You’re never too old to learn new tricks

It’s National Online Learning Day – September 15

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Albert Einstein is reported to have stated, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Well, assuming that’s not in your immediate plans, I’d suggest some of the less obvious, but very rewarding learning opportunities to all Red Cross volunteers.

I’m not referring to the voluminous number of classes on how to be a disaster, or blood, or SAF volunteer, but rather, skills you’ll use at home or outside of your Red Cross activities. And they are available online – whenever you’ve got some free time.

Two shockers for me

I used to drive competitively in Sports Car Club of America national events, so I always considered myself one of the better drivers on the road. But, despite that, I picked up some invaluable information in the Defensive Driving class available on Edge. Learning how to adjust rear view mirrors turned out to be a game changer for me.

Another class I took was Basic Food Safety. While I knew you should always wash hands before handling food, it turns out there is an incredible amount of science in handling food safely. From being aware of food serving and storage temperatures, to how easily germs can become foodborne was a real eye-opener.

More unique classes

Ever meet someone that has just lost a loved one or received some terrible health news? We all have. Did you know what to say? (Or, in my case, what NOT to say?) The Psychological First Aid: Helping Others in Times of Stress training will certainly come in handy. It did for me.

Or heaven forbid, you find yourself in an active shooter situation – there’s actually training for how to survive. Look for IS-907: Active Shooter – What You Can Do. Or watch the video: RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Event.

Plus, everyone should know CPR and basic first aid – so yes, those classes are available online also.

Even more skill development classes

Thinking about learning new job skills or need a refresher on computer skills? With the addition of Precipio classes available to all volunteers, just look at all the classes you
might enjoy.

The opportunities are there. All you have to do is give them a try. Classes are available to watch, to read, and as audiobooks. They are all free, so if you find they aren’t right for you – no harm, no foul.

And if you aren’t a Red Cross volunteer already – you should be. Start that process right here.

Stock photo by @thoughtcatalog on Unsplash.com

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

National Senior Citizen Day: Why should you care?

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

What, you’re not a senior citizen? Stay with me, as I bet you know one . . . or two.

When President Reagan signed Proclamation 5847 in 1988, he set the date as August 21 to be celebrated as National Senior Citizen Day. He proclaimed the date to raise awareness of issues that affect senior citizens, including quality of life.

One of the best things you can do for a senior is to make sure they stay busy. Tests have shown that the more a person stretches their mind to learn new tasks or talents, the sharper they will be in their later years. It’s also a known fact that social interaction is important to seniors— especially if they live alone.

Wouldn’t you know it – the American Red Cross has the perfect solution for both recommended strategies. Volunteers are needed in all sorts of fields, and the Red Cross will be happy to train seniors in anything they choose to take part in. There are opportunities to go out and about the community as well as those that can be done by someone homebound.

Red Cross Volunteer Doug Bardwell – Tennessee

Interested in sitting and chatting with new people?

The Blood Ambassador position could be a perfect fit. You could be engaging with the community at a registration table at a local blood drive. There are dozens of blood drives every day in different neighborhoods, so there’s likely one a few minutes from their home. Volunteer as many days as you like. Watch video to learn more.

Interested in driving?

The Red Cross could use your past professional training to help teach life-saving skills or deliver medical or spiritual care to those in need.

Interested in humanitarian assistance?

You hit the bonanza here. Opportunities abound to:

  • Drive to local neighborhoods to provide financial assistance to those who’ve experienced a home fire. (Don’t worry about the money. The Red Cross provides that – you just hand it out.) Watch video.
  • Help pass out water and snack at large community events or to first responders at disaster events.
  • Make phone calls as a caseworker to provide follow-up care to those who are trying to pull their lives back together after a fire or other disaster.
  • Help assemble self-help pamphlets and toiletry kits for disaster victims.
  • Teach fire safety at local schools with the Pillowcase Project for third through fifth graders. Learn more.
  • Assist at a disaster shelter or warming center, serving any of three meals a day to those without shelter. Watch video.
  • From home, help families reconnect during natural disasters by working with the Red Cross Family Reunification Network. Watch video.

Actually, there are so many more opportunities beyond the ones mentioned above. How about a quiz to see what’s available near you? Take quiz. Then, start the volunteer process here and make being a senior citizen both rewarding and life-changing for the better.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross volunteer

Five ways you can give back this World Humanitarian Day

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

August 4, 2022. Fleming-Neon, Kentucky. American Red Cross volunteer Angela Daniel distributes a hot meal to those affected by the Kentucky flooding disaster. Emergency Response Vehicle make their way to various locations, bringing nourishing food and a word of encouragement to communities as they begin to recover. Photo by Kevin Suttlehan/American Red Cross

World Humanitarian Day is a day when we are all encouraged to come together and advocate for the well-being, survival and dignity of people who have experienced or are experiencing crisis around the world. This year’s theme from the United Nations is “It Takes A Village”—reminding us that whenever there are people in crisis, there are others who are there to help them. This year, they shine a light on the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, professionals and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water and much more.

It’s a perfect day to recognize the thousands of dedicated volunteers and workers of the American Red Cross. They deliver lifesaving assistance every hour of every day, responding to an average of more than 60,000 disasters every year.

As we reflect on the meaning of this day, we are also encouraged to take action as humanitarians ourselves. This World Humanitarian Day, the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross has five ways you can give back and help to make the world a better place.

A blood donor giving blood at the 2022 Cleveland Browns blood drive in July

Donate Blood
Did you know that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood or platelets? Giving back by donating blood can help ensure those who are in need of blood transfusions, including individuals undergoing surgery, cancer treatment, treatment for chronic illness and traumatic injuries.

If you are able to donate blood, it is a relatively easy process –
It only takes about one hour and 15 minutes, with the actual donation of whole
blood taking approximately eight to ten minutes.
Individuals can donate blood more than once per year. you can donate every
In most states, donors can start donating at age 17 and some states allowing
16-year-olds to donate with a signed parental consent form. You also must be
at least 110 pounds and be in good health.
Blood donor drives are held at locations throughout Northern Ohio. To find an
upcoming blood drive near you, click here.

Volunteer
Volunteering your time for a cause you believe in can have a huge impact on your community and the world. The Red Cross offers a variety of ways that you can give back depending on your skills, interests and time available. In fact, 90% of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. They support areas such as blood drives, blood donation transports, health, mental health and spiritual needs, administrative support roles, supporting our armed forces and working with those who affected by natural disasters.

Make a Donation
Many non-profit organizations rely on generous donations from supporters. For many organizations, every dollar donated makes a difference. Some organizations, like the Red Cross, provide other ways for individuals to donate in addition to financial contributions.

June 22, 2018. Washington, DC. CPR stock photos by Roy Cox for the American Red Cross.

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.

Advocate
Advocacy is an important way you can be a humanitarian. In order to advocate, it is equally important to educate yourself on the topics, organizations or causes you would like to advance. Here are a few simple ways you can get started.

Follow organizations on social media. For example, you can follow the Red Cross and the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok just to name a few. Not only do they post facts and updates about the work that they are doing, but they also provide links for more information.
Participate in events like Turn and Test and other events that help to spread the word about a particular cause. Share information with friends and family and learn about causes that they are passionate about.

Read about the work of three Red Cross humanitarians here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross Volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer




Volunteers show their versatility and willingness to help

Northern Ohio disaster workers in Kentucky assist at the scene of a car crash

Arden Tohill and Al Irwin are volunteers who responded to the call for help from the people of Eastern Kentucky, after devastating flooding there in late July. Among the first to deploy to the devastated region, they have been driving an emergency response vehicle through “the hills and hollers of Eastern Kentucky,” as Arden puts it, delivering much-needed food, water and other essential supplies. But last Saturday, their day took an interesting and unexpected turn, as Arden wrote in an email:

Al Irwin, left, and Arden Tohill – Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Interesting day, Saturday. On the way back to the kitchen, we were among the first to come upon a traffic accident. Al (Irwin) is still a licensed EMT, so there was no question about stopping.

Some firemen, who were nearby doing wellness checks, heard the crash and came flying on their 4-wheelers. The only problem was that they weren’t packed for a medical situation. One of them saw that I had my nitrile serving gloves on and asked if we had any more so I ran back to the ERV, grabbed the box of gloves we had just purchased and the first aid kit for the minimal supplies we had. 

After they got the passenger out, Al was holding her head steady to prevent spinal injury until an ambulance arrived with a collar. Al had me take over while he went on to something else.  In a few minutes a doctor who was out running household errands popped in to examine the passenger.  He asked if anyone happened to have a small flashlight so that he could check pupil reaction . Of course I had one, so I passed head-holding to a fireman and dug the light out.

After they finally got the driver out and boarded, we started passing out water to the first responders.

Al Irwin and Arden Tohill preparing to distribute meals to residents in flood-stricken Kentucky at Carr Creek Elementary school in Knott County – Photo credit: Remy Kennedy/American Red Cross

We don’t know the condition of the passenger, but we do know that Arden Tohill and Al Irwin are two talented, dedicated volunteers and true humanitarians, as illustrated by the account above. We are grateful for their service to the Red Cross.

Editor’s note: As of Monday, August 8, more than 430 trained Red Cross disaster workers were on the ground in Kentucky helping to provide a safe place to stay, food to eat, critical relief supplies and emotional support for those affected by this tragedy. Volunteers are also replacing prescription medications, eyeglasses or critical medical equipment, like canes and wheelchairs, which were left behind in the rush to get to safety.

  • Sunday night, the Red Cross and our partners provided comfort and care for almost 500 residents in numerous shelters across Eastern Kentucky. In the last week, the Red Cross and our partners have provided a total of more than 4,500 overnight stays for residents forced to leave their homes.
  • With the support of local partners, the Red Cross has helped to provide some 56,000 meals and snacks to people in need. In addition, we’ve given out thousands of critical relief items to nearly 800 households.

People in Eastern Kentucky are really hurting

People from Northern Ohio are really helping

They are working in shelters; they are distributing food and water; they are arranging logistics and they are establishing communications.  10 American Red Cross volunteers from Northern Ohio are playing crucial roles in the massive effort to bring comfort and care to people in eastern Kentucky, following deadly flooding last week. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the flooding that has upturned lives and destroyed homes across at least nine counties in the state.

Photo credit: Mike Parks, American Red Cross

Nearly 250 trained Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground, and more help is on the way.  Sunday night, almost 640 residents took refuge in one of the many shelters being supported by the Red Cross and other partners. The Red Cross is providing a safe place to stay, food to eat, emotional support for those affected by this tragedy, and is helping with replacing prescription medications, eyeglasses or critical medical equipment that were left behind in the rush to get to safety.

Northern Ohio volunteers: Al Irwin and Arden Tohill drove an emergency response vehicle to Kentucky on Saturday. Mahogany Coward is helping with logistics from the University of Kentucky.

More than 15,400 people are without power, and as many as 60,000 are either without water or under a boil advisory.

This deadly flooding — along with the recent heavy rainfall in Missouri, explosive wildfires in California and the ongoing Northwest heatwave — are clear examples of how more intense climate-related disasters are happening more often. Over the last two years, on average, the Red Cross responded a new, major disaster every 10 days. We see firsthand how families and communities are suffering and depending on us for help – with our volunteers continuously on the ground, setting up shelters, arranging for hot meals and offering comfort for people forced from their homes.

You can help people affected by disasters like floods, fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift is a commitment to helping people in need, and every single donation matters.

Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Helping those in need after a disaster is challenging but rewarding

By Mike Arthur, Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

I’m grateful to live in northern Ohio, one of the safest areas of the country from a weather-related disaster standpoint. We don’t have to worry about a hurricane coming and wiping our homes away. We are unlikely to walk out our front doors and have trouble breathing due to smoke from a nearby wildfire.

I have never worried about the fate of my family and myself, where we would live and work after a disaster destroyed my home and place of work. I have never had to make a decision about which of my hard-earned belongings I need to take with me when I evacuate. I have never had my community devastated. Every year thousands of families have their lives changed drastically when their homes and communities are affected by disasters large and small.

Mike Arthur, during the Red Cross response to hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas in 2017
 

I’m also grateful that I get the opportunity to help people in need. As a Regional Mass Care & Logistics Manager, I get to put the skills and talents learned over the course of my life to good use leading and supporting the American Red Cross workforce in meeting the needs of our clients locally and nationally.

I get to deploy for a few weeks each year making an immediate difference in someone’s life. Deployments to large disasters are tough but incredibly rewarding. The hours can be long. The food is not always five star. I sometimes sleep on a cot in a staff shelter with my fellow workers. It can be stressful. Compassion fatigue is a risk.

Residents wait to receive clean up supplies from the Red Cross after hurricane Harvey in 2017.

I look forward to each deployment and go as often as I can. I feel like I make a difference. I have made incredible friends across the country. I have great stories to tell. I get to bring hope to those in need. I help provide a safe place to sleep and food in bellies, and sometimes, most importantly I can provide a warm hug, bright smile and a sympathetic ear. My life is fuller because of my deployment experiences. I hope you will take to opportunity to join me out in the field this year and experience the magic of helping.

Help those in need when they need it most by becoming a volunteer with the Red Cross. To find a volunteer opportunity that’s right for you, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

From intern to trusted volunteer

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Maria Ford lives in Toledo and is a member of the Northwest Ohio chapter. She has two children; a five- year-old son who keeps her running, and a nineteen-year-old daughter. They love to get out and hike the trails in the woods and enjoy being out in nature. In her spare time, Maria’s starting a collection of teapots.

Maria Ford

She’s been working for the Toledo Municipal Court for seven years now. Presently, she is a supervisor in the Probation department and really enjoys the work. “We’ve got so many good programs going now – it’s a great time to be here.”

Maria started with the Red Cross as part of an internship in connection with her Master’s Degree program through Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Able to take the program online, she obtained a Master of Science in Social Administration with a concentration in social work, completing the program during the pandemic. “During the internship, I realized that I enjoyed working with Red Cross so much that I’ve stayed with the organization ever since.”

Presently, she is actively involved as Community Preparedness Coordinator, educating people about home fire prevention. “I also help people get their smoke alarms and plan rallies, working with volunteers and our clients. I also do a bit of DAT (Disaster Action Team) on the side, and I’ve even done some sheltering, which was cool, and I enjoyed that too.”

“Maria has been with us for a number of years now,” says Rachel Hepner, Chapter Executive Director. “She’s been instrumental in making our home fire campaign a success and is a great person to have on board as we get closer to Sound the Alarm.”

When asked about what she would say to someone who’s not sure if they would enjoy being a Red Cross volunteer, Maria says, “Red Cross seems to attract some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, with such big hearts and willing to give back to the community when people may be experiencing the worst time of their life. Being able to be with those people, to love them, and to support them, is really a blessing. If anyone is inclined to give back and help people in their community, the Red Cross has a position for everyone, where you can make a difference.”

Dedicated volunteer of 12 years delivers customer service with a smile

By Ryan Lang, Red Cross Volunteer

What started as more of a convenience for Red Cross volunteer Anita Hicks , quickly became one of the most fulfilling parts of her life.

Anita is one of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers dedicated to the Red Cross Mission and providing an invaluable service to the community. Working at the front desk at the Akron Red Cross headquarters, she spends most of her days answering phones and greeting blood donors, volunteers and others as they walk through the doors, helping them find where they need to go. With her background in customer service, Anita says it was a match made in heaven from the moment she walked through the doors at 501 West Market Street 12 years ago.

Anita Hicks, Red Cross Volunteer

Before that, though, Anita says it was simply the location that drew her in, as the building was within walking distance of her apartment. She was recently retired and needed something to do, so she walked next door. And then, she says, she “immediately fell in love with it.”

Now, after 12 years of walking to work (at least on sunny days), Anita has developed a bond with so many of the blood donors, volunteers and Red Cross staff in the building. “They should be met with the Red Cross standard,” which Anita describes as “120% customer service,” adding, “Nothing beats a smile and a cheerful hello.”

But over the past two years, in dealing with COVID-19 protocols and even shutdowns, it’s been more of a challenge than ever before. The office has been more desolate and for nearly a year and a half, Anita was at home due to pandemic protocols. “I was a fish out of water,” she said of her time away from the office she loves so much.

Today, she’s back in the office two days a week.

“Anita has been a front desk volunteer as long as I can remember, always greeting everyone with a smile and willing to help chip in on any task that needs to be done,” said Rachel D’Attoma, executive director of the Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley. “She will drive through a snowstorm to get to the building and still be smiling when she arrives.  It is wonderful to have Anita and know that the Red Cross can count on her!”

“It’s just a pleasure. It’s always been a pleasure and it has continued to be a pleasure to be able to give a little bit of myself to someone else.” Anita adds, “I’ve bought into the Red Cross Mission 100%, and it means the world to me to offer my time to the Red Cross.”

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Man of many talents shares them with the Red Cross

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross Regional Communications Manager

Doug Bardwell was already volunteering to help people in need when he first encountered the American Red Cross. In 1983, Doug and his sons drove to St. Genevieve, Missouri to help during a devastating flood. They stayed in a Red Cross shelter while helping sandbag the town. After that experience, Doug was hooked and decided to become a Red Cross volunteer after he retired.

March 7, 2020. Donelson, Tennessee. Homeowner Linda Bennett tells Red Cross volunteer Doug Bardwell that she can’t thank everyone enough that’s stopped to check on her since the tornado hit. She related to Doug about being sucked through her house when the twister hit. “I felt things hitting me as I was thrown about the house,” said Linda. “When the wind stopped, I went outside, and a neighbor lent me a pair of his shoes. “ Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Fast forward several years and Doug has become an integral part of the volunteer team in Northern Ohio. You can’t mention the name “Doug Bardwell” without someone saying how much he has helped them meet the Red Cross mission.

In September 2016, Doug became a communications volunteer in the Northern Ohio Region. His first assignment was a bit of a tall order…photographing and writing about a smoke alarm installation with the Harlem Globetrotters. He continues to contribute articles to the Northern Ohio region blog and takes fantastic photos of many different events whenever needed.

Regional Red Cross CEO Mike Parks and Senior Disaster Program Manager Emily Probst observe, as Harlem Globetrotter Zeus McClurkin installs a smoke alarm in a home in Cleveland

Doug also joined the Disaster Action Team (DAT), which helps residents affected by local fires and severe weather events around northern Ohio.

“The day Doug Bardwell walked into my office was my lucky day,” said Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Director. “It was OUR lucky day, because Doug has such a broad array of skills he shares so freely, in the Northern Ohio Region and at the national Red Cross level.”

Doug also serves as a lead volunteer for the Volunteer Services department. In that role, he welcomes new volunteers, helps troubleshoot IT issues volunteers may face navigating Volunteer Connection, the online portal for volunteers, as well as writing and publishing the NOH Notables, a weekly wrap-up of local and national Red Cross stories that are published on Volunteer Connection.

March 7, 2020. Nashville, Tennessee. Red Cross volunteer Doug Bardwell listened as (L to R) Machaela , Raniesha, Terriona , and Ray Shawn told stories about all that happened as the tornado hit their home. They are now staying at the Red Cross shelter at Centennial Sportsplex. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In addition to all the support Doug provides the Northern Ohio Region, he also serves as a national communications volunteer. As part of the national Advanced Public Affairs team, Doug has helped manage communications and gather stories and photos for multiple disasters, including the California Camp Fire in 2018, floods in Texas and Louisiana in 2020 and deadly tornadoes in Tennessee in 2021. In fact, anyone clicking around the RedCross.org site will see photos of Doug in action, helping the victims of these various disasters.

Bardwell family

For all the amazing volunteer work Doug has done, his greatest delight is his family. He and his awesome wife have seven children and 19 grandchildren who keep them quite busy! His grandchildren provide never-ending opportunities to attend baseball, basketball, football, soccer, cross country and track and field events. And there’s also marching band, orchestra, jazz band, choral, drama and the list goes on and on. When he’s not busy with family or the Red Cross, he also helps at his church and takes photographs for Properties Magazine.

When asked what he would say to someone looking to volunteer, Doug feels giving back to the community is something everyone should do. “The Red Cross is so big and does so many things, there is bound to be a use for whatever talents and availability you bring with you,” he said. “From volunteering at one blood drive, to sitting at home and making phone calls, there is literally a role for everyone.

Thank you, Doug, for all you do. We are so fortunate to have you as a Red Cross Northern Ohio Region volunteer!

Red Cross salutes volunteer leadership

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Sally Carter has made a career of volunteer leadership.

No matter where she’s lived – and she’s moved a lot – Sally has found needs to fill in her community.

She helped found a children’s theater company and organized volunteers for a third grade “reading buddies” program. PTO and PTA, classroom volunteer, juvenile vision screening, United Way, Newcomers Club, Chamber of Commerce, Learning Disabilities Association – Sally has grown and shared her volunteer “chops” with infectious enthusiasm.

The American Red Cross is lucky to have her.

Sally Carter, Red Cross volunteer

Sally was living in Ogden, Utah, when she saw a newspaper ad for a front -desk volunteer at the local Red Cross chapter.

“It was two weeks before (Hurricane) Katrina hit,” she recalled with a chuckle. Needless to say, that was an extraordinarily challenging moment to be manning the phones, answering a myriad of questions about Red Cross services, volunteer needs and financial donations.

But Sally found her niche. “I was hooked instantly. We were just a family. After that first rush of hurricane response, I got promoted: We did workshops and forums; I started a newsletter, and we did fundraisers.

“I watched all the wheels turning. Red Cross was helping people with house fires, hurricanes; when a semi overturned on the highway, we were feeding the firefighters. Earthquakes, avalanches, mudslides – I didn’t even know about mudslides,” she said, reflecting on the variety of hazards Americans face.

When Sally and her husband Lee moved back to Sandusky to be near family, we crossed paths; she and I had worked together decades before. As we caught up, she mentioned her Red Cross experience and I pounced: “Join us on the chapter board!”

And of course, she did.

“I love working with Sally as a member of our board of directors and as the leader of our Community Outreach team because her passion for the mission of the Red Cross shines through in everything she does,” said Todd James, executive director of the North Central Ohio chapter.

Sally has organized a pool of volunteers to attend community events, to spread the word about the many things the Red Cross does – disaster prevention, preparedness and response, blood collection, health and safety education – as well as the many ways the public can get involved, – as volunteers, blood donors or financial supporters.

She also edits the chapter newsletter, Chapter Chatter.

“You get so hooked,” Sally said. “It’s almost a selfish thing: I may have done some good as a volunteer, but I got back 20 times over.”

Sally’s dedication to volunteerism is a family thing. Her parents were committed volunteers and she laughingly said she’s “volun-towed” her husband Lee, a retired newspaper executive, into a variety of activities. “I’m hoping I’ve instilled it in my sons,” she added.

Sally is a sterling example of the tens of thousands of volunteers who make it possible for the Red Cross to fulfill its mission to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”​

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer