Annual BASH event goes virtual, opening online auction to wider audience

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

May 15, 2020- Each spring, the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes holds a military-themed live and silent auction called BASH—loosely themed after the 1970s show “M*A*S*H*.” While the event is normally held at the MAPS Air Museum on the campus of the Akron-Canton Airport, in an effort to adapt to the current global health situation, this year’s BASH auction will take place virtually. The annual event raises tens of thousands of dollars to advance the mission of the Red Cross in Northern Ohio.

This year, BASH will be held online using a mobile auctioning platform called OneCause. In light of the current pandemic, the event has been rechristened, “BASH: Mission ImPossible. Not only will BASH continue amidst the recent challenges, but it will be available to more attendees than ever before with free and unlimited admission.

All of Northern Ohio’s past donors and volunteers will receive an email in the coming weeks. But everyone is invited to participate in this year’s event and can register by following the instructions at: redcross.org/bash20.

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More than 50 amazing items will be featured this year along with the chance to win a ride in the Goodyear blimp. You will have the ability to place and track your bids from wherever you may be; as long as you have an internet connection and a device with a browser, you can participate!

“We appreciate all the support we get from our partners and donors, who make BASH such a smash every year,” said Kim Kroh, executive director of the Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. “The money raised through the auction every year helps us provide essential services to people who experience disasters like home fires.”

The auction will open on May 30 at 4 p.m. with a Facebook live kickoff at Facebook.com/NOHRedCross , hosted by Emmy award-winning journalist and current children’s book author Denise Dufala, and will continue until June 3 at 4 p.m. On opening day, those who are registered will receive a text message with a link that will allow you to start bidding. The home screen will allow you to browse different categories of items and you can search for specific items. The platform makes it easy to select the highest price you’d like to bid. Then you will receive alerts letting you know where you are in the bidding process. You’ll even receive a text message when you are no longer the highest bidder. At the end of the auction, you can view what you have won and pay directly through the site. Another way to participate, without bidding, is the ability to simply donate to the organization through the platform.

Some may have experience with similar online platforms while others may not. The important thing to remember is that we are all learning and experimenting together during this unprecedented time, but these adaptations are done with one goal in mind: “to raise money to help prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies during this pandemic.”

Mark your calendars for May 30 and invite all of your friends and family to participate in our BASH: Mission ImPossible event! We are looking forward to embracing this challenge while social distancing to continue helping those around us amidst the pandemic.

If you have any questions regarding the event, do not hesitate to contact Sarah Leonhard at sarah.leonhard@redcross.org.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor bio: Jillian O’Donnell

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

May 13, 2020- Jillian O’Donnell lives in Columbus where she works as a registered nurse. She enjoys spending time with her family and taking her dog to fun places around the city. In March, Jillian experienced the sudden onset loss of her taste and smell. After talking with her sister, she discovered this was a new symptom being reported by COVID-19 patients. Because she is an essential worker, she decided to get tested before returning to work. Her test came back positive on March 25.

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Jillian O’Donnell

In coordination with the FDA, the Red Cross is seeking people who are fully recovered from the new coronavirus to sign up to donate plasma to help current COVID-19 patients. According to Jillian, when she heard about the process of giving convalescent plasma, it was a no-brainer to find out how and when she could donate. Jillian traveled two hours from Columbus to make her donation at an American Red Cross donation center in Akron, Ohio.

“As a nurse that works on a COVID-19 isolation unit, I have seen firsthand how this virus has negatively affected individuals,” said Jillian. “I am beyond thankful that I had very mild symptoms that I managed at home, on my own. I know that is not the case for many others.”

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People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections, or those judged by a healthcare provider to be at high risk of progression to severe or life-threatening disease.

“We are blessed to be survivors of this terrible virus and not everyone has that opportunity,” said Jillian. “Everyone deserves a fighting chance against this virus and donating plasma can give patients the opportunity to do that!”

Last week, two more convalescent plasma donor patients gave plasma to help others at our Akron blood donor center: Jane Krivos and Josh Nathaniel.

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Jane Krivos

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Josh Nathaniel

To participate, individuals must meet all regular blood donation requirements as well as others. To learn more and complete a donor request form, please visit www.RedCrossBlood.org/plasma4covid.

Photo credit: Eric Alves/American Red Cross

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 8-10, 2020

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross on Northern Ohio

May 11, 2020- Over the weekend, Northern Ohio residents were finding new and creative ways to show their love and appreciation to the mothers they know, while adhering to social distancing to ensure everyone’s safety from COVID-19.

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While many were celebrating mothers, unfortunately some were experiencing the worst days of their lives due to a local disaster and the Northern Ohio Region Disaster Action Team was there to provide support and assistance because emergencies don’t take breaks.

During the weekend of May 8-10, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted 34 individuals and provided $8,995 in immediate financial assistance.

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To date, the Northern Ohio Region has responded to 996 emergencies, assisted more than 4,300 individuals and have provided $838,790 in immediate financial assistance.

Safety for Red Cross Disaster Action Team members and the residents we assist is our number one priority. While our workers can no longer hug people due to social distancing, it does not mean the renowned comfort the Red Cross is known for has to stop.

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The Red Cross has come up with new ways to deliver the much-needed assistance to those who are experiencing the worst day of their lives:

  • We have screening questions that we ask residents before we respond, to protect our volunteers and those we assist.
  • We can conduct interviews over the phone, to ensure that we have a timely response in order to meet their needs and get them assistance in the form of shelter, food, clothing, disaster health services or disaster mental health services.
  • We have the capability to conduct video interviews, so the resident sees the smile, and the helping demeanor of our volunteers.
  • We have developed ways to deliver cards loaded with financial assistance to a location of the resident’s choosing, always with the safety and health of our volunteer and those in need of assistance at the forefront.
  • We also have volunteer caseworkers who will work with residents on the phone to connect them with community partners.

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The Red Cross is looking for individuals to join the disaster action team to continue to respond to disasters in local communities. We also have a wide variety of important volunteer-from-home opportunities available. Find your opportunity to make a positive impact today by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

A V-E Day remembrance: Charles Buccini saw each day as a gift

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

May 8, 2020- May 8 marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe during World War II, known as V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day). To help honor it, I spoke with veteran and American Red Cross volunteer Jim Buccini about his father, Charles Buccini, a WWII veteran and former Prisoner of War (POW).

Charles Buccini’s life and outlook are inspiring. Orphaned at a young age, Charles went between foster homes until, at 13, a family in Bellevue, Ohio, took him in. Charles lived and worked at the family’s farm until he was 21, when his foster brother was drafted. To help the family, Charles took his place.

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Charles Buccini

Charles saw action in Europe with the United States Army 9th Armored Division, 73rd Artillery Battalion, until he and around 900 others were captured on December 18, 1944.

Charles spent the next six months as a POW. Food was scarce, and the POWs were often moved through long marches and packed box cars, staying in stalags and bombed-out buildings. Charles dropped from 165 pounds to 100 pounds, and nearly half of his group did not survive.

Charles rarely spoke of his time as a POW. In fact, Jim first heard many accounts in 1978, when he took his father to visit John Taibi, a friend and fellow POW. While the two often communicated, they hadn’t seen one another since being liberated. Jim relayed how emotional it was to witness their first meeting in over 30 years, hearing the stories, and realizing the extent of his father’s heroism.

Jim learned more through John Taibi’s diary, which describes hardships, relief of a Red Cross package and the day they were liberated. They woke, saw no Germans, heard American voices, and realized they were free.

Although his time as a POW caused lingering issues, Charles never complained and took pride in his service. Jim said when asked about difficulties, his father was spiritual and pragmatic. Charles explained that some things are left in God’s hands, it was all part of life and you deal with it.

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Jim Buccini

Charles saw each day after liberation as a bonus, a gift. Following the war, Charles worked as a pipefitter for 36 years, focused on his family and helped others. Charles passed away in 1991. On April 11, 2019, several family members and friends gathered at his gravesite for his 100th birthday.

Charles inspired many, especially his children, and helped instill confidence and caring. Two of them, Jim and his older brother, Chuck, are also Army veterans. Chuck’s service included a year in Vietnam. Jim was stationed near the Berlin Wall. Like many in his family, Jim helps others. After retiring in 2016, he volunteered with the Red Cross where his duties include Services to the Armed Forces.

People like Charles Buccini helped overcome one of humanity’s greatest challenges. For Jim and Chuck, his lessons help during another crucial time. As we now face a pandemic, Jim looks to his grandchildren, remembers his father and remains confident. Throughout this time, it may help us to follow Charles’ example and see each day as a gift.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

National Nurses Day Profile: LaVern Nerlich answers call as volunteer disaster nurse

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

May 6, 2020- Nurses play supporting roles in our lives on a regular basis. Yet we’re especially grateful for their knowledge, skill and care when life creates the need for nurses to take on more prominent roles for our healing—or even for our survival. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the day-to-day responsibilities of many health care professionals. While they have always worked hard and placed themselves at risk, the current situation has intensified their experiences on the job.

Did you know the American Red Cross has nurses on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help the victims of disasters? They are dedicated professionals who volunteer their time to help others in addition to their regular jobs.

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LaVern Nerlich consoling residents following an apartment fire in Parma Heights in 2019

LaVern Nerlich, a nurse/volunteer for the Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Region, learned about the Red Cross as new nurse around 25 years ago. She became a disaster nurse and enjoyed it.

“It’s in my blood!” she said. LaVern loves helping others, and volunteering is a way to contribute to her community.

How do on-call nurses help after a disaster? LaVern told me that people often lose their medication or critical medical equipment when evacuating for a fire or flood. And they are often too exhausted to take the steps needed to replace them. Red Cross nurses are able to make the calls, and often get quicker results, since they know who to speak to and are familiar with medical terminology. Sometimes when speaking with a client, nurses can identify an immediate need. For example, while talking to a woman who had run back into a fire, LaVern realized the lady was having trouble breathing. LaVern directed her to go immediately to the hospital for treatment.

Nurses never know what the next phone call will bring. LaVern was called to assist after major flooding in Wayne County last summer. She also helped out after a big apartment complex fire in Parma last year. The nurses often continue with families, assisting with their medical needs resulting from the disaster. She said it’s possible to have over a hundred clients at a time.

“LaVern is an exceptional gift to Red Cross,” said Renee Palagyi, senior program manager of Disaster Cycle Services for Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Region. “She brings a strong nursing background, which allows her to make good decisions for our clients. Her devotion to the mission is always evident, and I am particularly grateful that while her real job involves working in a COVID-heavy environment, she did not hesitate to offer help with calling dozens of our volunteers to discuss how COVID impacts our current response. She’s a great asset!”

LaVern still loves her volunteer work for the Red Cross. Does it sound like something you’d like to do, too? Opportunities to volunteer as a disaster nurse or in other ways are listed on the Red Cross website. To learn more, visit: https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

It is time to prepare for spring and summer storm season

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

May 1, 2020- Everyone around the world is understandably focusing on COVID-19 and this new normal we are living. But as we approach the spring and summer storm season, it is important to prepare because emergencies don’t take breaks.

Spring and summer in Northern Ohio ushers in tornado and flood season. This year’s tornado and flood season has already begun to make an impact in the United States.

In what some are calling the deadliest tornado season since 2011, the American Red Cross is responding across multiple states impacted by ongoing severe weather. Hundreds of tornadoes have been reported across the eastern half of the country in April, most of these occurring in the southeast.

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While taking increased precautions during the current public health emergency, the Red Cross is providing shelter, warm meals and emotional support for those with immediate needs after a disaster. Red Cross disaster workers, many of whom are working virtually, are also connecting affected residents to additional community resources to support their recovery.

More than 1,100 people displaced by storms and tornadoes across the Southeast spent Sunday night in 393 hotels across Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. This shelter is made available with the help of our valuable hotel partners and community stakeholders. Overall, more than 13,900 hotel stays have been provided to residents displaced by tornadoes and storms since nationwide COVID-19 social distancing measures were put into place.

The Red Cross has provided more than 45,600 meals and snacks. We are working closely with our hotel partners to ensure distribution follows social distancing and safe food handling protocols.

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To ensure everyone across Northern Ohio is prepared, here are some tornado safety tips:

  • Identify a safe place in your home where everyone, including pets, can gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor away from windows.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts, through streaming a NOAA radio station, or downloading a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • If you are in a high-rise building during a tornado, pick a hallway in the center of the building.
  • In a manufactured home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building.
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm.

While not common in Northern Ohio, spring and summer also means hurricanes. May 3 to May 9 is considered National Hurricane Awareness Week. Forecasters are warning of an active hurricane season in 2020. Experts are predicting that we could see 20 named storms this year in the Atlantic, making 2020 the second most active season in terms of number of storms.

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If you or a loved one are at a location when a hurricane hits, here are some hurricane preparedness tips:

  • First, talk with your family about what to do if a hurricane strikes. Discussing hurricanes ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for young children.
  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or one-half-inch marine plywood.
  • Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly.
  • Make sure you have plenty of clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet, washing the floor or cleaning clothing.
  • Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
  • When the hurricane makes landfall, be sure to stay indoors.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater.

For more tips, download the hurricane safety checklist.

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Regardless if you are preparing for a hurricane, a tornado or any other storm, be sure to download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for the area and where loved ones live. The Emergency App and all Red Cross apps are available for free download in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

Sandusky resident shows age is just a number when it comes to donating blood

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

April 29, 2020- Ken Fultz is proof positive you’re never too old to save a life, or two, or three.

The spry Sanduskian, who celebrated his 90th birthday in March, did his part for others during this COVID-19 emergency by giving blood at a recent American Red Cross blood drive.

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Ken Fultz

“You know, I would do it again tomorrow if they (would) let me,” Ken said. “Everyone there knew what they were doing, and I got thanked over and over again.”

And well he should be thanked. Under the “stay home and save a life” rules to slow the spread of the deadly virus, scores of blood drives have been cancelled across northern Ohio. But the need for blood never stops, for accident victims; moms and newborns in difficult deliveries; surgery and cancer patients; and men, women and children who rely on transfusions for a healthy life.

“Dad has always been my hero,” Ken’s daughter, Sally Carter, said. “He has always put his family first and his community a close second.

“When the COVID-19 virus started to spread, it was hard to keep him inside and safe. When he suggested maybe he could give blood, we made the necessary phone calls to make it happen.”

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Ken with his daughter Sally Carter

And while he was at it, Ken encouraged four other family members to donate blood along with him.

Donating blood was nothing new for Ken: His next donation – which could be as soon as late June – will put him into the 10 Gallon Club. That will mean he’s given 80 units of blood! And if each of those units was separated into red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, that amounts to as many as 240 lives saved!

Ken’s generosity isn’t limited to life saving. For more than 25 years, until last fall – at the age of 89 – he delivered Meals on Wheels to an eager group of shut-ins. And he delivered flowers from Zion Lutheran Church to Firelands Regional Medical Center faithfully every week until the hospital had to stop all visits as an infection precaution.

Ken Fultz

“It’s people like Ken who step forward to help others that are the heart and soul of the Red Cross,” said Christy Peters, northern Ohio regional biomedical communications manager. “They are genuine humanitarians, giving the gift of life.”

To find the date, time and location of your nearest Red Cross blood drive, call 1-800-REDCROSS or access RedCrossBlood.org.  Or you can text BLOODAPP to 90999 or search “Red Cross Blood” on the App Store or Goggle Play to get the free Blood Donor App.