The Woman Who Won – Clara Barton

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

“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. 

Oil Painting of Clara Barton by Mathilde M. Leisenring, 1937.

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.  

Your turn…

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.

And if you can only spend an hour or two – you can donate blood.  Dozens of appointments are open here.  

Be like Clara – be a winner with the Red Cross. 

One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time – Resolve to volunteer today

Jack Higley has been volunteering for more than 60 years

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Still looking for a last-minute gift in honor of that hard-to-please person? Or thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution that will really mean something?

How about something only you can give? How about the gift of your time?

American Red Cross volunteers give their precious time every time they help a family displaced by a home fire, donate blood or take a Red Cross first aid/CPR/AED course so they can save a life in an emergency.

Jack Higley, American Red Cross volunteer

Jack Higley of Aurora, Ohio, has racked up an uncountable number of hours over the span of 60-some years of volunteering with the Red Cross. He first stepped up when a fraternity brother was in a serious accident and urgently needed blood. “Back then, it was direct donation,” he recalled. “They took it out of my arm and right into him.” The experience inspired his fraternity to start scheduling regular blood drives.

Four years later, he started teaching Red Cross life guarding classes at a YMCA. Then, he went to donate blood in Madison, where he taught high school government. W; when the staff learned he had experience organizing blood drives, they asked for his help. He’s been at it ever since: he’s credited with donating just shy of 40 gallons of life-saving blood and for organizing countless drives.

“It makes me feel good,” he said, adding, “There’s always a need. My dad had 17 heart attacks and he used a lot of blood for the surgeries he had – stents, by-passes.

“People live because somebody donated.”

Although Jack can no longer donate because of health conditions, he enjoys staffing blood drives as a blood donor ambassador. “I like to be around the canteen (the refreshment area where blood donors are invited to enjoy juice, water and cookies immediately following their donation). I can relate to the people, talk to them. Some of them donate faithfully every two months. They’re my people.

“Jack’s Red Cross experience is an example of the generosity of spirit our volunteers show every day,” said Susan Gordos, who coordinates volunteers in support of blood drives and blood services across Ohio. “We have so many opportunities for people to give the gift of their time, to be sure life-saving blood is there when it’s needed.”

So, how about giving the gift of your time? The Red Cross of northern Ohio is always looking for blood donor ambassadors and blood transportation specialists.

As an ambassador, you’re the friendly face that greets donors, helps them sign in , and answers questions. You might even staff the canteen, like Jack, to chat with donors after they give blood.

Watch this video to hear from others about why they’ve volunteered in this role. Training is free, but the hospitality you provide is priceless.

Or you might find that being a blood transportation specialist is a good fit. These folks are a critical link, driving blood products to hospitals.

If you have a valid state driver’s license and at least three years of licensed driving experience, you are eligible to volunteer as a blood transportation specialist. You can choose regular routes, stand-by emergency deliveries or both. It’s a great opportunity for couples, friends or family members.

As Jack said, “Many of us are going to need blood, unfortunately. If you need it, the Red Cross has it, but everybody has to work together to make it happen.”

To take the first step of giving the gift of time, visit www.redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Have a happy, healthy holiday season. And may you have a rewarding 2023 – perhaps as a new Red Cross volunteer.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Donating to the American Red Cross this Giving Tuesday can double your impact

Every donation, no matter how small, helps save lives, as #HelpCantWait

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

Tomorrow, November 29th is Giving Tuesday, a day which encourages and celebrates local giving, generosity, and humanity. This year, the need for charitable giving and the American Red Cross mission is as vital as ever. 2022 has been a year of crisis for families and communities here in Northern Ohio and throughout the world.

For this year’s Giving Tuesday, the Red Cross is issuing a matching gift opportunity for all donations made at redcross.org. Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, all donations made – regardless of designation – will be matched dollar for dollar up to $250,000.

Even small donations have a major impact. A donation made through redcross.org can be as little as $10, yet provides tremendous hope in a time of crisis or helps prevent disaster. A few examples include providing a smoke alarm and fire safety education; aiding someone to learn CPR; assisting a family with a meal, supplies, and safe place to stay after a home fire; helping someone receive a lifesaving blood transfusion; and aiding a family contact a deployed member of the military during an emergency.

In addition to donating at redcross.org, you can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 and give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which will appear on your wireless bill, or call 1-800- HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669).

As a Red Cross volunteer in various capacities, I can attest to the impact these donations have on people’s lives, as I have often seen the moment when people who have experienced a disaster realize they have support, that others care, that they will be able to recover and move on.

And help is needed. The climate crisis is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. So far in 2022, the Red Cross has responded to 15 billion-dollar disasters, more than twice the number that struck annually two decades ago. Internationally, global conflict and Africa’s hunger crisis have devastated millions, and the Red Cross has provided humanitarian aid in more than 108 countries this year.

Last January, the Red Cross experienced its worst blood shortage in over a decade, due to ongoing collection challenges and varied hospital demand during the pandemic. While the crisis was overcome, thanks to generous blood donors, the need for blood is constant. Hospitals in northern Ohio, as everywhere, need a reliable supply of blood to aid those in an accident, parents with complicated childbirths, individuals battling cancer, and people with sickle cell disease.

You can also help the Red Cross through donating blood or exploring volunteer opportunities.

Whether you care to donate finances, blood, or time, doing so will help the Red Cross continue its crucial, lifesaving mission.

Former NEO Board member now volunteering in Florida to help neighbors deal with Hurricane Ian aftermath

By Betty Adams, American Red Cross volunteer

After learning that most of his Fort Myers-area neighbors were safe following the storm surge from Hurricane Ian, Brad Roller, a recent transplant from Cleveland, wanted to help the American Red Cross help others wherever he could.

Former Northeast Ohio Chapter board member Brad Roller. Photo Credit: Selena Hardy, American Red Cross
Former Northeast Ohio Chapter board member Brad Roller. Photo Credit: Selena Hardy, American Red Cross

So he signed up as what the Red Cross calls an event-based volunteer, and immediately found himself with a Red Cross feeding team in a vehicle packed with hot food for people in the hard-hit region.

“Today’s my first day on the job,” Roller said. “I’ve never done feeding before, but I’m a very experienced eater.”

“He’s going to be great,” said Katherine Reilly, one of the two regular feeding team volunteers, as they finished securing insulated food containers, water and snacks in the vehicle.

“He’s going to see a lot of people in one of the most devastated areas of Fort Myers,” his new teammate, Travis Lindsay, said. “We’re going to Fort Myers Beach and a lot of folks there are grateful we’re there helping them.

“There’s no other source of food on that island other than us and the World Kitchen. So we’ll be meetin’ and greetin’ those folks and giving them food so they can back to cleaning up their houses.”

Back in Northeast Ohio, Roller was a Red Cross disaster action team member for years as well as a Northeast Ohio Chapter board member. Now living much farther south, he and his family had minimal damage from the storm. “I’ve seen the devastation on TV, and my motivation is to help where I can help,” he said.

Ft. Myers Beach after Hurricane Ida

Roller and his family had prepared for the hurricane. “I sat looking out my sliding glass doors watching things blowing all over the place. We were enough inland that we didn’t feel too threatened, but we were prepared to go into a safe room if our 160-mile-an-hour glass didn’t hold. Fortunately, everything did, and we just had minor damage, but it was pretty ferocious.”

Roller was one of six event-based volunteers scheduled of help with mobile feeding the day he joined the relief effort. The Red Cross welcomes spontaneous local volunteers, who receive a background screening and abbreviated training for tasks across the operation to help those still working to recover from historic wind and water damage across Florida.

To become a trained disaster volunteer, go to redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

American Red Cross relief is free to anyone with disaster-caused needs, thanks to the generosity of the American people. If you would like to support the Hurricane Ian response financially, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, text the words IAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-800-HELP NOW.

National Senior Citizen Day: Why should you care?

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

What, you’re not a senior citizen? Stay with me, as I bet you know one . . . or two.

When President Reagan signed Proclamation 5847 in 1988, he set the date as August 21 to be celebrated as National Senior Citizen Day. He proclaimed the date to raise awareness of issues that affect senior citizens, including quality of life.

One of the best things you can do for a senior is to make sure they stay busy. Tests have shown that the more a person stretches their mind to learn new tasks or talents, the sharper they will be in their later years. It’s also a known fact that social interaction is important to seniors— especially if they live alone.

Wouldn’t you know it – the American Red Cross has the perfect solution for both recommended strategies. Volunteers are needed in all sorts of fields, and the Red Cross will be happy to train seniors in anything they choose to take part in. There are opportunities to go out and about the community as well as those that can be done by someone homebound.

Red Cross Volunteer Doug Bardwell – Tennessee

Interested in sitting and chatting with new people?

The Blood Ambassador position could be a perfect fit. You could be engaging with the community at a registration table at a local blood drive. There are dozens of blood drives every day in different neighborhoods, so there’s likely one a few minutes from their home. Volunteer as many days as you like. Watch video to learn more.

Interested in driving?

The Red Cross could use your past professional training to help teach life-saving skills or deliver medical or spiritual care to those in need.

Interested in humanitarian assistance?

You hit the bonanza here. Opportunities abound to:

  • Drive to local neighborhoods to provide financial assistance to those who’ve experienced a home fire. (Don’t worry about the money. The Red Cross provides that – you just hand it out.) Watch video.
  • Help pass out water and snack at large community events or to first responders at disaster events.
  • Make phone calls as a caseworker to provide follow-up care to those who are trying to pull their lives back together after a fire or other disaster.
  • Help assemble self-help pamphlets and toiletry kits for disaster victims.
  • Teach fire safety at local schools with the Pillowcase Project for third through fifth graders. Learn more.
  • Assist at a disaster shelter or warming center, serving any of three meals a day to those without shelter. Watch video.
  • From home, help families reconnect during natural disasters by working with the Red Cross Family Reunification Network. Watch video.

Actually, there are so many more opportunities beyond the ones mentioned above. How about a quiz to see what’s available near you? Take quiz. Then, start the volunteer process here and make being a senior citizen both rewarding and life-changing for the better.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross volunteer

A lesson from childhood “Sounded the Alarm” for this Red Cross volunteer

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

American Red Cross volunteers come from many backgrounds, professions, and demographics and show up ready to work with different motivations. Whether it is the desire to make a difference, a way to network and socialize, or to stay active in retirement, a day in the field helping the Red Cross fulfill its mission with one of its many programs is a day well spent.

Elizabeth Sullivan (right), Red Cross Volunteer

Elizabeth Sullivan got involved this past May after a colleague suggested they partner with the Sound the Alarm campaign as part of their Yale Alumni Service activities. Sound the Alarm is part of the Red Cross home fire campaign, established in 2014 to help prevent fire-related fatalities. A similar program began in Cleveland in 1992, when the Red Cross partnered with the Cleveland Division of Fire to reduce fire fatalities by installing smoke alarms in homes and teaching fire safety.

Elizabeth, the director of opinion for cleveland.com, and previous editor of the editorial pages of The Plain Dealer, along with her team and others, installed 175 smoke alarms in 60 homes in Cleveland ‘s Old Brooklyn neighborhood on May 14. For her, the project took on a deeper meaning.

“My father survived a house fire as a child because his older sister came into the room at night with a wet towel, and they put it over their mouths and they crawled along the floor to safely escape,” said Elizabeth.

That experience prompted her father to do annual fire drills with their family when Elizabeth was a child. “We were taught basic fire safety tips, like touch the door before you open it to make sure it’s not hot and to go out the window.”  While she and her siblings had fun climbing out on the roof, the importance of those drills stuck with her.

Red Cross volunteers, Elizabeth Sullivan (far right)

Covid paused this important program over the last two years, but this spring, Red Cross staff members and volunteers like Elizabeth installed 2,374 smoke alarms throughout Northern Ohio, making 929 homes safer.

Home fires claim lives every day, but having working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. The good news? You don’t have to wait until the next Sound the Alarm campaign, the Red Cross installs smoke alarms throughout the year.

If you or someone you know may need a smoke alarm, click here to request a home safety visit and smoke alarm installation. And if Elizabeth’s story encouraged you to want to volunteer, find more information here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross volunteer and board member

Red Cross celebrates community heroes during Red Cross Month in March

Please help celebrate the month and Red Cross Giving Day, March 23, by volunteering, donating blood or providing financial support, as #HelpCantWait

By Tim Poe, Red Cross volunteer

As busy and challenging as 2021 was for the American Red Cross’ Northern Ohio region, 2022 may be even more so. Disaster Action Team (DAT) responses in our region increased by over 30% in February, and we continue to face a national blood crisis.

Red Cross volunteer Ben Weisbrod responds to a hotel fire in Parma

As always, volunteers, staff and donors have been stepping up, but we could use your help. Throughout March, the Red Cross honors those who make its mission possible during the annual Red Cross Month celebration—a national tradition started nearly 80 years ago when Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first national Red Cross Month proclamation. Each U.S. president since has also issued a proclamation.

“When emergencies strike, our community rallies together to help families and individuals when it matters most,” said Tim O’Toole, the Regional Disaster Officer for the Northern Ohio Region. “We honor this dedication during our Red Cross Month celebration, and we invite everyone to join us by turning their compassion into action by joining our response teams. We need help both here locally and to also send teams across the nation to major disasters.”

Help can’t wait during emergencies. Over the last 12 months—between 2/23/2021 and 2/23/2022—Northern Ohio Disaster Action Teams responded over 1,100 times to help families in need in our region, the vast majority of them victims of home fires. Just this past week our teams were in Harrison County assisting victims of flooding as shown in this video.

Nationally, the Red Cross has responded to more than 10,000 home fires, helping more than 37,000 people, since January 1, 2022.

My experience as a Red Cross volunteer has been exceptionally rewarding, whether in communications, disaster response or assisting in another capacity. It is an honor to work alongside so many compassionate, capable people, helping those in need and seeing the appreciation and relief of those we assist.

Please consider joining the Red Cross Month celebration by volunteering. You can also provide financial support on Giving Day or any time.

Jessica Voorheis donates blood at the Emerald Event Center in Avon

Blood donors are needed. The American Red Cross blood supply remains incredibly vulnerable – especially as doctors begin to resume elective surgeries previously delayed by the Omicron variant. It’s critical that individuals schedule a blood or platelet donation immediately to help ensure patients get the care they need as soon as possible.

To make an appointment to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App. As a thank you, all who give in March will receive a $10 e-gift card, thanks to Fanatics. March blood donors will also have a chance to win a trip for two to the 2022 MLB® All-Star Game® in Los Angeles (terms apply; visit rcblood.org/team for details).

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Weekend disaster responses include helping people affected by flooding

Jewett Flooding

Flooding during the President’s Day weekend kept some Red Cross disaster workers busy across the Northern Ohio Region. Heavy rains in some parts of the region, along with melting snow caused flood damage that brought a Red Cross response to Lorain, Stark, Wayne and Harrison counties.

The village of Jewett in Harrison County was especially hard hit. Red Cross disaster program managers Tim Reichel and Mike Arthur were accompanied by volunteers Dan Best and Arden Tohill on Saturday, when they distributed clean-up kits to nearly two-dozen affected residences.

Jewett Flooding

“Those buckets have everything they need to get a good start,” Tim said during an interview with WTOV 9 news. “They’ve come out of their homes, they’ve welcomed us, we’ve gotten a few hugs along the way,” Tim continued. “It’s what we do and it’s a pleasure to do it.”

Weekend responses also included home fires in Cleveland, Akron, Wooster, and Masury, Ohio in Trumbull County. More than 60 children and adults received Red Cross assistance throughout Northern Ohio.

February has been a very busy month for Red Cross Disaster Action Teams. Responses are up more than 30% over February of 2021, and Red Cross caseworkers are continuing to help hundreds of people find a path to recovery.

While President’s Day is a federal holiday, the Red Cross remains ready to respond to emergencies, today and every day of the year.

“While many will be relaxing with family and friends, our teams remain vigilant,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer.

Jewett Flooding

If you’d like to help neighbors in need following a home fire, flooding or some other disaster, visit redcross.org/volunteer to apply for a spot on our Disaster Action Teams. The Red Cross is also in need of trained medical and mental health professionals to assist people following disasters big and small. A virtual information session for licensed healthcare and mental healthcare providers will be held this Thursday, February 24, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. To RSVP for this event, email neovolunteer@redcross.org, or call 216-431-3328. A Microsoft Teams meeting link will be emailed to you prior to the event. A conference call option will also be available.

Red Cross issues call for volunteers

Help needed as winter increases the risk of home fires
Support also needed for Red Cross Blood Program

Winter weather has arrived and with it an increase in the number of home fires. The American Red Cross of Northern Ohio is recruiting new volunteers to help respond to these local emergencies by supporting people in their time of greatest need.

Nationally, the Red Cross has already responded to more than1,900 home fires since 2022 began, providing assistance to more than 6,500 people. In the Northern Ohio Region, trained Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) members have responded to 60 home fires so far this year, helping 215 people impacted by a fire in their home.

LOCAL RESPONSE HELP NEEDED DAT volunteers help families with their immediate needs after a fire in their home and offer support during a very difficult time. As a DAT team member, you will provide emotional support, access to financial assistance and information to help families begin to recover. DAT team members respond to emergencies to provide immediate compassion and care. Training will be provided.

Home Fire Response

“Our Red Cross volunteers support their community and neighbors in need each and every day by responding to local emergencies,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “We need more help so no one faces this heartbreaking situation alone.”

Ruth Davidson Gordon – Red Cross Volunteer Blood Donor Ambassador

BLOOD SERVICES VOLUNTEERS ALSO NEEDED The Red Cross also needs volunteers to support blood collections as the country faces an ongoing critical need for blood products and platelets. Blood donor ambassadors play an important role by greeting, registering, answering questions and providing information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Blood transportation specialists provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals in our communities.

Blood Transportation Specialist

COVID-19 AND STAYING SAFE The need for volunteers is constant and continues to evolve as the Red Cross navigates the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The safety of everyone is our top priority and our guidelines reflect the latest CDC safety recommendations. COVID-19 vaccination is required for in-person volunteer roles beginning February 15, 2022. When considering volunteer opportunities, review the CDC guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your health care provider and follow local guidance.

Please consider joining the Red Cross as a volunteer today and bring help and hope to people in need. Vaccination verification required for in-person roles. Find out more at redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Up your game: Resolve to volunteer!

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

As we come to the end of another year, many of us are thinking about what we can do to make the next year better.

Resolve to lose (or gain) weight? Resolve to spend more wisely? Resolve to be on time?

How about, resolve to volunteer?

The American Red Cross has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities that pay off big time in “job satisfaction.”

“It’s a rewarding experience when you can help somebody,” said Paul Grygier.

Paul Grygier

Paul began his volunteer career as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member, responding to home fires and other emergencies in Wyandot County, where he lives. In that role he brings compassion, safe accommodations and financial assistance to meet disaster-caused needs. “DAT is a good way to help people in their time of need,” he said.

Dotty Dolwick of West Park, in Cuyahoga County, finds her satisfaction as a blood donor ambassador, welcoming donors, being sure they’ve read important pre-donation materials and answering questions at a couple of blood drives a week.

“It’s a good way to get out with people,” the retired nurse said, adding that she likes the flexibility Red Cross offers its volunteers. “You get to kind of pick and choose where you go, when you go.”

Paul also leads his Red Cross chapter’s Sound The Alarm campaign, which strives to save lives by installing free smoke alarms in every home that needs one (or more). “I’m basically a mechanic,” he explained. “It’s easy for me to do. I like to help the older people who can’t get up on ladders.”

Dotty Dolwick

The Pillowcase Project is another of Paul’s favorites. He gives the Red Cross disaster preparedness presentations to third- through fifth-graders. “You know you’re reinforcing important lessons in an organized fashion,” he said, hoping those messages will spring to mind if the youngsters ever need them.

To explore all the volunteer roles the Red Cross has to offer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact your local chapter.

As for me, I wear a few hats with the Red Cross: Communicator, blood donor, chapter board member and financial supporter. These are all volunteer roles.

Eilene Guy

I enjoy spreading the message about what the Red Cross is doing to help people prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters large and small. Like a lot of other Red Cross activities, it’s something I can do from home; at a time of heightened COVID concern, the Red Cross has modified its activities to keep its staff, volunteers, and those we serve safe.

Serving as a board member and supporting the organization financially may be low-profile activities, but they’re vital for this organization with a big role in our society.

And don’t get me started about how rewarding it is to know that every time I donate blood, I could be saving up to three lives.

Dr. Paul Biedenbach

My ear, nose and throat doctor spotted my Red Cross socks and said proudly that he had just made a Power Red donation, giving two units of red blood cells at one sitting. “They even let me know where my blood is going,” Dr. Paul Biedenbach of Sandusky said. “It’s kinda cool.”

He realizes that giving the gift of life isn’t a casual act: “People need to make an effort, to register in advance. It’s not as easy as just walking into a donation site. But it’s so important.”

As someone said recently, “If I don’t do this, who’s gonna do it?”

So please, make it a happy new year and resolve to volunteer!

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer