Disaster volunteers thankful to be able to answer the call for help with support of friends, family

By Mark Cline, American Red Cross disaster volunteer, Disaster Action Team Leader, Regional DAT Team Leader, DAT Duty Officer,  and National Shelter System Regional Lead 

November 25, 2020- This being the season of Thanksgiving, I would like to express my thanks not only to the volunteers I work with in the American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services but to their families and friends, too. Volunteers do what we do because we’re driven to help people in need affected by disasters. But what I think many people don’t understand is that our volunteers couldn’t do the work they do without the support of their families and friends.

Mark Cline

There have been many times volunteers are called upon at family functions like birthday parties, anniversaries, holiday celebrations and even that long-needed quiet evening at home. My family has gotten used to me parking my car out on the street for easy access at family events. Then the phone rings and it’s a disaster call. Whether a home fire, flood, windstorm or some other disaster, the look on our volunteer’s face tells the story, they have to leave to help somebody experiencing a disaster. But they can only leave with the support of their families and friends. Knowing that when they get back, their family and friends will be waiting for them and giving them the support, our volunteers need to be able to respond to the next call.

I hope the families of our volunteers know that their family members who are out working a disaster scene realize that without their family’s support, the work they are doing would be so much harder. Our volunteers know that when somebody is affected by disaster, they need to respond. They don’t look outside to see if it’s warm or cold, dry or wet, daylight or nighttime, they know somebody needs the help that we can give them.  

To my family and friends, thank you for your support! Being an American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services volunteer, I’ve seen and experienced a lot—hopefully things you’ll never have to experience. And with the help of my volunteer partners, we’ll be able to continue to help people in need during a disaster.

Mark Cline with fellow volunteer Bill Conley

If you want to help those in your community affected by a local disaster, visit redcross.org/volunteer to apply today.

I’m sending out Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all!

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Festival of Trees takes on new light this year

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

November 23, 2020- Each year, the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes holds its Festival of Trees event to raise funds for the Red Cross. This year’s event, typically held in Wooster, is being reinvented to allow not only the Wooster community to safely participate, but the greater Northern Ohio Region to join in the fun as well.

The event’s auction will be held online, running from Thursday, Nov. 26 at noon (Thanksgiving day) through Dec.1 at 8 p.m. Participants will have the opportunity to bid on over 60 different items, including a variety of decorated trees, wreaths, a Cricut® Maker, gift baskets and even a cruise!

The event will culminate in a Facebook Live event on facebook.com/NOHRedCross on Dec.1 at 7:30 p.m., just before bidding ends, to celebrate the great work the Red Cross does to help those in need. The Facebook Live event will feature Red Cross volunteers who have deployed to disaster areas and will provide viewers an opportunity to ask questions about the Red Cross and the work being done by volunteers.

“The financial gifts we receive from Festival of Trees will allow us to continue serving our community in times of need,” said Kimberly Kroh, Executive Director for the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “The Red Cross is there if someone in our community experiences a devastating home fire or a life-threatening event that prompts a deployed military service member’s return. Thank you for supporting Festival of Trees!”

Funds raised from the event help the Red Cross continue to provide critical services to people in the community who are affected by a disaster such as a fire or flood.

A tree made of Ohio lottery scratch tickets is one of the many items you can bid on during the Festival of Trees auction!

If you can’t wait until Nov. 26, we’re with you! You can register for the auction today by clicking here. We look forward to virtually seeing you at this year’s event.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

‘I didn’t realize the variety, the national scope of what the Red Cross does’

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

November 2, 2020 – Is it time to add a breath of fresh air to your life? Are you ready to try something new? Do you feel like doing good for others, but you’re not sure how?

Gail Robinson of Wickliffe, Ohio, felt the same way. The retired health and physical education teacher was laid off from a part-time gig with the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers and was feeling restless.

“I needed something to do,” she said. “I saw that the American Red Cross was looking for people to volunteer and I decided to check it out.”

Gail Robinson

Gail checked out an online volunteer information session that opened her eyes.

“I was a Red Cross swim instructor for many years and taught first aid and CPR,” she said, “and I gave blood.

“But I didn’t realize the variety, the national scope of what the Red Cross does; how the Red Cross needs people to go to help with disasters in California and Florida and Louisiana. I guess I just thought the Red Cross there handled all those disasters.”

“Actually, more than 90 percent of our workforce are volunteers,” said Melanie Collins, volunteer recruitment specialist for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross. “Due to COVID, many of our volunteers are not able to deploy right now, which is completely understandable.

“At the same time, the need for volunteers to help with blood drives and local disasters such as home fires – as well as disasters across the country – hasn’t dropped off.”

The Red Cross has adapted in many ways to keep its workforce and the people it serves safe. Many of its activities are now done online; volunteer recruitment is one.

Melanie will host an online information session from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, to explore volunteer opportunities in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties.

“We’re looking for people who are willing and able to volunteer to help fill the gaps we’re currently experiencing,” Melanie said. The “gaps” include serving on Disaster Action Teams to comfort those affected by home fires and other local emergencies, serving as “ambassadors” at blood drives and driving blood products to area hospitals.

Charles Bluhm of Williamsfield, in far eastern Ashtabula County, works for a commercial construction company. He joined one of Melanie’s virtual information sessions and is now checking out the many aspects of Red Cross service through online videos.

“I’m interested in the hands-on things that the Red Cross does,” he said. “Emily (Probst, a regional disaster workforce manager) reached out to me and I think she’s going to get me involved with a local disaster response team. I appreciate that personal contact.”

Meanwhile, Gail Robinson is taking online Red Cross courses so she can go help house, feed and comfort those hit by this year’s relentless hurricanes or merciless wildfires.

Gail is looking forward to a new activity, a new sense of purpose at a time when so much seems to be on pause.

To join Melanie’s online volunteer information session, RSVP to melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615. You can always find out more about what the Red Cross does and how you can get involved by going to redcross.org/volunteertoday. Be a Hero in your community

Inspired by American Red Cross founder, local nursing students help meet volunteer need

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

October 30. 2020- During the Civil War, Clara Barton, a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross, risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field. Today, inspired by her legacy, nursing students from colleges and universities throughout Northern Ohio are partnering with the Red Cross to meet the urgent need for volunteers in their communities.

Dr. Mariann Harding

Dr. Mariann Harding, professor of nursing at Kent State University,
Tuscarawas Campus, is coordinator for the Academic Service Leadership (ASL) in Northern Ohio. Dr. Harding teaches first year nursing students and current nurses returning to school for their bachelor’s degree. The ASL program provides students opportunities to volunteer in their community while earning their degrees. Approximately 100 students are participating from Kent State University (Kent and Tuscarawas campuses), Case Western Reserve University and the University of Akron.

Last year, students taught hands-only CPR in the community. With changes brought about the COVID-19 pandemic, that program is not available. COVID-19 has also caused many older blood drive volunteers to pause their service with the Red Cross. The ASL students have filled a much-needed role as blood drive ambassadors at blood drives, welcoming and screening donors and assisting at registration. According to Dr. Harding, a partnership with the Red Cross seemed like a natural fit. “I believe to have a successful, engaging volunteer experience, matching interest and need is important. Clara Barton, a nurse, was the founder of the Red Cross, and providing care, including nursing care, remains an important part of the Red Cross mission,” said Dr. Harding. “With all the service lines and opportunities for volunteerism, I felt confident that there was a need we could meet.”

Students participating in the program have reported having a great experience. Many have remarked that they have been surprised by how warm blood donors have been, encouraging them in their studies and thanking them for volunteering. Dr. Harding notes that many students have shared with her that they feel the work they are doing is worthwhile and plan to continue to volunteer when they have time off from school.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for Red Cross volunteers remains high. In addition to blood drive ambassadors, individuals are needed to help respond to disasters both locally and across the country, as an unprecedented number of disasters have required an ongoing response from the Red Cross. “Everyone has something to offer the Red Cross – and the Red Cross has an opportunity – and a need for you,” said Dr. Harding. “Just reach out. All you need is a desire to help others.” To learn more or to sign up to volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

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

Northern Ohio disaster workers continue to respond to disasters across the country

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

October 9, 2020 — Since late August, disaster workers from the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio have been actively responding to hurricanes and tropical storms in the south and wildfires out west.

As Hurricane Delta approaches the Gulf Coast, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has deployed five disaster workers ahead of the storm to assist with the Red Cross’ relief efforts once the storm makes landfall.

September 20, 2020. Mill City, Oregon. American Red Cross volunteer Eric Carmichael explains how to use a 3-M N-95 mask to Elizabeth Ruck at a supply distribution site for residents affected by the Oregon wildfires, near Mill City, OR. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In addition, there are also 19 disaster workers responding to the relief efforts following Hurricane Laura, the Oregon wildfires, Tropical Storm Sally and the California wildfires.

To date, the Red Cross has provided more than 939,700 total overnight stays in emergency lodging across multiple states, served more than 2.3 million meals and snacks and has distributed more than 291,300 relief items with the help of partners. The Red Cross has also provided more than 5,130 households with emergency financial assistance to help them replace essential items and begin to recover.

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. 

September 19, 2020. Gates, Oregon. American Red Cross volunteers Sean and Kristen Flanagan speak with Virginia, in front of the home where she lived that burned down in the Oregon wildfires, in Gates, OR on Saturday September 19, 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

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

Be a good neighbor this National Good Neighbor Day

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 28. 2020- September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. How will YOU celebrate today? 

You may be a long-time resident in your neighborhood or possibly just recently moved in. I have lived in several different neighborhoods across Northeast Ohio that ranged from disconnected to extremely tight. In my experience, you will find the best neighbors are the ones that reach out consistently to each other during good times and bad.

As you know, we all are currently living during a historic time with the pandemic. On top of that, there are wildfires on the West Coast, hurricanes and tropical storm affecting in the South and flooding on the East Coast.  Now more than ever, we really need each other’s support!

Your long-time friend or brand-new neighbor might need to borrow one of your yard tools, a cup of sugar or possibly need help during a health emergency. The American Red Cross has an enormous amount of resources that you can learn to be a true asset to your neighborhood.

Courses & Certifications

 You can learn lifesaving skills to help your family, friends and neighbors in the safety of your home with our online classes.

Those of us who don’t face health emergencies every day can also benefit from Red Cross training. With a wide array of lifeguarding, caregiving and babysitting, and swimming and water safety courses, the Red Cross can provide you with the necessary training and skills you need to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

An easy way to help the people around you are simply by having an Emergency Preparedness kit. Be prepared for disasters and other emergencies with a well-stocked emergency kit for your home, workplace and automobile. You can build one yourself or choose from a variety of survival kits and emergency preparedness supplies to help you plan for tornadoes, flooding, fire and other disasters.

Volunteer to Help Save Lives

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.

AEDs for a Safer Workplace or Community

Create a safer workplace environment with help from Red Cross safety experts. The Red Cross can help with competitively priced Automated External Defibrillators (AED) solutions designed to fit your location, organization needs and stay within your budget.

The Red Cross works with the leading manufacturers to help you select AED devices to keep you and the team safe.

The Red Cross helps you put a complete, life-saving AED program in place at your facility, with:

  • AED product demonstrations
  • Access to assistance with on-site needs analysis, placement, and program implementation at your facility
  • Flexible AED purchase options, including different AED brands and multiple models
  • AED employee training
  • AED accessories and service
  • Single-source AED management systems
  • Qualified medical direction resources

For more information about obtaining an AED please call (888) 968-0988
Monday-Friday, 9:00am-6:00pm ET.

Maybe the best way for you to celebrate National Good Neighbor Day is by watching out for each other, respecting one another and just being there for the people around you.

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