Reflections of a former board member

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

June 16, 2019- Last week I attended the annual meeting of the board of directors for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. But it was more than

48051125296_d50964a42c_z

L to R: Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Sue Wilson and Pam Williams

just the final meeting before the summer break. Amidst the business of thanking outgoing board members like me and recognizing new board members to take the place of those exiting, it was time to thank the volunteers—without whom the Red Cross could not accomplish its mission.

I am always moved—amazed but never surprised—to hear the stories of the heroes that make up the many volunteers who are the first responders. Those who show up and stand alongside to help people who have truly experienced the worst day of their life.

The volunteers who have:

  • installed 2,000 free smoke alarms. making 700 homes that didn’t have them safer, as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign.
  • responded to more than 120 home fires, providing residents in our three counties with help and hope.
  • deployed to the Greater Dayton area to help those affected by the recent deadly and destructive tornadoes—running toward disaster while most are running away.
  • given blood and/or found ways to encourage blood donation, especially as part of the Missing Types campaign, which strives to increase the nation’s blood supply by bringing attention to the more rare, missing types of blood, A, B and O, potentially saving more than 75,000 lives.

The thing that hit me most, however, after I received my certificate of appreciation for nine years of board service, was how little I felt I had done compared to these heroic volunteers. And how inspired I feel to continue on, if not as a board member, as a volunteer for this incredible organization so that I can help to continue its legacy of service. I can’t help but feel especially inspired to “be like Pam.”

Pam Williams received the H. Peter Burg award last year for her lifetime of service to our community and the Red Cross. She also steps down as board chair, passing the gavel to Alan Papa, president and chief operating officer for Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Pam truly is a dedicated volunteer. This small space cannot list her many acts of selflessness:  from sleeping in shelters alongside victims of disasters, to driving a forklift, to serving as our government liaison before and while she was our board chair.

48051210592_6b96988ca3_z.jpg

New board of directors chair Alan Papa speaks at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting

Last week may have been the end of my three-term, nine-year stint as a member of the Red Cross board of directors. But it was the first day of my continuation of a commitment to be a better volunteer for this amazing organization so that I can not only be more like Pam but also like the many volunteers who make up the Red Cross family.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to view photos from the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting.

The Meaning of the Season

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Holiday music is everywhere. Some radio stations go “all-Christmas” music 24-7 even before Thanksgiving, and we hear it in every store, business and TV commercial. While most of us love the fun songs–Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming To Town or Winter Wonderland...there are a few songs that make me feel especially sentimental, almost sad-because I think of the expectation of “joy” so many have for the season. As I reflect on “Chestnuts Roasting” or the hope that “I’ll be home for Christmas “(if only in my dreams), I think of the men and women in the military far from home, the infirm, or those displaced by one of the many natural disasters that occurred this year, from the wildfires to the  hurricanes; and sadly, the many human-made tragedies, too. So many are suffering from something.

This Christmas Eve, while many are celebrating with family and friends, I’m thinking of the amazing organization I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with: The Red Cross. As a board member, I’m more of an observer to the work done, and am thinking that those words of hope in those Christmas songs are fundamental principles of the global Red Cross Network. The 7 Tenants of this incredible organization completely mirror those wishes. They are:main-fundamental-principles

  1. Humanity: The Red Cross, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors—in its international and national capacity—to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.
  2. Impartiality: It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.
  3. Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Red Cross may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
  4. Independence: The Red Cross is independent. The national societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with Red Cross principles.
  5. Voluntary Service:The Red Cross is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
  6. Unity: There can be only one Red Cross society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
  7. Universality: The Red Cross is a worldwide institution in which all societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other.

Wow…what great principles to live by. What if before we posted on social media, we considered these 7 tenants. What wonderful principles to reflect not only THIS season…but ANY season!

You can support this worthy organization’s mission by making a  year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Red Cross today.

A Meaningful Gift This Christmas

Give Something That Means Something

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

171203-5770It’s a few days before Christmas, and you can feel the stress. You run in and out of stores aimlessly grabbing items for people you feel you need to buy for; annoyed with yourself that once again you feel the same way this year as you’ve felt in years past:

Why didn’t I start my Christmas shopping earlier?

Why do I spend all this money on gifts that won’t be remembered long after the paper has been ripped from the package?

Is THIS what Christmas is all about?

I’m here to tell you “NO,”  it’s not.

Christmas is special. Whether you celebrate as a religious holiday, a completely secular holiday, or somewhere in-between, most of us have been conditioned to believe (and most of us want to believe) there there is magic to this season. It represents hope for goodwill toward all. Peace in our family, our community, our world. As we end a tumultuous year, we want to believe the  Christmas spirit will heal the hurt that may exist in our lives.

So how can you give a gift that represents that?

This past week gave me an idea. A colleague of mine lost his brother in a tragic accident. Just one week before Christmas; he is gone. Any death is tough, but a sudden death… a week before Christmas? It just puts the mad rush through Target to buy something than means nothing into perspective. I’ve been reading the wonderful things about this man. People are sharing memories, photos and stories of how he affected their lives. All these kind words are being said that this man will never hear, and it made me think: why can’t we say these things now? What kind of gift would it be to post photos, tell stories, and say wonderful things about the people who mean something to us while they can still hear it…and NOT just save it for a funeral?

Inspired by that, I am writing notes to the people I love this year, telling them what I love about them. I am telling them what I would say if they weren’t here, while they still are. And I am enclosing a gift of a donation in their name to a charity I think would mean something to them. If you like that idea, let me suggest a charity worthy of your donation: The Red Cross

If, hypothetically, you were the victim of a house fire, who would be comforting you and your family with a blanket around your shoulders, and guidance to a shelter? Volunteers from The Red Cross. In the event of a  hurricane, flood, or any natural disaster….the Red Cross is there. Need Blood? The Red Cross. Need to get word to a military family member? The Red Cross.

The Red Cross can be there to fill these needs because of the monetary support from donors like you. So if you want to give a meaningful gift that will be remembered long after the chaos of Christmas morning fades, write a letter and tell someone you what you love about them, and make a donation in their name. You can personalize and be specific with this link and gift certificate to include in your card.

And have a Meaningful Merry Christmas!