Reflections of a local veteran and volunteer

Veterans Day remarks from Mike Parks follow

By Chiane Martin, American Red Cross Volunteer, Service to the Armed Forces

Veterans Day is a day, when as a country, we can sit back and reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day of remembrance, gratitude and honor.  As a veteran, I reflect on the personal sacrifices all veterans have made and we honor our brothers and sisters that we have lost along the way. Veterans Day is about showing homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The sacrifice of leaving everything they know and love behind to fight for their country. There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Red Cross volunteer and US Army veteran Chiane Martin

The work that I do with the American Red Cross makes me feel that sense of pride again. I am honored to provide my fellow service members and their families with the support they need during some of the most difficult and trying times in their lives. Having someone understand the challenges you’ve faced or are facing can make all the difference and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to do just that.

There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Chiane Martin

The Red Cross is a phenomenal organization and were helpful when I was in the military. I respect the work and dedication that I see put in by the Red Cross and couldn’t be more happy to be a part of it. Thank you to all the men and women past and present, who have made that ultimate sacrifice. Those that understood and upheld the mission of service before self. Those that took that oath and those who understand that the world is more important than themselves.

Happy Veterans Day,

Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (retired)
Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

This Thursday, November 11th, we will remember Veterans Day, which evolved from Armistice Day and was first proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.  The term “armistice” refers to when warring parties agree to stop fighting.  President Wilson’s Armistice Day recognized the end of World War One when hostilities ceased at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month).  The United States Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize Veterans of all U.S. wars. 

In this poster, a Tomb Guard carries out his responsibilities with
unwavering dedication, alone on the quiet plaza at dawn.
There have been Tomb Guards of all races, genders, religion
and creeds, so I wanted to keep the identity of this Tomb Guard ambiguous. 
By placing the Tomb Guard off to the side I hoped to remind the viewer
to look past the sentinel and focus on the tomb itself and the unknown
soldiers who died in service to our nation.
(Artist Matt Tavares)

This past year has been yet another year of remarkable events in our nation’s history—not the least of which was the conclusion of our military’s 20-year engagement in the war in Afghanistan—a war that saw thousands of American Veterans serve our country—many making the ultimate sacrifice or suffering debilitating injuries they will live with for the rest of their lives.  We should not only remember and thank those Veterans who served in that two-decade long war, we should also recognize and thank their families and loved ones. 

I’d like to highlight this last point just a bit more on this Veterans Day.  Veterans past and present put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life; many endure severe hardships while serving our country; they sacrifice significant time with their families and loved ones during long deployments-often in far-away lands and on the high seas; and they frequently uproot themselves and their families to undertake moves of entire households—many times cross-country.  All of these facets of a Veteran’s everyday life, also take a huge toll on their families and loved ones as they support their Veterans.  I speak from personal experience, and feel confident I speak for other Veterans, when I state I would not have been successful without the love, support, and prayers of my family—they were, and always will be, a true blessing.  Let us all make a special point this year to also remember to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the families and loved ones of our Veterans.

In closing—I challenge all of us to not just remember our Veterans and their families on November 11th, but remember and thank them whenever the opportunity presents itself.  None of our Veterans only protected our freedoms one day a year—I hope we can express our gratitude on more than one day a year as well.  To all those Veterans that are reading this—“Thank you for your service!”  Please also thank your families and loved ones for their support of you and their sacrifice as well!  Let us never forget. 

Best regards…Mike

P.S. Please also take a moment to view our Virtual Resiliency Workshops website to learn how to access these resources, which are open to anyone with a military veteran affiliation (including partners, donors, service members, spouses, friends and staff members, those 18 years and up). 

Red Cross Latino initiative in Northern Ohio

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

As October is National Hispanic Heritage month, it is the perfect time to highlight the American Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Latino initiative, explain why we need to focus on this cultural group and share ways to get involved. The Northern Ohio Red Cross is one of many local chapters across the United States that was designed to help all people in times of need.

Latino initiative

Our Northern Ohio Latino initiative’s mission is to deepen our relationship with this diverse community, to educate on what services we can provide, offer tools and support regionally and to partner with local groups to bridge trust. 

Why?  Our short answer is that the growing Latino community has varying levels of connectivity to Red Cross services from urban to rural communities that could benefit. One gap we discovered is that there is a large percentage of Spanish-only speaking people who are disconnected from the Red Cross based on language barriers.

Luckily, we have some passionate leaders in the Northern Ohio chapter like Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, and Monica Brunner, disaster volunteer/member of LET (Latino Engagement Team).  Tim and Monica work as part of the Disaster Action Teams. Their Disaster Action Teams provide disaster relief services on an on-call basis. They may provide free emergency food, clothing, shelter assistance, and assist disaster victims in planning their immediate and long-term recovery from disaster. 

Bridging the gap

Tim gained a firsthand perspective while he was the assistant director for the recent Oregon wildfires. His experience taught him that Red Cross services were not being extended into the Latino communities based on communication challenges and a disconnect of what services were available.  Furthermore, Tim and his team discovered that an underlying cultural independence of not wanting to ask for help, some fear of a police officer present at shelters mixed with the perception of the Red Cross being a government group created a reluctance to accepting our services. Tim understands that we need to focus on teaching about all the resources and services that the Red Cross provides, but a level of trust is needed to really bridge the gap.

Monica is in the process of taking her local volunteering role to a national level through multiple positions, extensive culture training and her personal approach based on Argentinian roots. She is taking local level experiences and teaching successful best practices at the national level.   

Partnering to prevent home fires

Recently, Monica and other Red Cross volunteers and employees teamed up with Painesville, Ohio-based HOLA Ohio and their local fire department to install smoke alarms in the Latino community. HOLA was founded in late 1999 as an informal group of Hispanic women in Lake County who wanted to help the growing Latino community, comprised of Mexican immigrant workers employed by area nurseries and their families. Few services were accessible to this demographic, and HOLA worked to bridge gaps. Today, HOLA is an award-winning, 501c3 charitable nonprofit organization that works with families across the state. A team comprised of Spanish-language interpreters from HOLA Ohio joined members of the Painesville Fire Department and staff and volunteers from the American Red Cross Northern Ohio region on Oct. 9 to provide fire safety education and install 62 smoke alarms in 25 homes in Painesville and Perry. HOLA’s support provided a trusting platform for the Red Cross to go into their homes, to provide a positive program with action and to teach that the Red Cross cares about their community. This partnership was a wonderful first step of this type of co-op programming in Northern Ohio. Read about the effort on our blog HERE

HOLA’s work has been spotlighted in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Telemundo, and has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Torchlight Prize, a prestigious national award honoring community-driven work that empowers the Latino community. Recently, founding executive director Veronica Dahlberg was named a 2019 Crain’s Cleveland Business Woman of Note.

Learn more about HOLA’s work in the community

Click on the donate link to make a secure donation online: http://holatoday.org/donate/  You may also mail a check to: HOLA Ohio
PO Box 3066 
Ashtabula, OH 44005-3066

If you have questions about your donation, please contact Kelsey at kelsey@holaohio.org

Seeking Latino volunteers and blood donors

The Northern Ohio Red Cross has a need for Latino volunteers to help us grow our mission in their communities.

You can learn about being a volunteer here: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html#step1.

Every day, blood donors help patients of all ages: accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

There is a constant need for all blood types, but the demand is often higher for types O and B blood.  Some ethnic groups have higher frequencies of these blood types and play a key role in ensuring availability for patients.

Latino populations have a higher frequency of type O blood than other ethnicities.

  • Type O positive blood is the most transfused blood type.
  • Type O negative is the universal blood type which can be transfused to patients of any other blood type and is routinely in short supply.
  • More than half of all Latinos in the U.S. have type O blood.

Consider donating blood today: https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.

Web resources

Did you know that the American Red Cross has a full accessible Spanish website called https://www.redcross.org/cruz-roja.html?

For information related to the Northern Ohio Latino initiative, contact Tim O’Toole at timothy.otoole@redcross.org.

Red Cross faces emergency need as blood supplies drop to lowest post-summer levels since 2015  

This is serious: The national American Red Cross blood inventory is the lowest it has been at this time of year since 2015. Donors of all blood types – especially type O – and platelet donors are urged to make an appointment to give now and in the weeks ahead to overcome an emergency shortage. 

Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the country due to the delta variant. As cases spiked in August, blood donor participation decreased about 10%, but blood product distributions to hospitals have remained strong, significantly outpacing blood donations in recent weeks. 

Patients, including those facing cancer, rely on the kindness of blood and platelet donors to help ensure they have the blood products they need for treatment. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Red Cross encourages eligible donors roll up a sleeve to provide hope and healing to cancer patients.

According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year, and more than 281,000 of those individuals will have breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer and other cancers may need blood products on a regular basis during chemotherapy, surgery or treatment for complications. Platelet transfusions are often needed by patients to help prevent life-threatening bleeding. More than half of all platelets collected by the Red Cross are used by patients with cancer.

Here are 3 easy ways YOU can help restock the shelves:

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an emergency blood shortage.
  3. Invite someone to donate with you.

One act of kindness deserves another

All those who come to donate in October will receive a link by email to claim a free Zaxby’s Signature Sandwich reward or get a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of their choice. Terms and conditions apply; see rcblood.org/zax for details.

Blood drive safety 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

Don’t wait – make your appointment to donate.

Red Cross offers home fire preparedness tips during National Fire Prevention Week

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

Next week is National Fire Prevention Week and the American Red Cross wants to ensure everyone is prepared should they experience a home fire. So far in 2021, Ohio has had 95 home fire fatalities vs. 67 in 2020. 

We lost four on-duty firefighters in 2021 and the year is not over. These heroes were willing to give up their lives to help save lives of fellow Ohioans.  

Could your family escape in 2 minutes in case of a home fire?

A survey conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62%) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they have. Nearly 18% mistakenly believe they have ten minutes or more to get out. 

The American Red Cross urges everyone prepare by practicing their home fire escape plan and testing their smoke alarms.

1. Practice a 2-Minute Fire Drill 

Use our worksheet to draw your home’s floor plan and plot your escape routes. 

  • Practice your 2-minute drill (from home to a safe meeting place) at least twice a year.
  • Everyone in your household should know two ways to escape from each room in your home. 
  • In a real fire, remember to get out, stay out and call 911. Never go back inside for people, pets or things. 

2. Test Your Smoke Alarms Monthly

Test your smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. 

  • You should hear three beeps, letting you know the alarm is working. 
  • Don’t hear the beeps? Then it’s time to change the batteries if your model requires them.
  • If your smoke alarm is 10 years old, it’s time to get a new alarm because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. 

Teach kids about preparedness

Our age-appropriate preparedness materials include engaging activities and easy action steps that youth will find both fun and effective.

Volunteer to help those affected by home fires

Join your local Red Cross to help families prepare for, respond to, and recover from home fire. The need for volunteers continues amidst a busy disaster season. Disaster action team members from the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region responded to nine local events over the weekend, all of them home fires. Several individuals were affected, including 30 adults and 7 children. The Red Cross provided more than $10,400 in immediate assistance.

Make a donation

Your financial gift allows the Red Cross to provide food, comfort and aid to those who have lost their home to fire. It also helps us install free smoke alarms and educate families on fire safety.

Be prepared before disaster strikes

Be prepared for disasters and other emergencies with a well-stocked emergency kit for your home, workplace and automobile. Choose from a variety of survival kits and emergency preparedness supplies to help you plan ahead for tornadoes, flooding, fire and other disasters.

Giving back this Good Neighbor Day

By Sam Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

National Good Neighbor Day is September 28, a day that celebrates our neighbors and encourages us to get to know our community better. Neighbors look out for one another and help each other out.

Good Neighbor Day was created in the 1970s in Lakeside, Montana, and President Jimmy Carter in 1978 proclaimed the day, saying: “Understanding, love and respect build cohesive families and communities. The same bonds cement our nation and the nations of the world. For most of us, this sense of community is nurtured and expressed in our neighborhoods where we give each other an opportunity to share and feel part of a larger family.”

Neighbors extend past the individuals who share a common wall or property line. At the American Red Cross, our communities are our neighbors. Whether they are next door or beyond, the Red Cross works to help and support individuals who are in need—after a disaster, when a blood donation is needed or preparing before the next disaster strikes.

This Good Neighbor Day, there are many ways you can give back to your Northern Ohio neighbors through the Red Cross.

  • Donate. There are different ways you can make a financial contribution to support the work of the Red Cross, both in your local community and around the world.
  • Give Blood. Donating blood is a simple thing you can do to help save lives. Blood donations help people going through cancer treatment, having surgery, who have chronic illnesses and those who experience traumatic injuries. The Red Cross holds blood drives across Northern Ohio every week. You can find and sign up for an upcoming blood drive here.
  • Volunteer. 90% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available right here in our area. You can learn more and apply to be a volunteer in Northern Ohio here.
  • Learn a Lifesaving Skill. The Red Cross has been teaching emergency and safety training for more than a century. You can learn first aid, be trained in administering CPR or using an AED, to be prepared for when a need for these skills arises. You can review and sign up for a class here.

There are endless possibilities of ways you can be a good neighbor and help give back to the community. You never know how one small act of kindness can impact a neighbor near you.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Red Cross reminds public of available mental health resources

By: Chris Chmura, Red Cross volunteer

As with mental health, our society has been improving with the taboo subject of suicide, but we still have a long way to go to help more people. The American Red Cross wants to remind everyone that there are resources available to assist those struggling with mental health concerns.

A sweeping new examination of suicide in Ohio in the past decade finds that 37 of the 88 counties now surpass the national rate, and the coronavirus pandemic likely is triggering a “staggering” increase in such deaths. Our Ohio neighbors of all ages from children to aging veterans are affected by suicide.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2020/07/06/suicide-ohio-death-gender-sex-race-county-ohio-university-mental-health/5364576002/

The Red Cross is committed to assisting the physical needs of those affected by disaster but we also understand these events can take an emotional toll.  The Red Cross has licensed Disaster Mental Health professionals who volunteer to assist people after disasters and connect them with resources to help in their long-term recovery. We currently have an urgent need for mental health disaster volunteers. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with a current and unencumbered license, please consider volunteering. Learn more and sign up today.

Aiding our men and women in uniform has always been integral to the Red Cross mission. One way we assist with the emotional issues military members face is through Reconnection Workshops. This free, confidential Red Cross program offers effective ways to work through challenges, improve wellbeing and build skills through small-group discussion and hands-on activities. Workshops help improve connections at home, at work and within communities. Members of the military, veterans and their families can also download the Hero Care App which can connect you to important resources that can help you through both emergency and nonemergency situations.

For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7, regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care. The VA also has local Vet Centers in your community to help discuss how you feel with other veterans in these community-based counseling centers — some 70% of Vet Center staff are veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

If you are in crisis, get immediate help. Call 911. For additional help and resources, below are a variety of organizations trained to help.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It’s important to learn how you and your loved ones can cope with stress. The information below has been adapted from resources published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, television and computer screens for a while.
  • Take care of your body.
    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Get plenty of sleep.
    • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco and substance use.
    • Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Grandparents Day: Caring goes both ways

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

Believe it…Grandparents Day is really a ‘thing.’ Actually, it’s been a thing for 43 years now. Congress passed a resolution declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day, which President Jimmy Carter signed into law in 1978. Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Mexico also celebrate Grandparents Days, albeit on different dates.

According to NationalToday.com, “Like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we also have a whole day dedicated to our grandparents. Grandparents and children have a special connection that is proven to both make grandparents live longer, and also make children more emotionally resilient. Grandparents Day is an opportunity to treasure that connection and spend some quality family time together.”

As a grandparent of 19, we are unusual in that only three of our grandkids  live outside Cleveland, and the rest are all within 15 minutes of our home. Rarely does a week go by without talking to or seeing many of them. ‘Opportunities’ to get together abound with football, baseball, soccer, tennis, cross country, track, swimming, basketball, band, dance, gymnastics and theater.

Now that many of them are older, the grandsons eagerly anticipate being old enough to come to our monthly Bardwell boy’s night out (BBNO) events.

On the other side of the spectrum, we know plenty of people our age who rarely see or hear from their grandchildren. That’s sad, not only for the grandparents, but for the grandchildren as well.

Parents, it’s your job to encourage those visits. Or if your parents have passed, consider a night out at an assisted-living community and maybe adopt a grandparent. It would certainly make that senior’s day to have youngsters around they could talk with.

As someone who has experienced a great deal in life, I feel one of my biggest jobs now is to pass along good examples to my grandchildren. I will never be one of those preachy grandparents, and we try to never contradict what their parents have told them, but I know lots of them are picking up what we demonstrate by our social norms, our religious participation and by our volunteerism.

While I haven’t landed any American Red Cross volunteers from the family yet, I know we’ve gotten many to start making blood donations during their college years, and I think some may be considering volunteering after graduation.

Have you got someone in your family who might make a great volunteer with the Red Cross? Talk up your experience and make sure they have the information they need to get started. There are opportunities for even high school aged students. Get started here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Recognizing International Day of Charity

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Nine years ago, the United Nations designated Sept. 5 as International Day of Charity to highlight the role of volunteerism and philanthropy in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering.

The day was chosen to honor the work of renowned missionary Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who became a role model of selfless action on behalf of the poor, sick and homeless.

Does this mission statement sound familiar: “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

Clearly, the Day of Charity and the Red Cross fit together like hand and glove.

Every day, trained Red Cross volunteers step forward to offer care and compassion to those in distress: people bereft by home fires, or displaced by western wildfires, Tennessee flash flooding or Hurricane Henri and Ida’s savage winds and rain. We’ve provided nearly 20,000 overnight stays in COVID-safe accommodations for those impacted by high-profile disasters just this summer.

At the same time, volunteers turn to the Red Cross to donate 40% of the nation’s blood supply for folks undergoing surgery, critical emergency care or life sustaining treatments.

September 1, 2021. Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The American Red Cross is welcoming evacuees from Afghanistan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, at the request of the Department of Defense. Red Cross team members are offering hygiene supplies, baby items, and other necessities. Photo by Emily Osment / American Red Cross

Of course the Red Cross is continuing its tradition of care for America’s veterans and their families, many of them stressed by recent events in Afghanistan. And at the request of the U.S Department of Defense, hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are helping meet basic human needs of American and Afghan evacuees as they arrive at U.S. military bases for repatriation or screening. (For more information, check out “Afghanistan: How the Red Cross and Red Crescent Are Helping” at redcross.org.)

None of this would be possible without financial support from the American public – individuals, foundations, and businesses and corporations large and small.

People like me. I’m certainly no “deep pockets” donor, but I give what I can to causes I believe in – the Red Cross high among them – because I think they build a better world for the present and for my grandchildren. I think of it as “doing my bit;” hardly Mother Teresa-level sacrifice, but doing what I can to ease burdens.

Michelle Polinko, chief development officer for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross, deals with donors that out-give me many times over.

“We have corporate partners here in northern Ohio that understand the need to be ready at a moment’s notice,” Michelle said.  “When a disaster strikes, we need to deploy resources like trained responders, emergency vehicles, comfort kits, food and water immediately.

“Thanks to our Annual Disaster Giving Program partners, like the J.M. Smucker Company, who provide annual donations allowing us to pre-invest in supplies and readiness, we can take action right away.”

The Smucker company is one of dozens that add their big support to the smaller donations that you and I can give to drive the humanitarian engine.

By the way, Sept. 5 is also Cheese Pizza Day (who knew?) and Be Late for Something Day. So it’s not too late to donate financially at redcross.org/donate. Or volunteer (We really need trained disaster volunteers right now!) at redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Or find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive (You know someone out there is relying on you for blood, right?!) by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or accessing RedCrossBlood.org.  Or text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Google Play to get the free Blood Donor App.

Back-to-back disasters require nationwide Red Cross response

More than a thousand volunteers deploy to help those affected by wildfires, Hurricane Ida and flooding

Back-to-back massive disasters have more than 1,200 American Red Cross volunteers, including 32 from Northern Ohio, working tirelessly from coast to coast right now providing food, shelter and comfort to thousands of people in need. We are working around the clock with our partners to provide help to people struggling with the heartbreaking damage left behind by Hurricane Ida.

The Red Cross is working to provide help to people struggling with the massive flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Wednesday night, some 430 people sought refuge in 13 Red Cross and community shelters across Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Some 130 trained Red Cross workers are on the ground now to support relief efforts. The Red Cross and its partners have already provided some 1,300 meals and snacks and distributed more than 100 relief items. Trained Red Cross volunteers have already made nearly 100 contacts providing emotional support, health services and spiritual care for people who’ve been evacuated.

Wendy Halsey of the American Red Cross hands boxes of Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) to Cassandra Simon in LaPace, LA, one of the areas of Louisiana which suffered extreme damage from Hurricane Ida. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

While massive flooding affected many states in the northern U.S., many southern states continue to deal with the aftermath Ida. Nearly 900 trained Red Cross workers are on the ground now to support relief efforts. The Red Cross and our partners have provided nearly 51,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 16,000 relief items to people in need.

And, in the midst of responding to Hurricane Ida, the Red Cross continues to help people in California where tens of thousands of people are under evacuation orders as massive wildfires continue to spread. Red Cross workers have been on the ground since June helping evacuees find a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support during this heartbreaking time.

Red Cross volunteer Dave Wagner looks over damage from the Dixie Fire in Greenville, CA, a small town that was devastated by the fire on Saturday, August 7, 2021. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

The Red Cross expects to respond to more disasters in the coming months, as the season is only beginning. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters. To give, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Individuals in unaffected areas of the country are urged to make an appointment to give blood to ensure a sufficient blood supply remains available for patients. Schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (800-733- 2767).

The Red Cross needs more volunteers now. If you have the time, you can make a significant impact. Review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Northern Ohio volunteers respond to disasters at home and across the country

Busy weekend highlights need for additional volunteers

Over the weekend, disaster action team members from the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region responded to local events and traveled across the country to assist those affected by national disasters. Locally, nine incidents occurred, affecting more than two dozen individuals. The Red Cross provided more than $7,000 in immediate assistance.

Fire damaged home in East Cleveland – Photo credit: David Huey, American Red Cross volunteer

As of today, 12 Red Cross workers from Northern Ohio have been deployed to a variety of national disaster responses, with a majority in California for the ongoing wildfire response. As tropical depressions like Grace and Henri are expected to continue in the coming weeks and wildfires continue to burn, the need for more volunteers is urgent.

Brigit Jackson is a nurse from Wooster who deployed to Portola, California to assist those affected by the Dixie Fire. She’s a nurse serving as a disaster health volunteer. In a message this morning, Brigit notes the winds have shifted southwest and more evacuations are expected.

Portola, California – Photo Credit: Brigit Jackson, American Red Cross Volunteer

“Just a little update! The smoke is dense today and it smells like burning wood/fire. Air quality is terrible. The Red Cross shelter in Quincy is probably being evacuated today as the fire is getting too close. We only have 3 nurses in this section of the disaster response operation. There are so many fires and not enough nurses. Most of the roads are closed, so travel is not easy.”

The Red Cross needs new volunteers to support disaster shelters. Volunteers will help with reception, registration, food distribution, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks inside disaster shelters. And, like Brigit, the Red Cross also needs volunteers who can work in disaster shelters to address people’s health needs and provide hands-on care in alignment with their professional licensure (registered nurse and licensed practical nurse/licensed vocational nurse). Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with a current and unencumbered license, this position could be right for you.

To learn more, please visit RedCross.org/volunteer.