Why I Help: John Meinke, Madison, Wisconsin

By Andrea Coan, Red Cross Volunteer Journalist

1418832675579 John M - MadisonA talented new addition to our American Red Cross volunteer corps, John Meinke works on media and communications efforts with the Red Cross of Badger Chapter, as well as the South Central Wisconsin Region. Here, he makes his own unique contribution to the organization.

Meinke photographs volunteers and employees at blood drives, programs supporting the Armed Forces, disaster training events, and so much more. Awed by each person who gives back, Meinke feels lucky to have an opportunity to capture the strong individuals who work for the Red Cross.

“When I see Red Cross teams in action, I feel proud to be a part of something much larger than any individual involved,” said Meinke. “I know that my assignments, which are very important to me, are just a small part of what happens every day in the Red Cross.”

After retiring from a career in visual arts education, which included darkroom and digital photography, Meinke made the choice to join the Red Cross in 2013. He was determined to stay active and engaged in meaningful endeavors during his retirement, and felt volunteerism would be the ideal way to achieve this personal goal.

When he isn’t behind the camera, Meinke works on the Red Cross photo archive where he preserves the value and quality of photos representing the history of the organization. He works closely with Katie Gaynor, external communications manager of Red Cross Blood Services.

Meinke will never forget an encounter with a family at a blood drive in Portage, Wisconsin where he met two parents who took turns donating blood, while holding their newborn son. They wanted their young son to experience the “giving spirit” as soon as possible. Meinke felt a deep respect for this family, which put the value of giving at the center of their lives.

In his short time with the Red Cross, Meinke has already photographed some powerful images.

“In my work, I help others become aware of and understand the services provided by the Red Cross, but those who build and share shelter, nourishment, comfort or life-saving blood are true heroes,” said Meinke.

FARMERS STATE BANK: American Red Cross HERO

By Vicki Jenks, Red Cross Disaster Team Member and American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin Board Member

Shown left to right:  Laine Lazers, President, Farmers State Bank; Vicki P. Jenks, American Red Cross Board Member;  and Jay Krcmar, Vice President, Farmers State Bank.

Shown left to right: Laine Lazers, President, Farmers State Bank; Vicki P. Jenks, American Red Cross Board Member; and Jay Krcmar, Vice President, Farmers State Bank.

For eight consecutive years, Farmers State Bank, Waupaca & Wild Rose branches, has generously supported HEROES, a community collaboration benefitting the local work of the American Red Cross.  This year’s generous $1,000 gift will be utilized for Local Disaster Relief.

The most prevalent local disasters are RESIDENTIAL FIRES—winter being the busiest, worst time of the year.  When the Red Cross is called in for support, trained volunteers provide immediate needs ranging from personal hygiene items, a place to stay, financial assistance, medications, quilts, stuffed toys, and a shoulder to lean on.  The Red Cross also supports first responders with food and hydration.  The AMERICAN RED CROSS—90% volunteers—arrives with hearts filled with compassion and a plan to support families in a very emotional, difficult time.

 “Down the street, across the country, around the world…the Red Cross is there.   Special thanks to Farmers State Bank for their steadfast belief in the world’s greatest humanitarian organization.

 HEROES 2015 Musicales are set for Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 16th.   For tickets and silent auction donor information,  call Vicki P. Jenks, Red Cross board member,  at (920) 622-3152.    

Heroes 2015RedCrossPoster

 

 

Red Cross Campaign To Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries Begins in Kaukauna

Efforts will include installing smoke alarms and urging people to practice fire escape plans

10710893_10152718411990071_1668250310886687572_nRecently, the American Red Cross announced a new campaign throughout Wisconsin and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. Two days in December, teams will visit 500 homes in Kaukauna to install smoke alarms and provide fire safety tips and review escape plans with residents.

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross campaign focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.

The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.

The door-to-door outreach team includes Red Cross volunteers & staff, the Kaukauna Fire Department, Volunteer Center of East Central WI, Outagamie County CERT and Team Rubicon.  

  • Sunday, December 7th 9:00am – Canvas targeted neighborhood with door hangers in advance so residents know we are returning the following Saturday with smoke alarms and information.
  • Saturday, December 13th 8:30am-12:00pm – Smoke Detector Installation

On both dates, we will meet at the Kaukauna Fire Department on 206 W. 3rd Street. We will create teams, distribute supplies and then go door-to-door.

Teams will be partnered with local fire departments to install smoke alarms in homes that need them and teach people about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home because working smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half.

Simple Steps to Save Lives

Even as the Red Cross and other groups install smoke alarms in some neighborhoods, they are calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home,

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

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New Poll Shows Many People Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety

The Red Cross fire preparedness campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they have ten minutes or more.

When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in 10 of those polled (42 percent) believed they could get out in two minutes.

While 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence.

  • Less than one in five of families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills.
  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Throughout Wisconsin, the Red Cross responded to more than 900 residential fires last year. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.

Survey Shows Social Media Users are Giving to Charity – and Sharing the News

New American Red Cross Poll Released at the Start of the Holiday Giving Season

A new survey by the American Red Cross found that seven in 10 social users are giving to charity—online and offline—and many are sharing about their donation on social media.

114706 Holiday Poll Infographic FINAL 300 dpiThe survey findings on charity giving by social media users come just before the holiday giving season, an important time for many nonprofits. The Red Cross is kicking off its annual holiday campaign that urges people to make financial donations or give blood during the holiday season.

These new survey results show yet another way that social activity is impacting nonprofits and their work.

The Red Cross survey found that 71 percent of those active on social networks donated to a charity in the past 12 months. Of those, six in 10 have donated online, revealing that not only the generosity of social media users, but also highlighting how online channels can spur charitable giving.

One notable finding from the survey is that personal appeals from friends matter more than trending topics and gimmicks important key to motivating social media users to donate to charity.

The national online survey of 1,021 adults conducted October 16-19 found that in the online space, a personal connection is particularly important when deciding to give to charity. The majority (70 percent) of social media users would take some kind of action in response to a friend posting a story on social media about making a charitable donation.

Moreover, while only three percent of respondents said social media was the most effective way for the charity itself to request a donation, the number jumped to 19 percent when asked if they would likely donate money to a charity if they saw a friend post about a recent donation.

Social Users are in it to Give, Not Receive

While trends online and in the media can draw new attention to a charity, 72 percent said a charity’s popularity in the media or trending status on Twitter made no difference in their decision to donate.

And the survey found that users are interested in giving, not receiving, as 51 percent said that receiving something like a memento, ornament or piece of clothing in exchange for  a charitable donation would  not increase their likelihood to give.

Other Key Findings

While not at the levels of awareness of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping days, Giving Tuesday is on the minds of more than two in five social users (41 percent) who are aware of the charitable day of giving, which is December 2 this year. And nearly half (47 percent) of those aware of Giving Tuesday said they planned to participate this year.

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,021 U.S. adults (508 men and 513 women) 18 years and older on October 16-19, 2014 conducted in ORC International’s CARAVAN®  survey. The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults.

Weekend Deals from your American Red Cross

CyberWeekend_RailThe holiday season kicks off with great deals starting Black Friday  through Cyber Monday!

In addition to FREE SHIPPING* all Cyber Weekend, you’ll find bargains like these:

 

Buy 1 get 1 FREE deals:
Buy 2 get 1 FREE deals:

CyberWeekend_BSpotYou’ll also find many other meaningful gift suggestions.

Shop now to take advantage of these special offers!

FREE SHIPPING applies to standard ground service within the contiguous U.S. states only.

 

Thank you for shopping with us.

 The Red Cross Store

 

 

Red Cross helping with emergency housing, food and clothing needs

Fire from 15th Avenue in Green Bay. (photo from http://fox11online.com)

Fire from 15th Avenue in Green Bay. (photo from http://fox11online.com)

The American Red Cross is helping a dozen people – nine adults and three children from four families – after  fires yesterday in (W. Winnebago) Appleton, (Happy Valley Drive) Menasha, (5th Avenue) Green Bay and (N. Ostranda Lane) Crivitz. The Red Cross is meeting with and providing appropriate help for emergency housing, food and clothing needs.

The Red Cross has also provided families with emergency lodging, sweatsuits and personal hygiene kits along with professional resources during this difficult situation. Financial assistance for clothing, food, winter garments and shoes was also provided. Red Cross team members will be available to help the families moving forward from the initial disaster response through recovery.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge, a gift made possible by generous donations and the work of trained volunteers.

To learn more about the American Red Cross or to make a financial gift please call, text or click. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS, text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or click on www.redcross.org

Dying Mother Saves Son from Death

Written by Barbara Behling, Communications Director

In honor of the many men and women who have served our country and continue to serve, we thank you today and everyday for your service. 

VeteransDay

Even from a deathbed, a mother can save a child. This was the case for Neil Starke, serving in the US Coast Guard during WWII. Thanks to the American Red Cross Services to Armed Forces program he was able to share her last breaths, a visit which also saved his own life.

In the heart of WWII, the USS El Paso was situated at 114° North & 120° East. From these decks, air & sea rescues off the Philippines coasts were conducted. It was in the heart of the fighting, he received a cablegram from the Red Cross which explained his father had fallen while riding a bus, with trauma to his head, he was sent to a mental institution. Meanwhile, in another hospital, his dying mother yearned to see her son one last time. His superior officers granted permission for a 38-day leave of absence. It was this stroke of timing that saved his life.

SONY DSCNeil was taken off one ship, sailed to land on another and then boarded a military plane to fly back to the states. Altogether, the journey took two weeks. While at his mother’s bedside, he shared stories, a smile and the unmistakable touch of a mother’s hand until her passing.  Even today, when sharing his story, he remains visibly shaken.

Now with tears in his eyes, it was time to return to duty. “It was the first time I heard my father’s voice falter when saying good-bye.” Neil explains. By military plane, he flew back to the base and was ready to rejoin his ship. He waited a week. Then two, he was eager to join his team. “It was ironic and a blessing, I was pulled off that ship as it was declared lost in the Yellow Sea typhoon.  While I never saw any man I served with again; the vessel was found two-weeks later. The boilers had been destroyed so it must have been tossing around like a toy in a washing machine,” Neil concluded.

A short-time thereafter, an international peace agreement was signed. The war was over. “Until that cable gram, I had been mad at the Red Cross about $.15 lemonade that tasted awful.  Then I learned the greater meaning of their work. It allowed me to be with my mother in those final days and it also saved my life.”

The Service to the Armed Forces division of the American Red Cross helps our military members and their families across the world with one primary function being Emergency Communications. If family needs to get in touch with a service member while they are on active duty, they can call the Red Cross Emergency Communication line for the military at 1-877-272-7337. The Red Cross will get family in touch, and provide vital verification services so that commanding officers can make informed decisions about emergency leave. The Red Cross is the only organization entrusted with this responsibility because of our longstanding history with the military, as well as our Fundamental Principles of Neutrality and Impartiality.

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