Coming Up: 2017

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Happy New Year everyone!

2017 has a lot of great events and happenings already lined up, and it’s only January 1st. Let’s look ahead at the coming year.

March is Red Cross Month – March was first proclaimed as Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission in the midst of war. Since then, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month.

This year is particularly special as we will be celebrating 100 years of serving many of our communities!

Acts of Courage (Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter)- On March 2 we will celebrate the extraordinary and courageous acts of ordinary community members at our 21st annual Acts of Courage event in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties. The event is the primary fundraiser for the chapter. We will also honor Kevin Thompson of PNC Bank with the H. Peter Burg Award for community service.

If you are interested in obtaining tickets or sponsoring the event, please visit the event page here.

Fire and Ice Ball – The semi-annual Red Cross Ball will take place in Cleveland on March 25th. This year’s theme highlights the importance of fire prevention and safety information that the Red Cross provides to our community. We respond to an average of 3 home fires a night throughout the 22 counties we serve. Proceeds from this event will allow us to continue to educate Northeast Ohio families about fire safety and help us protect local homes through Operation Save-A-Life, our amazing program that installs smoke alarms – for free!

If you are interested in obtaining tickets or sponsoring the event, please visit the event page here.

BASH – Our smash hit event of the spring – the BASH in Stark and Muskingum Lakes is a themed auction to benefit the disaster services in Stark, Harrison, Carroll, and Tuscarawas Counties. For more information on tickets, sponsorship, or donating to the auction, please call the Stark and Muskingum Lakes chapter.

Acts of Courage (Lake to River Chapter) – This summer we will honor individuals whose extraordinary acts of courage make them someone’s hero. Those everyday people who have put themselves in harm’s way or have risked their lives to save another. For more information, please call the Lake to River Chapter or visit our NEO Heroes page.

Festival of Trees – We realized you are probably in the midst of putting away your own holiday decorations, but it’s never to early to start thinking about how you can participate in our annual holiday tradition in Wooster. For more information, call the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

And – of course – we invite you to assist us in providing our services every day of the new year by going to www.redcross.org/neo and clicking on volunteer. It’s amazing to serve the people in our communities and you’ll be so glad you did (plus it may help you tick off one of those pesky New Year’s resolutions!)

Raising the Roof and Raising Awareness

By: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

While the legendary Harlem Globetrotters raised the roof in Quicken Loans Arena, Red Cross volunteers raised awareness with an information table in the lobby across from Section 128.  It was a two-fold information, full-court press.

The Globetrotters have partnered with the Red Cross in The Great Assist initiative, helping Americans before, during and after local incidents or national disasters.

A large banner proclaimed “Join Us” and the information table was stacked high with handouts providing the details. Many people don’t realize the multiple ways they can become involved with Red Cross, and the brochure nicely lays out options for people of all talent, skill and interest levels.

The Globetrotters played two games on December 27; at 1:00 pm and again at 6:00 pm.  Separate volunteer groups manned the table at each game.

The table also displayed small signs with the same message that appeared courtside — “Text ASSIST to 90999 to donate $10.”  Again, something small that people can easily do, but when combined with thousands of others, can make a serious impact.

2016-garrett-at-globetrotter-gameThe table attracted a number of people, including Garrett Chapin (15) and his mother Laura. We wished we could have kept them longer, as Garrett demonstrated his spinning-ball-on-the-finger-tip trick.  Wearing a uniform just like the Globetrotters, he truly illuminated the area with blinking LED lights in his basketball shoes.

So, did the table do its job?

That’s probably an answer best left to the data analysts, but this writer does have a few opinions.

First, the more people see your sign or your logo, the more likely they are to remember you when the need arises.  Marketing 101 stuff, but it is a truism.

Secondly, it seems that people are so tired of seeing tables set up in the mall or airport, that they often shy away from a manned table, not wanting to get involved. Exactly the opposite reaction we were hoping for.

So, after staffing the table for more than an hour, and having 99% of our great brochures still sitting there, unloved, we decided to take the brochures on a road-show.

Walking around the entire Quicken Loans Arena lobby, if a person looked receptive, we approached and delivered a short message while handing them a brochure.  “The Red Cross is always looking for good volunteers if you or someone you know might be interested.” or “If you are looking for volunteer opportunities for yourself or someone in your family, the Red Cross would love to talk to you.”

In an hour, the brochures were gone, and a good 90% of them were met with smiles, with heartfelt “Thanks” and some with “I’ll definitely look it.”

Hopefully at the end of the evening, the announcements over the PA raised some money from the fans, and hopefully the brochures will further raise awareness of the many ways our organization contributes to the community.

After Escaping Home Fire, Ravenna Family Turns to Red Cross for Relief

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It was an ordinary August morning for Edna Norton until she returned home to find her house ablaze.

Surrounded by nearly a dozen fire trucks, Norton rushed to meet her family outside of their home in Ravenna, Ohio. Much to her relief, her husband and sons made it to safety after the eldest rescued his 18-year-old brother, who uses a wheelchair. But the threat to her family’s lives and destruction to their home left her distraught.

A Red Cross volunteer responding to the fire came to Norton’s side, offering comfort and support.

“She had a spirit about her. She was so calming and soothing,” Norton said of the volunteer. “She made you feel like you could make it through. She was very knowledgeable. I was a wreck. She made me sit down. Gave me water. She was still there after [the first responders] were leaving.”

The Red Cross helped Norton and her family figure out their next steps, addressing urgent needs such as replacing prescription medications that were destroyed by the fire. She said she’s grateful for the support to develop a path for their recovery.

edna-norton-with-red-cross-worker-debbie-chitester-2“To lose everything and to know [there are] people out there that care…There are a lot of good people out in the world,” she added. “I’m telling you that I had so much generosity, so much love, from strangers saying, ‘What can I do to help?’”

If you would like to volunteer as a member of the Red Cross team, visit www.redcross.org/neo and click on Volunteer.

Photos: Mary Williams/American Red Cross

At 80, She’s Still Going Strong

Passionate About Donating Blood, Running 

By Paul Wadowick, American Red Cross Volunteer

Eighty years young, Jean Toth lives a life bigger than you would imagine.  At first, you meet a petite lady who, like others, arrives with desire to help others with a donation of blood.  Then she mentions that she’s eighty years old.  Your interest is piqued.  Now, you are ready to hear more of Jean’s story.

Jean raised her children like we all would.  When she arrived in her forty second year of life, Jean was ready for other challenges.  “That’s when I started training for the marathon and donating blood,” she said.  That would be thirty-eight years, ago.  Jean shared, “I didn’t donate before a marathon.”  When asked how many times she’s donated, Jean replied, “I don’t know how many I’ve done.”  This calculates to a probable minimum of 152 units or 19 gallons to a high of 228 times or 28.5 gallons between then and now.  Along with the training runs, Jean qualified at a Columbus, Ohio marathon and did run the Boston Marathon in 1982 and 1985.  Jean stated, “I still run eight to ten miles about three times a week.  Does she still run the marathons? “No, not anymore,” Jean clarifies.  “I started running half marathons this year.  There are others who are there at the end, so I’m not alone.”  She added, “I can donate blood more often, now.”

When Jean volunteered that she takes vitamins, diet was the next question.  “I eat lots of salad, vegetables, rice, pasta, and some meat.”  Further inquiry discovers that her five children gave her eight grandchildren who in turn made her a great grandmother twelve times. And there is one great, great, grandchild.  Other achievements also came to light.  Jean has earned twelve trophies, contested in light weight body building four or five years, and is in the Wickliffe Hall of Fame for Sports.

With all said and done, maybe we can say that Jean C. Toth is truly Eighty-Years-Strong.

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Jean C. Toth at the LaMalfa Blood Drive, October 27, 2016  Photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross Volunteer

 

 

Learn How to Volunteer During a National Disaster

When the news starts reporting the coming of a major storm, do you think to yourself, “How can I help?”

We will host a four hour session on how you can volunteer to assist those affected by Hurricane Matthew, and other disasters, this Friday, October 14 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Greater Cleveland office at 3747 Euclid Ave.

You will also need to complete independent online training. You will have 48-hours to complete approximately 6 -10 hours of training — depending on the area you choose.

 

Reserve a seat by emailing luis.rivera@redcross.org or call 216-426-7549.

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JOIN OUR TEAM: Red Cross Mobilizes Disaster Relief Efforts Coast-to-Coast

Did you realize that the Red Cross is supporting disasters from coast-to-coast? For nearly three weeks, thousands of Red Cross volunteers have been helping thousands of people affected by the devastating and historic flooding in Louisiana, meanwhile we prepared to respond to the multiple storms which threatened much of the East Coast and Hawaii.

 

Red Cross workers in Florida and Georgia opened 46 shelters where almost 550 people spent Thursday night. The Red Cross is helping officials with damage assessment in those states to determine what additional help is needed. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power and many schools closed due to heavy rain and downed trees.

Two Pacific hurricanes – Madeline and Lester – were expected to hit Hawaii over the last several days, bringing as much as 15 inches of rain and 75 mph winds to the Aloha State. The Red Cross had disaster workers and supplies on alert to respond, and as many as 14 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters were opened.

Red Cross workers are also responding to wildfires out west, flooding in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and tornadoes in Indiana, along with numerous smaller emergencies that occur every day, such as home fires.

The last several weeks have kept Red Cross disaster volunteers busy. Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Operations and Logistics Brad Kieserman says, “To date, the Red Cross has deployed more than 6,300 volunteers in less than two months, two-and-half-times the number called upon by this point in 2015. Plus, last year saw 24,000 volunteers deployed, with 2015 requiring more than triple the number of volunteers to respond to disasters than in any of the past three years.” Read more here.

We will continue to do what we do – provide hope to those affected by disaster – but we can’t do it without the generosity of people like you. If you would like to join our team, get started at redcross.org/neo by clicking on volunteer. Or, you can contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

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NEO Volunteers Deploy to Louisiana Flooding

Red Cross disaster workers — including 8 from here in Northeast Ohio — are helping thousands of Louisiana residents with a safe place to stay and food to eat despite closed roads and continued flooding making it challenging to get relief supplies to where they are needed.

Volunteers, Sue and Linda left from the Cleveland office in an emergency response vehicle this morning. A second team left from Youngstown.

The truck (lovingly referred to as an ERV by Red Cross staff) will be used transport cleaning items like mops, buckets and bleach or hot meals prepared by our partners at one of the eight Southern Baptist kitchens out in to the communities affected by the flood.

The current flooding in Louisiana is the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy.

Monday night more than 8,400 people sought refuge in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in Louisiana. More than 1,000 Red Cross disaster volunteers have been mobilized from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to help with the Louisiana relief efforts. The Red Cross is also mobilizing over 60 ERVS — like the two that left Northeast Ohio this morning — with nearly 40,000 ready-to-eat meals, and dozens of trailers filled with shelter and kitchen supplies.

“People in Louisiana urgently need our help now,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “Please consider making a financial donation to the Red Cross today.”

HOW TO HELP People in Louisiana are facing a dire situation. Floodwaters still cover neighborhoods. An estimated 25,000 homes are damaged, affecting at least 75,000 people. Thousands of people have no power when it feels like 99 degrees outside and more than 100 roads are closed. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recovery from these disasters.

FINDING LOVED ONES Residents of the affected areas can connect with their loved ones by using the “I’m Safe” button on the Red Cross Emergency App which is free and can be found in the app store for someone’s mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.

People can also visit http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and private way that friends and family connect. The site also allows people to update their status on Facebook and Twitter.

JOINT RELIEF EFFORT The Red Cross is working closely with the entire response community to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help quickly and efficiently, keeping in mind the diverse needs of the community. Some of the organizations sending help to the area include Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, the NAACP, Islamic Relief USA, Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services, Save the Children, AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, AFL-CIO, Verizon, Duracell, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Baton Route YMCA and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints volunteers.

BECOME A VOLUNTEER To become a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/neo and click on VOLUNTEER today to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application.