Happy Holidays from CEO Mike Parks

December 25, 2019- As residents across Northeast Ohio gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, Regional CEO Mike Parks has issued his annual holiday message.

Watch the message below to learn about the impact the Red Cross has made in the lives of those affected by disasters in 2019 and Mike Parks’ hope for 2020:

Also, Regional CEO Parks experienced what he considers to be a miracle one week before Christmas Eve.  And one week before Christmas, several children who went through the trauma of a home fire in 2019 experienced the miracle of holiday gifts, thanks to generous employees of TravelCenters of America and Red Cross volunteers.

49219570926_72b748d85d_c

Listen to a special holiday episode of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio’s podcast Be A Hero, where Mike Parks discusses his experience and the miracles the volunteers of the Red Cross perform every day. Listeners can subscribe to Be A Hero on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

Happy Birthday, Clara, you really started something

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

December 24, 2019- One hundred ninety-eight years ago, Clarissa (Clara) Harlowe Barton was born on Christmas Day, 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts.

Many of her skills and interests reflect the services afforded by today’s American Red Cross, the organization she founded in 1881 and served for 23 years as its president. Each of the four main lines of service here in Northeast Ohio can be traced back to her influence.

180318-01470

Teaching life safety, swimming and first aid classes

Clara started teaching when she was just 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, she moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey and opened a free public school. The Red Cross has been offering classes to the public since the early 1900s.

Blood services

As a nurse, when the Civil War erupted, Clara was determined to help however she could, experiencing combat first at Fredericksburg, and eventually earning the nickname, “Angel of the Battlefield.”

The Red Cross eventually developed the first nationwide civilian blood program in the 1940s. We now provide more than 40 percent of the blood products in this country.

Service to the military and their families

As the Civil War concluded in 1865, Clara was authorized by President Lincoln to open The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army to identify the fate of missing soldiers for grieving parents, family and friends. In 1867, when Clara closed the office, 63,183 letters had been answered and 22,000 missing men were identified.

When the Red Cross was first chartered by Congress in 1900, the organization’s primary mission was to provide services to the members of the American armed forces. Just since Sept. 11, 2001, the Red Cross has served more than 1 million military families during deployments and emergencies.

180318-01470-2

Disaster response

In addition to helping the military, our congressional charter also mandates that the Red Cross provide disaster relief in the United States and around the world.

It’s a hard fact to comprehend but somewhere in the country, we respond to an emergency every eight minutes. That’s 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 52 weeks a year that our disaster teams are available to answer the call of those in need.

If Clara was still alive today, shed be calling you

To render all these services, the Red Cross depends on volunteers. Today there’s a significant need for volunteers to staff our disaster response teams.

If you could afford to be on call four times per month, you could experience the ultimate satisfaction of helping someone in their most desperate hour of need. There’s no greater feeling than to bring assistance to someone who has lost everything they own in a home fire. Consider volunteering by starting your online application here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster report: December 20-22, 2019

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

December 23, 2019- As Northeast Ohio residents scurried along in search of the perfect last minute holiday gifts for everyone on their list, the American Red Cross was assisting individuals experiencing the worst day of their lives.

Ben 1

During the weekend of December 20-22, members of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Disaster Action Team (DAT) responded to 5 incidents, assisted 102 individuals and provided over $13, 900 in immediate financial assistance.

One of the disasters the DAT team responded to over the weekend was an apartment fire in Warrensville Heights. Currently, the Red Cross has assisted 89 affected residents of the Granada Gardens Apartments fire and provided $10,750 in immediate financial assistance.

Ben 2

Just as disasters do not discriminate in terms of whose lives they destroy; the Red Cross does not discriminate in terms of whose lives we help rebuild. The Red Cross does not turn away people who need assistance after a disaster. We are committed to helping everyone in need.

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

Ben 4

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

Also, without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more and to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer today.

 

Happy first day of winter!

Helpful tips to keep you safe during the longest season in NEO

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

December 21, 2019- Although December 21st is the first official day of winter, Northeast Ohio has already experienced enough frigid days and nights to let us know this is just the beginning of the long winter ahead. Here are some safety tips to help you prepare, and some of these you may not have thought about!

The Hands Have It 

  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets: It’s a natural instinct to put your hands in your pockets when you go outside, but don’t do it! If you slip and fall you can’t react to balance or catch yourself on the ice.
  • Mittens are warmer:  Gloves may be more fashionable, but mittens are warmer. When your fingers are touching one other they generate more body heat and keep your hands warmer.

North Dakota and Minnesota Floods

Before You Shovel 

  • Warm up your muscles by stretching and marching in place for a few minutes before you head out to shovel. You will work more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuring yourself if your muscles are warmed up.
  • Avoid caffeine and cigarettes. They increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, which is not good for your heart.
  • Use rock salt and kitty litter for safer walkways. The salt helps melt the ice and kitty litter adds traction.

Kentucky Ice Storm

Car Safety Kit

It can happen to all of us, a car breakdown, a flat tire, a big snowstorm. It’s always good to be prepared before going on the road in cold weather.

  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep a safety kit in the car that includes: An emergency drinking water prep kit: a tin can, matches, candle, and paper cup in the car in case you would ever get stuck. Just melt some snow with these supplies if you run short on water.
  • A small shovel, a blanket, a flare and jumper cables.

Kentucky Ice Storm

Protect Your Pets

  • Bring your companion animals indoors.
  • Ensure that you have supplies for cleanup for your companion animals, particularly if they are used to eliminating outdoors (large plastic bags, paper towels, and extra cat litter).
  • Create a place where outside animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather:  Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice, and rain. Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
  • Provide a feral cat shelter, food and water.
  • Report to the humane society or other local authorities if you see a pet chained outside with no protection from the elements

Red Cross pet photo 2018

Additional tips from the American Red Cross: 

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order. Never leave electrical devices or live flames unattended.
  • After a winter storm, immediately report any downed power lines or broken gas lines in your area or workplace.
  • Be a good neighbor. Winter weather can be tough on all of us, but especially the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Check on an elderly neighbor, or anyone you know that may live alone and have special needs.

American Red Cross National Headquarters Building 2001

Find more winter safety tips from The American Red Cross HERE.

Red Cross and TravelCenters of America bring holiday joy to families following loss

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

December 20, 2019- On Dec. 18, the American Red Cross’ Northeast Ohio Regional headquarters in Cleveland was a scene of giving, reunion and holiday spirit, as Red Cross volunteers and staff handed out toys to children whose families faced home fires this year. Now in its 21st year, the event is made possible by the generosity of TravelCenters of America, whose employees collected more than 600 toys this year.

In one of several festive gatherings, 17 families with 50 children braved the winter weather to attend. They were greeted by Red Cross representatives and guided to an age-appropriate section. Children then picked from an astonishing array of stuffed animals, games, books, dolls, play sets, toy vehicles, art supplies, learning kits and other toys.

49243719141_0226eaa83e_c

Holiday decorations and gift-wrapping supplies were available for adults, and cookies and cocoa were served. Many expressed gratitude.

“God has blessed us with the Red Cross and other agencies that help,” said Johnita Smith. “This definitely comes at just at the right time for me and my family, as Christmas would have been very hard without assistance. We are very grateful.”

49243266353_b1342df1c2_c

Similarly, Zoralys Cruz said her family lost everything and otherwise would not have had presents for Christmas, so the toy drive means a lot. She said her family is recovering little by little, and they are grateful for everything.

Nearly 200 more children in Northeast Ohio will receive toys thanks to TravelCenters of America. Similar events are occurring throughout Northeast Ohio. Each Red Cross chapter is holding toy distributions this week, and many volunteers are delivering to families who live far or are unable to attend.

49243950307_c07390e444_c

While the focus is on the families and children, Red Cross volunteers and staff also enjoy the event.

“The event itself is powerful on many different levels,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of Disaster Cycle Services for the Northeast Ohio Region. “People who have suffered horrible disasters now have something to give their children for the holidays. It is also important that our team members take part in this happy occasion. After all the tragedies and difficulties they’ve faced throughout the year, they, too, are lifted by it. Our team members see those who were initially met on their worst day, but now in a happy situation. That’s why I love it.”

49243942002_e8e31e9995_c

I can attest to that, as I was one of the responders who assisted Johnita’s family. I feel fortunate to have been able to help following a disaster. Participating in the toy drive, seeing a family I assisted, now in a festive setting, and helping them select toys made the season a bit brighter.

Over the next several weeks, the remaining toys will be distributed to families facing home fires and other disasters. Such tragedies are especially difficult during the holidays, particularly for children, and a toy can bring comfort as a family begins to recover. Thanks to the employees of TravelCenters of America, the Red Cross can lift their spirits and brighten their holidays.

49243949222_dddeb8fe38_c

Watch the video below to hear a special message from Tina Arundel, manager, corporate communications for TravelCenters of America.:

Visit out Flickr page to view more photos from the toy giveaway event.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Third annual door decorating contest spreads holiday cheer and joy

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

December 19, 2019- Editor’s note: The winner of the 3rd annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) holiday door decorating contest has been announced by John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director. Like in previous years, we found his comments to be so entertaining that we couldn’t resist including them, along with photos of all 7 doors entered in this year’s competition.

OK, third year in a row. Was hoping for an upward trend. But, I suppose even Santa had tough years – that’s why he hired that bullied kid with the weird nose after all. Anyway, here we go.

Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager: Let It Snow

IMG_8643

 

Entire door decorated – with wrapping paper and an anorexic Santa straddling a let it snow ornament. Is this a Santa-came-in-like-a-wrecking-ball theme, borrowing from Miley Cyrus? First, that was 2013 and second, no one wants to see a naked Santa. So, thank you for at least putting clothes on him. I would have suggested a more timely approach – maybe Baby Yoda as Santa?

Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager: Merry Christmas with Santa’s Head and Three Big Snowflakes

door 2 (2)

At first glance, meh. BUT, the Santa head is really nice. Very primitive – which is an “in” thing as far as decorating, as my wife tells me.  It’s not a chinoiserie Santa, but it’s still hot! Thank God it’s not “simple,” “clean” and made from “shiplap.” The long reign of terror under Joanna Gaines has come to an end!

Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz, AmeriCorps American Red Cross Corps: The Chimney

door 3 (2)

Did we NOT cover this a year ago?  We do NOT do fires. Especially ones with so much inflammable….wait a second, flammable….wait, let me get my thesaurus……..WHAT?  They mean the same thing. Well, regardless, so much stuff above it that can catch on fire! Yeah, that snowman would have melted. Holy Santa, look at the size of that one elf in that photo! He’s like 8 feet tall! Must be related to Buddy from the movie.

Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties: Pedro the Penguin Ugly Sweater

Ugly SweaterDoor

Just…what?

Tim O’Toole added the following comments on the door: I think the incorporation of the Pedro theme was very well thought out, however, Pedro lacking both thumbs and fingers, it is unclear how he would have typed the associated message.  So obviously some foul play here.

Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter: Honoring Our Heroes

Tim Reichel Door

Going for the heartstrings approach, huh?  Might as well have put baby Yoda up there again.  Wait, you don’t know about Baby Yoda?  Jeez, get Disney + and watch the Mandalorian. Great Western! Anyway…..re those patches organized is the same geographic alignment as they would be on a map? Thank Santa there is not a Coast Guard patch up there!

Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer: The Wreath

Tim O'Toole Door

Can you honestly suck up to Gail any more? “I took her leadership tips, posted them on my door and put a wreath around them.” I bet you have a Joanna Gaines tattoo on your lower back.

Chad Whitaker, Regional Disaster Manager, Mass Care and Logistics: Two Doormats

Chad Whitaker Door

Had you gone all in with the Jimmy Buffet theme, you’d be the win. BUT, two door mats is like have the nice hand towels in the half bath for guests to look at BUT NOT USE AT ALL! Step over the good one. Well, which one is the good one?

So, with that….

The runner up is Honoring our Heroes. Obvious effort went into getting the patches and putting others before oneself pretty much sums up what it’s all about, right? (Tim Reichel)

The winner is the terribly unsafe, out of proportion, big-elf having chimney! Love seeing those Red Crossers at work, enjoying each other’s company and serving our clients.  Obvious time (not safety efforts) went into this effort. (Teresa Greenlief and Carrie Shultz)

It’s the spirit of giving that makes this holiday special. Every gift is a reflection of love that exists in our hearts. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

JB

New blood transportation vehicle provides volunteers opportunity to help save lives

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

December 18, 2019- Picture yourself at the wheel of a custom vehicle, tooling down the road to the admiring glances of your fellow motorists.

49097966897_f712727bcb_c

If you’re a Cuyahoga County resident with a compassionate heart and a good driving record, the American Red Cross is eager to put you behind the wheel of a sparkling white van with the distinctive red cross boldly on each side.

Volunteers are needed to drive specially equipped transport vans from blood collection sites around Northeast Ohio to the Red Cross blood processing center in Cleveland. There, blood is tested and prepared for accident victims; moms and newborns in difficult deliveries; surgery patients; and men, women and children who rely on transfusions for a healthy life.

49097972447_7f79c8c29c_c (1)

On average, the Red Cross Northern Ohio blood services region collects 500 pints of blood daily across 19 counties, from Erie County on the west to the Pennsylvania border on the east and Tuscarawas County on the south.

Meanwhile, life-sustaining whole blood and its components – platelets, plasma, white cells and red cells – go out constantly to patients in 50 local hospitals. Red blood cells must be used within 42 days and platelets within five days, so prompt, reliable transportation is key.

49097774996_4327c19c8d_c

The American Red Cross recently added a new van to its blood transportation fleet, thanks to the generosity of the Erie County Community Foundation, the Sidney Frohman Foundation, the Randolph J. and Estelle M. Dorn Foundation and the Wightman-Wieber Charitable Foundation. Photo credit: Cali Griggs/American Red Cross volunteer

“This volunteer opportunity is a vital link between generous blood donors and those whose lives depend on that blood,” said Melanie Collins, who helps recruit volunteers for the Red Cross throughout northeast Ohio.

The biomedical activity of the Red Cross is at the very heart of the organization’s mission, “to prevent and alleviate human suffering … by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” she noted.

Volunteer Couriers

For more information and to apply for a transportation specialist position, visit www.redcrossorg/volunteer.  To view more photos of the ribbon cutting and blood drive at the Erie County Community Foundation offices in Sandusky, visit our photo album here. Photo credit: Cali Griggs/American Red Cross volunteer.