How to help during hurricane season

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

June 1, 2020- The Atlantic hurricane season 2020 starts June 1 and continues through November 30. According to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year has a 60% chance of being worse than normal.

Predictions include 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could develop into hurricanes, and three to six of those could develop into major hurricanes, Category 3 to Category 5.

We’ve already seen the first two tropical storms: Arthur, which began on May 16, touching the coast of North Carolina, and Bertha, which gained tropical storm status for a few hours on May 27, making landfall in South Carolina.

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So how can you help?

While Northern Ohio is far from most hurricanes, our volunteers often are called on to provide assistance to areas impacted by violent winds and high floodwaters. And due to new precautions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, volunteers are needed more than ever to help with responses to large hurricanes and wildfires.

“This year hurricane preparations will be the same—yet different,” said Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer. “This is due in large measure to working within the COVID-19 environment.”

He said COVID-19 makes everything more complex. “While our preference is to utilize non-congregate sheltering, such as hotel rooms and dormitories, large events such as hurricanes will require us to open congregate shelters. The COVID environment will require us to increase spacing in shelters in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. This means we may need to open more shelters, but with fewer people in them to provide an adequate response.”

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Tim said such a response will require a larger volunteer disaster workforce.  And that more volunteer health workers will be needed, as residents seeking shelter will be required to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

“However, we are trying to reduce the number of workers needed on the ground, and are hoping much of the management and recovery teams can be virtual,” he said. “We have had success with this model in responding to recent tornadoes and flooding in the southern U.S, but hurricanes and wildfires will be the real test.”

Virtual volunteers don’t have to leave their homes. They can perform valuable services doing family reunification work or casework.

All it takes is some free training that the Red Cross will gladly provide. If you start now, you could be trained and ready to help before the next big storm hits. Start your volunteer experience here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 22-25, 2020

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

May 26, 2020- While many across Northern Ohio were remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and took time to get out of their homes to enjoy the summer-like temperatures, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio was responding to local disasters to assist residents in need.

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During Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25, Disaster Action Team members were assisting residents experiencing one of the worst days of their lives. To comply with social distancing guidelines, the Red Cross responded virtually to assist 65 individuals in 9 counties, Ashland, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lucas, Stark, Summit and Trumbull, and provided more than $10,200 in immediate financial assistance.

“It is so gratifying to know our Disaster Action Team volunteers are ready, willing and able to respond to disasters like home fires, even on weekends and holidays,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “And they have adjusted to the new protocol for responding virtually, so that they are safe and the residents they assist are kept safe.”

To date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,039 local disasters, assisted 4,553 individuals and has provided $881,325 in immediate financial assistance.

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Even during this historic, challenging time, the Red Cross continues to respond in times of crisis, thanks to the extraordinarily dedication and compassion of Red Cross volunteers.

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Wherever you are, there’s a role you can play right now with the Red Cross. Visit https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html to find an opportunity near you.

 

Personal Memorial Day reflections of RADM Michael N. Parks, U.S.C.G. (Ret.), CEO of the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region

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

May 25, 2020- Memorial Day 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly be like no other in my lifetime. The first Memorial Day I remember was when I marched (in the loosest meaning of that term!) as a young Boy Scout in our rural Upstate New York town’s annual parade. A few years later, I marched in the same parade (with just slightly more precision) in our high school’s small marching band. When I joined the Coast Guard, my marching definitely improved and the parades got bigger until I was honored to be marching in front of the largest Memorial Day parade in our nation, held in Chicago. When I retired, I had the pleasure of taking in a true slice of Americana with my family as we watched our small town parade in Bay Village, Ohio. Truly, Norman Rockwell could have used those scenes for any number of his iconic patriotic paintings!

Now that I’m part of the American Red Cross, I’ve had the privilege of sharing our humanitarian organization’s story at local Memorial Day events. In Pepper Pike, I explained how the Red Cross’ treasured history finds its roots on the battlefields of the Civil War when its founder, Clara Barton, rendered aid and comfort to wounded soldiers. That tragic war between the states was also the genesis of Memorial Day, which was originally known as Decoration Day.

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Regional CEO Mike Parks

And that brings us to 2020 when our nation, and the world, battle the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Parades and special events have been cancelled all over our country due to social-distancing requirements and concerns about large gatherings impacting the spread of the often-fatal coronavirus. Yes, our commemoration of this important holiday we celebrate on the last Monday in May will definitely change this year. But what won’t change is the enormous debt we owe those men and women who sacrificed everything so we could enjoy the freedoms that we still enjoy today, despite COVID-19. As is often said, “All gave some, some gave all!”

I will still proudly display “Old Glory” on Memorial Day. I hope you will as well.  Memorial Day is one of 22 days during the year we should display the American flag. That said, Memorial Day is the only day when the flag is flown at half-staff for the first half of the day, and then raised to full height from noon to sundown. This unique custom honors the deceased for the morning and living veterans for the rest of the day.

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Although our weekend gatherings with families and friends may be curtailed this year, I do hope we will all take time to reflect on those who have gone before us and not take for granted our precious freedoms. I’m reminded of President Abraham Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, “…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”  Yes, “how” we commemorate this Memorial Day will change, but the “why” we commemorate this Memorial Day remains unchanged—to honor and pay fitting tribute to those men and women who gave their lives in service to this great country. I’m proud to be an American representing a grateful nation that honors those fallen service members on this unique Memorial Day. I hope you’ll join me. God bless America!

Happy Anniversary, American Red Cross

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

May 21, 2020- William Lawrence, former Republican US Representative from Ohio, was asked to attend a meeting held by Clara Barton on May 12, 1881. She had recently returned from working with the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War, and was determined to start a similar organization in the United States

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James Garfield, 20th President – Photo by Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

Thanks to her persuasiveness, Lawrence went to fellow Ohioan, President James Garfield, to argue for the creation of an American Red Cross. In a mere nine days from the date of the original meeting, the president signed the declaration creating what was then known as the American National Red Cross on May 21st.

The following year, Barton and Lawrence convinced the U.S. to ratify the Geneva Conventions, guaranteeing humanitarian treatment during wartime.

139 Years of “Being There” for us

Since the beginning in 1881, the Red Cross has grown in response to our humanitarian needs and has five lines of service.

Disaster Services was one of the first responses by the new Red Cross. On May 31, 1889, a dam broke flooding Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Clara Barton and the Red Cross were credited with providing housing and relief to hundreds of the survivors.

Service to the Armed Forces was one of Barton’s initial goals, and she’d be proud to know of how it’s expanded over the years. One look at the Hero App and it’s evident how much the Red Cross provides for our military.

Blood Services provides 40% of the nation’s blood needs and now is beginning to collect convalescent plasma in the fight against COVID-19.

Training Services continues to save lives through first aid, CPR training, swimming instruction, baby sitting and more.

International Services is ready when global disasters happen, deploying local members to assist wherever needed.

How you can help

In these strange times, no matter what your situation, you can be a part of the Red Cross mission.  Donations are always needed, and even if unable to donate financially, maybe you could donate some time to help in our mission. Volunteers are needed now for both Disaster Services and Blood Services here in Northern Ohio.  Virtual positions even exist for those who can’t leave home. Find out more here and complete an online application.

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: May 15-17, 2020

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

May 18, 2020-  With the sun shining and the temperatures allowing for shorts to be worn, many in Northern Ohio were taking advantage of the warmer weather and enjoying the outdoors to get outside of their homes. However for some, they were experiencing one of the worst days of their lives due to a local disaster, such as a home fire.

While other Northern Ohioans were basking in the sun, American Red Cross disaster responders were assisting residents in need.

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During the weekend of May 15-17, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio assisted more than 80 individuals in 11 responses and and provided more than $9,300 in immediate financial assistance.

All of the weekend disaster responses were done virtually to comply with social distancing measures.

This year to date, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has responded to 1,021 incidents, assisted 2,917 adults and 1,551 children, as well as provided $862,520.

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One of the responses was an apartment fire at a 36-unit building in Dundee, Michigan in Monroe County on Saturday. This was the second large response for the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio in as many days.

“I’m proud of our disaster team. I’m always proud of them; but I’m especially proud during these uncertain times. Kudos to our staff and volunteers for continuing impeccable service delivery every day,” said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, executive director.

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The Red Cross is looking for individuals to join the Red Cross 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.

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