First Anniversary Reflections from CEO Mike Parks on Giving Day

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CEO Mike Parks and Elsie Berger, age 95, and a Red Cross Volunteer since 1958

NEO CEO Thanks Volunteers and Donors

Members of our Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Family:

“THANK YOU!!!”   I realize those two simple words may not seem like much but please know they speak volumes when directed at you—members of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross family.  During National Volunteer Week last week, we recognized the tremendous work of our incredible Red Cross volunteers.  Throughout our Region this past year we have brought on more than 400 new volunteers.  Additionally, almost 80% more volunteers are actually recording their efforts and they’ve actually worked 18% more hours, as well as spending 10% more time on call.  Our volunteer to employee hour ratio has increased by almost 70% during the past twelve months.   Thank you to all of you who are taking the time to record your hours in Volunteer Connection—this is critical to our being able to accurately track your terrific efforts.

What’s really impressive is the phenomenal impact our volunteers have made during their time supporting the Red Cross.  For example, our Disaster Cycle Services team, working closely with our Chapter leadership, has responded to more cases, provided more resources, and helped install almost 10,000 smoke alarms throughout Northeast Ohio.  Whether coordinating events, supporting our members of the Armed Forces, greeting visitors and blood donors, raising funds, or teaching classes, you are helping the American Red Cross meet mission every day.

Last week also marked my one year anniversary with the American Red Cross—what an awesome year it’s been.  As I reflect on the immense privilege it has been to serve alongside this tremendous staff (paid and volunteer), I am reminded our volunteers are truly our nation’s finest and most dedicated, supported by some of the most professional employees with whom I’ve had the pleasure to serve.  Please accept my sincere thanks and genuine appreciation for all each of you do every single day to help prevent and alleviate suffering in Northeast Ohio.  I’m already excited to see what year number two has in store!!!

Best regards…Mike

 

Why I Volunteer for the American Red Cross

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By Stephanie M. Goggans
CPT, SC
U.S. Army Cleveland Metro Recruiting Company

I volunteer with the Red Cross because service and volunteerism makes the world a better place.  If each one of us can have an impact on the next person then the entire world will be better.

Service with the American Red Cross was important for me as a military service member because it allows me to continue my volunteering as I travel worldwide. The American Red Cross has many diverse programs to volunteer in and so many different locations that they make it pretty simple to spend time giving back.

Helping with the disaster preparedness team in Northeast Ohio has been very educational for me. Being from Northeast Ohio, volunteering with the American Red Cross also helps me stay connected to what is going on in my area.  Although I wasn’t aware of it at first,
volunteering in the community through the American Red Cross has added to my sense of purpose and helped me become the person I am today.

Volunteering can be challenging, but it is ultimately very rewarding.

Thank you,

Stephanie

CPT GoggansStephanie

Click here to see a short video featuring Captain Stephanie Goggins, volunteering to sort mail destined for U. S. Service Men and Women during the holidays.

 

Ani Stone, SAF Volunteer

edit_12-19-15 256th Combat Support Hospital Family Day- Ani StoneMy name is Ani Stone and I am a Service to Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer. I have been volunteering for the American Red Cross since September 2014.

I moved to the United States in 2008 to pursue a graduate degree in Religious Studies and during my studies I volunteered for a Holocaust education program for middle and high school students. Upon graduation, I volunteered as a Romanian translator for elderly Romanians seeking medical or social assistance from government. When I moved to Stark County nearly four years ago, I continued my translator work, but the distance made work more difficult. I was looking for a new opportunity to enrich my life through volunteering, but was not sure which opportunity was the best. I decided to look at the American Red Cross, as the organization had a great reputation in Europe as well and I was more familiar with it than the other organizations in the area.

I had my first interview via phone and then a face-to-face follow up, and when I was told that there was an opening to volunteer for the Service to Armed Forces division, I made my decision. I was looking for a chance to make a difference and help through my volunteering work, and I knew my efforts would be meaningful as a SAF volunteer.

There is no higher honor than serving your country and protecting the public, including those who antagonize you. It’s an honor to serve those who work in this function.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Pictures are His Passion

The American Red Cross celebrates the work and support of the hundreds of thousands of Red Cross volunteers during National Volunteer week, April 10-16.

Volunteers fulfill many roles, from coordinating blood drives, to responding to home fires in the middle of the night, to traveling to areas ravaged by natural disasters.

One such volunteer is Cal Pusateri, a professional photographer who uses his skills to help document the good work done by other volunteers in the Northeast Ohio Region.

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Why I Volunteer

By Cal Pusateri, Communications Volunteer, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

Over the years, I have volunteered for more than a few 501-c organizations.  Giving my time has more meaning to me than a simple donation.

When approached to volunteer for the American Red Cross, I signed up for a strictly greedy reason, Boosted Ego!

I take photos, and when the ARC uses one (ego boost), hopefully, a person or persons are inspired to join the ARC.

Thank you, American Red Cross, for allowing me to become a ARC Volunteer.

Photo Credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Why I Volunteer: Disaster Mental Health

By: Christine, a Red Cross Volunteer in Boston (but calls NEO her hometown)

A colleague of mine, another therapist, always talks to clients about “shipwreck experiences”: those moments of tragedy where we are pushed to our limits, but learn something about ourselves and are moved to grow. That’s more than a feel-good saying or a pop-psychology mantra. In fact, it is at the core of the theory of post-traumatic growth, a counterpart to the idea of post-traumatic stress, and something that’s been found to happen more commonly than previously believed.

But how do people grow when everything around them seems to be lost? There are many pieces to that puzzle, but one of them is the support of the community. It is that support, which the Red Cross gives, and that Disaster Relief volunteers are trained to provide. These are the community responders you see on the news during times of tragedy. Perhaps they are setting up cots in gymnasiums, or preparing meals out of a truck. They are also the ones at the home fire in the middle of the night, handing out blankets and water.

My own background is in providing mental health services, and as a psychologist I work every day with people who have experienced loss – but usually months and years after the fact. When I was in grad school a professor of mine spoke to our class about the Red Cross’ Disaster Mental Health (DMH) services. This was in the years immediately following 9/11, and there were many stories about psychologists, social workers, and mental health counselors who had worked Ground Zero.

A key point, he said, was that we would unfortunately have to wait to volunteer till we were licensed and could practice independently. So, I finished my clinical training, graduated, did more coursework and training to get licensed, and in the process sort of forgot about it all.

On April 15, 2013, I was getting home just after 3 p.m. from volunteering at Mile 13 of the Boston Marathon. I didn’t understand the words I was reading when a friend texted asking me about explosions. Throughout the next hour I had people, having seen my excited posts about heading off to volunteer and my close-up shots of the course, trying to text and Facebook me about where I was and if I was ok. I, myself, was trying to keep my cool as I texted the family of friends who were supposed to be crossing the finish line. I am still grateful that all of my friends and their families were safe, but it was a long, few hours. A mini-shipwreck experience, if you will.

The next day I looked into the Red Cross DMH training. Things were chaotic, and I didn’t hear back from the coordinator. It got set aside as I dealt with people already in my practice that had been affected by the bombing. But this time I didn’t forget, and finally I made the time to apply this summer.

When I was ready, the process was actually quite easy – go through your local Red Cross website, you can walk through the process of signing up. My trainings were mostly online, and volunteer coordinators helped me along the way. I’ll actually do my last training soon, and then I’ll start attending update meetings as the year goes on. I’ll be able to give my schedule of when I can volunteer for common incidents (like house fires) and be on call for larger incidents.

Through the trainings I learned more about the Red Cross and its mission, the role of Disaster Relief, and the specifics of being a DMH volunteer. The coolest thing I learned? That there are people, mostly retirees, that are called DOVEs (Disaster Operations Volunteer Escapees) who travel the US in RVs, and wait to be called upon to travel to disaster sites. My husband is not yet aware that I am going to push for this in our retirement. Please don’t ruin the surprise!

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A photo of the author from her “grown-up” job.

Why I volunteer: Kevin

By Kevin Murphy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 A few years after I graduated from high school I adopted this quote as the mission statement for life.  Having been born with a disability, I had learned that the world isn’t always fair. Even though I had setbacks of my own, I could still do something that would benefit others.

My first experience with the American Red Cross was in the summer of 2013 when the City of Barberton experienced devastating flooding and my employer, the Lake Anna YMCA, was selected as a shelter site for the city.  The next nine days were a whirlwind of activity, but in the end we were able to help a lot of people and do a lot of good in our community.  I knew from that point on that the Red Cross was the place for me!

Disasters do not pick and choose who they affect.  They can strike any person, in any neighborhood, at any time — even at 3 a.m. or when it’s -10 degrees outside. Being a part of the Disaster Action Team has helped me to make a big impact on my community.   It makes me feel good to know that I can help someone at a time when the help matters most to them.

Across the country the Red Cross is a strong organization that helps numerous men, women and children each day.  I strongly believe that our work should be shared with as many people as possible.  I often post on my personal Twitter handle (@macfankevin) when I am responding to a disaster.   It’s not for personal recognition, but rather to help raise awareness of the needs in our community.

Imagine what would happen if I could inspire someone else to help and then they inspire another person. It’s a never ending cycle of good in the world!

I strongly encourage you to do something to give back to your community.  Give. Volunteer . Advocate. Small things that you do today can have a big impact on what happens tomorrow. I have found my niche with the Red Cross. I look forward to many more years of developing my self-capacity and helping others.