Former active duty social worker helps military families combat stress

A volunteer profile will post here each day during National Volunteer Week

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

April 9, 2019- Military life can be stressful for those in the service as well as for their families. Former Air Force social worker Sally Falasca strives to help military personnel and their loved ones by teaching them stress-relieving strategies.

Sally is a Service to the Armed Forces volunteer with the American Red Cross Lake to River Chapter. She has been volunteering as a mind-body workshop facilitator for the past year. She is one of eight mental health volunteers who are trained to deliver Red Cross resilience programs, according to Jessica Tischler, Regional Service to the Armed Forces Manager.

Sally Falasca

“Having volunteers like Sally allows us to meet the requests we receive from local units to support their service members and their families,” Jessica said.

A licensed independent social worker who lives in Youngstown, Sally currently works in a private practice setting. However, for more than nine years, Sally served in the United States Air Force as an active duty social worker.

“There were many times during my active duty career that I reached out to the Red Cross to assist service members and they were always there for our armed services personnel,” she explained. “Once I left active duty, I knew I had to continue to serve the armed forces population any way I could. The Red Cross is providing me with amazing opportunities to do just that!”

Through the Red Cross’ Mind-Body Workshops, Sally teaches service members, veterans and their families easy-to-use skills to manage the stresses of military life, helping them cope with stress and trauma. Workshops are free and offered in small groups.

“Sally has a unique combination of personal and professional experience working with the military, veterans and families,” said Jessica. “It is heartwarming to hear service members say how valuable they find Red Cross resilience programming, and that is especially true when Sally facilitates.”

Sally encourages others to volunteer their time and talents with the Red Cross.

“The Red Cross gives so much to communities,” she said. “Even if you only have a little bit of time to donate, the Red Cross can benefit from your time. There are so many different things you can do . . . they truly have a volunteer opportunity for any interest.”

To learn more about Red Cross Mind-Body Workshops or to register for one of the group workshops, visit our website at

Hero Care App Launched

For Active Military Members, Veterans and Their Families

The American Red Cross has unveiled the new Hero Care mobile application. This free app is designed to help members of the military, veterans and their families identify and access both emergency and non-emergency Red Cross services from anywhere in the world.


“When an emergency happens, accurate information, easy access to services and time are of the essence, especially for military families” said Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to the Armed Forces in the Northeast Ohio Region. “That’s why the Red Cross has designed the new Hero Care App – whether you’re the parent of a child joining the military, a military member, a military spouse or  veteran, the Hero Care App will connect you vital services and guide you to valuable resources that will help alleviate stress during emergencies and provide important information right at your fingertips.”

Some the important features of the app include:

  • Request Red Cross emergency services including an emergency message or assistance with emergency travel or emergency financial aid.
  • Securely and easily access information about their service member in the case of an emergency, including updated information as they move or change duty assignments.
  • Access non-emergency Red Cross behavioral health assistance including financial assistance and free local workshops for military kids and spouses.
  • Find local resources and information provided by trusted community partners like Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Blue Star Families, Military Child Education Coalition, United Way, Goodwill, Easter Seals, and others.
  • Locate information on key government resources such as MilitaryOneSource, VA Benefits and Services, Department of Labor VETS, the VA Caregiver Support Program, and SAMSHA Community Health Support Services.

Content in the Hero Care App is available in both English and Spanish, and the call center is staffed 24/7 with multi-lingual translation services.

The Hero Care App is available to download for free in app stores, by texting ‘GETHEROCARE’ to 90999 or by clicking this link from a mobile device: .

Volunteers help the Red Cross provide Service to the Armed Forces.  If you are interested in giving back to our nation’s heroes by volunteering with Red Cross SAF, click here, or call 216-431-3328.

Regional CEO’s Memorial Day Message

By Mike Parks, CEO, American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region

Members of the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross Family:  Although I know many of you have been busy this weekend continuing the lifesaving work of our American Red Cross, I wanted to be sure to encourage each of us to take time to reflect and remember why we even recognize the holiday known as Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is mostly known as the party-packed kickoff weekend to summer, and it includes a day off from work.  While, yes, that makes it an amazing annual celebration, the history of Memorial Day is extremely important to keep in mind.  It is about honoring all the brave individuals who have lost their lives while serving in the military.  This holiday is centuries old, and in the midst of hitting the open road with friends and backyard barbeques, we should at least take a moment to acknowledge all the service members who have died fighting for our freedom.  After all, that’s why Memorial Day exists in the first place—and our freedom isn’t “free.”

To all of you, thank you for your tremendous service to the American Red Cross and what you do every day to help our communities.   If you’d like to learn more about Memorial Day and the American Red Cross—I’ve included some information below.  Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Best regards…Mike


Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery


Memorial Day (then known as Decoration Day) originally honored those who died in the Civil War.  Because the Civil War occurred on American soil, it had the highest number of American casualties.  About 620,000 American soldiers died in the Civil War, whereas 700,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts and wars combined.  So following the Civil War, a tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves on a day in spring was born.  It’s fitting that the origins of the American Red Cross were found during that same deadly conflict.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Clara Barton was just another clerk at the Patent Office in Washington, D.C.  Barton’s great crusade, which helped define modern humanitarianism, began when she saw soldiers crowding into the city without food or shelter prepared for them.  More importantly, there was not enough medical care for wounded soldiers returning from the front.

She began distributing food and supplies to sick and wounded soldiers in the area but soon realized there was an even greater need for her services closer to the battlefield.  After receiving permission to travel to the front lines, she started delivering medical supplies and tending to wounded soldiers right on the fields of battle, often risking her life to do so.  Eventually, army commanders recognized the good work she was doing and gave her responsibility for all the Union’s hospitals along the James River.

After the war, Barton continued her humanitarian work by helping relatives find the remains of 22,000 soldiers who’d been reported missing.  She also helped identify — and bury — 13,000 casualties of the Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia.

After four years of this work, Barton took a break and visited Europe.  But any chance for a restful vacation ended when she learned of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which had been founded in Geneva in 1864.  She was drawn to its mission of providing international aid to protect the sick and wounded on all sides in war.

Barton stayed to help civilians caught up in the Franco-Prussian War, and when she returned to the States, she urged the U.S. government to sign the Geneva Treaty that created the ICRC.  U.S. approval to join the international organization came in 1881, and the American Red Cross was incorporated on May 21 of that year.

Now, 135 years later, the American Red Cross is still going strong, providing shelter, food, and healthcare services at roughly 70,000 disasters every year, from single-home fires to earthquakes that affect millions.  Its blood program collects, tests, and types over 40 percent of the country’s blood supply.  It delivers needed services to 150,000 military families each year, including training and support for wounded veterans. The Red Cross also provides training in first aid, CPR, and lifeguarding.  As part of an international organization, it joins the Red Cross in 187 countries to help over 100 million people worldwide every year.



The Red Cross Remembers Our Nation’s Fallen Heroes

Memorial Day weekend is a busy one for volunteers of the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF,) as we honor those who lost their lives defending our freedom.

Knowing in advance that military families will be able to reach their loved ones, and have access to financial and other types of assistance provides piece of mind to families who are separated. SAF volunteers help the Red Cross provide follow-up to emergency communications for military members and their families; outreach through SAF programs like “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” or resiliency training; or work with nearby Veterans Affairs medical facilities through the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS) program.


The Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland

The Red Cross K9 Action Team will take part in the day-long Operation: Flags of Freedom event at Perry High School in Massillon on Saturday, May 28. The Volunteer K9 Action Team provides “comfort therapy” to disaster victims and to members of the military and their families.


The K9 Action Team

Also on Saturday, Red Cross SAF Volunteers will be providing cups of water to approximately 1,700 Boy Scouts as they place flags throughout the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.  They will be preparing the cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony to take place at noon on Sunday, May 29. Red Cross volunteers will distribute cups of water to an anticipated crowd of 4,000 visitors.


Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, Veterans Day Program 2015

Volunteers will also honor our nation’s fallen heroes by taking part in the North Canton Memorial Day parade, beginning at 9:00 AM on Monday, May 30.

Memorial Day weekend is considered by many as the unofficial start of the summer season.  And we memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice, to afford us the freedom to fire-up our grills and fly our flags as we enjoy our families in the United States of America.

Happy Memorial Day.


Always on Time in Your Time of Need

By: Darrell Rush, Service to the Armed Forces Intern


Hello my name is Darrell, I am a Social Worker intern at the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio Regional Office in Cleveland.  I want to share my story of how the Red Cross affects each of us, at one point or another.

As part of my internship, I am working on a program that has become better over the years because of advances in Informational Technology. We are able to connect  people and resources with a simple key stroke. This program helps Red Cross volunteers provide information to family members of deployed military personnel. The information provided helps the family with resources that gives light on a dark situation. I know that when a person is deployed and away from family members there are plenty of anxieties to spread around.

I served in the Army in the late 1970’s, after the return of our troops from Vietnam. I wanted to fight for our country, but was too young. I enlisted as soon as I was eligible. When I did my family was a wreck.. My father was killed while I was in training, and I did not find out until after he was buried.They did not find out what to do to contact the Red Cross until after I came home on leave.

That was a problem back then that has been remedied today.

In February,  I was doing my regular duties-  making calls to our Service Members families – when a young lady answered and found out that I was from the Red Cross. She was very distraught and bewildered. She screamed to her mother that help was there and that God was good.  “The Red Cross is on the phone.”When the mother got on the call she immediately informed me that her mother just passed away the prior evening, and they did not know what to do in order to contact her son in the military. I explained the reason for my call and gave her all the information needed to start the process.  She kept on thanking God for this call and the Red Cross. By the end of our conversation she was at ease and had a plan. Then she said to me,” The Red Cross is always on time in your time of need.”

“Repetition is the only way to achieve perfection here on earth”. Since I was a young lad, I have always tried to place myself in the right position to help others. You see, by continuing to do the same thing over and over again it becomes like breathing air. That simple! This is the main reason for the Red Cross being the perfect place to start when looking for advice and information in your time of need; whether it be preparing for a disaster, contacting a loved one in the Armed Forces during an emergency, or even learning about administering first aid.

The Red Cross strives to share information that will help us prepare for an emergency.  They give advice on resiliency, and ways to prepare your household with hope for a better day. The Red Cross supplies resources that will help people to overcome personal tragedy and ensure a faster recovery.

To learn more about how the Red Cross helps our service members and their families visit our Service to the Armed Forces site.

Why I Volunteer for the American Red Cross


By Stephanie M. Goggans
U.S. Army Cleveland Metro Recruiting Company

I volunteer with the Red Cross because service and volunteerism makes the world a better place.  If each one of us can have an impact on the next person then the entire world will be better.

Service with the American Red Cross was important for me as a military service member because it allows me to continue my volunteering as I travel worldwide. The American Red Cross has many diverse programs to volunteer in and so many different locations that they make it pretty simple to spend time giving back.

Helping with the disaster preparedness team in Northeast Ohio has been very educational for me. Being from Northeast Ohio, volunteering with the American Red Cross also helps me stay connected to what is going on in my area.  Although I wasn’t aware of it at first,
volunteering in the community through the American Red Cross has added to my sense of purpose and helped me become the person I am today.

Volunteering can be challenging, but it is ultimately very rewarding.

Thank you,


CPT GoggansStephanie

Click here to see a short video featuring Captain Stephanie Goggins, volunteering to sort mail destined for U. S. Service Men and Women during the holidays.


Ani Stone, SAF Volunteer

edit_12-19-15 256th Combat Support Hospital Family Day- Ani StoneMy name is Ani Stone and I am a Service to Armed Forces (SAF) volunteer. I have been volunteering for the American Red Cross since September 2014.

I moved to the United States in 2008 to pursue a graduate degree in Religious Studies and during my studies I volunteered for a Holocaust education program for middle and high school students. Upon graduation, I volunteered as a Romanian translator for elderly Romanians seeking medical or social assistance from government. When I moved to Stark County nearly four years ago, I continued my translator work, but the distance made work more difficult. I was looking for a new opportunity to enrich my life through volunteering, but was not sure which opportunity was the best. I decided to look at the American Red Cross, as the organization had a great reputation in Europe as well and I was more familiar with it than the other organizations in the area.

I had my first interview via phone and then a face-to-face follow up, and when I was told that there was an opening to volunteer for the Service to Armed Forces division, I made my decision. I was looking for a chance to make a difference and help through my volunteering work, and I knew my efforts would be meaningful as a SAF volunteer.

There is no higher honor than serving your country and protecting the public, including those who antagonize you. It’s an honor to serve those who work in this function.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit

Our Story: 2015 in Review

A word of thanks to everyone who visited us here in 2015, to read about the good work being done by volunteers and staff of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region.

Red Cross and OANG Volunteers in Lorain

Operation Save-A-Life, Lorain, Ohio, October 2015


The concert hall at Severance holds 1,844 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2015. If it were a Cleveland Orchestra concert at Severance Hall, it would take more than 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it!

Click here to see the complete report.

Holiday Message from Mike Parks


American Red Cross CEO Mike Parks, Northeast Ohio Region

Northeast Ohio American Red Cross Family:  Between Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day and New Year’s (among others)—we’re well into this year’s “Holiday Season.”   Please accept my sincere thanks and grateful appreciation for all each of you do every day to help serve those in need in Northeast Ohio.  Thank you!

As we close out calendar year 2015 (as well as the first half of FY 2016) and reflect back on your accomplishments, it’s been an incredibly busy year.  Here’s just a partial list of some of those successes:

Opened more disaster cases and provided more direct client assistance than the same time last year.


Prescious Givens and her family received housing assistance after their home caught fire

Installed more than 6500 smoke alarms (our target was 6500 but we upped our annual goal to 10,000).


Lincoln Electric CEO and Red Cross Board Member Chris Mapes installing smoke alarms in Euclid

Reached more than 2800 students with the Pillowcase Project  (our target was 3000 but we got materials for 500 additional).


Students created pillowcases at Wilcox Elementary School in North Ridgeville

Migrated almost 2200 volunteers (including Biomedical Services) to Volunteer Connection.


Volunteer George Figel of Akron

Recruited more than 300 new volunteers to the American Red Cross.

Created an integrated American Red Cross Board combining Chapter & Biomedical Boards.


Inaugural meeting of combined board

Achieved 100% participation in our annual Board Campaign while exceeding our financial goal by almost 10%.





Partnered with both the Veteran’s Administration and the USO to better serve our members of the Armed Forces.


American Red Cross CEO Mike Parks,  with Ohio Army National Guardsmen


Updated all Northeast Ohio American Red Cross websites and revitalized an informative Blog.

Upgraded our building facilities and streamlined our automotive fleet.


Remained well-within our annual expense budget through careful stewardship.

Hired and onboarded more than a dozen new enthusiastic Red Cross employees.


Tim O'Toole

Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole

And as you know—that’s just scratching the surface of all you’ve accomplished throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.  As many of us take time to celebrate with families and friends, I want to say a special “Thank You” to those staff and volunteers who have, and will be providing critical assistance during this holiday period.  We wouldn’t be the American Red Cross without you!  As I’ve said many times since joining this fine organization, the American Red Cross is all about “caring”…”caring for those we serve” and “caring for those who serve.”   It seems fitting that in this special season of giving, we remember those who give so much to help those in need.  Thank you to all of the Northeast Ohio American Red Cross family.  I wish you and yours Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.  I’m already excited about what 2016 will bring—I hope you are too.   Best wishes…Mike

Wreaths Across America

On Saturday, the Red Cross assisted a national program, Wreaths Across America, at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

The annual program remembers and honors the fallen at national cemeteries across the country by placing wreaths on veteran headstones on a certain day in December – this year it was December 12. It’s an amazing program – the wreaths are sponsored by citizens across the nation, then trucked in to each of the cemeteries by volunteers. The wreaths are then placed by local volunteers.

The Red Cross was on site to pass out coffee, hot chocolate and water. The hot beverages are usually a welcome treat for the volunteers, but with Saturday’s balmy temperatures water was the most requested drink.

Following the placement on individual grave sites, the cemetery holds a ceremony which places a wreath in memorial of every veteran in each branch of service.

For more photos from the 2015 ceremony, please visit our Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Facebook page.