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


Volunteer heals from personal loss by helping others in need

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

September 16, 2020- Debbie Levison is filling monumental holes in her life – the loss of her husband to COVID-19, the end of her career – the best way she knows: Caring for others.

“I know I don’t really know what I’m getting into, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said, the day before flying to Oregon to help the American Red Cross provide shelter for tens of thousands fleeing historic wildfires.

Debbie Levison

Debbie readily admits 2020 has been a tough year for her. While her husband of 36 years struggled alone in a hospital against the virus that would take his life, she battled the same disease for a month at home, alone. When she recovered, she couldn’t bring herself to go back to her pharmacy job in the hospital where Bruce died, so she retired.

After a month of cleaning out closets, with family and friends sheltering in place elsewhere, “I realized I needed to do something; the walls were closing in on me.”

So Debbie turned to an organization she had long admired. “I always believed in the Red Cross. I believe in their mission.”

She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do; she started with a variety of online classes and – given her background in the medical field – chose blood services. She checks prospective donors’ temperatures, helps them check in, sanitizes surfaces and generally watches to be sure donors are feeling well after giving blood.

Debbie Levison (center) during her deployment to assist with the Oregon wildfires relief effort

In fact, having recovered from COVID herself, she has twice donated her blood with “convalescent plasma,” which may give a boost to those fighting the virus.

Next, she took training to join a Red Cross disaster action team, to help those displaced by home fires and other local disasters. On her very first call, she was struck by how much that Red Cross aid was a comfort to someone who had lost their home.

As natural disasters piled up across the United States – Hurricane Laura, the Midwest derecho, wildfires across the west – Debbie felt the pull, and the ability, to deploy in person. Once again, she turned to online training, specifically to help with sheltering evacuees in the COVID environment.

Headed for the west, she admitted to being in awe of the challenge. “The governor of Oregon said there might be as many as 60,000 people who would need shelter. That’s a lot of people,” to find housing for.

But she’s undaunted. “It has really given me a purpose,” she said. “It’s a very worthy mission.”

More than 5,000 Red Crossers are currently working to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people dealing with major disasters across the country. And more will be needed to help those impacted by Hurricane Sally and whatever natural or manmade disasters follow.

You can help.

  • To make this humanitarian work possible, make a donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • If you are able to give time, review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday. Training is free and protocols are in place to keep both our responders and our clients safe.

Help sustain the nation’s blood supply by going to redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you. The Red Cross can move lifesaving blood around the country safely to wherever and whenever it’s needed most, even in the pandemic environment. Blood donations are now being tested for COVID antibodies, so donors can learn if they’ve had the infection.

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.

Editor’s note: Debbie Levison is currently deployed to the Oregon wildfire disaster relief operation, her first national assignment. She worked 12 hours shifts on Monday and Tuesday this week, helping displaced residents in need of shelter settle into hotel rooms.

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

Red Cross responds to disasters locally and across the country

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 31, 2020- Disasters do not stop. Regardless of weather, time of year or even a pandemic, disasters do not pause and consider what else is occurring before affecting lives.

While disasters do not stop, neither does the American Red Cross in responding to disasters and assisting residents affected.

As if a pandemic wasn’t a large enough concern, the 2020 disaster season has been very active, with the Red Cross currently responding to the California wildfires and to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Laura.

In the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in California, Louisiana and Texas, the Red Cross has deployed more than 1,900 trained disasters workers, including 24 from the Northern Ohio Region, to help the more than 25,800 affected residents by providing emergency lodging and along with partner organizations, have provided more than 47,000 meals and snacks.

Homes destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020.

In Texas and Louisiana, the Red Cross is working with the World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, the Salvation Army and the Southern Baptist Convention to set up kitchens, which are able to serve tens of thousands of meals each day.

Along with deploying across the country, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio remains active back home assisting residents following local disasters, such as home fires.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 38 adults, 12 children and provided more than $10,500 in financial assistance for lodging and other necessities following disasters in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Harrison, Lucas, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties.

To date during Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 463 adults, 302 children and has provided $162,995 in immediate financial assistance.

Carol Miller of the American Red Cross speaks with David Suarez after giving him a case of water, in an area that was badly damaged by Hurricane Laura in Westlake, LA

COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and we are still providing the same types of support as we always have.

To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings, and opening additional shelters that can support fewer people than normal so that we can ensure social distancing protocols.

Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.

The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Unable to deploy? You can still make a difference in the lives of people impacted by disasters. Visit redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS to make a donation.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. This includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance.

Husband and wife make convalescent plasma donation a family affair

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

August 28, 2020- You may have heard the term “convalescent plasma” as a potential treatment for COVID-19 (coronavirus) and are curious about it.

Simply put, convalescent plasma comes from patients who have recovered from the coronavirus. Plasma is the part of blood that remains after red and white blood cells are removed. It is rich in proteins and antibodies. Hospitals and research labs around the country are working to see if these antibodies can help the immune system fight COVID-19.

The American Red Cross has been collecting convalescent plasma from donors throughout the country who have recovered from COVID-19 for months. But this week, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 research.

“The donation process on-site was effortless for me and hopefully, my plasma will help others,”

Ron Baumberger

In Northeast Ohio, husband and wife Ron and Elinor Baumberger are answering the call to donate convalescent plasma after they both recovered from COVID-19. Ron donated this past Friday, and Elinor plans to donate next week.

Ron is no stranger to serving his community. Upon his retirement in 2013 after 32 years with Sherwin-Williams, he immediately joined the Red Cross volunteer team as a Disaster Action Team member and is now the Region Logistics Lead. During his time with the Red Cross, Ron has responded to over 200 local fires, flooding, helped at shelters and warming centers, and provided a host of other services. It’s no surprise that after years of donating his time and talent to the Red Cross, that when he and his wife Elinor came down with COVID-19, they would also want to donate their plasma once fully recovered. 

Ron and Elinor Baumberger

Ron considers himself lucky that he and his wife both had mild cases of COVID-19 that did not require hospitalization. They believe Elinor contracted the virus in January before it became widely known in the medical community. In June, the Red Cross began testing donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies. In July, Elinor donated blood, which tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. 

In May, Ron came down with symptoms similar to Elinor’s. “I thought I was suffering from allergies or a sinus infection,” said Ron. “I found out I was exposed (through Elinore) to COVID-19 and started to identify my symptoms as fatigue, a minor sore throat, and loss of taste and smell.” His test came back positive. “Elinor had a worse case of it. But now, we have fully recovered with no post-illness symptoms.” 

“The donation process was quite simple,” Ron explained. “I registered from home, received a phone call to qualify me, selected my time and date, and the rest is history!” 

Ron said the entire process took about 90 minutes. “They explained the process, hooked me up and away we went! They continued to check on me periodically and answered any questions I had.” 

The Red Cross supplies close to 40% of the nation’s blood supply and is always in need of donors, but the pandemic has made the need especially dire. To learn more about blood donation or to find a blood drive or donation center near you, click HERE. The Red Cross is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies, and if your blood tests positive you may have the unique opportunity to help patients fighting the disease. Click here to learn more about convalescent plasma donations.

“The donation process on-site was effortless for me and hopefully, my plasma will help others,” said Ron.

Those who have received a verified  COVID-19 diagnosis, have fully recovered and have been symptom free for at least 14 days are urged to sign up to give convalescent plasma by completing the donor information form HERE.

Northern Ohio volunteers deploy across the country to assist residents in need

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 24, 2020- Volunteers from Northern Ohio are preparing for the storms taking aim at the Gulf Coast and have responded to the current wildfires in California and the derecho that slammed the Midwest two weeks ago.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”- John Lavelle, Northern Ohio volunteer

Three volunteers have deployed to California, 5 are providing relief to residents in Iowa, and 7 have been assigned to help with any tropical storm/hurricane relief efforts required because of Marco and Laura.

John Lavelle, a volunteer who is part of the Red Cross’ Iowa disaster response team, recently provided an update to the Northern Ohio Region about his experience:

“One of the first things you learn on deployment is that flexibility is paramount. Coming to Iowa, the original assignment was for feeding. However, after about two hours, the assignment became what they call a special strike force, where our primary mission was to find out what the residents needed and where to distribute the items.

One of our stops on Saturday (August 22) was a large apartment complex, which gave me tremendous appreciation for individuals who provide food to refugee camps in the hardest hit areas around the world. Trying to maintain organization and provide the items people needed at times overwhelmed us. Experience is by far the best teacher, and following this experience, the team came up with a plan as to what to do if a similar situation happens again.

One image that stands out to me was when a resident wanted a case of water and a large bag of 12 meals, both heavy objects. We told her we would hold one of the items for her until she came back, but she refused and placed the case of water on her head and carried the box of food in her arms. She made it appear as if she was born to do this.

One of the joys of working with this team of volunteers is that several days ago we were strangers and in a short time we have become a team. We have no bosses. Everyone just seems to recognize each other’s strengths and everyone just naturally flows to what they do best to compliment the team. It is a beautiful thing to watch.”

In addition, several volunteers responded to seven home fires in Northern Ohio over the weekend, providing immediate financial assistance to more than 30 children and adults.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Red Cross nurse, Helen Caves of Indiana, talked with shelter client Grace about her health conditions and the state of her home while providing her a safe place to rest. Photo by Dennis Drenner/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.

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. 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.

Why celebrate World Humanitarian Day?

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 19, 2020- If you watch or read world news, you undoubtedly know there are millions of people who live in conditions that we would consider “intolerable.” Those who strive every day to prevent and alleviate this human suffering, without regard to race, creed, sex, color or nationality, are humanitarians, and those are the ones honored each August 19th.

Every volunteer with the American Red Cross is a humanitarian. Here in Northern Ohio, our volunteers respond every day to local disasters, such as home fires, to help residents in need and provide comfort and support.

Our volunteers even deploy across the country to help provide humanitarian assistance. During the early hurricane and wildfire season in 2020, Northern Ohio has deployed more than 10 disaster volunteers to assist affected communities.

The Problem

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to comprehend all the challenges in the world today:

  • Armed conflicts are killing innocent civilians without regard to international conventions
  • Infectious diseases are becoming more prevalent and harder to contain
  • Lack of employment, housing, nutrition and medical supplies are all worldwide concerns
  • Climate change has decimated crop growing regions and endangered coastal areas with flooding
  • Authoritarian leaders have pillaged country’s coffers and jailed those who dare to protest

The Need

According to the 2020 United Nations (UN) Global Humanitarian Overview, responding to these needs is going to require an unprecedented effort.

  • 166,500,000 People are in need worldwide
  • 108,800,000 People have been targeted for aid by the UN. (Some countries will not allow UN aid)
  • $29,700,000,000 Required to meet their needs
  • $15,960,000,000 Funding received from UN members
  • $13,740,000,000 Yes, that’s a $13-billion shortfall for meeting the anticipated needs this year.

That’s a crisis in itself…

But, that’s not all

The above numbers represent day-to-day requirements for those in need worldwide. What they don’t include are disasters, which the Red Cross forecasts will be increasing each year due to climate change.

That is where the Red Cross comes in. Helping people prepare for disasters, responding immediately after disasters, and helping people reconnect and rebuild lives in the aftermath are all specialties of the Red Cross.

August 17, 2020. Veterans Memorial Colosseum Red Cross operated shelter. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fried chicken and vegetables is the ultimate comfort meal, served to shelter client Brian by volunteer Robert. Photo by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

Moreover, the Red Cross supplies humanitarians, more than 90% of whom are volunteers, who give of their time and talents to provide hope and comfort to others in their time of need.

Across the United States, nearly 372,000 volunteers give a little or give a lot of their time to be on-call for the next home fire, flooding event or other emergency. Won’t you consider becoming part of this country’s largest humanitarian organization? Explore the opportunities you might be qualified for by clicking here.  And remember to celebrate all the humanitarians actively working around the world each August 19.

This is what a socially distant response looks like

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

August 10, 2020- This summer has been unlike any other. We have canceled vacation plans, avoided the pools due to safety concerns and we are even wearing masks and keeping our distance when visiting family and friends. However, one thing that has not changed, despite the coronavirus, is that emergencies still occur and the American Red Cross will be there to assist residents in need.

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Resident Kim Lane speaks with Red Cross Disaster Action Team member Jan Cooper

On Sunday, August 9, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to a condo fire in Westlake that affected 15 residents. While the response was similar to past responses, it was also quite different.

The residents affected by the fire received immediate financial assistance, a cornerstone of Red Cross disaster response.  Those displaced by the Courtyard Condominium fire received a total of nearly $2,800 for a hotel room, food, and other immediate needs.

There were no hugs or handshakes, but the comfort the Red Cross is known for was there. Following CDC and Red Cross guidelines, Northern Ohio Disaster Action Team members wore masks, washed hands frequently, and kept their distance as much as possible.

Resident Kim Lane, upon receiving financial assistance to help her find a safe place to stay, said “It’s all very helpful. This will help with tonight (Sunday) and tomorrow. It takes a load off.  I’m very grateful.”

Jennifer Easton, who also received assistance with her husband Matthew said, “I wasn’t aware the Red Cross did this (aiding people affected by home fires.) I know they go to floods and hurricanes, but this is a revelation.”

Here is a video showing how the Red Cross maintained social distance during the response:

In addition to the Westlake response, over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 24 residents and provided $5,760 in immediate financial assistance.

Since July 1, the Red Cross has assisted 307 adults, 220 children and has provided more than $111,000 in immediate financial assistance.

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The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters like the Westlake fire. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

To see more photos from the Westlake socially distant response, visit our Flickr page.

Updated hurricane forecast highlights the need for volunteers to help people who have to flee their homes

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 7, 2020- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an “extremely active” hurricane season with the potential to be one of the busiest on record, according to the agency’s annual August update.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Carol Holm of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In order to prepare, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is seeking volunteers able to train as shelter service or disaster health supervisors and associates. They must also be willing to deploy.

Already, 12 Northern Ohio volunteers responded to Hurricane Isaias, most of whom are physically deployed.

According to this press release, the NOAA now expects 19-25 named storms for the season, which ends November 30. 7-11 are anticipated to become hurricanes, including 3-6 major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or greater.

This year’s storms are also expected to be stronger and longer-lived than average. While the outlook does not forecast landfall, we must be ready.

Whether you are a current Red Cross volunteer or interested in becoming one, please consider applying for the following positions. If you have any family members or friends who may be interested, please speak to them as well.

Shelter Services

As always, the Red Cross is committed to providing safe shelter following a disaster and is taking steps to keep shelter residents, volunteers, and staff safe during the pandemic, including using non-traditional shelters where possible. No matter the type of shelter used, volunteers are needed to help staff reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection, and other vital tasks to help those impacted by a disaster. Associate and supervisory level opportunities are available.

Disaster Health Services

The Red Cross needs licensed medical professionals for a number of volunteer roles. These include:

  • Helping assess people’s health and providing hands-on care in alignment with professional licensure (RN and LPN/LVN).
  • Assisting with daily living activities, personal assistance services, providing health education, and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment, or consumable medical supplies.
  • And possibly performing daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents.

Both supervisory and associate positions are available. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO, or PA with an active, current, and unencumbered license, please consider volunteering. Ancillary roles are available locally for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses, and medical students. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are able to help or would like more information, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday. The Red Cross covers travel and training expenses.

“Red Cross Roadie” hits the road again

IT worker heads to USVI ahead of strengthening storm

 

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

July 29, 2020- David Schindler is heading to his 35th assignment as an information technology (IT) volunteer for the American Red Cross, as tropical storm Isaias chugs toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

He is being deployed as the disaster services technology chief, responsible for setting up workstations, ensuring connectivity, and troubleshooting tech issues for Red Cross disaster workers who could be assigned to respond to the storm.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said the unassuming IT expert from his home in Lake County, as he prepared Tuesday night for his trip to St. Thomas, USVI.

How long he stays is anybody’s guess.

“I spent 21 months in Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Katrina response,” David said, recalling one of his first Red Cross assignments.  It was also his longest, but lengthy assignments are routine for him.

“I spent six months in Puerto Rico for (responding to) Hurricane Maria,” where he helped establish satellite services for the people of the devastated island.

David Schindler

David Schindler on a Zoom virtual news conference on July 28 prior to deploying to the U.S. Virgin Islands

“David is an outstanding volunteer, and an outstanding individual,” said Emily Probst, the workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “So many people depend on him, and he always answers the call.”

“I call myself a Red Cross roadie,” David said, recalling the Jackson Browne song about the workers who are the first to arrive to set up the stage and the band’s equipment, and are the last to leave after packing everything away for the next show on the tour.

David spent a career as an information technology systems manager before retiring 16 years ago and using his experience to assist us whenever and wherever people need Red Cross help.

What’s changed since then?  “Laptops have gotten lighter.  Cellphones are different. We had flip phones when I started.  Now we use smartphones.”

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020.  Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

David rates the technology we use as state-of-the art.

As a disaster services technology chief, David said he has worked with up to 80 others on disaster responses, and at times, he has been the sole technology worker.

“Every operation has unique challenges,” David said.  He’s not too concerned about traveling for this assignment, despite COVID-19.  The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines and has instituted several procedures to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and the people we are assisting.

“I’m a little concerned about wearing a face covering all day, but it’s a petty thing when you think about the job we’re doing.”

If you’re healthy and you would like to help others who may be affected by severe weather this hurricane/wildfire season by working in a shelter, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.