Northeast Wisconsin Board Member Spotlight – Mary Walch

Get to know our board members from the American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin Chapter. We thank Mary for sharing her story, and we are proud to have her part of our leadership team.

Mary WalchCurrent Location: Green Bay, WI

Career History: I have worked in the banking industry for 25 years in the areas of Retail Management, Consumer, Mortgage and Business Lending, and Private Banking.

Volunteer History: I started volunteering right out of high school. My first experience volunteering was working in a program called REINS, a therapeutic riding program for individuals with special needs. I immediately felt a connection with the individuals I was working with and was humbled by the experience. I continued to work volunteering into my life from helping a couple hours at a run, joining planning committees for large events benefiting non-profits, and board positions for non-profits.

Board Member Since: Fall 2012

Responsibilities/Duties as a Board Member: We are truly a fundraising board from spreading the word of the Red Cross and all the good that the organization does to the connections we have helping raise funds for the Red Cross. I am also on the Annual Heroes Golf Tournament and Dancing with Our Stars planning committees.

How did you become involved with the Red Cross? My first experience was in my early 20’s. I had an interest in helping others and took disaster training courses. I thought it would be interesting and was looking to get involved in ways to make a difference. While I never had the opportunity volunteer for a disaster, I was moved by what I learned about the Red Cross and the teams of volunteers that leave their families to help others.

What motivates you as a volunteer and board member? Seeing how my efforts impact people. When part of a planning committee for an event, seeing the attendees get enjoyment out of being there and raising money is a rush.

Mary and her son Craig on a skydiving adventure.

What do you hope to accomplish by being a board member? Meeting new friends and helping others in need. Being part of a team/group with likeminded goals of helping others and making a difference.

Where do you feel the Red Cross can grow while a board member? Through growing fundraising events and recruiting others – whether as board members, volunteers, or financial supporters. And sharing the history/story of the Red Cross and how the Red Cross impacts all our lives.

How does Northeast Wisconsin benefit by the services offered by the Red Cross? I think everyone sometime in their lives will benefit from the Red Cross. Whether through natural disaster, medical needs, or safety education, the Red Cross touches all our lives.

 

 

Fond du Lac Fire Department ‘Tames Flames’ for Red Cross

Local Disaster Relief Partnership Announced

Last year the Brat fry raised $4,006.38 for local disaster relief!

Last year the Brat fry raised $4,006.38 for local disaster relief!

Once again this year, the Fond du Lac Fire Department will be “taming the flames” of the barbecue grill to help the American Red Cross help our community.

When: Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Where: Main Street Fire Station (815 S. Main St.)

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The Red Cross and the Fire Department are partners on several community initiatives from emergency education to disaster relief and recovery. Emergency responders have requested Red Cross assistance at 24 fires the past year alone! This is the largest number in recent years; a few years ago, it was only seven requests for help. With two recent larger apartment fires, the number of people being assisted is at an all-time high!

“The Red Cross is a tremendous asset to our entire community so we want this event to be our biggest and best yet,” stated Fire Chief Peter O’Leary.

To help the cause, you can pre-order brats and burgers by calling the Main Street Fire Station’s non-emergency number at 920-322-3800 by 9:00 a.m. on April 22.

Delivery is available for orders over 20 items. You can also place an order in-person between 10:00 a.m. – 2:00p.m. at the Main Street Fire Station and enjoy our cuisine at the picnic tables.

Elton Peterson – Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

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Congratulations to Elton PetersonHeart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Winner at the WPS Awards. The Heart of Gold Award is awarded to a volunteer whose lifetimes of service exemplifies notable achievement in community service! 

Elton Peterson has been a volunteer driver for American Red Cross Transportation Services since July 1993. During his almost 21 years of service he has volunteered 5,670 hours and has provided approximately 10,080 rides to clients over the age of 60 and/or disabled.

“I have had the privilege of working with Elton since the day he started,” said Tina Whetung, Transportation Manager. “He is a very dedicate and caring person who really enjoys helping others, without people like Elton this much needed service would not be provided.“

Elton is also an active volunteer driver with the American Red Cross Blood Services.  For the past 16 years, Elton has generously volunteered his time to help deliver blood and blood products to patients in need at area hospitals.   Over these years, he has volunteered hundreds of hours to answer the call when the need to get red cells to a hospital in need of blood products.  We are thankful and proud to have Elton on our Red Cross team!

Elton

Get to Know: Paul Fruit, Regional Logistics Specialist

Kayleigh Kaminski and Kaylee Kuhn are seen handing over the greeting cards to Nick Cluppert (left) and Paul Fruit, from the Red Cross

Kayleigh Kaminski and Kaylee Kuhn are seen handing over the greeting cards to Nick Cluppert (left) and Paul Fruit, from the Red Cross

Hello everyone!  My name is Paul Fruit and I’m the Regional Logistics Specialist for the American Red Cross.  I’m excited to be able to share a little bit regarding my continuing career evolution within this remarkable organization and how I ended up in my current position, as it has been one amazing journey.

I grew up in a little town outside of Madison, and graduated from UW-Madison in 2009 with a degree in Economics.  Having absolutely no real idea as to where I wanted to begin my career, and willing to explore a wide range of options, I was particularly intrigued by an AmeriCorps service listing with the Red Cross in Oshkosh to help provide service and support to military members, their families, and the VA facilities that support them.  Knowing very little information about the Red Cross, I dove in headfirst and was quickly exposed to both the wide array of humanitarian services this organization provides, as well as the incredible volunteers that support them.  All I can say is that it was love at first sight!

My experiences as an AmeriCorps member were enough for me to know I wanted to stay with the Red Cross in any capacity I could, and when my two years were up, I accepted a position in Appleton working with a local community program and managing the local office.  I continued in this role for two more years before accepting my current position in disaster services, a position I very much enjoy.  I’m responsible for material resources and volunteers that support 28-counties including vehicles, shelter trailers and warehouses.

Each and every day, I wake up knowing that our organization has the most dedicated, intelligent, and caring volunteers on the planet, and I’m lucky enough to be able to work and engage with them on a daily basis as we continue our mission.  The last 4+ years have been the best years of my life, and I look forward to many more!

National Volunteer Week!

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This National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12, the American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin Chapter is celebrating its volunteers and the work they do in the community to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

One thousand volunteers serve within the 20 counties of the Northeast Wisconsin and our upper Michigan border communities. Nationally, the Red Cross has nearly 400,000 volunteers, which represent more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce.

“Our volunteers respond to house fires, teach lifesaving skills, support our military members in the community and much more,” said Jody Weyers, Director Volunteers and Communications. “They help us fulfill our lifesaving mission every day, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for their service.”

Across the organization, the Red Cross has an average of 14 volunteers for every one employee. According to the Independent Sector, the 2012 value of volunteer time is $22.14 per hour, further evidence of the tremendous value and impact volunteers hold for nonprofits such as the Red Cross.

Last fiscal year, Red Cross volunteers provided food, shelter, comfort and hope to thousands who faced home fires, tornadoes, winter storms and other emergency situations. They trained 49,003 people in lifesaving skills and provided emergency services to families of military members serving around the globe. In addition, we presented 50,000 holiday cards to Veterans and active duty members along with supporting multiple Veteran programs.

They also helped collect 33,872 units of blood which helps support 46 Wisconsin hospitals. On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day from volunteer blood donors to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.

We also provided 63,893 rides in 2013 to those 60 and over or with a disability get to needed medical, nutritional or employment opportunities in the Brown County area.

Join US_Page_1The Red Cross invites the public to sign up to volunteer and be a part of the lifesaving work it does. The Red Cross is looking for diverse volunteers of all ages and skill levels.

People can go to:  www.redcross.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application. Those interested in hosting a blood drive or scheduling an appointment to give blood can visit redcrossblood.org.

Thank You to Maple Grove Countryside 4-H Club

Maple Grove Countryside 4-H Club 2-2014

We want to say THANK YOU to the 29 youth members from the Maple Grove Countryside 4-H club, in Pulaski, for making tied blankets for the American Red Cross.

Our Red Cross workers hand-out these blankets to children and adults who have been impacted by a disaster. These blankets provide more than just warmth, they provide comfort and hope to our clients! 

 

DINE-OUT TO SUPPORT DISASTER RELIEF

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Restaurants & Patrons Pair Taste-buds and Disaster Relief Together

On March 27th, food establishments across Eastern Wisconsin and the Michigan border communities will work together to support the American Red Cross as participants in the Dine Out for Disaster Relief.  Restaurants, pubs and eateries will donate a portion of sales to benefit local Red Cross disaster relief programs. With the primary fire season being exceptionally active, and working in a budget overage situation, the timing to eat-out and support the Red Cross couldn’t be better.

Share with us your Dine Out Restaurant of choice! #dine4disaster

Share with us your Dine Out Restaurant of choice! #dine4disaster

With each residential fire, we are there 24/7/365 to help the families with immediate needs and help guide them toward longer-term recovery.  In the first eight months of our fiscal year, we are already $56,000 over budget!  We can’t stop responding as families need us.  Therefore, please make it a date-night, office lunch outing, morning breakfast or late night snack to help support local disaster relief.

While the Red Cross responds to big disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes each year, the most frequent threat people face is a fire in their own home. In fact, Disaster Action Team workers respond to an emergency every nine minutes around the United States. Locally, it was 644 disaster responses last year ranging from fires to tornadoes, winter power outages and flooding!  Red Cross responders are a dynamic team that is empowered to deal with crises throughout our communities. When a disaster strikes, we provide a place to sleep, warm meals, emotional support and hope. Through the support of our communities, we help provide basic emergency needs, financial assistance and recovery guidance.

“Restaurants are such valued partners with the American Red Cross. Their generosity is amazing. Not only do they support fundraisers like Dine Out for Disaster Relief, but they also support the Red Cross by donating gift certificates for our event raffles and food and beverages to help feed shelter residents or emergency personnel during larger disasters,” commented Becky Bergin, the Dine Out organizer. “Overall, they are great community supporters”, she concluded.

A handful of restaurants are supporting the American Red Cross with month-long activities in honor of “March is Red Cross Month”. Some have also selected different days and times that fit better with their hours of operation and schedules. A list of each restaurant and their way of supporting this annual philanthropic effort is listed below.

For the fourth year, Dine Out for Disaster Relief is presented by Society Insurance, headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

You can join in on our conversation! Help us by talking about your Dine Out for Disaster Relief activities on your social media sites – Facebook & Twitter! For Twitter, use #Dine4Disaster

Click HERE for a list of participating restaurants:

Giving Back to our American Heroes

By: Kaitlyn Schmitt, UWO Red Cross Club, Service to Armed Forces Chair

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The UW Oshkosh American Red Cross Club joined Americorps Vet Corps and Adrianne Benson, Americorps Vet Corps member and Red Cross volunteer, to return to volunteer at King Veteran’s Home on March 16th. This time, we provided help with multiple activities. Half of the volunteers helped with a game of bingo and the other half went downstairs to the bowling alley for some rounds of bowling and snacks.

I volunteered with Bingo and I passed out prize quarters and collected bingo cards. We even had coffee and cookies for the Veterans. The Veterans got so excited when they won, and I heard a lot of them calling out their own numbers they needed to win. Bingo was very competitive. There was lots of great socialization and laughter heard in the room. I had several Veterans come up to me afterwards and thank me for being there. Then I thought, “Wow, we should be the ones thanking them for their service!” It was another incredible opportunity to give back to those who selflessly served us. UWO Red Cross member, Samantha Johnson, stated: “It’s a great feeling being able to give back to the veterans who risked their lives for our country.”

The bowling alley was full of excitement as well. The veterans definitely taught us younger volunteers how to bowl! It was exciting to see their faces as they knocked all the pins down.

UWO Red Cross President, Angie Dusenberry, exclaimed: “Bowling with the Veterans from King could not have been a more rewarding experience. It was heart-warming to be able to share the laughs and great experiences with the individuals who gave me my freedom – even if they did kick my butt in bowling!”

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members  Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members
Brenna Schobert , Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

The Veterans had a blast bowling and still have the skill. UWO Red Cross member, Brenna Schobert, expressed: “It was amazing to spend just a few hours giving back to those who gave up so much for our country. They are incredible people and I feel truly blessed to have helped to put a smile on their faces.”

Several of the veterans thanked us and said that they hope we return to volunteer again. We will definitely be returning for more fun-filled days with the veterans. Not only do we brighten their day, I know they brighten mine.

We enjoyed the stories, excitement, and camaraderie. We all walked away with smiles on our faces. This is the greatest generation and volunteering at the Veteran’s home is truly a blessing. I know I definitely leave King Veteran’s Home feeling inspired and happy. There is nothing greater than volunteering during American Red Cross month and “being a hero” to the true heroes in America’s hearts – the Veterans.

American Red Cross New Flood App Can Save Lives

By Jody Weyers, Director of Volunteers and Communications, Northeast Wisconsin

So many people, with all their belongs on the curb. So very sad to see everything these people worked for destroyed.

So many people, with all their belongings on the curb. So very sad to see everything these people worked for destroyed.

September 2013, I saw first-hand the devastation that can happen from flooding and flash floods. I was deployed to Denver, Colorado to assist in Disaster Public Affairs and worked with a professional photographer and his assistant.

We talked directly with the clients impacted and over and over, I heard the same stories of how fast the water came rushing up to their homes and they barely had enough time to escape or had to be rescued. I also saw the devastation all around from roads buckled from the rushing waters, to parks once filled with children playing, that now looked like lakes, to seeing water up to the steps of homes.

I was there when one family was going back into their home for the first time after five days to see if there was anything worth salvaging. You could see the water-line up to the middle of the garage door. We had breathing masks on because of the mold and mildew that set in after the flood waters had receded. The floor was covered with brown silt. These are just some of the images that will remain with me when I think of flooding.

(click HERE to read in more detail about my Colorado deployment)

Did you know that floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States? The American Red Cross developed its new Flood App to help save lives and reduce losses from floods and flash floods.

This free app gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a flood. The content is available in English and Spanish based on the user’s language settings on their mobile device.

FloodScreenShot2The app includes location-based, audible NOAA flood and flash flood watches and warnings – even if the app is closed. Other features include:

  • One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to send a message letting family and friends know that they are out of harm’s way;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm to let others know where you are;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
  • Real-time recovery resources for returning home and cleaning up; and
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

The app is the latest in the series of Red Cross emergency preparedness apps that put lifesaving information right in the hands of people whenever and wherever they need it. The expert advice in Red Cross apps, which also include apps for First Aid, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other services, has been used to help save lives during disasters and medical emergencies. Red Cross apps have been downloaded on nearly 4 million mobile devices.

The Flood App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

Join Us for the 7th Annual HEROES MUSICALES

Enjoy the musical stylings of the Robin Lukas Trio, Harmonious Wail and the Gonzalo Bergara Quartet featuring Leah Zeger.

Advance Tickets $30, ACT TODAY – Always a “SELLOUT!”

HEROES 2014 Flyer

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