Division VP celebrates 50 years with the Red Cross

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

January 3, 2020- The start of the new year is a time to not only look forward to the future, but also to reflect on the past. It is fitting that 2020 is synonymous with vision. 2019 was a milestone year for Sue Richter, Crossroads Division vice president.

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Last year, Sue Richter celebrated her 50th anniversary with the American Red Cross, a trailblazing career that started during her time spent in Vietnam.

Sue exemplifies what it truly means to be a Red Crosser. Despite her career achievements and prominent title, Sue views no task too small when helping others in need and advancing the Red Cross’ mission.

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During a recent Sound the Alarm event in Bedford Heights, Sue joined volunteers to install free smoke alarms to help keep families and neighborhoods safe from home fires.

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During a recent regional staff meeting, the Northeast Ohio Region was honored by Sue taking time out of her jam-packed schedule to speak with employees. Her leadership was on full display.


Having experienced Sue’s mission driven attitude and leadership numerous times, the region presented Sue with an award and a quilt designed by volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, as recognition for her remarkable 50 years of service.

Sue also graciously spoke to Jim McIntyre during a recent episode of the Northeast Ohio Region podcast Be A Hero.


Sue Richter with her husband Frank

During the episode, Sue talked about career, how the Red Cross helped her meet her husband Frank and of the many Red Cross heroes she admires, she singled one out for making a big impact on her life.

From everyone in Northeast Ohio, thank you Sue for blazing a trail for many, being a role model to all and for continuing to spread the Red Cross’ mission each and every day!

Sound the Alarm campaign ends

But smoke alarm installations will continue all year long

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


Volunteers and partners in Bedford Heights

May 13, 2019 –  As the national Sound the Alarm campaign came to a close this weekend, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio held the final three installation events in Bedford Heights, Warren and West Salem, Ohio on May 11. Volunteers and partners installed free smoke alarms and shared vital fire safety information with residents.

In Bedford Heights, the Red Cross and its volunteer partners installed 224 smoke alarms and made 91 homes safer.


Sue Richter (right) speaks with Northeast Ohio CEO Mike Parks

Among those helping make homes and neighborhoods safer was Sue Richter, the Crossroads Division Vice President. One of the residence Sue visited was the home of Dorothea Drake.

As smoke alarms were being installed, Dorothea spoke with Sue, telling her how she was personally affected by a fire at six years of age.

“It was a small fire, a grease fire in the kitchen.  But I got left in the house alone,” Dorothea recalled. “The door was locked and I couldn’t get out.  Everyone else thought I was with them.”

Dorothea wasn’t hurt, but the memory has stayed with her. That’s why she said she was grateful to the Red Cross for installing smoke alarms and making her current home safer.


From left: Virginia Hexter, Jim Cutler, Zachary Cutler, Melissa Cutler, Brady Cutler, John Hexter

Also helping with the Sound the Alarm effort, three generations of the Hexter family.  John Hexter, his daughter Melissa and her three children went door-to-door, installing smoke alarms and helping residents create escape plans. Melissa and her family live in the Washington, D.C. area. When she learned that Sound the Alarm would coincide with a planned visit to Northeast Ohio, she jumped at the chance to take part.

“My dad (John Hexter) has always been big into volunteering. It’s something he instilled in me, and I’m trying to pass the legacy onto my children.”

Sound the Alarm is a two-week national initiative. It’s part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries.

During the two-week campaign, across the region, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio installed 3,743 smoke alarms in more than 1,500 homes according to preliminary numbers, far exceeding the region’s goal.

Protecting homes from fires is not just a two-week commitment by the Red Cross. As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms all year. To learn more about the program and to request a smoke alarm installation, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

To view photos from the Bedford Heights installation event, click here to view our Flickr album.

Improvements Continue, Says Top Red Cross Executive

2016 will be the Year of Stability for the American Red Cross.  That declaration came from Sue Richter, Division Vice President, who paid a visit to the Cleveland office on Tuesday, August 18. There she shared with the region;’s leadership team many of the accomplishments of the past year, a year of “embracing changes and improvements.”

Sue, who has served as interim CEO for several Red Cross regions throughout the country, said one of the major goals of the Red Cross nationally is the expansion of Operation Save-A-Life, a program that started in Cleveland more than 20 years ago, following a spate of deadly house fires.  With the help of valuable partnerships and dedicated volunteers, over 150,000 free smoke alarms have been installed throughout the area.  Operation Save-A-Life does just that: deaths related to home fires have fallen significantly in the city of Cleveland since the start of the program, according to Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio region.

The effort continues. Madison Township, near Mansfield, had a successful fire walk on Tuesday, August 18. In partnership with the Madison Township Fire Department, the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter installed 114 smoke alarms in nearly 70 homes. Trained volunteers with the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the American Red Cross will be joined by partners from Lincoln Electric and the Euclid Fire Department to install free smoke alarms in Euclid this Saturday, August 22.

Meantime, Sue said that getting volunteers even more involved with all of the life-saving efforts of the Red Cross is a top priority. Red Cross leaders are working hard to identify the areas where volunteers are needed most, so that they can be deployed in the most effective way possible. “We’ve only begun to scratch the surface,” she said, when it comes to tapping into the Red Cross’ passionate volunteer force. “We’re on the right track.”

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