The American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio celebrates National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12

Thank you.

Thank you to our Disaster Action Team members who rise at random hours to bring hope to those who have experienced a major fire in their home.

Thank you to those who spend time in our chapter offices greeting visitors, answering phone calls and making the Red Cross run a little more smoothly.

Thank you to our volunteers who walk through neighborhoods distributing information about fire safety. To those who drive residents to life saving medical treatments. And those who provide 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families.

To that more than 90% of our workforce who freely offer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community, “Thank you”.

Thank you to the more than 90% of our workforce who volunteer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community.

Thank you to the more than 90% of our workforce who volunteer their time and talents to fulfill our mission in their community.

Why We Red Cross: Transportation Driver

Bunny Perren volunteers as a driver for the Transportation Program with the Summit and Portage Counties Chapter.

Bunny Perren volunteers as a driver for the Transportation Program with the Summit and Portage Counties Chapter.

After teaching for 38 years with Norton City Schools, Bunny Perren was ready to embark on a new adventure.

In talking to her friend, Bev Snyder (who is the Director of Community Services for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio) she found her next undertaking.

The Summit and Portage Counties chapter of the American Red Cross offers transportation services for non-life threatening medical appointments in Summit County. Each of the drivers who assist the chapter’s large roster of clients is a volunteer.

Bunny knew how the struggle to get a loved one to necessary medical appointments could take a toll on a family. She and her three sisters had shared the duty of transporting their mother to cancer treatments while balancing their own family and work obligations.

“I feel like we are doing a service that no one else in the community has taken the time to do,” said Bunny. For the past two years she has volunteered as a driver at least one day a week.

Bunny knows each of her clients’ stories. In the ten or so minutes it takes to get from their home to their appointment and back she listens to their tales of life, children and grandchildren. And she offers a place to vent their frustrations.

Even when she encounters a client for the first time, Bunny’s kind personality is quick to put them at ease.

“You can become their cheerleader,” she said. “I love this job!”

If you are interested in becoming a Transportation Volunteer, drivers are needed in both Summit and Stark Counties. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to get started.

Why we Red Cross: Brad Raum

Brad Raum first encountered the American Red Cross while serving as a marine. These days, in addition to his work as a Vice President with Robinson Memorial Hospital, he dedicates his time to the mission of the Red Cross as a Board Member with the Summit and Portage Counties Chapter. He has served in this capacity for 3 years.

Thank you for taking the time to share your message, Brad!

Why we Red Cross: Disaster Services

Royce Brown, a man who believes that smiling for long enough will bring out the sun, smiles while telling his story in Downtown Barberton.

Royce Brown, a man who believes that smiling for long enough will bring out the sun, smiles while telling his story in Downtown Barberton.

Severe storms rumbled across Northeast Ohio the afternoon of July 10, 2013. In Barberton, flood waters climbed fast and strong. As a local automotive dealer worked quickly to move their inventory to higher ground, residents found themselves stranded on pockets of land surrounded by rushing rivers that only hours before had been neighborhood streets. Area fire crews responded to numerous reports of basements filled with water and weakening foundations.

The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties responded by opening an shelter at the local YMCA for residents who had been displaced by the flood waters. Once the flood waters began to recede, people began returning to their homes to survey the damage.

In the midst of this chaos, one man found that he no longer had a home. The Shamrock Motel, a fixture on Norton Avenue, and Royce Brown’s home had closed as a result of the damage sustained during the floods. Unaware of the shelter provided by the Red Cross, Royce loaded his belongings into his new home, his Chevrolet.

Royce continued living in his car, parking at a local grocery that was open 24 hours and eating a small breakfast and washing up at the McDonalds before going into work. On the ninth day, Royce had to fill out paper work for his participation in the local Relay for Life, a 24 hour walk-a-thon benefiting the American Cancer Society. When asked for his address, Royce confided in a co-worker that he was living in his car.

“There’s nothing broke on me. I’m one of those people who won’t ask for a hand,” said Royce, an avid community volunteer. “But I love to help others, to see the smile on their faces. To have someone reach out to me, when I was in need, was truly a blessing. People cared about me, people who didn’t even know me.”

With a little assistance from co-workers, Royce was put in touch with a Red Cross case worker. Through the collaboration of the Red Cross, YMCA, Public Health and other agencies in Barberton, by Tuesday he was in a new apartment complete with furniture, linens, cooking supplies and personal hygiene products.

Royce has come out of his experience feeling like a new man.

“I have a second shot at life, I’m not going to take anything for granted. I believe in keeping on going and keeping the faith.”

Why we Red Cross: Training

 Gary with his daughter, Christy and his wife.


Gary with his daughter, Christy and his wife.

Gary Burris was stuck in traffic when his daughter became unresponsive. Ahead, he saw a Red Cross vehicle and ran for assistance.

Tim Reichel, Red Cross volunteer, was driving a Red Cross vehicle back to Canton, OH from an event. Upon seeing his panic, Tim ran to Gary’s daughter, Christy. With no cell reception, attempts to call ‘911’ failed. A truck driver used his radio to call for help.

Tim, certified in CPR and first aid, could see she was breathing and propped her legs up to prevent shock. He retrieved gauze from his vehicle to wet and place on her forehead.

Once the EMS arrived, they took Christy to a local hospital. It was determined that Christy had a seizure. She is now in good health.

“As I’ve shared this story, people can’t believe how lucky we were. I was paralyzed with fear but feel so blessed that the Red Cross was there,” said Gary.

Tim began volunteering for the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In response to this situation Tim asks that everyone get CPR and First Aid certification.

If you would like more information on Red Cross training in First Aid and CPR, visit our website or contact your local chapter. For more information on volunteering, click here.

Why we Red Cross: Service to Armed Forces

Father and Son, Antonio Ciraldo and PFC Joseph Ciraldo

Father and Son, Antonio Ciraldo and PFC Joseph Ciraldo

When his mother passed away in February, 2013, Antonio Ciraldo knew he needed to find a way to get his son, PFC Joseph Ciraldo, home for the funeral. As a child, Joseph had spent time after school and every Sunday with his grandparents. He and his grandmother, in particular, were very close.

At his son’s suggestion, Antonio contacted the American Red Cross.

Within 30 minutes Joe’s leave was being processed.

“We, as a community, are blessed with such a program,” Antonio said. “With a single phone call my son was able to be present for the funeral of his grandmother and stand as a source of strength for his grandfather.”

As part of our service to Armed Forces, the Red Cross gives support to active-duty military members, National Guard and Reserve members, veterans and their families. We provide pre-deployment briefings, called “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us,” and connect families with needed resources when their loved ones are deployed.

The Red Cross also delivers emergency messages, such as notification of an illness or death in the family. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including on ships at sea and at embassies and remote locations. Even if the service member receives an email or phone call from home, Red Cross-verified information assists the member and his or her commanding officers with making a decision regarding emergency leave. Military families rely on these verified communications.

For more information, visit our website or contact your local chapter.

Why we Red Cross: Volunteering

Ingrid, a Red Cross volunteer stands with her husband, John.

Ingrid, a Red Cross volunteer stands with her husband, John.

Before meeting her husband, Ingrid Normington worked as a marine biologist helping to develop a sustainable plan for the 7,100 islands and islets in her native Philippines. In the early days of their relationship, John, retired military, and Ingrid were pen pals. Once they decided to marry, Ingrid and her daughter Maya returned with John to his home in Stark County.

In the wake of international events starting with September 11, 2001, John re-enlisted in the National Guard. Ingrid immersed herself into being a military wife. She volunteered with a military family readiness group where she met Melissa Seibert, the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces Manager for the Northeast Ohio Region.

“Melissa empowered me and continues to empower me,” says Ingrid, who now volunteers with military families through the Stark County Chapter. Ingrid understands the power of having someone there who understands the situation many military families go through. John recently returned from active duty in Afghanistan.

The Red Cross gives support to active-duty military members, National Guard and Reserve members, veterans and their families. We provide pre-deployment briefings, called “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us,” and connect families with needed resources when their loved ones are deployed.

For more information on our Service to Armed Forces programs, visit our website or contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

Why we Red Cross: Saving Lives

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John Piller (first row, third person) surrounded by his family and lifesaving co-workers.

Cleveland based Morrison Products has been offering Red Cross CPR & First Aid classes to employees for over 15 years. Employee John Piller is living proof that the classes save lives.

While at work, John felt early symptoms of cardiac arrest, such as shortness of breath and arm pain, before passing out at his work station. Co-workers found John and determined he was having a heart attack. While waiting for EMS to arrive, they used the company’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) purchased from the Red Cross.

“I didn’t have to think about what to do. I just relied on the knowledge from those classes,” said employee Kathy Kuhn.

After the incident, Piller spent four days at the Cleveland Clinic recovering. He is grateful to his co-workers. “If it would have happened anywhere else, I don’t think I would have made it,” Piller said.

If you are interested, learn more about taking a class by checking out the classes in your area by clicking here.