Neighborhood where family perished in home fire made safer
Dozens of residents in Newcomerstown, Ohio are safer in their homes, after Red Cross and community volunteers banded together on Saturday to install free smoke alarms and share home fire safety information.
The effort targeted the neighborhood where six people died – four children and their parents – in a fire on the day after Christmas. Investigators found no evidence of smoke alarms in the home.
Newcomerstown Mayor Patrick Cadle and five village council members gathered with about two dozen Red Cross volunteers, some coming from as far away as Cleveland, for a brief training session prior to splitting into teams of three or four and going door to door on several streets in the neighborhood.
“I was unaware that the Red Cross did this,” said Mayor Cadle, referring to the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which includes making homes safer with the installation of free smoke alarms.
“If I had known they didn’t have smoke alarms I would have contacted you for them,” said Kitty Clay, who lives on Spaulding Avenue, next door to the home that burned. She said she and other neighbors were outside for several hours, watching firefighters battle the blaze. “There was nothing we could do,” she said.
Village Council member Michael Wise was on the team that inspected Kitty’s home on Saturday. He made sure there was a working smoke alarm on every level of the home. It was one of 52 homes made safer that day, as 136 smoke alarms were installed.
“We’re not stopping there,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “We plan to come back in April, when we include Newcomerstown as part of our Sound the Alarm event,” he said. Sound the Alarm is an annual campaign that targets neighborhoods at high risk for home fires nationwide for home fire safety visits and smoke alarm installations.
“This is just the beginning,” said Elizabeth Cante, Disaster Program Specialist with the Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “We will also be helping students at the elementary school whose classmates lost their friends with preparedness education. Our job has only just begun.”
See more photos from the day of service in Newcomerstown here.
Visit soundthealarm.org/noh for more information on how to make your home safer, and to request free smoke alarms.
“They don’t make them like they used to” is a well-worn phrase, but it could be true regarding American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton. As we honor her 201st birthday on December 25, it’s fun to take a quick look at several of her achievements.
Wage negotiations – WIN
She successfully obtained equal pay as an in-demand teacher during her early career. As she said then, “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.”
Breaking into a man’s world – WIN
After teaching, Clara moved to Washington, D.C., and worked at the U.S. Patent Office, where she was one of the first women to work for the federal government.
First woman granted permission to travel to the frontlines – WIN
Driven by a desire to be helpful and help those in need, she sprang into action when the Civil War broke out, earning the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield” for her work in caring for soldiers on the frontlines. In 1862, Clara was granted the privilege by the U.S. Surgeon General to travel to battlefronts under the guidance of Generals John Pope and James S. Wadsworth.
Founded a reunification program for missing Union soldiers in 1865 – WIN
After the war, Clara began to set up a program to find and gather information about missing Union soldiers to give to the soldiers’ families.
Founded the American Red Cross in 1881 – WIN
Inspired by her experiences in Europe with the International Red Cross, when Barton returned to this country, she spent years lobbying to establish a similar organization. In 1881, Clara founded the American Red Cross and, the following year, convinced President Garfield and Congress to adopt the Geneva Treaty.
After all those firsts, how can you help but be inspired? Working for the Red Cross from age 60 until she was 84, it’s impossible to say you’re too old to volunteer – you aren’t. Sign up here.
You also can’t say you can’t help our military members – you can. Learn more here.
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.
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.
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.
Summer: a time for family gatherings, swimming, grilling, and many more events that have become staples of the season. Whatever your plans are, the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region has some resources you can use to help you, and even your four-legged friends, have a safe summer.
Every day, an average of 11 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning — and one in five of those are children 14 or younger according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Red Cross wants everyone to know critical safety knowledge and skills that could save your life in and around the water. We encourage families to build confidence in the water by learning to be safe, making good choices, learning to swim and how to handle emergencies. · Preventing unsupervised access to water, providing constant, active adult supervision and knowing how to swim are critical layers of protection to help prevent drowning. · Classes to learn how to swim are available for both children and adults. Check the map for Learn-to-Swim providers in your community. Everyone should learn first aid and CPR too, so they know what to do in an emergency. · Download the Red Cross Swim app (https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html), sponsored by The ZAC Foundation, for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course in English or in Spanish. · It’s best to swim in a lifeguarded area. Always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over. · Drowning behavior is typically fast and silent. Unless rescued, a drowning person will last only 20 to 60 seconds before submerging. Reach or throw, don’t go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble. Don’t go in! You could become a victim yourself.
If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly. · Pack a first aid kit to handle insect stings, sprains, cuts and bruises and other injuries that could happen to someone in your group. Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app so that you will know what to do in case help is delayed. You’ll learn how to treat severe wounds, broken bones, bites and stings and more. · Sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes travelers may face. Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger. Plan ahead for these dangers. · Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor or friend. · Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer and supplies for any pets.
More than three-quarters of U.S. adults have used a grill — yet, grilling sparks more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, the Red Cross offers these grilling safety tips: · Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. · Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area. · Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill. · Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire. · Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.
Summer’s heat can be dangerous for your family pets. Follow these steps to take to help ensure your pet stays safe this summer. · Don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees even with the windows cracked open. · Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are especially prone to heat stroke, along with overweight pets, those with extremely thick fur or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea. · Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down, brick red gum color, fast pulse rate and being unable to get up. · If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. · Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage. Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for instant access on how to treat heat stroke, other emergencies and general care for cats and dogs and take the Cat and Dog First Aid Online Training course.
· Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
· Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
· Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
· Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud.”
· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio, Rear Admiral, USCG (Retired)
Northern Ohio Red Cross Family:
May is an important month for those men and women, and their families, who have chosen to serve our nation as members of the Armed Forces. In 1999 Congress designated May as Military Appreciation Month to ensure the nation was given the chance to publicly show their appreciation for troops past and present. Each year the President makes a proclamation reminding Americans the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of the United States. May was chosen because it has many individual days marked to note our military’s achievements including Loyalty Day (observed on May 1st and established in 1921 by Congress as “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and the recognition of the heritage of American freedom”) and Victory in Europe (VE) Day (observed on May 8th commemorating the end of WWII in Europe in 1945).
We also observe Military Spouse Appreciation Day every May on the Friday before Mother’s Day (this year on May 6th). President Reagan first recognized Military Spouse Appreciation Day in 1984 when he said, “Throughout the years, as the numbers of married men and women in uniform have grown and as their military missions have become more complex and dispersed, their spouses have made countless personal sacrifices to support the Armed Forces. In many instances, they subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family.”
On the third Saturday in May, we celebrate Armed Forces Day which was created in 1949. Not to be confused with Veterans Day, which honors those who wore the cloth of our nation at war, or Memorial Day, which honors those who died wearing the cloth of our nation at war, Armed Forces Day honors both the men and women currently serving as well as those who have previously served and sacrificed to defend our nation’s freedom—which we all hopefully know has never been “free.”
That brings us to the last Monday in May—Memorial Day—which is next Monday, the 30th—when we honor members of the Armed Forces who have died in military service to our nation. Much like our beloved American Red Cross, Memorial Day has roots dating back to the post-Civil War era when citizens would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Memorial Day is one of the six recognized holidays we all celebrate in the Red Cross (an official day off)—appropriately so I might add. That said, many Red Cross staff and volunteers will be participating in Memorial Day events around the country–in Northern Ohio, we’ve got folks supporting the ceremonies at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Seville and Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo. As well, Red Crossers around our Region and the country will be responding to those in need throughout the holiday weekend. Thank you to those serving!
Today, when many people hear “Memorial Day” they think of the unofficial beginning of Summer, backyard barbeques, sales, and maybe even parades. The word “memorial” means “intended to commemorate someone or something.” I’m concerned that many are losing focus on what this special holiday is all about—are we truly commemorating those who paid the ultimate sacrifice? I recently attended some events where our National Anthem was played and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. I must admit I was saddened to see so many people failing to show the proper respect by placing their hands over their hearts in tribute to our flag and our nation, and by extension, those who have sacrificed for both.
I think we all, especially as members of the premier humanitarian organization in the world—the American Red Cross–with its roots in the blood and mud of the battlefields of the Civil War, are well-suited and have an obligation to set the right example—year round. Please join me in committing to stand tall, remove our caps, and place our hands over our hearts when the National Anthem is played or we recite our Pledge of Allegiance. We should also do the same when the American flag is “paraded” by us, both indoors or outside. These small gestures will go a long way to acknowledge those who have fallen as well as those who remain to deal with their loss—we owe them that much—not just on Memorial Day but throughout the year!
Thank you for all you do to support this wonderful organization—I’m proud to serve alongside each of you. I hope you get to enjoy this special holiday with your family and friends while remembering those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. God bless America!!
Over the last few weeks, Red Cross volunteers and staff installed 2,374 smoke alarms throughout Northern Ohio, making 929 homes safer. Focus areas for this year’s initiative—the 30th anniversary of a program started in Cleveland—were Cleveland’s Collinwood and Old Brooklyn neighborhoods, Garfield Heights, Akron, Lorain, Wooster Township, Chippewa Township, Napoleon, Ohio, Fostoria, Ohio, and Monroe, Michigan (part of the Red Cross’s Northern Ohio Region.)
“This was my first time participating in a Sound the Alarm installation event, and it was a fantastic experience,” said Christy Peters, regional communications manager. “The residents we spoke with were so thankful for our help, and I left knowing the work we did could mean the difference between life and death for a family, should a home fire occur.”
As I wrote earlier, Sound the Alarm and the Home Fire Campaign grew out of “Operation Save-A-Life,” an initiative begun in Cleveland in 1992, when businessperson and philanthropist Sam Miller joined with other civic leaders, the Cleveland Fire Department, and the Red Cross to reduce fire fatalities through installing smoke alarms and teaching fire safety. It has been remarkably successful, helping keep annual fire fatalities in Cleveland below the 1992 level. The Home Fire Campaign, which includes Sound the Alarm, became a national Red Cross program in 2014.
While Sound the Alarm occurs each May, the Red Cross helps make homes safer year-round. Since July 1, 2021—the beginning of the Red Cross’s fiscal year—5,495 smoke alarms have been installed in Northern Ohio, and 2,102 homes have been made safer.
Fire safety initiatives such as this are vitally important, as we may have just two minutes to escape a home fire. Having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death in such an event by half.
Since 2014, the Home Fire campaign has documented saving 21 lives in Northern Ohio, 1,275 nationally. Thanks to this month’s efforts, families in 929 homes throughout our region are now better protected.
The lifeblood of the Red Cross is its volunteers, and in particular, its blood donors. Joseph DeRosa was the definition of lifeblood, having donated an astounding 165 pints of blood in his lifetime.
Valerie Stanley shared the story of her grandpa and his dedication to the American Red Cross and its blood donor program last month. She and her children, Joseph’s great grandchildren, Eva and Isaac delivered a check to the Red Cross for $1,860 in his name.
Joseph DeRosa was a dedicated high school math/psychics/chemistry teacher for over 30 years. After retirement, Valerie said she and her brother spent their summers at their grandparent’s house. One day, years before he passed, her grandpa told her he had something very important to share with her. He opened a cupboard and took a white box from the shelf. It was filled with pins from the Red Cross honoring his many blood donations over the years. “Here are all my Red Cross pins,” he said. “I want you to make sure that when I die, they are buried with me.”
It was not something Valerie wanted to think about at the time. “My grandpa was one of those people who went through so much in his life, faced health challenges and got through them, and to me he was invincible,” she said. When he passed on March 5, 2021, the first thing that came to her mind was her grandpa’s request. She went straight to his house to get that box of pins, which had continued to grow in number.
The Red Cross recommends donors wait 56 days between blood donations. Joseph kept a calendar for the year, with the first day he could donate again marked, and he always went right away to make his donation. Valerie said she never knew exactly when her grandpa’s commitment to blood donation began, or if there was a particular reason behind it. “He knew it was something he could give, to help others in need. If he could convince the world to donate blood, he would!”
If there was a word to describe her grandpa, Valerie said it would be: dedicated. “He was passionate in everything he did in life, from his dedication to his family, to the students he taught in his many years as a teacher, to his volunteering for the Special Olympics for over 35 years, to the Red Cross.”
Joseph DeRosa is survived by his wife of 66 years, Patti DeRosa, his 2 sons, Joe DeRosa and Bob DeRosa and his legacy of grand and great grandkids.
“After his passing, I remember reading comments on his online obit and saw so many of his former students commenting how he changed their lives. So many have successful careers that they attribute to him and I know he would be so proud of that legacy.”
Every blood donation can help save up to three lives. Blood donations are used for patients in need of surgery, cancer treatment and transfusions for blood loss from traumatic injuries. The lives Joseph DeRosa has saved are in the thousands. Can you imagine, if everyone had such dedication to blood donation?
Learn more about blood donation and where you can donate HERE.
Northern Ohio has had their share of prominent African Americans: Olympian Jesse Owens, author Toni Morrison, US Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, inventor of the modern traffic light Garrett Morgan, and first black mayor of a major U.S. city Carl B Stokes. But, closest to the hearts of Northern Ohio Red Crosser’s is none other than our own Steve Bullock.
Steve Delano Bullock was the youngest of 22 children born to a sharecropper family in segregated North Carolina. He was in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1962 when he first volunteered with the Red Cross. He found a fit in the organization that upholds impartiality – not discriminating based on nationality, race, religion, class or political beliefs – as one of its fundamental principles.
Steve began his career with the organization in 1962, working as a caseworker on military installations. His work took him and his family to military posts throughout the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Twenty years later, he became the Chief Executive Officer and Chapter Manager of the Greater Cleveland Chapter.
In Cleveland, he oversaw the launch of Operation Save-A-Life, which aimed to reduce injuries and deaths due to home fires by providing residents in at-risk neighborhoods with fire safety education and free smoke alarms and installations. That initiative has been adopted by the Red Cross nationwide and, as of the end of 2021, more than 2.2 million alarms have been installed and more than 1,200 lives have been saved.
Steve Bullock’s career with the American Red Cross spanned six decades. During that time, he has been one of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and paid staff striving to help Americans and people around the world prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
But there’s one thing no other Red Crosser will ever be able to claim: Steve was the first African American to sit at the helm of our nation’s premier humanitarian organization, when he was named Acting President of the national agency in Washington, DC.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring role model than Steve,” says Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross in Northern Ohio. “It’s no wonder our humanitarian award is named in his honor. He has lived a life of service to mankind.”
Thank you, Steve Bullock, for your years of service to our military members, their families, and our mission.
If you feel a call to serve as Steve did, the Red Cross has a veritable wealth of opportunities for your talents. Start your journey here.
As we welcome 2022, the American Red Cross blood supply has now dipped to the lowest level in more than a decade and could force hospitals to hold off on essential blood and platelet transfusions for patients in Northern Ohio and across the country.
The troubling decline of the Red Cross blood supply, which supports about 40% of the nation’s blood needs, comes at a time of year when donations typically fall. Holiday get togethers, school breaks and winter weather often lead to lower donor turnout, potentially further compounding the situation. The critical role of blood and platelet donors has been celebrated each January for nearly 50 years during National Blood Donor Month. If you’ve never given blood before or if it’s been a while now is the perfect time to start helping save lives!
The need for healthy blood donors is also important as Northern Ohio, like many communities across the country saw a significant rise in COVID-19 cases during the month of December. If you are feeling healthy and well, please consider sharing your good health by giving blood. If you received the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine or booster there is no deferral time to give blood. Additionally, there is also no deferral after a flu vaccine, as long as you are symptom-free and feeling well the day of donation.
Once again, the Red Cross is partnering with the NFL to thank donors during the month of January. Come to give blood or platelets Jan. 1-31 and you’ll automatically get a chance to score an exciting Super Bowl LVI getaway in LA for you and a guest! Plus, the Red Cross will give you a shot at a home theater package and $500 e-gift card in January. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.
Potential donors are urged to schedule an appointment now by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733- 2767). If there is not an immediate opportunity to donate, please make an appointment in the days and weeks ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and then maintain a sufficient blood supply.
34 of these incidents, assisting 100, were over the Christmas weekend. Another 34 incidents, assisting 110, were during Thanksgiving week. Nine incidents occurred over the New Year holiday weekend, with 41 people assisted.
Responses included: Fatal fires in Toledo, Cleveland, and Akron. A home explosion in Toledo, and large multi-family fires in Maple Heights and Toledo. A parking garage collapse in Lakewood, which led to the evacuation of a large apartment building. The Red Cross provided meals and snacks to residents and first responders following the collapse. A shelter opening in Canton, where for two days, the Red Cross helped provide meals and a place to stay to families who were temporarily displaced. Eight Northern Red Cross staff members and volunteers deployed to Kentucky following deadly tornadoes. Installation of 50 free smoke alarms.
To illustrate DAT’s effectiveness, Tom Revolinsky, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio said, “Dave Huey (volunteer) and I went on a multi-family late night fire where one family’s apartment was destroyed and another was heavily damaged, and an 11-year-old girl had critical injuries. When Dave and I spoke with family members, the appreciation and relief in their voices that the Red Cross was there to help brought back into focus the importance of our mission.
Tom also spoke of the importance of fire safety and ongoing efforts.
“Responding to fatal fires is the most difficult thing we do,” Tom said. “To help prevent these tragedies, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms. During installation, families are educated on fire prevention and assisted in developing an escape plan. In early December we installed 50 smoke alarms, making 16 homes safer, in the Aetna Road area of Cleveland where a fatal fire occurred in early November. On January 8th, we are installing smoke alarms with the Cleveland Fire Department in the W. 54th street area of Cleveland where twins tragically perished in a fire in early December. Smoke alarms save lives.”
Jani Memorich, a volunteer Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader, spoke very highly of fellow DAT members and their dedication.
“Awesome work done by awesome people,” Jani said. “We are truly blessed in Northern Ohio to have such a dedicated team working with DAT. As a DAT responder and someone who has deployed to other states for disasters, I get to tell the Red Cross story from my perspective as a volunteer. This brings awareness to people who may never have needed the services of the Red Cross and only vaguely understand all we do.”
Jani also expressed hope that more will volunteer, saying, “Hopefully through our own volunteerism we can inspire others to take up the mantel. There is so much work to be done and so few who actually do it. That is my hope for 2022, that more people give of themselves, to help mend others.”
If you are able, please consider volunteering with the Red Cross, either as a DAT member or in another capacity. Information can be found here.