March 8 is International Women’s Day, when we focus on the leadership, expertise, nurturing and down-and-dirty sweat labor that women contribute around the world, 365 days a year.
Coincidentally, Women’s Day falls in March – Red Cross Month – when we focus on the wide range of humanitarian services that Red Crossers contribute around the world, 12 months a year.
I’m proud to be part of the American Red Cross, which was launched by a woman, is headed by women, and values the talents and dedication of women at every level.
Women like my friend, Red Crosser extraordinaire Winnie Romeril. A volunteer for nearly 30 years, she has taught first aid and CPR, coached International Humanitarian Law classes, and served as a bilingual communicator at disasters all over the United States and across the world:
Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Peru; Haiti, carrying cash from the Red Cross to kick-start earthquake relief efforts with the Haitian Red Cross; the Philippines, where she even helped build a hanging bridge to get relief supplies to a remote village; Canada; Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
She’s been posted to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva, Switzerland, to tell how the Red Cross brings hope across the world, and to Sierra Leone in Africa at the height of the Ebola outbreak, representing the World Health Organization.
Winnie’s courage and skill reminds me of Clara Barton, who started out as a teacher, became one of the first women to work in the U.S. Patent Office, and then took to the battlefields of the Civil War, ministering to the wounded and suffering on both sides of the conflict.
After attending to civilians during the Franco-Prussian War in Europe, she returned to the United States to found the Red Cross, which for more than 130 years has mobilized women – and men – to help prepare for, prevent and respond to emergencies.
Currently, two-thirds of our Red Cross volunteers are women, nearly 70 percent of the paid workforce is women and nearly half of the executive ranks are women.
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of the board, and Gail McGovern, president and CEO, top the leadership team.
It’s no small job to head a $2.65 billion organization that Americans rely on to respond to more than 60,000 natural and human-caused disasters a year; collect and test some 40 percent of the nation’s lifesaving blood supply; train millions of people in first aid, CPR, AED, water safety and youth preparedness; and provide more than half a million services to our men and women in the armed forces.
People like me are the hands and heart of the Red Cross too: donating blood, responding to disasters, helping install smoke alarms to make neighborhoods safer, providing leadership at the chapter level and keeping my first aid, CPR and AED skills up to date.
I’m happy to celebrate International Women’s Day by focusing on women – past and present – who provide vital services. I know it happens all over the world every day, in actions big and small.
To investigate what you – woman or man! – can do, please check out redcross.org during Red Cross Month.
Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross Board Member and volunteer
By Samantha Puselski, American Red Cross communications volunteer
For 80 years, March has been declared American Red Cross Month with a presidential proclamation. The tradition started in 1943 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to recognize all those who have answered the call to help others through the American Red Cross.
This Red Cross Month, we celebrate the work of the Northern Ohio Red Cross volunteers – who make up over 90 percent of the Red Cross’s workforce. We also celebrate the supporters – those who have donated blood, donated funds, taken a course, shared their story or contributed to the mission in other ways. The work of the Red Cross is not possible without those who volunteer, work and provide support.
While the Red Cross is a national and international organization, they also have a profound impact locally every single day. Here are just a few facts that represent the history and magnitude of the work that has been done thanks to the support our communities and partners provide:
The Red Cross and our partners have installed more than 100,000 smoke alarms and helped create more than 37,400 escape plans in Northern Ohio households through the Sound the Alarm campaign. The Red Cross responds to disasters providing support to those affected. Most recently the Red Cross provided more than 100 overnight stays and nearly 400 meals to those in East Palestine, Ohio. The Red Cross helped survivors of the Titanic. Service members in every U.S. conflict since the Spanish-American War have been supported by the Red Cross. International Committee of the Red Cross was won the most Nobel Peace Prizes. The Red Cross has responded to 3 million U.S. disasters since 1881.
Take Action this Red Cross Month
There are many ways you can support the Red Cross. Celebrate Red Cross Month by supporting your community through one or more of these activities:
Donate Blood. About 40% of the nation’s blood supply comes from Red Cross blood donors. Blood drives are held every week in locations across Northern Ohio. Find an upcoming drive. Become a volunteer. The Red Cross offers many different opportunities to volunteer in Northern Ohio. These roles include administrative support, clinical support, disaster response, IT support, blood donor ambassadors and more. – Interested in becoming a volunteer? Join the upcoming volunteer information session on March 10th. Make a Financial Donation. Donations of any amount can make a difference. The Red Cross offers several different ways that you can make a financial contribution. Take a Class. Get trained and certified in a lifesaving skill. Find a class.
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross Board Member and communications volunteer
Anyone who has spent any time in Northeast Ohio, driving around listening to the radio could probably finish this sentence in a flash – “Discount Drug Mart saves you the runaround…” If it didn’t immediately pop into your head, it’s “you’ll find everything you need.” The jingle was probably talking about a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. But, for one North Olmsted woman, being at Discount Drug Mart recently saved her more than the runaround – it saved her life.
Matt Kirby, a pharmacist at the North Olmsted Discount Drug Mart, was going through a normal day when a fellow employee ran to the pharmacy and alerted him that someone had collapsed near the deli. Matt sprang into action and found a woman lying on the floor. She was not breathing and had no pulse. Using lifesaving skills he learned in a Red Cross class, Matt began CPR. On his 22nd chest compression, the customer was revived. She was transported to a hospital and recovered.
In an interview with Cleveland.com, Matt said, “I think the more amazing part of the story was that a week later, they (the customer and her husband) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and she was around for that. That was my reward – her being able to make it to that. Also, seeing her walk back into the store, that made it all worth it.”
Because of his heroic actions, Matt was awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for Professional Responders, one of the highest honors given by the organization. The award honors someone who embodies the spirit of the Red Cross by using action to help alleviate human suffering in the face of an emergency.
Like Matt Kirby, you never know when you may be called upon to help save a life. Make sure you’re prepared by signing up for training classes with the Red Cross. The organization offers a variety of courses to help the community be prepared when an emergency arises.
Do you know a hero? The Red Cross wants to recognize ordinary people who perform extraordinary acts of courage. If you know a hero who has used their Red Cross skills to help save a life, please share their story with us!
Edited by Glenda Bogar/American Red Cross volunteer
Richard Gundelach donates platelets every two weeks, and on March 11, 2022, he reached a milestone: 600 platelet units donated.
His wife Carol baked a carrot cake to mark the occasion.
“Compared to giving (whole) blood, it’s easier,” Richard said after the donation. “People need it.”
Platelets are cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. They can be essential to helping patients survive surgeries such as organ transplants, and to fight cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
During the platelet donation, the blood clotting portion of whole blood is “spun” out and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor; typically, the body replaces its platelets in 24-36 hours.
Platelets are always in short supply because they only have a shelf life of five days. Every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets.
Encouraged by a friend, Richard began donating platelets during a time of unemployment 27 years ago. He’s retired now, and he wants to continue giving regularly.
His new goal: to donate 1,000 units of platelets.
When he achieves that goal, Carol may need to bake a bigger cake!
Donors can make an appointment to give platelets, whole blood or plasma by visiting redcrossblood.org, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or by installing the Red Cross blood app on their smartphones.
Edited by Glenda Bogar. American Red Cross volunteer
Throughout the month of March, we honor people like you who make the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross possible — the individuals across the country who turn compassion into action, helping others in times of crisis. Our Red Cross Month celebration has been an annual tradition since 1943, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first Red Cross Month proclamation.
My Volunteer Story
For close to a year, I have been an American Red Cross Transportation Specialist. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically challenged all of us in our daily lives but has also resulted in many learning what is important in their personal lives—family, friends and local communities. I was searching for a way to give back with the extra time I had during the stay-at-home orders. The Transportation Specialist role was a great match.
Volunteer Transportation Specialists deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals, using a Red Cross-owned vehicle. Simply put, you pick up processed blood at a distribution center, drive it to assigned hospitals and return to drop off empty boxes that you collect.
My commitment is two to four shifts per month (or more if I can) based on my personal and professional schedule. Typical shifts are about four hours, so I usually schedule to cover routes in the evening /night after work. The Red Cross offers training online and then time spent with a veteran driver to shadow a few days. The amazing employees at the Red Cross support you by answering questions, helping to work with your schedule and steer you in the right direction as you learn your role.
A few reasons I enjoy the role:
My day job is not in the medical field, and I find visiting the Red Cross lab and various hospitals interesting to learn about. You get to experience “behind the scenes” how the Red Cross collects donated blood, how they prepare it for hospitals and see first-hand who it goes to. My favorite route is delivering to Akron Children’s Hospital.
You feel a pride and satisfaction volunteering.
When I donate blood, I feel a connection to the group who supports the whole process.
Other volunteers are welcoming, fun to connect with and build relationships with.
I enjoy meeting various people throughout the Red Cross and hospitals that I visit across Northeast Ohio.
A large percentage of my time volunteering is drive time, so I relax by listening to podcasts, sports radio or music.
Is this Position for You?
Do you enjoy helping your neighbors, giving back to your community and want to enhance your life by using your talents? The Transportation Specialist position might be a good fit for you. You will also need to meet these qualifications to become one:
Have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance
Have three years driving experience and a clean driving record
We invite you and others to join the Red Cross mission by volunteering, giving blood, learning lifesaving skills or making a financial donation. We are ordinary individuals with the innate desire to do extraordinary things. Red Cross staff and volunteers bring their diverse backgrounds and skills to the table, united by the passion we share for our mission—to prevent and alleviate suffering in the face of emergencies.
Interested in serving to meet essential service needs in the public? Be sure to review the CDC guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your health care provider and follow local guidance. The number one priority of the American Red Cross is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers, blood donors and recipients, and the people we serve.
Don’t forget to donate blood! You don’t need a special reason to give blood. You just need your own reason.
Some of us give blood because we were asked by a friend.
Some know that a family member or a friend might need blood someday.
While not as high profile as conducting blood drives and setting up disaster shelters, the American Red Cross’ origin was taking care of military personnel. Clara Barton, who founded the Red Cross, made a name for herself by her heroic volunteer efforts comforting and providing assistance to fallen soldiers during the Civil War.
Even now, as we celebrate Red Cross Month, Service to the Armed Forces is still a key pillar of the five service branches of the Red Cross. Not only do we care for the troops, but the Red Cross provides an indispensable range of services for the families of the servicepeople while deployed…and afterwards.
The Red Cross provides 24/7/365 emergency communication services for military personnel and their families, no matter where on the globe they might be located. In addition:
The Commitment Never Ends
Since 9/11, the Red Cross has cared for more than one million military families. Today, we continue to provide support for those families before, during and after deployment.
Besides emergency communications while deployed, military members and their families benefit from information referrals, some financial assistance, and other non-emergency resources.
“The Red Cross helps members of the military, veterans and their families in a wide variety of ways,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Service to the Armed Forces Program Director. “And we are continuing to provide services, thanks to our volunteer caseworkers, despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic.”
“Hero” is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Ideally, that should describe all of us.
In this age of political and social conflict, one thing remains clear. In times of need, people in this country rally together to help one another; and the American Red Cross has been recognized for years as the organization that maximizes their efforts.
Every 8 minutes, we help someone in need
Last year, thanks to Red Cross training:
7 million people received CPR and first aid training nationally.
7 million relief items were distributed to victims of countless disasters
Shelters provided 658,000 overnight stays for victims of hurricanes, floods, fires, and power outages.
Here in Northeast Ohio, we responded to approximately 1,000 fires and other incidents.
About $800,000 of financial assistance was provided to those NEO residents.
Almost 77,000 military families were connected with their service person through Red Cross emergency communication services.
7 million people donated blood or platelets that saved lives in 2,600 hospitals.
More than 15,000 smoke alarms were installed in homes in Northeast Ohio by Red Cross and other area volunteers and partners.
Red Cross Volunteer Vernita Whittenburg
Proclamation issued by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
Volunteer Vernita Whittenburg holds a mayoral proclamation, signed by Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland. Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross
Back in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the impact of our organization and declared March as official American Red Cross Month. That tradition has continued through today and recognizes the efforts of all the volunteers that enable it to complete its mission. Approximately 96-percent of the work the Red Cross accomplishes is done by local volunteers in communities across this nation.
Release your inner hero
If you have time, volunteer. If you already volunteer, suggest a friend join with you. If your time is limited, take a class or donate blood. Cash donations are always welcome as well, and help fund the life-saving activities Red Cross provides.
Get involved – then pat yourself on the back – you’re a hero!
March is Red Cross Month, and the Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors to give now to help restock its shelves following recent winter weather.
Winter storms in March forced the cancellation of more than 200 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 7,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. This shortfall follows more than 26,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations in February due to severe weather across 27 states. Regardless of the weather, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood – from cancer patients to accident victims to premature babies with complications.
March was first proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by former President Franklin Roosevelt. Since then, every president has called on people across America to support the organization’s humanitarian mission in March.
You can help support the Red Cross and ensure blood and platelets are available for patients in need by scheduling an appointment to donate now. To find a donation opportunity near you, download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. You can also help support the Red Cross by asking others to donate or creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
A few years after I graduated from high school I adopted this quote as the mission statement for life. Having been born with a disability, I had learned that the world isn’t always fair. Even though I had setbacks of my own, I could still do something that would benefit others.
My first experience with the American Red Cross was in the summer of 2013 when the City of Barberton experienced devastating flooding and my employer, the Lake Anna YMCA, was selected as a shelter site for the city. The next nine days were a whirlwind of activity, but in the end we were able to help a lot of people and do a lot of good in our community. I knew from that point on that the Red Cross was the place for me!
Disasters do not pick and choose who they affect. They can strike any person, in any neighborhood, at any time — even at 3 a.m. or when it’s -10 degrees outside. Being a part of the Disaster Action Team has helped me to make a big impact on my community. It makes me feel good to know that I can help someone at a time when the help matters most to them.
Across the country the Red Cross is a strong organization that helps numerous men, women and children each day. I strongly believe that our work should be shared with as many people as possible. I often post on my personal Twitter handle (@macfankevin) when I am responding to a disaster. It’s not for personal recognition, but rather to help raise awareness of the needs in our community.
I strongly encourage you to do something to give back to your community. Give. Volunteer . Advocate. Small things that you do today can have a big impact on what happens tomorrow. I have found my niche with the Red Cross. I look forward to many more years of developing my self-capacity and helping others.
The Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter is pleased to announce the local heroes who were honored for their bravery and heroism at the annual Acts of Courage event on Thursday, March 5.
The 2015 Honorees included:
Donald Molesky, Christopher Silbaugh and John Underwood were recognized for saving the lives of a couple after a torrential downpour left them trapped in their flooded basement.
A tornado watch was in effect for Cuyahoga Falls. As the water line began to rise during the sudden and torrential downpour in May of 2014, the Hammonds family sought safety in the basement of their home. Once the threat of a tornado had cleared, the children returned to the main floor of the house, leaving their parents to clean-up a small amount of water that had seeped through one of the windows.
Suddenly, the basement wall caved in taking a natural gas line with it. Water rushed in, trapping Michaelann and Mike in the dark stillness of the basement. They rose on the crest of the water until their heads touched the ceiling. The floor joists offered the only air space, though it was tainted by the noxious fumes of the gas. They pounded on the wood, calling to the children to go and get help.
The Hammonds siblings – Emma, Matthew and Sonia – swam across the street to the home of their neighbor, Donald Molesky. Their screams alerted many of the neighbors, including Christopher Silbaugh, and strangers like John Underwood, whose truch had gotten stuck in the flooded road. John, Christopher and Donald ran to the house.
They pulled an ax from the Hammonds garage and used it, along with Donald’s power saw, to cut through the floorboards. They were able to free Michaelann. Working hard but carefully, they finally pulled Mike through the floor.
Peter Radke was recognized for saving a girl from drowning in Lake Erie.
Peter Radke had agreed to take his daughters and their friends to Lake Erie’s Huntington Beach for a birthday party. Though they knew the water was too choppy to swim, Peter noticed a girl in the water who was struggling to stay afloat. Peter was an excellent swimmer. In spite of the conditions, he dove into the water.
He reached the girl and was able to push her to a safe area where others could grab her.
As they did, Peter struggled to bring himself in. He was pulled further out into the temperamental, black waters of Lake Erie. Then he was pulled under, not to resurface. Peter lost his life to save that drowning girl.
David Eisele, Dave Wokaty and Officer Justin Winebrenner were recognized their actions when a gunman entered a crowded pub.
Dave Wokaty, David Eisle and Officer Justin Winebrenner were each enjoying a night out with friends at a local pub when Wokaty noticed the manager having an altercation with a customer.
15 minutes later, the customer returned brandishing a weapon. The manager asked Wokaty to see the customer out. Their voices rose in anger. Officer Justin Winebrenner, an off-duty Akron Police officer, and David Eisele joined Wokaty in seeing the customer out.
“From that moment, in my perspective, everything began to move slowly,” said Wokaty.
The gun went off. Though their fearless, and quick thinking saved many patrons and staff members, Wokaty was shot in the stomach and arm.
Officer Winebrenner received a fatal shot.
“I believe,” continued Wokaty,” if it weren’t for Justin, I wouldn’t be here now.”
The gunman ran off. He was caught shortly afterwards by the police.
Jason Duncan was recognized for performing CPR to save the life of a 7-day old infant.
On a cool night in early May, Jason Duncan and his wife Krista heard screaming coming from outside of their front door. Then they heard the sound of someone desperately pounding. Opening the door, Jason saw his neighbors, Bobbi Jo and Dustin holding their seven-day-old baby, Logan. The baby was not breathing and his lips had started to turn an unnatural shade of blackish-purple. While Krista dialed 911, Jason grabbed a nasal aspirator and began infant CPR.
In a few heartbeats, Logan’s tiny cry pierced the stillness. A sound that Jason and Dustin describe as one of the greatest sounds they ever heard.
Essien (Chris) Cobham and Samantha Phillips were recognized for performing CPR on a visiting student at Kent State University.
Kent State University student, Chris Cobham, was studying in a quiet area of the Student Union on campus, when he heard a thud. A high school student who had been visiting the campus was choking. Quickly assessing the situation, Chris stepped in and began abdominal thrusts on the boy. He slid him to the ground and began CPR once the student’s lips turned blue.
Samantha Phillips, who was cutting through the Student Union on her way to her next class, heard the panic in the conversations of those around her. She went to investigate.
“It’s instinct to go and help someone,” said Samantha, who is working on a degree in Athletic Training. Part of her curriculum is Red Cross certification in First Aid and CPR.
She could see that Chris was getting tired. Pulling out her CPR breathing mask, Samantha assisted breathing as Chris administered the chest compressions until help arrived. The boy was taken to the hospital, and is now back at home.
Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton were recognized for performing CPR on a friend, and fellow Seville Bronze worker.
When Jim Robinson fell to the floor not long after arriving at work, suffering from a massive heart attack, Bill Adkins and Tony Hylton responded quickly. Trained as part of the company-sponsored first responder team at Seville Bronze, they never thought they would be called to perform CPR on Jim.
“Jim was Superman at work. To be pushing on your friend of 18…20 years? It was devastating,” said Tony.
Their extensive training in Red Cross First Aid and CPR kicked in and they were able to help maintain Jim until paramedics arrived.
“If not for the efforts of Bill and Tony, Jim may not be alive today,” said Chief Jerry Winkler of the Seville-Guilford Fire and EMS.
Officer Derrick Jackson, and Officer Chris Crockett were recognized for saving a man from a home fire.
Officers Chris Crockett and Derrick Jackson reported to the scene of a house fire where someone was still inside. Knowing that seconds count in a fire, Officer Jackson, a new recruit on the Akron Police Department, pushed his way into the building. Thick smoke bellowed from the house. He came back out to catch his breath.
Officer Crockett returned to the police cruiser for a facemask to filter the smoke. Diving into the home, he too began searching around for the resident as Officer Jackson guided to him from the open door. Once the man was located, the officers pulled him to safety.
Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece were recognized for saving two women and an infant from a fire.
Four Ohio Edison linemen — Devon McConnell, Ethan Cameron, Paul Martin and Andy Reece — sent to a job site in Rittman, were just getting ready to break for lunch when they heard a woman’s voice screaming, “Fire!”
Looking around, Paul Martin saw a woman standing on a balcony, holding a baby in her arms.
The crew called 911. Knowing that time was of the essence, they quickly moved into position. Moving their truck closer to the building, Devon raised the bucket and grabbed the family. As he was lowering the woman and child to the ground, another woman appeared on another balcony and began yelling for help. As heat rolled out of the open door, Devon returned to rescue the second woman. It took five fire departments to contain the blaze.
All four men have first responder certification, as well as Red Cross First Aid and CPR training. They view their actions as just another facet of their job.
“We are fortunate to have a sense of pride in our jobs. It is an amazing feeling, simply to see the lights come on,” said Paul.
Melvin Davis and Steve Myers were recognized for saving a woman from an apartment fire.
On a Friday night in October, a resident at the apartment complex where Melvin Davis is a Live-in Assistant ran into his apartment to alert him to a fire in one of the apartments. Moving quickly, Melvin grabbed his pass key and followed the man. He could smell the smoke. He called out to the resident, an elderly woman. She answered that she was hurt and couldn’t get to the door.
Melvin opened the door. Struggling to breathe, he couldn’t see more than two feet in front of himself. He called out again. He moved into the apartment but returned to the hallway when he heard the door slam shut behind him. Steve Myers, a resident of the complex, was in the hall and offered to hold the door so that Melvin would be able to find his way out.
Melvin returned into the smoke and crackling flames of the apartment. Working between the sound of the woman’s voice and the sound of Steve’s, he was able to pull the woman to the door. Steve and Melvin moved her to the safety of the stairwell and then began helping the rest of the residents out of the building.
“It was just a blessing to help her,” said Steve.
Officer Adam LeMonier, Officer Darren McConnell and Officer Gregory Mesko were recognized for saving a woman from a home fire.
Officers Adam LeMonier, Darren McConnell and Gregory Mesko were called to a smoke filled home. Neighbors reported that the resident was at home and had not been seen. Moving quickly, the officers made the decision to enter the home and search for the woman. The Officers found her asleep on her bed unaware of what was going on. She was quickly removed from the home.
In addition to recognizing the heroism of area residents at the event, the American Red Cross of Summit, Portage and Medina Counties will present the H. Peter Burg Award to a community member who has been selfless in service to the community. This year’s recipient is William (Bill) J. Ginter, who demonstrates a lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes, charitable organizations and the vitality and welfare of the local community.
While CEO of FirstEnergy and chair of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, H Peter Burg established a legacy of dedicated service to the Greater Akron community. Following his death in 2004, the American Red Cross established an award in Pete’s name to honor his memory and inspire others. By bestowing the award on Bill the Red Cross recognizes his lifetime of community service.