World Health Day 2021 focuses on health equity, which Red Cross works to address

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

Today, April 7, is World Health Day, a day in which the World Health Organization (WHO) raises awareness of an important issue. This year’s theme is one the American Red Cross strives daily to address: health equity and “building a fairer, healthier world.”

This is an important issue for the Red Cross as humanity, impartiality and universality are among our fundamental principles. Each day in the Northern Ohio region, as everywhere, Red Cross volunteers and staff work to assist anyone in need of our lifesaving and emergency relief services. This commitment is conveyed in several personal perspectives on this webpage, including recent articles from Chris Chmura and Doug Bardwell.

As the WHO points out, the COVID-19 pandemic has more clearly shown how some have better access to health care and have healthier lives than others. In addition, the CDC states, “There is increasing evidence that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.” Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 demographics also indicate a disparity.

While many of us may feel limited in addressing the causes of health inequality, there are several ways we can have an impact. Assisting the Red Cross in its mission is among them, whether through volunteering, donating blood or providing financial support.

Volunteering with the Red Cross has helped me see the health inequality in our region, and I am honored to have taken part in helping those in need. If you are interested in volunteering, there are a variety of opportunities available in Northern Ohio, including in Disaster Response, Blood Services and Services to the Armed Forces.

Blood donations are critical. As this article states, the blood supply needs to be as diverse as our region. A diverse blood supply is necessary for treating diseases like sickle cell, which mostly affects those of African and Latino descent. As I reported last September, blood donations from African Americans are vital in treating sickle cell disease, as blood must be closely matched to reduce the risk of complications.

The Red Cross would not be able to provide so much assistance without the generous support of its donors. If you can provide financial support, any amount helps. 

Hopefully, we are approaching the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. But we cannot forget its difficult lessons. We must also continue to face other illnesses, health concerns and disasters. We need to work toward a better future with greater health equity. The Red Cross—with the support of its donors, volunteers and staff—will continue to honor its fundamental principles to assist all in need.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

The ‘hows’ of financial contributions: Your questions answered

Giving Day is Wednesday, March 24

By: Sam Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

Donating when you are able to can be a wonderful way to give back to your community and help those who are in need. There are many ways you can support and give to the American Red Cross, including providing a financial gift.

You may be asking yourself: How is my donation used? How much of it is used? How can I donate? All of these are great questions, and ones you should ask before donating to any cause, charity or organization. For those who have questions about the Red Cross, we are providing the answers to some of these common questions about financial contributions.

How much of my donation goes to the Red Cross?

An average of 90 cents of every dollar we receive is invested in delivering care and comfort to those in need.

How is my donation used by the Red Cross?

With the generous support of our donors, we help millions of people each year. Financial donations help to support our programs like disaster relief, blood drives, our Home Fire Campaign, training classes, services to the armed forces and more. Learn more about the work we do here in Northern Ohio.

How can I donate?

If you are looking to give a financial donation to the Red Cross, there are many ways you can donate:

  • Make a donation online
  • Send a donation by mail
  • Donate over the phone
  • Text to donate $10
  • Alexa Donations with Amazon Pay
  • Donate stock, your car, hotel points or airline miles
  • Give in tribute to someone
  • Give monthly

If you want your donation to go even further, ask your employer if they would sponsor a matching program for employees. In a matching program, your donation is matched by the organization or individual that is sponsoring the program.

There are many ways you can give back and support the Red Cross’ mission. We encourage you to learn more about our mission and our work, and if you are able to do so, consider donating this coming Giving Day on March 24—or any day. For details on how to donate or to make a secure donation online, click here.

We thank you for your support!

Edited by: Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

FirstEnergy Foundation becomes Red Cross Disaster Responder partner

$250,000 donation to help prepare for, respond to future disasters

The American Red Cross is recognizing Akron-based FirstEnergy Foundation for supporting Red Cross Disaster Relief through the Disaster Responder Program with an annual pledge of $250,000. Thanks to contributions in advance of disasters, the Red Cross is prepared to help meet the needs of people affected by disasters big and small, anytime and anywhere across the U.S.

The gift was presented this week during a virtual check presentation.

Disaster Responder members—along with their employees and customers—pledge financial and in-kind donations in advance of disasters, powering the Red Cross with strong infrastructure, trained volunteers, innovative technology and critical resources necessary to provide relief and support to those in crisis. These annual contributions allow the Red Cross to respond whenever and wherever disasters occur, help families during the recovery process and prepare people for future emergencies.

Jill Patterson, Red Cross philanthropy officer (top), Ed Shuttleworth, regional president, Ohio Edison, Rachel Telegdy, executive director, American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley, and Lorna Wisham, President, FirstEnergy Foundation

“Every day in the face of disasters, the generosity of Disaster Responder members like FirstEnergy Foundation ensures the Red Cross can provide comfort and care to people in their darkest hours,” said Michelle Polinko, regional chief development officer at the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “We are extremely grateful for these contributions before disasters strike because it enables us to respond to disasters immediately and compassionately, when help and hope are needed most.”

While large disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires typically draw national attention, each year, the Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters across the country—the majority of which are home fires. Generous contributions from Disaster Responder members enable the Red Cross to provide services to people in need of assistance at no cost and regardless of income.

Generous contributions from Disaster Responder members enable the Red Cross to provide services to people in need of assistance at no cost and regardless of income.

And thanks to Disaster Responder members, Red Cross volunteers are also in their local communities every day, conducting disaster preparedness presentations virtually and giving people the reassurance and confidence to face crises of all kinds.

Other Northern Ohio members of the Disaster Responder program include the Marathon Petroleum Foundation, Inc. and the J. M. Smucker Company.

Individuals can help people affected by disasters big and small by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Donations to Disaster Relief enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Club Red women raise funds and awareness of Red Cross mission

Ottawa County supporters stay engaged despite the pandemic

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

October 21, 2020- The women of Ottawa County Club Red have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American Red Cross to carry out its humanitarian activities.

Just as importantly, this “sisterhood with a cause” advocates for the many lines of service of the Red Cross mission.

It started with one woman. Cindy Amerine came home from a “life-changing experience” as a volunteer in a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina. She was determined to do whatever she could for the organization. She reached out to her friends to organize Club Red and inspired a whole team of Red Cross ambassadors.

Pictured are Karen Blizzard, Lynn Majce, Peggy Rolf, Cindy Amerine, Beth Leggett and Danis Putzbach

For 13 years, beginning in 2008, the 100 women or so — mostly residents of eastern Ottawa County or “friends of friends”— have staged an annual fundraiser. “Sherry and Chocolates,” which featured a tour of lovely homes on Catawba Island, became the annual membership drive and prelude to each of 11 fun-filled galas. Every one sold out as the Club Red event was the area’s hottest ticket of the summer.

In 2019, the group switched it up and organized a golf scramble and auction. This year, because of the pandemic, they had to resort to a letter-writing campaign for a “non-scramble,” which was still a success. 

“These are women who know how to network,” said Beth Leggett, former Ottawa County Red Cross director. “When we have a need, they use their circles of influence on behalf of the Red Cross.”

“We live in an area with a very active community spirit, a very active sense of giving back,” said Club Red member Carol Schemmer. “It comes out of a need to serve. It’s what we do.”

It’s not hard to get people to donate time, talents or money to their cause. “Everyone around here knows the good work of the Red Cross. And if they don’t, we tell em!,” she said with a grin in her voice.

At the same time, the women enjoy the growing fellowship. Deb Biro, the group’s current chair, admits that current COVID limits on gatherings have cut into the group’s many activities. But, “We’re trying the best we can to keep engaged and recruit,” she said.

Members have taken Red Cross disaster preparedness and response training, taught citizen CPR, collected supplies and packed “care boxes” for armed forces posts overseas, and served as a “speakers bureau” to spread the word about Red Cross activities. Deb points out that club members still help conduct blood drives.

Because many are “snow birds” or have homes elsewhere, they carry their enthusiasm with them. “These women are far-reaching,” Beth said. They “use their influence to promote Red Cross there as well.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Red Cross and its many humanitarian activities, visit redcross.org. You’re sure to find a mission to get excited about, whether it’s as a volunteer (local or national; in person or virtually), a financial supporter, a blood donor or a Club Red-style influencer. 

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northern Ohio disaster workers continue to support relief efforts across the country

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

October 19, 2020- For a majority of 2020, our days have been consumed with COVID-19. While our daily lives may be at a standstill due to the global pandemic, disasters do not stop.

Since the end of August, from multiple major hurricanes and tropical storms in the south to devastating wildfires in much of the west, back-to-back massive disasters have kept the American Red Cross working tirelessly for months across the country to provide food, shelter and comfort to thousands of people in need.

Over the past several weeks, the Red Cross has provided more than 1 million total overnight stays in emergency lodgings across multiple states, has served more than 2.6 million meals and snacks, and distributed 304,900 relief items with the help of partners and has also provided more 6,870 households with emergency financial assistance to help them replace essential items and begin to recover.

September 23, 2020. Pensacola, Florida. Peggy Martin of the American Red Cross walks her assigned route in West Pensacola to conduct damage assessments. Peggy just returned from an earlier assignment in Louisiana. As a testament to the dedication Red Cross volunteers put into their work, Peggy remains committed to the task at hand and is happy to be here helping out even through personal difficulty – recovering from recent dental surgery and suffering a loss in the family. Photo by Jaka Vinšek/American Red Cross

To assist with the coast-to-coast relief efforts, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has deployed 65 disaster workers since the end of August.

Currently, there are 20 disaster workers from Northern Ohio lending a helping hand. Four of those 20 workers are Callene Derrick, Tom Johnson, Mike Arthur and Todd James, who are deployed to Louisiana following Hurricane Delta. Callene is helping with staff planning and support, Tom is aiding with transportation, Mike is serving as a shelter manager and Todd is helping tell the Red Cross story as a public affairs manager.

Left to right: Callene Derrick,  Tom Johnson, Mike Arthur and Todd James

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters. People in good health and who are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy for up to two weeks can visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday, or can call 1-800-RED CROSS.

September 20, 2020. Salem, Oregon. American Red Cross volunteer Mary Jo “MJ” Henrickson hands a 3M mask to Christie Davis at a Red Cross shelter for evacuees of the Oregon wildfires, in Salem, OR. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

The number one priority of the American Red Cross is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, blood donors and recipients, and the people we serve, and we have implemented several measures, in accordance with CDC guidelines, to protect our workers and those who need our assistance. 

If you are unable to deploy but you would like to support the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Volunteer finds role that allows her to give back to her community during pandemic

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

October 15, 2020- In the last four months, the Northern Ohio region of the American Red Cross has welcomed Lucy Anne Christopher, a Cleveland native, to our team as a Blood Donor Ambassador. Lucy Anne is no stranger to volunteerism. Before she began serving with the Red Cross, she has humbly taken on other opportunities to give back to the community, including her role with the Ronald McDonald House where she carries out activities for patients and their families. She serves as a “red coat volunteer” at PlayHouse Square Theater and also tutors adults in reading and other subjects. 

Lucy Anne Christopher

When the coronavirus pandemic made its mark on the United States in March 2020, Lucy Anne’s involvement began to change. Her roles at PlayHouse Square and the Ronald McDonald House were both put on hold but Lucy Anne still wanted to be involved and help her community. She was no longer able to tutor her students at the local library, so she began conducting reading exercises over the phone with her students. In June, she took on the role as a Blood Donor Ambassador with the Red Cross.

As a Blood Donor Ambassador, Lucy Anne takes the temperatures of each person who comes in to donate blood, checks them in and out of the computer system, and interacts with donors, ensuring that they have a positive experience. Lucy Anne explained that it’s a very simple role, but it makes a big difference in maintaining the seamless flow of blood donors in and out of the blood drive and provides relief to those drawing blood so that they can focus on their direct tasks rather than needing to also check people in. Lucy Anne reflected that she does not feel at risk of contracting the virus in her role because there is a high level of cleanliness and safety measures in place at the Red Cross blood drives that make her feel comfortable performing her role.

Lucy Anne is a fantastic example of how we all have the capability to make a change, big or small, in the communities where we live. She said, “I volunteer because I think it’s important to give back. There are so many areas that have a need, and you can always find an avenue to serve in that is compatible with your current lifestyle.” The Red Cross collects and distributes approximately 40% of the United States’ blood supply. Our Blood Donor Ambassadors play a big part in creating a positive donation experience for our donors. There is a great need for volunteers as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. If you are interested in becoming a Blood Donor Ambassador in your area, click here to learn more and apply

If you want to meet Lucy Anne and the other wonderful Blood Donor Ambassadors in Northern Ohio, while providing lifesaving blood to those in need, you can schedule your blood donation today. The need for blood never stops, even during this COVID-19 pandemic. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to ensure the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate in the weeks and months ahead by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Women of Tiffany Circle support Red Cross through leadership and philanthropy

New member launches donation match challenge

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

October 1, 2020- The generosity and talent of American Red Cross volunteers and donors bring the Red Cross mission to life in communities across the country every single day. This group is full of diverse and dedicated individuals constantly developing new, creative ways to help the Red Cross deliver critical services to those in need. One group, Tiffany Circle, provides a unique way for women to make a difference supporting the organization’s humanitarian mission.

Tiffany Circle is a community of women leaders who advance the Red Cross mission through focused investments of time, talent and treasure.Over 1,000 women belong to Tiffany Circle across the country. Membership enables women to support the Red Cross while building relationships with like-minded individuals committed to volunteerism, leadership and philanthropy.

Tiffany Circle members donate a minimum of $10,000 annually to support the Red Cross’ mission.

One of Northern Ohio’s newest Tiffany Circle members is Dr. Lydia Parker, owner of Parker Skin & Aesthetic Clinic. Dr. Parker joined Tiffany Circle in 2019.

“Tiffany Circle appealed to me as a group of women showing leadership and helping raise awareness of the Red Cross and all of the important work it does,” said Parker.

Dr. Parker was introduced to the Red Cross and Tiffany Circle by Donna Rae Smith, Tiffany Circle member and founder and CEO of Bright Side, Inc.

“I was surprised to learn the extent of what the Red Cross does,” said Parker. “The Red Cross is there when floods and wildfires create devastation, and here locally providing assistance after home fires and storms. This all requires strong philanthropic support. Many people believe Red Cross services are government funded, and miss how critical the philanthropy is.”

With this year’s contribution, Dr. Parker’s clinic is supporting a donation challenge, matching gifts raised up to $10,000. The clinic is directing participants to make donations on its online giving page at https://rdcrss.org/theparkerclinic.

“With the California wildfires turning families’ lives upside down, we all wish we could help in some way,” said Parker. “The match is one way we can all help and make even smaller donations more powerful.”

To learn more about Tiffany Circle and ways to give, visit Redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Blood donations to treat sickle cell disease are needed

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 25, 2020- September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the need for blood donations to assist the 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease is especially critical this year. While the disease does not have a cure, blood transfusions are one of the most effective treatments. The American Red Cross requests anyone who can help with a lifesaving blood donation to do so.

Sickle cell disease, which mostly affects those of African and Latino descent, causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped. Blood has difficulty flowing smoothly and carrying oxygen to the rest of the body, which may lead to severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes.

As Christy Peters, External Communications Manager for Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Biomedical Services, reported in June, blood donations from African Americans are vital in treating sickle cell disease, as blood must be closely matched to reduce the risk of complications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she noted, “the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half.”

Julie Broze at MetroHealth Medical Center’s Hematology/Oncology Department also mentioned the importance of blood donors in treating sickle cell disease. While MetroHealth has not had its blood supply for sickle cell patients hindered, she said more people donating is vital, as the demographic can be difficult to match. African Americans who do not have the sickle cell trait or disease are especially encouraged to donate, as their blood has a greater chance to have needed antigens and be a better match.

For a personal perspective, I spoke with Demeatrice Nance, whose daughter Makenzie, now 16, has sickle cell disease. Both Demeatrice and Makenzie are effective advocates in educating people about sickle cell, the need for blood donations, perseverance and helping others.

Makenzie has given a number of talks, especially to fellow young people, on sickle cell and the need to donate blood. Demeatrice, a Certified Community Healthcare Worker for the Ohio Sickle Cell and Health Association, has performed vital roles in a number of efforts, including the largest African American blood drive in Ohio.

Their outlooks are inspiring. While they have faced sickle cell disease—and its personal and emotional challenges—for 16 years, they focus on being positive and doing what is needed. This remains true even during the current pandemic. Demeatrice said there is a greater need for blood, but many are currently afraid to give, so she and her daughter are continuing to educate and help.

An avid football fan, Makenzie adapts a coach’s saying that, when you get hit, keep your legs moving as you can still gain yardage. Makenzie says we can learn from that, whether donating blood, facing sickle cell, cancer, COVID-19 or other hardships. Even with the hits we are experiencing, we need to keep going, as we’ll help ourselves and others gain a bit more. So please, consider donating blood.

For another powerful perspective on sickle cell disease, please read Glinda Dames Fincher’s story here.

More information on joining the fight is available here.

Information on donating blood and Coronavirus is available here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Help family, friends and neighbors by becoming a Red Cross Volunteer Transportation Specialist

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 21, 2020- We are all living in a new world with daily changes, challenges and a different pace in our professional and personal lives. Everyone has been pushed to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One glaring fact is that millions of people have had their lives transformed into a daily struggle for life’s basic needs of food, shelter and, most importantly, their health. I have learned a deeper appreciation for these basic needs.

Chris Chmura

For years, I have donated blood to the American Red Cross to help others in need, feel like I was giving back and to follow my father’s lead with his years of donations. I wondered how I could increase my support by stepping into a more active role. I signed up to become a volunteer transportation specialist. 

Why this role? 

The Red Cross has many options for you to volunteer your time but the transportation specialist fit into my personal and professional schedule. Plus the position is fun! I enjoy going into various hospitals/labs, traveling throughout the city and working with people who are making a huge difference in millions of lives. My professional role is in the business world. So this volunteer position takes me into the dramatically different health profession. My respect has gone sky-high for the kind people who work around the clock at Red Cross labs and hospitals to process blood for people in need. I am amazed by the journey blood travels from a donor to the person who relies on it to save their life.  

My position started with some online training, driver shadowing and taking the leap to take over a shift. The Red Cross has an incredible network of support to help you succeed in this volunteer role. I hope you decide to sign up for this fulfilling experience. You can meet all types of people, learn about this lifesaving organization, expand your personal growth and feel the satisfaction of helping during this historic time. 

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a dependable, safe and courteous person who can help us make these important deliveries? Volunteer Transportation Specialists deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals, using a Red Cross vehicle. We need you to commit to two to four shifts per month (or more if you can). Typical shifts are about four hours.

You’ll also need to meet these important qualifications:

  • Have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Have three years of driving experience and a clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 45 pounds

Apply to volunteer at: redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer


Northern Ohio disaster workers continue to deploy to several relief efforts

9 working virtually; 18 have physically deployed

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

September 14, 2020- With Hurricane Sally approaching the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall on Tuesday, the American Red Cross continues to respond to the California and Oregon wildfires, as well as the Hurricane Laura relief efforts in Louisiana and Texas.

Currently from Northern Ohio, one disaster worker has deployed to California, while nine have deployed to help with the Oregon wildfires.

In addition, 17 workers are continuing to assist people affected by Hurricane Laura, including three responding in Texas and 14 in Louisiana.

Northern Ohio Region leadership members Mike Parks, CEO and Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, are among the disaster workers assigned to assist with the disaster responses. Mike has deployed to the Hurricane Laura response, while Tim was assigned to respond to the wildfire in Oregon. Both are working virtually currently.

To date, as part of the Hurricane Laura and the west coast wildfires disaster relief efforts, the Red Cross has provided emergency lodging to more than 29,600 residents, and with the help of partners, the Red Cross has also served more than 769,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 174,000 relief items.

September 13, 2020. Central Point, Oregon. Patty Albin of the American Red Cross checks on Travis Wagner as he rests at the Jackson County Expo and Fairgrounds shelter after fleeing the wildfires in Central Point, OR on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters.

If you are in good health and you are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy, you are invited to attend one of the upcoming virtual volunteer information session on Friday, September 18 or Saturday, September 19. Both sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. For more information and to register, email Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615.

August 31, 2020. Sulphur, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on damage caused by Hurricane Laura, in Sulphur, LA on Monday, August 31, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are unable to deploy but you would like to support the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation