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

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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.

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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.

Red Cross worker gives blood to honor dad’s memory, sister’s recovery

By Mary Williams, Special Events and Marketing, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

AKRON, January 23, 2019 – I went through a phase, not so long ago – in the early 2000s, when I listened to the Greatest Hits of Dan Fogelberg incessantly.

(I promise that this is going somewhere Red Cross related, folks!)

I lived with my parents at the time and would listen to the music, primarily, while doing my homework at the dining room table. The perfect place for everyone in the household to hear my obsessive 70s lite rock journey.

My father stopped on his way to the kitchen during the song Longer one day. With tears in his eyes, he confided that the song reminded him of my sister and the time when she was very sick (which would have been sometime around when the song originally came out.) With lyrics such as “longer than there’s been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you,” the song perfectly verbalized the love of a father for his daughter.

She had been diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, and while doing wonderfully now – nearly forty years later, the ensuing procedures and doctor visits were frightening for my father.

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura, as defined on the Mayo Clinic website, is a blood disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding. The bleeding results from unusually low levels of platelets – the cells that help clot blood. Early symptoms mirror those of leukemia and other scary sounding blood related disorders.

“Though the binding cracks, and the pages start to yellow…”

Today is the sixth anniversary of my father’s passing, and so, in honor of him (and my sister) this afternoon I walked down to the Summit Blood Donation Center to donate.

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Mary Williams

The need for blood is constant.

The Red Cross currently has an emergency need for blood and platelet donors to give now to help ensure lifesaving medical treatments and emergency care are not delayed or canceled this winter. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept donors away. Blood and platelet donations are needed in the coming days so that lifesaving blood products are available for patients who depend on transfusions for everyday survival.

You can help by donating (or if you can’t donate, finding a friend who can donate in your place) today by simply visiting www.redcrossblood.org and entering your zip code to find a blood drive near you.

If you, like me, are in Summit County, stop by our fixed site at the Akron Office (501 W. Market St., across from The Tangier) during these times:

Mondays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wednesdays; 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursdays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fridays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sundays; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Special Recognition For a Special Red Cross Volunteer

What HASN’T George Figel done as a volunteer with the American Red Cross?

The Akron resident was honored by the Center for Community Solutions as a “Most Treasured Volunteer,” at the agency’s Celebration of Human Services on Tuesday, November 17, 2015.  He is one of 5 “MTV” recipients for 2014-2015.

George currently volunteers 3-4 days a week as a Blood Donor Ambassador, greeting donors, helping them through the registration process, and making sure they’re comfortable after they make their donation.

During his nearly 30 years of volunteer service, George has: worked on local and national disasters, driven for medical transportation, helped maintain Red Cross facilities, worked with Youth Services, and represented the Red Cross at national conferences and local health fairs.

He has even taken pictures at various events.

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Photo credit: Jim  McIntyre/American Red Cross

George was accompanied by a contingent of Red Cross staff members, including Ann Catanese, Lynne Lisner and Lindsay Harris of Blood Services, and Debra Kellar of Volunteer Services.

Another Red Cross volunteer, Ruby Dailey of Warren was also congratulated as a Commended Volunteer. She has volunteered since 2000.

“These two volunteers are really dedicated to helping us support the mission of the American Red Cross,” said Pat Buckhold, Volunteer Services Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region.  “Their commitment to community service over such a sustained period of time shows just how much George and Ruby care about others.”

Other volunteers honored included Long Term Care Ombudsman Robert Blusko, Louise Dempsey of the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, Mr. Shirley Stevens of University Hospitals and Dr. Mark Massie of the West Side Catholic Center.

 

Angel of the Battlefield: Celebrating Ordinary People that do Extraordinary Things

Everyday heroes are ordinary people that do extraordinary things. Clara Barton was an ordinary person whose ideas and passions for others made her the “Angel of the Battlefield”, a hero in the American Civil War.

Clara Barton - US Patent Office

US Patent Office

Born in Massachusetts on Christmas Day, Clara grew up enjoying the wonders of the world. As a child she tended to her brother, David after a farm accident where he fell from the rafters. At 15, she became a teacher and opened a free public school in New Jersey. Throughout the 1850’s she worked for the United States Patent Office in Washington, D.C.

Following the first battle of Bull Run in 1861, Clara provided immediate assistance to federal troops, despite the social mores of the time, which said that the battlefield was no place for a woman. She provided clothing, food, and supplies to the ill and wounded she also read to the troops wrote letters fro them, and listened to their problems.

Matthew Brady Portrait of Clara Barton

Portrait of Clara Barton

In August of 1862, she appeared at a field hospital in Cedar Mountain, in northern Virginia at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. Her assistance left the surgeon on duty in awe. The surgeon later wrote, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n]… angel, she must be one – her assistance was so timely.”

From that time on, Clara became known as the Angel of the Battlefield as she assisted troops in the Battlefield of Fairfax, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

The Red Cross shares stories of everyday heroism to inspire other people to act with generosity. The Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter will present its 2015 Acts of Courage event recognizing ordinary people that perform extraordinary acts to save a life, on March 5 at the Akron/Fairlawn Hilton.

Red Cross is currently calling for heroes to be recognized at the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter event in April and the Lake to River Chapter event in June.

To be considered for the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter Hometown Heroes award, nominees must reside or be employed in Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas County. The Heroic event must have occurred in 2014, but may have taken place outside of Carroll, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties. Click here to access the online nomination form.

Nominees residing or working in Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana or Jefferson Counties may submit a nomination for the Lake to River Chapter Acts of Courage Event. The heroic must have occurred between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015. To download the nomination form, visit the Lake to River Chapter event page.