Sound the Alarm kicks off in Northern Ohio and Southeast Michigan

Volunteers and partners work to make homes safer and save lives

The 2022 Sound the Alarm campaign is in full swing in the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. Home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events took place on Saturday, May 7 in Fostoria, Ohio and Monroe, Michigan – which is part of the Northern Ohio Region.

Volunteer Jim Marciniak tests an alarm he installed in a home in Monroe, Michigan

35 volunteers helped make three-dozen homes safer in both communities, by installing nearly 90 free smoke alarms and sharing valuable home fire safety information with residents.

Additional Sound the Alarm events will be taking place in the next few weeks in Cleveland’s Collinwood and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods, Garfield Heights, Akron, Lorain, Wooster Township, Chippewa Township, and Napoleon, Ohio.

Volunteer Mark Sigler installs an alarm in a home in Fostoria,Ohio

Volunteers are always welcome to help us make homes safer. Visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NOH and scroll down the page to “Volunteer/Find an Event” to view the times and locations of upcoming Sound the Alarm events.

See more photos from Saturday’s Sound the Alarm events in our photo albums here https://www.flickr.com/photos/redcrossneo/albums/72177720298780173 and here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/redcrossneo/albums/72177720298775949

Northern Ohio Red Cross volunteer finds the path to yes, no matter the challenge

The first in a series of volunteer profiles during National Volunteer Week

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

Deb Day, Red Cross volunteer and Toby

The American Red Cross has many outstanding volunteers in Northern Ohio, and we
are proud to profile a few for Volunteer Week. Today we are featuring Deb Day, a
community volunteer leader in the Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes (HSML)
chapter.

Since joining the Red Cross in 2017, Deb has helped a tremendous number of people recover from disasters—both in Ohio and throughout the U.S. She frequently assists during blood drives and has taken a key role in several Red Cross initiatives.

Deb Day, Red Cross volunteer

Deb brings a lifetime of learning and experience to the Red Cross. She retired from a public education career almost seven years ago, where she coached, taught and served as a guidance counselor. Her interests and hobbies include the outdoors, travelling , and sports. Deb has always loved helping others and seeking adventure.

“Now that I have the time to volunteer,” she said, “I truly enjoy helping out whether it is deploying to disasters, working as a blood donor ambassador, or working at the local food pantry.”

Deb first joined in 2017, after seeing a Red Cross call for volunteers during coverage of Hurricane Harvey.

Deb was soon assisting those impacted by the hurricane. She said her deployment started with “hurry up and wait” but soon changed to needing to be flexible, avoiding frustration, and getting the job done. Deb served in an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), feeding those in a community about 45 minutes away from the kitchen in Sugar Land. “We were the first to leave and the last to come home,” she said.

Deb also saw the best of humanity. “Amidst all the destruction was hope and determination,” she said. “A community came together to look out for one another. It was a time when I could provide food, hugs, words of comfort, and a shoulder to cry on. It was remarkable!” She also spoke of the warm, welcoming the Southern Baptist kitchen volunteers and how “Red Cross deployments create families whose members stay in touch for life.”

Antique Day Parade, 10-10-21

Of course, most of Deb’s work is in her home chapter. In addition to helping with daily responses and initiatives, she assisted following the tornado in Shelby and flooding in the Wooster area. Speaking very highly of her fellow volunteers and staff members, Deb remarked how everyone in their small but mighty group pitched in and served the needs of the community, something which they consistently achieve.

“I truly appreciate everyone’s dedication to their community and the Red Cross,” Deb said. Whether Sound the Alarm, community assistance, disaster response, training, or meetings, “volunteers and staff find the path to ‘YES’ no matter the challenge.” And while the pandemic has been difficult, the Red Cross has not wavered in its humanitarian commitment to those in need.

“I am amazed and so thankful for everyone affiliated with the Red Cross,” she said.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross disaster response teams active in early April

One-hundred residents of Northern Ohio received Red Cross assistance during the past week, April 4-10, as volunteers responded to two-dozen home fires.

Five of the fires affected multiple-family homes.

Cleveland Fire

“Our volunteer disaster responders have been very busy, and we are grateful that they answer the call, no matter when or where it happens,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer. “They are true humanitarians. We could not respond to the needs of people in crisis without our volunteers.”

Immediate financial assistance totaling more than $22,700 was given to the affected residents. The money can be used for a hotel room, to replace clothing or other lost items, for meals or for whatever each resident prioritizes as a need.

In addition, Red Cross volunteer caseworkers reach out to the affected families to connect residents with additional community resources, as they try to move forward with their lives following the loss of their homes and possessions.

And if needed, Red Cross health and mental health volunteers are available to provide assistance as well.

The Red Cross never requires payment for the services provided to people who have experienced a disaster like a home fire. Such assistance is made possible through the generous donations of supporters. To help the next family that is forced by fire to flee their home, visit redcross.org/donate. You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) to make a donation on the phone.

Down, but not out – Blood supplies are still vulnerable

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Last month the blood supply was in “crisis.” This month it’s rated “vulnerable.” Neither of those are optimal – the latter being only incrementally better. Bottom line = we still need everyone to donate if they are able.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

With relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, doctors are once again allowing elective surgery. Don’t associate “elective” with just things as tummy tucks and facelifts.

Elective means it can be scheduled in advance instead of being scheduled as an emergency. Some heart surgeries, including bypass and valve surgeries, as well as some cancer surgeries or biopsies are scheduled electively. When elective surgeries are delayed for too long, life-threatening emergencies can occur.

Since issuing its first-ever blood crisis alert, severe winter weather has further complicated efforts to rebuild the Red Cross blood supply. So far in 2022, approximately 600 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to winter storms, forcing nearly 20,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected.

Photo Credit: Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Don’t let the supply go back to “crisis” mode – make and keep those appointments. It’s quick and easy to find a location and time near you at redcrossblood.org.

If you have either type O positive or O negative – you are needed most urgently:
o Type O positive is the most transfused blood type and can be transfused to Rh-positive patients of any blood type.
o Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.

Platelet donations are also urgently needed. Platelets are the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Need more motivation???

For drives March 1-31: All who come to give blood or platelets will get a $10 e-gift card, thanks to Fanatics, world’s largest collection of officially licensed sports gear.

Plus, donors will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game® in Los Angeles, California, when you come to give March 1-31. The package includes two tickets to 2022 MLB® All-Star Saturday, the 2022 Home Run Derby and the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game®, round-trip airfare to Los Angeles, four-night hotel accommodations (July 16-20, 2022), plus a $750 gift card for expenses. Details available at rcblood.org/team.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Remembering the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King

By Mike Parks. Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1/15/29 – 4/4/68) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.  A truly gifted and inspirational orator, one of his lasting legacies is the moving quotes attributed to him, including one that I’m sure resonates with all of us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  Fitting for any Red Crosser!

Mike Parks

As we’ve all seen, we’re living in turbulent times.  Around the country the Red Cross is preparing to support those impacted by potential unrest.  Two of Dr. King’s most important tenets were, “ Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”    Yes, Dr. King fully supported and participated in many peaceful protests.  Our sincere hope is those who choose to protest over the next few days live by one of Dr. King’s other key principles, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon.  Indeed it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and enables the man who wields it.”

As I think about our service in the Red Cross and some of the things Reverend King said in his life, which was cut tragically short, I reminded of his comment, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”  You’ve heard me say many times, the Red Cross, in a word, is all about “caring.”  In my mind, our form of caring is also a form of love, as we show compassion to those we serve, as we bring light to the darkness they may be feeling at their most vulnerable.  Thank you for caring!

Finally, one of my personal favorite quotes from Dr. King are words he spoke 55 years ago right here in Ohio at the Oberlin College Commencement speech in 1965, “The time is always right to what is right!”

Thanks again for all you do.  Please stay safe and well, always remembering to practice C-D-C (cover-distance-clean)!!  Best regards…Mike

Editor’s note: Resolve to volunteer in honor of MLK Day of Service. Learn more about ways in which you can help others here.

Safety tips to prepare you for another Ohio winter

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

December 21, 2020- Within the last few weeks, Northern Ohio has turned into a land of white amidst the first snowfalls of the season. As I write this, white powder lines the tree branches and there’s snow on the ground as far as the eye can see. It’s really quite enchanting. However, it’s not so enchanting when the roads are icy, your pipes are freezing and your pets are chilled if left outside too long.

As we enter into another season of Ohio winters, there are numerous precautions that we could all take to save us some stress this snowy season.

Winter storms are a real danger for many, but there are certain steps you can take to be “Red Cross Ready.” For example, stay involved with your community’s risk and response plans, and consider creating one for your own household. If your heater stops working or your house floods from melting snow, where can you go for help? Whether a family member or nearby friend, these are good things to keep in mind in case of an emergency.

Another area to improve your winter preparedness is related to vehicle precautions. Have your vehicle “winterized” to decrease your chances of being stuck on the road in cold weather.

“Winterizing” your car can mean a variety of things such as:

  • Having your heater and battery checked
  • Making sure your brakes are working correctly
  • Checking your tires to ensure they have an adequate tread to combat icy roads
  • Having blankets, gloves, hats, some spare food and any other supplies in your vehicle in case you happen to be stranded on a very cold day to keep you warm and comfortable while waiting for assistance
  • Use a windshield scraper and small broom to make sure that you are driving with full vision

There are several precautions you can take to protect your home during the winter. First, make sure that your home heating sources are operating correctly and refrain from putting off that call to your heating service if you suspect any issues arising.

In addition, make sure that your home is properly insulated so that all that heat you’re pumping in stays inside where it’s supposed to be. Lastly, as a backup to any heating problems you may encounter, consider purchasing emergency heating equipment such as an electric heater or wood-burning stove.

Although this list is nowhere near complete, these precautions will be a good start to making sure that your family, vehicles and home are prepared to brave yet another Ohio winter.

And before you know it, that winter ice will be melting and spring will commence!

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Give comfort, give joy, give blood!

By Christy Peters, Regional External Communications Manager, American Red Cross

This holiday season, the American Red Cross is asking you to give comfort & joy by giving blood. Medical treatments and emergencies don’t stop for the holidays. Patients at 80 hospitals in northern Ohio are depending on you to give and ensure the local blood supply stays strong throughout the winter months.

As a thank-you for helping meet the need for blood donations from Nov.15 through Dec. 15, Suburban Propane is offering those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma a chance to win an Outdoor Living Experience, powered by Propane, to enable a lucky winner to enjoy socially distanced celebrations with family and friends this holiday season. 

The prize includes a propane-powered pizza oven, fire pit, outdoor heater and stipend towards propane. See complete official rules and terms and conditions of the giveaway. Also, those who come to give Nov. 25 through 28 and Dec. 18 through Jan. 4 will receive an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved T-shirt, while supplies last.

The Red Cross continues to test blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of this effort, plasma from standard blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, so does the need for convalescent plasma. If you, or someone you know, has recovered from COVID-19 learn how you can help meet the need for this product at RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

To make an appointment to give blood or for more information, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Bound by Love and Emergency

By Mary Falconer-Williams, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Editors Note: September is National Preparedness Month. Nonstop massive disasters have kept thousands of American Red Cross volunteers busy for weeks, working tirelessly to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people in need. Our work is just beginning; we will be providing support for weeks to come.In response to Hurricanes Laura and Sally, and the western wildfires, the Red Cross has served more than 1.2 million meals and snacks, and distributed nearly 190,000 relief items with the help of partners. While our region is not affected by hurricanes, we are not immune to disasters. Read the following blog article to learn how you can help keep your family prepared and safe during a disaster.

September 18, 2020- In the summer of 2018 my husband, my two small children, cat, dog and I merged households with my in-laws. One of the home projects I requested was a FAMILY EMERGENCY BINDER. This is a robust collection of personal information that can be grabbed in the event of an emergency, such as a medical need or if your family needed to quickly evacuate.

I began researching organizing tips to help us combine all of our pertinent information so that any one of us could know – at a moment’s notice – insurance information, medical details, and many other bits of information that we, ourselves, know but may not have organized. Drawing from a few sources (links in the sentence before this!) I came up with a format that would help four adults, two children, and two pets have all the necessary details at hand in case of emergency!

With so many other home projects needing to take priority, plus the start of school, birthdays, and other callings of life, my project was put on the back burner. Until a pandemic kicked it into high gear!

With this being PREPAREDNESS MONTH, it is the perfect time for you to start a Family Emergency Binder for your home. Pro tip: If you have aging parents, be sure to add a section for them so that you have all their information at your fingertips as well!

If you want to go full-on-organizing-crazy, like me, here are some things you’ll need in your next Amazon order:

  • 3” Binder*
  • 3-hole-punch (if you don’t already own one) *
  • Printer (or access to a printer)
  • Ink for the printer!
  • Label maker
  • A set of 5-tab binder dividers (I like the Avery Big Tab for the section headers) *
  • A set of binder dividers that matches the number of people in your household (for us – 4 adults + 2 kids +2 pets = an 8-tab pack)
  • Fire-proof/water-proof safe*
  • A USB* stick

Otherwise, you can just pick up the starred items.

Once you’ve collected and sorted all your information, you’ll want to save a digital copy to a USB stick. Put the USB in your safe as backup!

Keep in mind that this is not a “one-time” project! You will need to update this binder as things in your life (medicines, insurance providers, etc.). But once you’ve done the initial lift of gathering and recording all of the information in one binder, you will have the security that comes from knowing that if an emergency happens you and your family will have a primary source to help you stay prepared.

LinkedIn ranks Red Cross as leading volunteer organization

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

September 8, 2020- The American Red Cross is the nation’s top volunteer organization, according to LinkedIn.com. Each year, LinkedIn tallies those companies with the highest number of monthly volunteers. The Red Cross now proudly sits at #1 among these top 10 volunteering organizations of 2020, surpassing other organizations like the Crisis Text Line and Toastmasters International.

Digging into the statistics, LinkedIn data states that people under age 25 are the most likely to list volunteering activities, relative to their overall share in total membership. People over age 55 are least likely.

Maybe those over 55 aren’t listed, but as I look around the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross, I consistently see dozens (if not hundreds) of silvers and golden-agers actively engaged. My guess is that they just don’t have profiles on LinkedIn and, consequently, if they were added, they would rank even higher. (Well, maybe not higher than first place.)

What does the Red Cross offer volunteers?

Fortunately, the Red Cross has something for anyone and everyone. If you can only help sporadically, we’ve got random opportunities or shifts you can select whenever the opportunity presents itself. Volunteer opportunities are also available across Northern Ohio, with chapters from Ashtabula to almost the Indiana line.

If you enjoy traveling, Red Cross deploys disaster workers across the entire country. Conversely, if you’re a homebody, we have virtual opportunities as well. I just assisted on Hurricane Laura while sitting home in my office.

Red Cross provides training for most of their positions, from personal to professional development. Free classes are available from disaster response to diversity training to services to the armed forces. Or maybe your interests lie within human resources, public affairs or the biomedical field. Within just hours, you could learn enough to be providing valuable assistance taking temperatures or greeting people at blood drives or disaster shelters.

Why volunteer?

The reasons to volunteer are endless. Some volunteer to pass the time. Some look for comradery. While still others are looking to gain experience that might lead to other opportunities.

Whatever the reason for volunteering, once a volunteer meets someone down on their luck and are able to offer comfort, food and shelter, they’’ll be forever touched.

Meet the team

Volunteer recruitment and engagement for our region is handled by Gail Wernick, regional volunteer services officer, Melanie Collins, senior volunteer recruitment specialist and Debra Kellar, senior engagement specialist. Thanks to them and their counterparts across the country, the Red Cross took this top honor.

“I realize our efforts around volunteers require an all-hands on deck effort and genuine commitment from leadership,” said Mike Parks, our Regional CEO. “That said, these three staff members live and breathe the recruitment and engagement of volunteers every hour of every day…thank you!  Keep up the great work—it’s not only recognized but greatly appreciated.”

How about you? Are you ready to help make a difference? Or do you know a friend or relative who has what it takes to be a great volunteer? Get started on our volunteer recruitment page and find out where your or your friend’s talents could be best utilized

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Being prepared is the first step to endure and recover from disaster

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 1, 2020- September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s events have underscored the importance of being prepared for a disaster in Northern Ohio as everywhere. The American Red Cross is also focusing on the needs of seniors in disaster preparation, as new research from the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing  finds that, “Older adults are more vulnerable and experience more casualties after a natural disaster compared to other age groups experiencing similar events.”

While Northern Ohio rarely faces large-scale disasters, we do face home fires, flooding, and tornadoes, among other events. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that all of us need to be ready.

To discuss preparedness for Northern Ohioans and the needs of seniors, I spoke with John Gareis, the Red Cross’s Regional Manager for Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness for Northern Ohio. John has a wealth of experience in preparing for and recovering from disasters of all types.

Preparation and lessons from COVID-19

John emphasized that in any disaster, including a pandemic, the needs remain the same: food, shelter, clothing, information, and emotional support. “Taking steps to prepare, before any emergency event would happen, is key,” he said. This is especially important for seniors.

John said the COVID-19 pandemic taught us to better prepare for emergencies. He pointed out that many were caught off guard, causing shortages of everyday staples. “People began to hoard and stock up on items taken for granted in everyday life,” he said.

We can learn from this, however. John recommended that every household prepare an emergency kit or supplies based on what is used every day. While having enough for at least three days is good, he said, supplies for one to two weeks is better.

August 30, 2020. Cameron, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on a home destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Especially consider necessities for seniors, children, and those with special needs. John pointed out that emergency supply kits don’t have to be expensive and can be gathered from items already owned. In addition to daily supplies, have copies of important documents and contact information for doctors, family, and close friends. He also said to think about your home and, if you had to evacuate in under two minutes, could you?

John also said, “Information is key in any disaster. Knowing what could happen and how to keep informed are the main things people need and want.”

Ensuring seniors are prepared

As older adults are more vulnerable during a disaster, the Red Cross especially encourages seniors to prepare, and that everyone ask older adults in their lives if they need help, whether relatives, neighbors, or fellow seniors.

August 24, 2020. Vacaville, California. LNU Complex Fire burn zone on Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville, California. Red Cross volunteer Jillian Robertson explores the burned area, stepping over discarded fire hoses that had been left behind. Photos by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

In addition to preparing supplies, seniors should maintain and grow communications and social networks. “In any emergency,” John said, “having someone to check on you or that you can check on is key. It’s the buddy system.”

For help preparing, please visit Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults, How to Prepare for Emergencies, and COVID-19 Safety Tips. Red Cross apps are available here.