Volunteer finds role that allows her to give back to her community during pandemic

By Olivia Wyles, American Red Cross volunteer

October 15, 2020- In the last four months, the Northern Ohio region of the American Red Cross has welcomed Lucy Anne Christopher, a Cleveland native, to our team as a Blood Donor Ambassador. Lucy Anne is no stranger to volunteerism. Before she began serving with the Red Cross, she has humbly taken on other opportunities to give back to the community, including her role with the Ronald McDonald House where she carries out activities for patients and their families. She serves as a “red coat volunteer” at PlayHouse Square Theater and also tutors adults in reading and other subjects. 

Lucy Anne Christopher

When the coronavirus pandemic made its mark on the United States in March 2020, Lucy Anne’s involvement began to change. Her roles at PlayHouse Square and the Ronald McDonald House were both put on hold but Lucy Anne still wanted to be involved and help her community. She was no longer able to tutor her students at the local library, so she began conducting reading exercises over the phone with her students. In June, she took on the role as a Blood Donor Ambassador with the Red Cross.

As a Blood Donor Ambassador, Lucy Anne takes the temperatures of each person who comes in to donate blood, checks them in and out of the computer system, and interacts with donors, ensuring that they have a positive experience. Lucy Anne explained that it’s a very simple role, but it makes a big difference in maintaining the seamless flow of blood donors in and out of the blood drive and provides relief to those drawing blood so that they can focus on their direct tasks rather than needing to also check people in. Lucy Anne reflected that she does not feel at risk of contracting the virus in her role because there is a high level of cleanliness and safety measures in place at the Red Cross blood drives that make her feel comfortable performing her role.

Lucy Anne is a fantastic example of how we all have the capability to make a change, big or small, in the communities where we live. She said, “I volunteer because I think it’s important to give back. There are so many areas that have a need, and you can always find an avenue to serve in that is compatible with your current lifestyle.” The Red Cross collects and distributes approximately 40% of the United States’ blood supply. Our Blood Donor Ambassadors play a big part in creating a positive donation experience for our donors. There is a great need for volunteers as we navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. If you are interested in becoming a Blood Donor Ambassador in your area, click here to learn more and apply

If you want to meet Lucy Anne and the other wonderful Blood Donor Ambassadors in Northern Ohio, while providing lifesaving blood to those in need, you can schedule your blood donation today. The need for blood never stops, even during this COVID-19 pandemic. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to ensure the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate in the weeks and months ahead by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross executive helped launch disaster financial assistance program for Hurricane Harvey in 2017

Part II of Todd’s reflections on his deployment three years agoClick here to read Pt. 1

By Todd James, Executive Director, American Red Cross of North Central Ohio

August 26, 2020 – Note: At the time of this posting, on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, Hurricane Laura was expected to gain major hurricane status – possibly category 4 – and make landfall in the same general area of the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Six volunteers from Northern Ohio were deployed prior to Laura’s landfall.

Ten days after returning home from Austin, where I had been deployed to lead communications following Hurricane Harvey as part of the American Red Cross’ Public Affairs team, I got a call asking if I could go back to Texas to lead a team in Houston. I am blessed to have a very understanding, compassionate wife who said, as she always does, “People need help, you need to go.” So, I headed out for my third deployment in six weeks.

Todd James in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2017

Here’s the thing about being deployed: there are thousands of Red Cross responders who answer the call for help every day. Even though we come from all across the country, these operations often feel like a big family reunion. So many people I had worked with before and since were in Houston to help. And so much help was needed! Thousands of people were still staying in shelters, while hundreds of thousands were beginning the long road to recovery. 

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Thousands of Red Cross responders worked ceaselessly, providing shelter, food, comfort and much more, as they always do when disasters happen.

In the face of the unprecedented scope of the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Red Cross was about to take a quantum leap forward in disaster response, launching the new Immediate Assistance Program (IAP). The IAP gives us a way to almost instantly verify people’s needs and provide immediate financial assistance so they can begin their recovery. Until now, this could mean days and, in large events, even weeks as Red Cross teams went house to house to verify damage and need, meet with families and provide financial help.

With the IAP, people apply with a phone call and with the help of technology and digital mapping, we verify their need and deposit help directly into their account or for pick up at their local Walmart. What a game changer! My team couldn’t have been any busier getting the information out so people could take advantage of this help.

Now, as you can imagine with any new technology like this being launched on this scale, there were some glitches. But thousands of people every day received the help they needed to get started on their recovery. In the first five months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, 575,000 households received $230 million to use for help with groceries, gas, clothing, rent, bills and other needs for their families.

Since launching the IAP, the Red Cross has continued to improve the process. It’s now a regular part of our disaster response.

Outstanding in our field

A favorite story from my time in Texas happened one afternoon while my staff partner Matt and I were following one of our mobile feeding vehicles to get pictures and talk to the families they were helping. We received calls from our headquarters for interview requests to talk about the relief operation. So somewhere in the middle of rural south Texas, standing by a fenced-in pasture and surrounded by longhorn cattle, I was on my phone talking to a radio station in Maryland while Matt was on his phone being interviewed by a radio station in Phoenix, AZ. Welcome to the glamorous world of disaster Public Affairs!

After two weeks, I finished my deployment and returned home. But three years later, families and communities are still working to recover from the storm, and the Red Cross is still there supporting them. You can see a full report on our efforts at http://www.redcross.org/harveyrecoverygrants

Charlie Emick and his volunteer family help whenever disasters occur

Note: To celebrate National Volunteer Week, we are featuring profiles of some of the volunteers who help the Red Cross fulfill its mission in Northern Ohio

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

For the past five years, the American Red Cross has benefited from Charlie Emick’s extraordinary service—whether nationally, throughout Northern Ohio or in his current home chapter of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes. He has taken on an impressive number of roles.

Just a few of Charlie’s volunteer roles include supervising disaster response teams and shelters, coordinating for his chapter, performing casework, training and helping develop other volunteers’ leadership skills, reaching out to the community and, especially, assisting those in need.

Charlie is modest about his contributions but his giving nature is immediately apparent. In fact, his response to my request for an interview was wanting to see other volunteers in the spotlight first.

Charlie spoke very highly of his fellow volunteers. They are all part of his family, he said, even more so after the loss of his wife two years ago, and he enjoys working with every one of them. Indeed, he has taken an integral role in helping his volunteer family, including assisting with training. He mentioned that his mom would likely be surprised that he advocates for training, as much as he disliked it in school.

Prior to volunteering with the Red Cross, Charlie worked in the oil industry for 38 years. Since his retirement in 2015, he has continued responding to calls for assistance at any time as a Red Cross volunteer.

When asked why he began volunteering, Charlie mentioned being inspired by the kindness of a stranger. He was stuck in a traffic standstill behind an accident, during a snowstorm, when a woman came out of the blue and let him use her phone. Charlie said he has never forgotten her generosity nor how much an act of kindness can mean. So when retirement felt slow, he reached out to the Red Cross.

“Charlie Emick is an outstanding volunteer,” said Mike Arthur, disaster program manager for the Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter. “He helped on most, if not all, of the larger responses across our region last year. He is happy to help anytime he is asked. He will bend over backwards to help our members feel welcome and meet their needs. His leadership and guidance have helped make our chapter as successful as it is.”

Helping those in need is important to Charlie and is his favorite part of being a Red Cross volunteer. Whether responding to a home fire, performing casework or aiding in another capacity, he enjoys helping people work through problems. While the Red Cross is providing assistance while maintaining social distance guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlie looks forward to the time he can again give hugs and shake hands.

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Charlie Emick at the 2019 Festival of Trees/Photo credit: Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Even during this historic, challenging time, the Red Cross continues to respond in times of crisis, thanks to the extraordinarily dedication and compassion of people like Charlie Emick and his volunteer family.

Be like Charlie.  Help your community.  Become a Red Cross volunteer.  You can explore opportunities and more on our website.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Red Cross assists residents in apartment fire as month comes to a close

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

February 4, 2020- As January was coming to a close, some in Northeast Ohio were completing end of the month paperwork at work, while others were preparing for the Super Bowl. However, for Red Cross disaster action team members, it was another day of assisting residents suffering from a disaster and helping them get through the worst days of their lives.

During the evening of January 31, an apartment building on Lake Ave. in Cleveland caught on fire, even requiring one residents to be rescued by ladder. As the Cleveland Fire Department was battling the fire, the American Red Cross assisted residents displaced from the four story building.

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The Red Cross assisted 14 residents from the Lake Ave. apartments and provided $1,750 in immediate financial assistance.

As the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross has the ability to use your donation to reach more people in need, more quickly. Your donation to the Red Cross helps provide food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance during disasters.

To help the Red Cross provide hope and comfort to individuals in Northeast Ohio experiencing their darkest hours, please visit redcross.org/donate to provide a financial donation. Any amount donated truly helps with their recovery.

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If you are looking more for an opportunity to personally touch the lives of an individual suffering a local disaster and experiencing the worst day of their lives, you can become a disaster disaster services volunteer.

Volunteers are the face of the Red Cross. Without their tremendous and selfless dedication, we would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio.

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Visit redcross.org/volunteer  to submit a volunteer application.

To learn more about the role of a disaster action team member, attend one of our upcoming volunteer information sessions in Akron, Cleveland and East Liverpool.

Photo credit: WOIO Cleveland 19

 

Volunteer power is an awesome force

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.​”

By Doug Bardwell, an American Red Cross volunteer

December 13, 2019- Thousands of people’s lives are affected by disasters each year, and those same lives are also affected by relief and comfort from the American Red Cross.

Following a disaster, when life is at its lowest, the American Red Cross is often the first with:

  1. an encouraging word
  2. a hug
  3. financial assistance
  4. a safe place to stay
  5. meals and snacks
  6. a caseworker to help recovery
  7. any or all of the above

Since this isn’t a graded exam, we can share the answer: G.  Throughout the year, locally, nationally, and internationally, the Red Cross is often the first humanitarian association people ever encounter after a disaster.  Responding to a hurricane earlier this year, a survivor told me, “I’ve been through four hurricanes in my life, and the Red Cross is the only organization that has been there to help me after each one.

Doug Blog

During fiscal year 2019, more than 150 volunteers from Northeast Ohio deployed to relief operations resulting from disasters such as Hurricane Dorian, flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda, and multiple wildfires in California.

While hurricanes aren’t a concern in Northeast Ohio, we’ve certainly had our share of other catastrophes. Locally, the Red Cross responded to 979 local disaster events, the vast majority of them home fires, resulting in the distribution of $810,086 in financial assistance to help individuals begin the path to recovery.

In addition to local disasters, we served almost 2,500 military members, veterans and their families with critically needed support while those servicepeople were deployed. Local program staff and volunteers also delivered the “Get to Know Us” briefing to more than 3,200 military recruits and their family members.

Finally, the region’s Biomedical Services collected 145,531 units of blood that resulted in the distribution of no fewer than 436,593 life supporting blood products to more than 50 medical facilities in Northeast Ohio.  These blood products helped patients across Northeast Ohio recover from a variety of medical conditions, including some that were life threatening.

Nationally, the results are even more staggering.  During the 60,000-plus disasters that the Red Cross responds to each year, we

  • Served over 1.1 million meals and snacks with our partners
  • Distributed over 354,000 relief items
  • Made over 92,000 contacts to support health, mental health, spiritual care and disability needs
  • Provided over 79,000 overnight shelter stays with partners
  • Provided emergency financial assistance to nearly 376,000 people for disaster needs like food and lodging.

Most important to remember, is that all this assistance requires two critical ingredients: donations from our cherished donors and a volunteer workforce.

Despite a mandate from the government to respond to disasters and to support our military, no federal funding is generated.  Operating funds come from the generous donations of American citizens and organizations.  For more information on donating, please visit our donations page.

And, 90% of the Red Cross workers are volunteers, almost all of them are part-time. Some respond to disasters once a year, some monthly and some only when a local disaster occurs near their home. If you have a couple hours, a day, or more, see if there’s a volunteer opportunity you’d like to perform. These days, you don’t even need to leave home to volunteer, with some of the digital opportunities available.

Photo by Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

A special thank you to NEO Red Cross volunteers

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

November 27, 2019- Volunteers from across Northeast Ohio descended on Akron two days before Thanksgiving to enjoy delicious pie at the annual Thanks For Giving celebration.

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The event truly had the feel of a family affair with Red Cross staff and volunteers sharing laughter and fond memories.

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Red Crossers from all five chapters – Greater Cleveland, Lake Erie/Heartland, Lake to River, Stark and Muskingum Lakes, and Summit. Portage and Medina Counties were represented.

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The event was more than just enjoying sweets and refreshments. It was an opportunity for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio to give a heartfelt thank you to volunteers for everything they do to spread the Red Cross’ mission throughout the year.

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Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross.

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If you’d like to join our volunteer workforce, visit redcross.org/neo to explore the many volunteer opportunities available.

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To view more photos from Thanks For Giving, visit our Flickr page.

Red Cross providing food, shelter along East Coast for residents fleeing Dorian

Also committing an initial $2M to help Bahamas
Bahamas Situation Dire, Damage Hampering Relief Efforts;
Blood Donors Outside Storm Area Asked to Give

September 6, 2019- The American Red Cross has mounted a major response to help people in Hurricane Dorian’s destructive path.

An initial $2 million has been committed to assist in meeting the immediate needs of those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, while continuing to provide shelter and food to thousands of people in the United States.

The storm left unbelievable devastation behind in the Bahamas. Abaco and Grand Bahama were particularly hard hit. Initial aerial assessments show widespread devastation to the islands, from destroyed homes to contaminated water sources.

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Jenelle Eli, director, International Communications for the American Red Cross, has deployed to the area and reports the situation is dire, especially on Abaco. Video footage of Abaco shows total obliteration of portions of the island and large areas completely covered by water. Thousands are in need of food and water.

“Our relief operation is growing, but we are also facing serious challenges in terms of delivering aid,” Eli reports. “These challenges include damaged airports and destroyed telecommunications networks. Even search-and-rescue choppers haven’t been able to reach some people because there’s no place to land. These challenges are affecting everyone.”

A rapid assessment and response team is currently focusing on emergency shelter and urgent needs. Relief supplies to support temporary shelter needs of 1,500 families are in country. Red Cross shelter and other sector specialists are on the ground to provide immediate relief while conducting assessments, and search and rescues is a current priority while the full scope and scale of needs is still being determined. Red Cross volunteers and staff will also distribute meals and food rations to people who may have gone without food in days.

Eli, a native of Northeast Ohio,  continued, “People I spoke to on Abaco today told some pretty horrific stories. Every person I spoke to lost their home. They each had a story about trying to hold their roofs down in the high winds and then running from neighbor’s home to neighbor’s home seeking safety. But each home they sought shelter in got destroyed too. They said that the most damaged areas are decimated.”

Eli reported those she spoke with all echoed this sentiment: “How am I going to start over? This is going to be so hard.” Many of them didn’t know the fate of their loved ones. And they worry that their family members fear them dead since they haven’t been in touch. See more in this video.

The International Federation of the Red Cross has announced an emergency appeal for $3.2 million to support the Bahamas Red Cross as it responds to the storm.

Hurricane Dorian 2019

September 5, 2019. Jacksonville, Florida. American Red Cross nurse Jana Cearlock coaxes hugs and smiles from 2-year old Karmin Nelson, a resident, along with her great-grandmother at the Legends Center evacuation shelter in Jacksonville, Florida.  Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

On Thursday night, more than 5,600 people stayed in 112 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.  To date, the Red Cross and community organizations have provided nearly 37,000 cumulative overnight stays for Hurricane Dorian.

The Red Cross has mobilized more than 2,700 trained responders from all over the country, including 19 volunteers from Northeast Ohio, to assist in hurricane affected areas.

One of the Northeast Ohio disaster volunteers deployed to assist with Hurricane Dorian is Tom Quinn of Wadsworth.

Volunteers constitute 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. Volunteers make it possible to respond to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year, most of them home fires. Disaster services volunteers provide food, shelter, comfort and care for families affected by major disasters such as fire, hurricanes and tornadoes.

While deployed to Florida, Tom assisted at an emergency evacuation shelter at Evans High School in Orlando, FL. One day, Tom selflessly took it upon himself to play with and entertain children living in the shelter to help give them a sense of normalcy during the difficult moment.

Volunteer mental health and health services professionals have also provided more than 10,000 contacts to provide support and care to people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Along with partners and community organizations, the Red Cross has served more than 85,000 meals and snacks.

In advance of Dorian, the Red Cross has also deployed 110 emergency response vehicles (ERVs), including two ERVs from Northeast Ohio, and 104 tractor trailers loaded full of relief supplies, including cots, blankets and 63,000 ready-to-eat meals to help people in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

LOOKING FOR A LOVED ONE?

People concerned about US Citizens traveling in Bahamas should contact the US State Department Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

You can make a difference in the lives of people impacted by Hurricane Dorian in both the U.S. and the Bahamas. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. In the U.S., this includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD

Hurricane Dorian has forced the cancellation of approximately 70 Red Cross blood drives and donation centers in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia resulting in more than 1,800 uncollected blood and platelet donations. We urge eligible individuals in unaffected areas to give blood or platelets to ensure a sufficient blood supply for patients. The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donations following a summer shortage. In addition to cancelled blood drives, we anticipate low blood donor turnout in and around affected areas due to poor weather conditions this week. Schedule an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Red Cross volunteers provide Hall of Fame care during induction ceremonies

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

 August 8, 2019- Fans who enjoyed the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony events in Canton, Ohio, were treated to top-notch care and attention from the American Red Cross.

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It’s important to stay safe and hydrated while outside on hot summer days. That’s why Red Cross volunteers were present to give those enjoying the festivities a cold bottle of water and provide medical attention if needed.

Events began July 21 during the community parade. As crowds were enjoying the procession, volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter passed out cooling towels and water and provided medical attention at a first aid tent.

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Festivities continued Aug. 2 with two events. The first event was a fashion show luncheon, where 17 Red Cross volunteers were on hand. Later in the day, 18 volunteers staffed the enshrinement gold jacket dinner. At both events, the Red Cross volunteers where present in areas where food was served and worked with the hosts to spot anyone who needed medical attention.

The Hall of Fame enshrinement celebration came to an end Aug. 3 with two final events.

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The day began with the grand parade. As fans enjoyed local bands and floats, 26 Red Cross volunteers handed out water and cold towels to help beat the heat. The Red Cross also provided an inside cooling room and a first aid station at the Malone University Johnson Center.

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The day ended with a roundtable discussion luncheon featuring this year’s inductees. Inside the Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center, 17 Red Cross volunteers were present to spot and provide any necessary medical attention.

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If you’re interested in learning how you can volunteer for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328 to learn about all the different opportunities in your area.

To view photos from the grand parade, visit our Flickr page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Photo credit: Tom Newman, American Red Cross volunteer

Play Ball! Chapter volunteers treated to night at the ballpark

By Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications & Marketing Manager, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

June 28, 2019- Ballgame!

Volunteers of the Greater Cleveland Chapter brought home a winner on Saturday, June 22, 2019, gathering at Classic Park in Eastlake to watch the Lake County Captains play the West Michigan Whitecaps. It was Heroes Appreciation Night at the ballpark, and some American Red Cross hero volunteers took advantage of the offer to go to the game free of charge to recognize their vital contributions to the Red Cross mission.

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Fans of the Lake County Captains, a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, weren’t disappointed. The Captains beat West Michigan 5-2.

“We can’t think of a better place to honor our heroes, our Red Cross volunteers, than at a Lake County Captains game,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  He then led the crowd as they sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.

Before the game, Mike threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches. Afterward, he claimed the Burning River jersey he was awarded for submitting the highest bid. It was autographed by Captain’s pitcher Thomas Ponticelli, who led  the Captains with a combined no-hitter the night before.

Volunteers received vouchers for free parking and a meal, so they didn’t have to spend a dime to have good time at the ballpark. It was a great evening of summertime baseball and a fun way to reward the dedicated volunteers who pitch in to help the Red Cross serve up  relief on a daily basis for community members in need.

See more photos in our Flickr album here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Reflections of a former board member

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

June 16, 2019- Last week I attended the annual meeting of the board of directors for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. But it was more than

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L to R: Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Sue Wilson and Pam Williams

just the final meeting before the summer break. Amidst the business of thanking outgoing board members like me and recognizing new board members to take the place of those exiting, it was time to thank the volunteers—without whom the Red Cross could not accomplish its mission.

I am always moved—amazed but never surprised—to hear the stories of the heroes that make up the many volunteers who are the first responders. Those who show up and stand alongside to help people who have truly experienced the worst day of their life.

The volunteers who have:

  • installed 2,000 free smoke alarms. making 700 homes that didn’t have them safer, as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign.
  • responded to more than 120 home fires, providing residents in our three counties with help and hope.
  • deployed to the Greater Dayton area to help those affected by the recent deadly and destructive tornadoes—running toward disaster while most are running away.
  • given blood and/or found ways to encourage blood donation, especially as part of the Missing Types campaign, which strives to increase the nation’s blood supply by bringing attention to the more rare, missing types of blood, A, B and O, potentially saving more than 75,000 lives.

The thing that hit me most, however, after I received my certificate of appreciation for nine years of board service, was how little I felt I had done compared to these heroic volunteers. And how inspired I feel to continue on, if not as a board member, as a volunteer for this incredible organization so that I can help to continue its legacy of service. I can’t help but feel especially inspired to “be like Pam.”

Pam Williams received the H. Peter Burg award last year for her lifetime of service to our community and the Red Cross. She also steps down as board chair, passing the gavel to Alan Papa, president and chief operating officer for Cleveland Clinic Akron General. Pam truly is a dedicated volunteer. This small space cannot list her many acts of selflessness:  from sleeping in shelters alongside victims of disasters, to driving a forklift, to serving as our government liaison before and while she was our board chair.

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New board of directors chair Alan Papa speaks at the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting

Last week may have been the end of my three-term, nine-year stint as a member of the Red Cross board of directors. But it was the first day of my continuation of a commitment to be a better volunteer for this amazing organization so that I can not only be more like Pam but also like the many volunteers who make up the Red Cross family.

Click here to visit our Flickr account to view photos from the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter annual meeting.