Have Fun, Be Safe on Halloween

Halloween-21

Halloween is popular with everyone – kids to adults – and the American Red Cross has some safety tips people can follow to stay safe this Halloween while enjoying the festivities.

1. Use only flame-resistant costumes.

2. Plan the Trick-or-Treat route – make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.

3. Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.

4. Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.

5. Instead of masks which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, use face paint instead.

6. Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.

7. Be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

8. If you are welcoming Trick-or-Treaters, sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps.

9. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

10. Restrain your pets.

LEARN WHAT TO DO Download the free Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Find this and all of the Red Cross apps by searching for American Red Cross in the app store for your mobile device or by going toredcross.org/apps.

Special Thanks to Our Volunteers, Employees and Donors During Sandy

By: Trevor Riggen, Vice President of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics, American Red Cross

hurricane-sandy09Today marks the two-year anniversary of one of the largest responses in the long and proud history of this organization. It was a storm and challenge so unique that they had to come up with a new name just to describe it – Superstorm Sandy.  It was a massive, powerful storm that hit the most densely populated area of the country at the tail end of hurricane season followed by falling temperatures, snow, and enormous need throughout the region.

I want to begin by saying thank you to each and every one of you who donated money or raised your hand to join in serving those in need during the long weeks that followed landfall and to the thousands more who have served in our ongoing recovery efforts. So much great work was done by so many – the numbers are truly staggering.

  • More than 17 million meals and snacks were served
  • More than 7 million relief items were distributed
  • 74,000 over-night shelter stays were accommodated
  • More than 5,100 households have been provided over $32 million of move-in assistance
  • More than $91 million has been provided to dozens of nonprofits with specialized expertise and strong local ties

During the peak of the response and for weeks after Sandy’s landfall, we were providing 130,000 to 150,000 meals and snacks a day. Imagine handing a meal or snack to every person at a sold-out New York Giants or Jets game AND a sold-out Yankees game, every day, from Halloween until after Christmas. None of this would have been possible without the hearts of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors.

sandy-pie-chartMore than 17,000 of you put on a vest and put your lives on hold to serve others. Many of you stayed to serve past your 3 week commitment or returned to serve during the holidays. Your work has greatly benefited those affected by Sandy, not just in the initial response, but also through our recovery efforts, which continue to this day. Across New Jersey, New York and Connecticut the work goes on.  With our partners and the local regions we continue to serve those affected, through grant-funded home rebuilds, volunteer trainings and convening long-term recovery groups.  And our surveys show an overwhelming majority of those we served reported a positive experience with the Red Cross.

While we are proud of our response, we also know that we can always do better. “Good enough” is not the standard we seek to reach. We’re always striving to improve because we know the American public and the people we serve expect nothing less.

Throughout its 133-year history, the American Red Cross has continued to make changes and find new and more efficient ways to do things. In fact, this drive to learn and do better started with Clara Baron, the founder of the American Red Cross, who said, “I go for anything new that might improve the past.”

In that spirit, I want to close by sharing some of the improvements we’ve made based on what we learned from our work before, during and after Sandy.

Months before Sandy struck in October 2012, we began a process known as re-engineering. It began with a comprehensive and detailed examination of the way we approach disasters.

One of the main outcomes of that effort was a commitment to empower local Red Cross leaders on the ground, who know their communities best, to make more decisions locally. As a result of that commitment, we have moved nearly one-third of our disaster positions out of national headquarters and into the field, closer to the people we serve.

We are already seeing this new structure work. I’ve heard personally from those of you who served in Moore, Oklahoma after the tornadoes, Colorado after the floods, and Oso, Washington after the landslide.

If you look around at the major projects and work from the past year, you can see lessons from Sandy in many other places.

Preparedness: We saw during Sandy how critical preparedness is to response. Raising awareness of risks and preparedness actions at the community level can save lives in the first 48 to 72 hours after a storm.  Now we integrate preparedness into everything we do.

Response: The impact from Sandy was felt from Ohio and West Virginia to Vermont. This size of event allowed us to see where our systems could scale, as well as areas  where they couldn’t and we’ve made adjustments. Our new divisional structure and tools, such as our inventory management system, will allow us to streamline the movement of supplies and resources in a way we couldn’t before.

Recovery:  Perhaps the greatest lesson we learned was the value of having a standardized recovery program – one that is predictable and repeatable and that scales to meet the need.  You’ve probably seen the new Recovery Services program materials and resources; what’s currently available is just the start.

All this to say we’ve learned a great deal from Sandy and our many other operations over the past few years. We’re committed to taking the lessons we learn and applying them to the programs we create and the services we provide.

Last week, I was asked a very simple question by a reporter: “How would you characterize your response to Sandy?” My answer was equally simple – We couldn’t be prouder. We are proud of our efforts to help thousands of families move back into their homes. We are proud of the massive scale of feeding and distribution we provided. And, we are proud of the fact that we’ve spent or committed to spend 99 percent of the $311.5 million entrusted to us by our donors for our Sandy work.

Most importantly, we’re proud that when we put out the call for help, you answered, and it made a difference in the lives of others.

I am humbled to be a part of this amazing organization and to work each and every day alongside you to take care of those in need. We are committed to doing even better in the next disaster, and the one after that.

See more at: http://www.redcross.org/support/donating-fundraising/where-your-money-goes/sandy-response

Stay Connected Across the Country with the Disaster Action Room!

The Disaster Action Room displays the latest information about Red Cross disaster activity from active Red Cross social media accounts and official updates from the ground. Use the navigation tabs to view different types of content related to disasters, and click on a disaster tab to look at posts related to specific ongoing responses.

Click HERE to get start interacting with your American Red Cross!

Disaster Action room

Community Partnerships a Must in Helping People Recover from Disaster

by Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, American Red Cross 

Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, presenting  to volunteers and community partners in West Bend.

Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, presenting to volunteers and community partners in West Bend.

Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) are a newer concept that can be used following a disaster to provide services to clients. MARCs are locations that are set up where different organizations come together under one roof to provide services to those affected by the disaster. The MARCs allows clients to come to one place to receive services, and prevents that client from having to go to multiple places to receive services to help with their recovery efforts.

The Red Cross has been doing a number of informational sessions on MARCs that volunteers and community partners have been invited to attend to learn more information. Three separate sessions were held in West Bend, Neenah and Fond du Lac in September and October. Between the three sessions 81 volunteers and community partners attended to learn more about MARCs and how they can benefit the community and individuals following a disaster. By holding these informational sessions we were able to educate our partners on what MARCs are, so when a disaster happens they will already be familiar with the concept. New partnerships and agreements are being formed because of these sessions. It is exciting to see the collaboration that had developed between agencies by bringing people together with a common goal – helping disaster clients with their recovery.

We will continue to work with the partners that have come to these sessions, as well as those that did not come to continue to develop plans and procedures on how we will bring a MARC together following a disaster.

There will be additional MARC informational sessions planned for the future. If you or your agency are interested in learning more please contact Nick Cluppert, Program Manager, at 920-231-3692 x19 or nick.cluppert@redcross.org 

Harvey Lorenz – Dedicated and Engaged Legacy Society Member

m16140841_legacy-society_137x135We are very proud of Harvey Lorenz and the incredible work he does in the field and his long term planning to ensure the future of the American Red Cross critical services and programs.  Harvey and his wife Margaret, were featured in the Summer 2014 Legacy newsetter published by the American Red Cross.

You can read his entire story here.  

 

By Harvey Lorenz, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Soon after I retired in 1995, a church friend who served on the board of the local Red Cross chapter recruited me to join the board as its treasurer. After two terms as treasurer, I served as chair of the nominating committee and then served three terms as local chapter chair. During this time, I became active in the local disaster response team, mainly by being called out as a “caseworker” in the middle of the night to assist various families experiencing home fires.

Typically, I’d receive several of these calls every month, and my wife Margaret became known as the most awake and cheerful person to answer the phone in the middle of the night.

harvey LorenzIn 2005, my heart went out to the many victims of Katrina and I quickly volunteered to go south. I was sent to Mississippi where I was an intake interviewing caseworker helping to determine what kind of aid displaced families and individuals could receive and counseling them on how to receive additional assistance from other community resources or their own insurance companies. So often these people had left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they had no rapid access to any savings because their banks were flooded and not operating, and/or they didn’t remember the names of their insurance agents (or those agents had been displaced as well). I talked to one woman who had given birth the day after fleeing her home, had named her baby Katrina, and was staying in the mass shelter with her week-old infant. Another put her two-year old in a laundry basket “boat” and swam to safety, pulling him behind her. Her friend who left their flooded house with her never made it to dry ground. Several people had been pulled off their roofs by helicopter crews, and others had lost touch with family members or were grieving relatives who had died.

These interviews were hard on me personally. There were times when I had to put a “closed” sign on my table in the shelter hallway for a few minutes while I went outside to clear my head.

When I came home after three weeks in Mississippi, I knew I wanted to keep helping on the national level, but I also knew I wasn’t good at being a caseworker in such extreme situations. I immediately signed up for classes in disaster assessment and financial/statistical information gathering and reporting.

Right away, over Thanksgiving in 2005, I was able to use some of the assessment skills in Florida after Wilma, and most of my responses since then (14 more national disasters in all, generally two to three weeks each) have been related to the financial/statistical responsibilities, often as a supervisor and even as “state manager” in New Hampshire after Ike-related flooding. Some of the other national calls have involved Kansas ice storms, flooding in southern Wisconsin, and multiple tornados in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. I responded after Superstorm Sandy twice actually, once initially (over Thanksgiving again) and then about three months later when the Red Cross was making a big push to permanently relocate everyone who’d been in temporary housing since the storm. I’ve stayed in gymnasiums, church shelters, converted warehouse shelters, a Boy Scout camp, motels with barely dry rooms and no other services, and low-end walk-up big-city hotels.

On the local level, disaster services has been reorganized so that now I am captain of a team that’s on-call about one week out of six, and that has meant fewer late-night phone calls. Additionally, I’ve responded as shelter worker for a couple of regional flooding situations, doing disaster assessment after a tornado in our own city, and—last year two weeks after my total knee replacement, when I couldn’t walk anywhere on rough terrain–I served as the phone liaison between the Red Cross and County Emergency Services. I have been active on fundraising committees and also serve as a kind of a 24/7 back-up to the local staff disaster manager during those times when he might be out of town or on vacation.

Although Margaret has never accompanied me on any of my responses, she says she feels that she is contributing a bit too, as she never complains about my being gone over holidays and family events, and she takes over my at-home responsibilities with our own two dogs and our volunteer fostering of rescue dogs. We can’t really identify when, how, or why, we changed from sending Red Cross minimal yearly contributions and became larger donors. That and designating the American Red Cross in my will just seemed the right things to do in order to continue to respond to local and national disasters. I’ve seen the good we can do.

If you would like information about how you can support our mission and help those in need by creating your own legacy like Harvey and Margaret Lorenz have done, please contact our Gift Planning Office at 1-800-797-8022 ext 5,  giftplanning@redcross.org or log on to http://www.redcrosslegacy.org 

Top 10 Songs You Need in Your Life During Fire Safety Month

Here is a clever re-post from  Erin Hunt Miller, Regional Communications Director at American Red Cross, Central Illinois Region

October! Its a month of spooky stuff, football games and, because it is National Fire Safety Month, fire prevention.  I took a very unofficial Red Cross poll of staff and volunteers across the Midwest, and they ranked the following songs as the best fire songs of all time.

10. Rooms on Fire by Stevie Nicks – “Every time that you walk in a room” in your home remember the two ways to escape in case of a fire. Everyone in the family should know this for every room in your home.

9. Fire by the Pointer Sisters - Fire can “have a hold on you right from the start”, so in case of a fire… Get out, stay out and call 9-1-1.

8. I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen – “The Boss” may be on fire, but he doesn’t want you to be.  Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

7. Fire by Jimi Hendrix – An awesome song to remind you to “stand next to your fire”.  Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

6. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis – An oldie but a goodie is a great illustration of the unpredictable nature of fire.  If your home is on fire, remember that once you are out of the house, do not go back in to retrieve ANYTHING.

5. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple – The song with (in my opinion) one of the best intro guitar riffs of all time reminds you about the power of smoke. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.

4. We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel – Maybe Billy didn’t start the fire, but who could?  Talk to your children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.

3. Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash – “Love burns, burns, burns like a ring of fire”, and so can potholders, towels, plastic and clothing.  So, be sure you keep those items far from the stove while cooking.

2. Light my Fire by The Doors – Where should you “light your fire”?  Not indoors because carbon monoxide can kill.  So never use a generator, grill, camp stove or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement or any partially enclosed area.

1. Burning Down the House by The Talking Heads – Fire can quickly burn down the house so make sure your family is notified quickly.  Stop reading this post and replace the batteries in your smoke alarms. Do this at least once a year.

For more Red Cross fire safety tips, click here.

Welcome Americorps Member: Caitlin Schenck

By Caitlin Schenck, Americorps Member 

My name is Caitlin Schenck Caitlin Schenckand I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay where I completed two bachelor’s degrees in three years’ time.  I received a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning, a B.A. in Political Science and my minor was Public Administration.  As the mother of a toddler, I was unable to become as involved as I would have liked to be during years at UWGB, I was able to gain some amazing work and volunteer experiences when my schedule allowed me to do so.  The last nine months of my college career I interned with the blood services department of the American Red Cross.  When the opportunity presented itself to me, I was really excited because the Red Cross is an organization I have held near and dear to my heart for years.

Originally, I come from a small town near Wisconsin Dells, Reedsburg.  I graduated high school in 2006 and moved to Madison almost immediately after.  In 2008, what has been referred to as the 2008 Midwest Flood happened where several states including my hometown had a flood that almost bankrupted the town’s economy.  Many of my close friends lost their homes and were forced to rebuild.  The Red Cross was the first organization in town after the first responders.  All of the roads were closed for a few weeks and so much traffic was rerouted I couldn’t make it back right away to help, and to this day, I am so thankful those volunteers in the community were there to help all of my loved ones when I couldn’t.  So when I was given the opportunity to become a part of the Red Cross team here in Green Bay, and given opportunities to volunteer as well, I jumped on board and I can happily say they’ve gained a lifer out of me.

In my time as an intern, I enjoyed the work I was doing, helping out at blood drives, but the chapter end of the Red Cross and disaster services was something I was much more interested in.  Then, I got a tip from a friend that there was a part time AmeriCorps position open in Green Bay working in Disaster Preparedness.  I applied, interviewed, and have become a member with AmeriCorps.  Once again, I have the opportunity to work with the Red Cross in Disaster Preparedness and I could not be more excited for this amazing experience!  Now, I will be reaching out to community members and performing preparedness presentations, recruiting new volunteers, and assisting in the Red Cross’ Pillowcase Project which is geared toward 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  I just cannot express how excited I am to watch this next year unfold and to be able to be a part of the Red Cross family once again, gain new experiences, spread the word of the importance of preparedness and hopefully make an impact in the process.

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