Packer 5k- an Interns point of view

by: Cassie DeClerc

Where do I even start when it comes to the Packer 5k?! This was my first experience organizing a large group of volunteers and I learned a lot from it!

Packer 5k When we first posted on here, Facebook, twitter and sent emails out notifying our great volunteers that the American Red Cross would once again be a charity partner with the Packer 5k and that we were looking for volunteers I was a bit overwhelmed. Our amazing community quickly pulled together and sent emails in quicker than I could read them. While it was wonderful to see people volunteer to donate their time, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to organize and contact every single person! Along with the simple challenge of replying to everyone, came the challenge of getting all of the correct information. Some emails came in without shirt sizes, or what area they wanted to work, or even missing the names of individuals which required an extra step of communication which proved to be more fun that I anticipated.

But, through the emails I feel that I got the amazing opportunity to connect with the volunteers. Email made is seem like I was pen pals with 150+ people with some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. With the help of a computer screen and keyboard I was introduced to groups of work friends, people that were long time friends, first time volunteers and volunteers with years of experience, couples, singles, and even families that came together to make a difference and put their community first. Who would ever guess that 150+ strangers could feel like family so quickly!?

As race day neared, I remember being a bit stressed about finding volunteers to fill our open spots on course corners and at the water station. We sent out a social media reminder that we were still looking for volunteers and got 1 response. ONE RESPONSE! I think I had a bit of a panic attack thinking there was no way I would ever fill the positions and because of that it would all be a failure.  (I even had a dream one night of an empty water station with angry thirsty runners!) Jody then reminded me that we had time and we usually end up with just the right number! Our volunteers are certainly awesome like that and come race day we had all spots covered!

packet stuffNow on to the truly fun and interesting stuff! Goodie bag stuffing was a blast! I loved getting to see the faces behind all of the emails I sent and getting to know some of the volunteers better. We had 2 amazing teams that worked so well we were done early! I cannot say enough about the volunteers at Goodie Bag stuffing. They stuffed bags and folded over 8,000 tshirts! My absolute favorite part of Goodie Bag stuffing was the DePere Baseball team that brought their A game and  helped us all remember what it’s like to be a kid at Lambeau Field!

water stationAfter a day of rest and recovery we were ready for race day! We started our day at 2pm with packet pick up! We got an awesome picture together (no selfie here, just a normal picture! =]) and then got to send them on their way! We then had a little break before we had to get our course corners and water station ready to go! So Jody and I did what every good runner would do and got prepared for the race! And by that, I mean we got Cold Stone! We had to make sure our sugar was up so we could last through the race!

Our Pre-Race Warm up (or cool down I guess!)

Our Pre-Race Warm up (or cool down I guess!)

We finally met up with our water station, course corner and medal hand out volunteers! All such wonderful people! In a few short hours these amazing people managed to hand out water, medals and cheer on over 7,000 runners!

This was such an amazing experience in my book. I cannot wait to work with awesome volunteers on events like this in the future!

 

Stop & Take a Pause…..

 By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director 

???????????????????????????????Sometimes you come across something that makes you stop and pause.  That happened to me today.  March 8, 2014 we lost long time blood donor and volunteer James Coleman. He was a proud Red Cross volunteer and blood advocate. As I was going through some files today, I came across this poem he wrote.

 

 

“Today while working at a Red Cross Blood Drive
I realized how great it is to be alive
The Blood they donated helps so many
And what they give does not cost a penny
The friendship we share plus the smiles on each face
Shows me how wonderful it is to be part of the human race”

– Jim Coleman

 

Please think about giving the gift of life. I know someone “upstairs” who will be smiling!    #ChooseYourDay!   Go to www.redcrossblood.org to find a drive near you.

John Mueller Honored with the Andrew Janssen Transportation Award

June 24, 2014 the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin hosted our spring Celebration of Support event.  We had 260 staff, volunteers, blood donors and community members attend this annual event. Every year we honor a few volunteers who have gone above and behind. Here are their stories.  

(l-r) Carol and John Mueller and Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager.

(l-r) Carol and John Mueller and Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager.

This award is in remembrance of a man who truly enjoyed volunteering for the American Red Cross.  He was a very caring, compassionate individual who went above and beyond each and every time he got behind the wheel of a Red Cross vehicle.

John Mueller has been a dedicated volunteer for Transportation Services for more than 17 years.  Since starting he has seen a lot of changes within the program, including making the move from the basement office on Deckner Ave into the Service Delivery facility, across the street, where we are currently located.  He has also experienced the growing pains of adjusting to new scheduling software and was present for many staff comings and goings.

John is a routine volunteer driver, meaning he commits to driving each Tuesday and Thursday morning, providing rides to the elderly and/or disabled in our community.  The impact this volunteer has made since starting is:  He has volunteered 1,768 times donating 7,956 hours of his time and provided approximately 14,144 rides.  When he is not helping out at the American Red Cross he can be found volunteering either at his church or doing work for the Knights of Columbus.

Congratulations John Mueller, this year’s Andrew Janssen Transportation Award recipient!

Near Tragedy Strengthens Cross Family

Story written by Barbara Behling, Communications Officer

Arlena.Tasha.Taylor Cross after Swim lessons

(l-r) Arlena, Tasha and Taylor Cross in front of the pool where they take their lessons.

For the Cross family, a few hours at the Riverside High School Pool each week provides water safety skills for sisters Taylor (12) and Arlena (11) Cross.  While mother Tasha Cross sat on the stadium benches, she shared how important swimming lessons are.  “I don’t want my girls to miss out on life – from pool parties, to trips to a lake. I want them to be safe. Safe, like I’ve never felt!” she explained.

While living in North Carolina a few years earlier, the backyard pool should have been relaxing and peaceful. But instead, she notes, “I was afraid of the water; we wore life-jackets all the time, even when it was 100°.”  At a Florida resorts’ extremely large pool, the girls were swimming, splashing and having fun, while drifting in to the deep end. All the while they were getting farther and farther away from me & my husband. We didn’t even see one go under the water and not surface.  When trying to help, the second girl was pulled under by the first. A swimmer close-by pulled them up. They were so scared! They didn’t tell us what happened! At the annual school physical a week later, they complained of ear aches.  The doctor explained their type of injury is from rapid submersion. The girls broke down crying. It was then — their near-drowning experience — was heard.

“We were so close to a terrible ending and I don’t want them to be afraid of the water like their mother,” she concluded. So each week, they travel to the Riverside High School pool for lessons. Throughout the 8-session course, the girls are growing more confident in the water, swim strokes are turning their slender bodies into water machines and their initial fear is growing into love of water.

Every day an average of 10 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning – with 20 percent of them 14 years old or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

Red Cross swimming lessons help people develop skills and water safety behaviors that help people be more comfortable and safe when they are in, on and around the water. The Red Cross encourages all household members to enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs.

To find classes for your family, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs.

The American Red Cross Responds to Wildfires; Local Volunteer Answers the Call to Help…. Part II

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Shirley and Rudy Senarighi

On Tuesday, July 22, Rudy Senarighi, of Sturgeon Bay, WI, packed his bags and was on a flight to Seattle, Washington to assist in the area of Disaster Mental Health for those impacted in the WA Wildfires.  We brought you Rudy’s story on July 25 and to read the first part of his story click HERE.

We are proud of Rudy for putting his life on hold to answer the call to help. We are happy to share that Rudy will be coming home to Wisconsin on Thursday from his Red Cross deployment. We thank him for sharing his thoughts, experiences, and how the Red Cross is helping those impacted….here is the rest of his story.

DAY 4:

It was a long, hot day in Pateros. Up at 5:00 AM to get some coffee before the drive north for a meeting of organizations in Pateros. We set up two tents near the high school to accommodate Disaster Mental health, Health Services and Client Casework. Had a number of folks stop in, some just to sit and relate their stories. The fire has burned down enough so damage assessment can get in and take a look around. The estimate prior to this was 200 homes destroyed. They now are saying they estimate over 300 were lost. Some are talking about rebuilding, some are just leaving, its sad. The town still has no power as 300 miles of wire and poles were burned and are down. They are hoping to get the main line along the highway and into town done over this weekend, but the laterals to the folks in the back country won’t be up for at least a month. Most of them are on generators, but there has been a rash of generator thefts. The orchard growers are bringing in big diesel generators to be able to water the orchards. They are estimating that they have lost 12 – 18% of their trees and fruit from the fire. A 75 year old smoke jumper team captain said in all his years of dealing with fires, he has never seen one as devastating as this one. By the way, my hot shower tonight was WONDERFUL!!!!

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DAY 5:

 91 degrees and clear sky in Pateros today but the good news is power is back on to most of the town. The outlying areas (dirt roads to the interior) are still w/o electricity. However, we are bringing in food, water and tomorrow will begin to bring in ice to them. Temps are predicted to hit mid 90s tomorrow. People continue to show up at Pateros high School with trailers or truck loads og goods to donate. Talked with a couple today who drove from Walla Walla to Pateros to donate. (mapquest that one) Some folks were sharing that they had been allowed back into their property and were sifting through the ashes. they said the found some ceramic stuff intact (been fired already) but everything else was burned or melted. As in every disaster there are weird stories about things surviving. A family pulled their trailer away as the flames were rolling up the hills toward their place. Their buildings were destroyed, but the patio table, chairs and umbrella were still standing untouched.


They are moving us to Brewster,WA in the next two days as they begin to restructure the approach. that will give us less driving to get to the affected area. Working in that temperature today was pretty draining. Kept hydrated, but I am really bushed tonight. Five more active days for me and then I outprocess and head home. Great experience here, but it really helps ground you in the reality of how fortunate you are to have a comfortable home and loved ones to return to.

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DAY 6: 

Flexibility. Plans changed. The fire blew up again in Black canyon which is 7 miles up the road from Pateros, so that’s where we were sent back to this morning. The scooper planes and helicopters along with firefighters on the ground handled it well. air was smokey for the morning but the fire was out. We made outreach trips to the Alta Lake area. 47 homes completely destroyed there along with many vehicles. Good news for the day is the temperature did not hit the predicted 102 degrees and stayed at 94. People are beginning to really come to our service center, which lessens our time driving the back roads looking for people. we’ve coordinated well with other agencies, and there is minimal duplication of services. At one point we thought we would be ramping down the operation, but there still is a lot of the forest hot and burning.

The reception that we have gotten from the people here is very positive and welcoming. My big “in” with one of the local leaders is that her favorite uncle is named Rudy. What a lucky guy.

DAY 7:

 

The community at Pateros is ending their mass feeding tomorrow. They have been operating from the high school, but need to get ready for the school year. All the donations stored there (and as Jacob Marley would say about the quantity, “it is a ponderous thing) need to moved and stored by Friday. We will be working with the Southern Baptist group to continue the feeding from our ERVs. Temperature is rising, hitting 106 today. We have put up tent awnings to deliver our casework from, but it still gets quite warm under the tents. People continue to return and shift through the ashes.
I have downloaded a couple of pictures of the area from my camera. You have to imagine 400 square miles looking like this. There is a picture of two cars in a driveway. The shiny ribbons of metal between them is melted aluminum from the cars. There is a constant smell in the air of wet ashes, like when you drown a campfire. Fire is now at the stage similar to a controlled burn. Most of the really hot spots are in the national forest. The terrain is rugged and remote and much of that will burn or be controlled by back fires.

It has been a week now and the shock is setting in for the people. Business is picking up.
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Day 8: 
Last day in the field. 109 degrees at 4:.00. Drank a LOT of water today. The fire flared up again and planes were ferrying water from the Columbia River back to the blaze and dropping it. Got a couple of pictures from the rise overlooking Pateros. Smoke made the air hazy for most of the morning, but it cleared off slightly by afternoon. Talked to one resident who lost his house who told me the ground got so hot the buried wires and PVC pipe melted. Attaching some photos of the planes scooping water from the river. tomorrow is my day off. Plan on a lazy day and doing some laundry. I out process on Thursday. If I don’t work that day I am going to try for a flight home. Got a nice goodbye from the folks in Pateros.

 

Pakou Lee Honored with Rookie of the Year Award

June 24, 2014 the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin hosted our spring Celebration of Support event.  We had 260 staff, volunteers, blood donors and community members attend this annual event. Every year we honor a few volunteers who have gone above and behind. Here are their stories.  

(l) Pakou Lee, Rookie of the Year with Jody Weyers, Volunteer & Communications Director.

(l) Pakou Lee, Rookie of the Year with Jody Weyers, Volunteer & Communications Director.

The American Red Cross has so many stories to share of the amazing generosity of our volunteers, donors and the great work we do in the community.  It is a gift when you come across a volunteer who has the talent and skills to capture these stories to share with the public.

Pakou Lee is vital to the public affairs team. She is involved with writing stories about our services and her experiences and then sharing those on our blog and other social sites. She updates our Northeast Wisconsin Facebook page and Twitter account daily promoting local blood drives and campaigns.

She volunteers at many of our special events assisting with promoting that event through social media or helping where needed. For the past two years she has assisted at the Packers 5k, along with bringing her nieces to help, our Dancing with Our Stars kick off and many fundraising events for our Star Dancers.  

Pakou has taken training classes in public affairs to gain additional knowledge and did her first live television interview as a Red Cross spokesperson this year.  Through her volunteer experience, she received a promotion with her employer working on their social media team.

She has a wonderful talent of being able to draw people in with her words.  It is for her dedication and commitment to sharing the Red Cross story that honored Pakou Lee with the Rookie of the Year Award.

The American Red Cross Responds to Wildfires; Local Volunteer Answers the Call to Help

Disaster Mental Health Manager Diane Hermanson looks at damaged property from the Washington wildfires. The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started.

Disaster Mental Health Manager Diane Hermanson looks at damaged property from the Washington wildfires. The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started.

Wildfires have already destroyed almost 300,000 acres in Washington and officials are asking for other states to send firefighters to help put out the flames. The American Red Cross is supporting the affected residents and first responders fighting to extinguish the blazes.

 The fires have forced people to leave their neighborhoods and more than 200 people have stayed in numerous Red Cross shelters since the fires started. Many others visit the shelters during the day to get the latest information about the fires and have access to other services.

Red Cross workers have already provided more than 3,200 meals and snacks and the Southern Baptist Convention has opened a mobile kitchen to help the Red Cross distribute meals throughout the affected areas as they are deemed safe. They are also providing health and mental health services and meeting one-on one with people to determine what other services they need.

The Red Cross is also distributing things such as trash bags, heavy work gloves and masks to people who are starting to sift through the ashes where their homes once stood. Red Cross workers remain in close coordination with Emergency Management teams to identify what additional help people may need.

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Shirley and Rudy Senarighi

On Tuesday, July 22, Rudy Senarighi, of Sturgeon Bay, WI, packed his bags and was on a flight to Seattle, Washington to assist in the area of Disaster Mental Health. This is not his first deployment, and usually he goes out with this wife, Shirley, who is also a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer. Between the two of them, the couple has over 60 years of professional experience as counselors, teachers and administrative supervisors.

We are proud of Rudy for putting his life on hold to answer the call to help. Rudy is now into day three of his Red Cross deployment. We thank him for sharing his thoughts, experiences, and how the Red Cross is helping those impacted.

Day 1:

Made it to Wenatchee. Really a pretty place on the floor of the river valley. Tomorrow I head up to Brewster, WA. Most of the place burned to the ground. Will be meeting with townspeople. We also will go to Omak which is nearby. There are 13 of us that will be divided into 6 teams. We heard tonight that the fire has shifted and is heading toward a wilderness area near the Canadian border.

Burned-vehicles-NW-wildfires-jpgDay 2:

Spent the day in and around Pateros, WA connecting with people and bringing water to those in part of the burned out area. The town is still without power, but has drinkable water now. I am amazed at the heat that fire must have generated. Saw cars that had burned with puddles of melted aluminum around the ends of the axles from what had been the hub caps. The only evidence of some homes were cinder blocks stacked in a rectangle. I’m scheduled to go back to Pateros tomorrow with my partner to meet with the community. The big fire is 0% contained, but the fire fighters are trying to direct it NE. That is an area that was burned a few years ago and thus there is less fuel in that area for the fire to really burn. Today, just after my partner and I returned to Pateros, there was a lightening strike along the road we had just driven, and started another fire. These guys just can’t get a break.

Day 3: 

Pateros was an exciting day. Heard lots of stories, connected with many people. The fire was described by many as a “Fire Storm”. It rolled through the town and valleys very fast, only about 20 minutes. The fire trucks tried to keep up but they drained the cities water and couldn’t do anything more. The only interruptions came when the tanker planes flew over and scooped water out of the Columbia River, a sight I had only seen in movies. National guard moved in today and are doing 24/7 checks of property and people in the back country. Still some looting happening. People are very friendly and appreciative of our presence. we are working closely with the people of Pateros, they really have things under control, an exemplary job. Will go back tomorrow and set up a permanent site for Red Cross at the supply station there. Fire is 52% contained, but we were cautioned that contained does not mean controlled. however, the fire fighters are making progress every day. The hot weather and wind is a problem, both for the fire and for blowing loose ash and dust in the air. Skin feels pretty gritty tonight. But, they just moved us into a different staff shelter, Wenatchee High School. That means hot water and showers tonight.

The work of the American Red Cross is made possible by donations. Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions can also be sent by mail to a local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross via P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

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