the award winners, which was shown during the event.

To view photos from the Chevy Network and Graham Chevrolet Hero Awards, visit our Flickr page.

Ronald J. Warzel Blood Donation Center relocates

Now in the Regional Headquarters building across the street

By Christy Peters, Manager, External Communications, Northern Ohio Blood Region

As part of the continuing effort to provide the best service and experience to our dedicated donors, the Northern Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross recently relocated its Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center. Formerly housed at 3636 Euclid Ave., the donation center has is now located in the Northeast Ohio Regional headquarters building at 3747 Euclid Ave. The new site officially opened Aug. 30, 2018 and many donors have already stopped by the newly renovated space.

The new site continues to offer Red Cross donors the opportunity to give whole blood, platelets or plasma. The site is open seven days a week and offers more flexible hours than a mobile site, for donors who may need early morning or late evening appointments. Currently, the Red Cross has a critical need for platelet and type O blood donations. Hundreds of blood drives have been forced to cancel due to Hurricane Florence, resulting in over 6,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Donors of all types are need to recover donations canceled by the storm.

The Northern Ohio Blood Services Region is excited to share the new and improved Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center with the community. Donors are encouraged to make an appointment to give at redcrossblood.org, by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Here are some photos from the grand opening of the Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center. To see more photos from the center opening, please visit our Flickr page:

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Regional CEO Mike Parks donates blood during the grand opening of the Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center

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Donors give blood in the new Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center in Cleveland

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Ronald J. Warzel Donation Center staff

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Ronald Warzel accepts a commemorative photograph of the grand opening of the new blood donation center from Greater Cleveland Chapter Chairman Christopher Mapes

Red Cross, Fox 8 News raise money to help those affected by Hurricane Florence

Day-long telethon also helped raise awareness for residents affected by the storm.

By: Eric Alves, American Red Cross

Communities in Northeast Ohio are renowned for the generosity they show at a moment’s notice when individuals are in need. This generosity was evident on September 20.

Understanding the importance of keeping the disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Florence in the news and relevant, despite the lack of coverage nationally, Fox 8 News devoted airtime throughout the day and on Facebook Live to hosting a telethon from Regional Headquarters in Cleveland, including a feature with reporter Todd Meany highlighting the importance of blood donation by giving blood on air in our new blood donation center.

Time and time again volunteers have dedicated their time and efforts to help the Red Cross support the needs of others, and the telethon was not any different. Among the volunteers was Chef Rocco Whalen, proprietor of Fahrenheit in Cleveland and Charlotte. When Chef Rocco heard the Red Cross and Fox 8 News were holding a telethon to help with hurricane disaster relief, he rolled up his sleeves and answered phones to help with donations.

Here are some photos from the telethon. To see more photos from the event, please visit our Flickr page:

 

 

 

We are grateful to Fox 8 News, Chef Rocco Whalen and all the volunteers who helped make the telethon possible and such a success. We also would like to give a special, heartfelt thank you to Northeast Ohio. Due to your immense generosity, we raised $32,186 to support the disaster relief efforts!

NEO Holds 2nd Annual Training Institute

You can’t have confidence unless you are prepared. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden, legendary UCLA Men’s Basketball Coach


Aloha i ka mokupuni o ka hoʻonaʻauao. Welcome to the island of learning.

2017 NEOTI

Preparedness is a key goal for the Red Cross. We are constantly striving to prepare our communities, our homes, and our staff to respond to emergencies.

We, as an organization, expect our volunteers to be ready to heed the call to action! That means education before an event occurs.

From Wednesday, May 10 through Saturday, May 13 over 125 individuals from all over Ohio and West Virginia gathered at the second annual Northeast Ohio Training Institute (NEOTI) at the Akron office. The theme of this year’s institute was Aloha, or “welcome” in Hawaiian.

The institute gives us the chance to offer key leadership courses that may not be available during the year, as well as basic courses for those new to the organization.

This year’s course offerings included: Shelter Fundamentals, Disaster Assessment Fundamentals, Client Casework Workshop, Disaster Mental Health Fundamentals, Psychological First Aid, Disaster Response Management Simulation, a class on driving the large Red Cross Emergency Trucks, and Everyone’s Welcome (a course highlighting our commitment to diverse populations).

By Saturday, 317 certificates were issued to those who attended.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross in northeast Ohio, visit www.redcross.org/neo and click on VOLUNTEER.

Click below to see our 2017 NEOTI photo album.NEOTI 2017

Preventing the Spread of Diseases

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has provided vaccination to more than 1.1 billion children in the fight against measles and rubella.

The American Red Cross, United Nations foundation, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization started the Measles and Rubella Initiative in 2001. Since then, Red Cross and its partners have vaccinated children in more than 80 developing countries.

Measles Vaccination Campaign

Measles Vaccination Campaign

In 2011, measles claimed an estimated 158,000 lives. This makes it a leading cause of death and disability among young children worldwide. This disease is highly contagious and includes the risk of developing other health complications, including pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea, and encephalitis. Measles are most common in younger children from the age of five to adults over 20. 95% of measles deaths occur in low income countries with poor health systems.

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a mild disease but can be serious for pregnant women and their children. If affected, women will give birth to a child with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). More than 1000 children globally are born with CRS each year. In many developing countries, parents do not have access to medical service that can protect their children from this fate.

Measles and rubella and CRS are preventable. The Measles and Rubella Initiative is making great strides to bring vaccines that are safe and effective to dense populations where the virus will stop circulating. Vaccinations in these areas can lead to the elimination of measles and rubella.

The American Red Cross is providing technical and financial support to 12 African countries through measles and rubella vaccination campaigns. Red Cross volunteers go door-to-door in communities to educate parents, encourage participation in the campaign, and help with registration or comforting a child.

With less than $1, you can vaccinate one child and support this effort. With help from your friends, classmates or coworkers, you can vaccinate an entire village. To donate, click here or visit redcross.org for more information.

Wising you a safe and happy 2015!

With the new year quickly approaching, many people will reflect on the current year and how they can improve their lives in the coming one.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with some Red Cross Resolutions that will help you, your family and your community in 2015.

#1: Get a Kit

Whether you call it your disaster kit, a survival kit or a 72-hour kit – every household should have one. This kit should include everything your family would need to survive if you needed to shelter-in-place for at least 3 days.

For an in-depth look on how to build a kit for your home and auto, take a look at this blog post (home), this one for auto or visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#2: Make a Plan

Experts agree, an individual may have as few as 2 minutes to exit a burning building.

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

Here are some basic steps to make sure you remain safe:

  • With your your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.
  • Choose two places to meet:
    • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood (such as a relative or friend’s house in a different part of town), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

For more information on how to make a plan for your home, visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#3: Volunteer

There are many ways to help your community with the Red Cross. You could volunteer to assist donors at a local blood drive, turn heartbreak into hope as a Disaster Action Team member, help connect emergency communications for military families or by giving your time and talents in any of the many volunteer positions available. To get started, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

#4: Learn CPR

Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life.

To view local courses, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass

#5: Give Blood

There’s no one reason to give blood. Maybe you or a family member received blood, or you think that one day you’ll be in need of it. Maybe your friend or colleague asked you to give blood. Maybe you think it’s the right thing to do. No matter the reason, your getting involved helps the Red Cross maintain a healthy and reliable blood supply.

To find a Blood Drive or donation location near you, visit www.redcross.org/blood