We Can Never Say Thank You Enough!

By Betsy A. Wandtke, Major Gift Officer

Oshkosh 1

Donors, Board Members and Volunteers at Kodiak Jack’s in Oshkosh.

It’s always our pleasure to be able to thank our donors for giving us the ability to serve others.  In the last couple of weeks of RED CROSS MONTH, we had three Donor Appreciation Events.  They were casual gatherings complete with appetizers and volunteer interaction.  Not only were they successful in saying thank you, but were a lot of fun to boot!

Our attending donors were able to meet board members, staff members and most importantly, the volunteers that serve our organization.  The pictures that were shown and explained, were mostly regarding “Superstorm Sandy”.  Our volunteers were also able to discuss what an ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) was and how versatile they are, along with other mysteries about how the Red Cross gets things done in the field.

The donors and many of the rest of us were riveted to the stories of survival and the ability of those affected to overcome any situation with the help of a “friend”.  The Red Cross volunteers are those “friends” that show up to do whatever needs to be done.  They are worth their weight in gold!!

The donors also asked questions about SAF (Services to the Armed Forces), Blood Services and other aspects of the American Red Cross.  Our board members and staff were there to answer those questions and more.

We would like to thank Big Tomatoes and Los Banditos in Green Bay, Mark’s East Side in Appleton and Kodiak Jack’s in Oshkosh for their hospitality and donations to make these events happen.

We also would like to thank the volunteers, board members and staff members that were fully engaged in this endeavor.  We could not have done it without them!!

Neenah Volunteer Answers the Call for the Second Time for “Sandy”

Harvey Lorenz and Nick Cluppert 2

Harvey Lorenz, Disaster Volunteer, from Neenah,  is leaving on Thursday for New Jersey to assist on his second National Deployment for Hurricane Sandy.

Harvey deployed to New York back in November. He will be assisting as a supervisor in the area of Financial & Statistical Information. When asked  what motivates him to go out on deployments:

 “It is just a calling I feel comfortable answering.  I know there are people that have it a lot worse than I do.  I’m just happy I have the time to devote to this.”

(L-R) Harvey Lorenz completing his paper work with Nick Cluppert, Disaster Services, Regional Manager, Training & Development

Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert

TAPSandyfinal_350Friday, January 18, 2013  7:30 pm

Scheduled to appear:

Lynn Gudmundsen & David Hatch
Jess Holland & Nick Hoover
Jeanne Kuhns, Marybeth Mattson & Patrick Palmer
Mark & Seth Raddatz
Jay Whitney
James Valcq
& Special Guests

Tickets: $15

All proceeds will go to the Red Cross. To purchase tickets using a credit card over the phone call the Box Office at 920-743-1760.

Seven Days of Giving: Volunteers bring hope to Sandy survivors

Written by Paul Srubas Press-Gazette Media

From left, Jan Traversa, Joe Gerrits, Bonny Chapman, Rudy Senarighi and Gayle Hein stand as five members of a group of 19 volunteers from the local community who traveled to the east coast to help during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. / Matt Robinson/Press-Gazette Correspondent

Charity begins at home, but it doesn’t have to stay there.

That’s the mindset of 19 volunteers with the Red Cross of Northeastern Wisconsin, all of whom recently pitched in to provide disaster relief in New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. They each spent about two weeks there, sleeping on cots in a gymnasium full of strangers, working 16 hours a day or more packing and trucking goods to people in areas of heavy devastation, going door to door to provide relief where needed.

For their volunteer efforts, they are being featured in the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s series, “Seven Days of Giving,” which identifies some of the local heroes of charitable efforts.

“There’s nothing like someone giving you a hug and saying ‘thank you,’” said one of them, Jan Traversa, 59, of Pulaski. “I’m so grateful I was able to go. I wish I didn’t have to work so I could do it full time.”

Like most other Red Cross volunteers — and there are 41 of them throughout Northeastern Wisconsin — Traversa and the other 18 do local disaster relief work. They can often be seen at the scene of fires, for example, where they do everything from providing temporary shelter for fire victims to handing out coffee to the tired firefighters.

The people

Red Cross volunteers recently returning from providing Hurricane Sandy relief: Joe Gerrits and Mary Roellchen, De Pere; Jan Traversa, Pulaski; Bonny Chapman, Dean Ekberg, Deb Harrington, Gayle Hein and Denise Mooren, Green Bay; Phil Everhart, Marinette; Ron Maloney, Rudy Senarighi, Judy Dobbins and Diane (Dee) Knutson, Sturgeon Bay; Donna LaPlante, Little Suamico; Mary Beth (Betsy) LeClair and Joel O’Connell, Two Rivers; Keith and Yvonne Stukenberg, Luxemburg; Lori Delain, Casco.

But these 19 also were willing to take their show on the road. In this case, that meant the Eastern Seaboard in the wake of some of the worst storm damage the nation has seen.

“A lot of the people who did this and Katrina felt this was worse because it’s a much more populated area,” said Jody Weyers, volunteer coordinator for the Red Cross of Northeastern Wisconsin.

Joe Gerrits, one of 19 local volunteers who helped out after Hurricane Sandy, celebrates with a group of friends at Legends in De Pere earlier this month. / Matt Robinson/Press-Gazette Correspondent

“You drive down the road, and all you see are piles of debris out on the street,” said Joe Gerrits, 46, a volunteer from De Pere. “Everything is junk — appliances, furniture. People are tearing out their dry wall. It’s because of the mold.”

Gerrits saw a lot of the devastation while he was out there, but he spent most of his volunteer time working in a warehouse, loading trucks with supplies.

He spent a little bit of his time on “search and serve missions,” in which Red Cross volunteers simply drive around looking for people who need assistance.

“We brought them drinks, Meals Ready to Eat, cleaning supplies,” he said. “People wanted coffee terribly. There was no power, and it was cold and damp.”

To get the time off from his office job here, Gerrits used up vacation time and also went without pay for the two-week period.

Traversa joined the Red Cross 11 years ago specifically because she wanted to help at the scene of the World Trade Center devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, the first of six national deployments she has participated in. That has included two hurricanes, two floods, tornado damage and the terrorist attack.

In the hurricane disasters, “I drove a 26-foot truck for bulk distribution,” Traversa said. “It’s awesome, because you’re driving around with a truck filled with supplies like tarps, bug spray, heater meals, comfort kits, cleanup kits.

“You just drive around doing search-and-serve, just looking for people … I like being with the client.”

Judy Dobbins, 60, of Sturgeon Bay is a newcomer to Red Cross volunteering and went on her first ever national deployment for the hurricane relief.

“It makes you think, because none of these folks thought this could happen to them, and here they ended up jumping out of second-story windows and getting into boats to escape,” Dobbins said.

She spent her entire time working in an evacuation shelter, serving as a shelter supervisor.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “There were almost 500 people in the shelter, such a diverse group, from older adults to heroin users taking methadone treatments and everything in between.”

The shelter, actually an arena attached to a high school, had to accommodate patients evacuated from a hospital and who were on oxygen and intravenous feeding tubes. It had a group of developmentally disabled adults evacuated from a group home. It had a collection of registered sex offenders who came in from various locations around the community but who were kept together and segregated from the rest of the shelter residents during the nights.

“We had everything from residents with total destruction of their homes and cars to those just not having power and not being able to stay in their homes,” Dobbins said. “It kind of ran the gamut.

“At one point we had a bus driver stop and tell us he had three busloads of seniors who had to evacuate their high-rise. They were in wheelchairs, had canes and walkers. They were scared to death. We had to accommodate, on the spur of the moment, large groups of very needy, very frightened individuals.”

As hard as it was, the volunteers agreed that the hardest part was leaving.

“It’s heart-breaking, because even though you’re working 16 hours a day, you know there are so many more in need,” Traversa said.

“I felt guilty, because there was so much left undone,” Dobbins said. “You get so close to the families and then just leave not knowing what’s going to be next for them. I still wake up and think, or I have a certain resident in mind, or a family, and wonder how they’re doing.”

— psrubas@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter@PGpaulsrubas

American Red Cross Issues One-Month Progress Report on Response to Superstorm Sandy

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WASHINGTON, Monday, December 3, 2012 — The American Red Cross today issued a progress report on its efforts over the past month to provide food, water, shelter, relief supplies, healthcare and other assistance to people affected by Superstorm Sandy.

 “During this first month, the Red Cross has provided emergency relief to many people affected by Superstorm Sandy. But there is still much work to be done, and we will continue to provide help and hope for weeks and months to come,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “This is our biggest U.S. disaster response in more than five years, and we are incredibly grateful for the generous support across the country that has enabled us to help the survivors of this storm.”

Hurricane Sandy was a major storm that impacted an area the size of Europe. The Red Cross mobilized more than 14,400 trained disaster workers to date – 90 percent of them volunteers – to help people affected by the storm. Today, nearly 3,000 workers are still on the job, providing food, water, shelter and relief supplies. The Red Cross has also deployed more than 300 of its emergency response vehicles and is also utilizing rental cars, trucks and other vehicles to help.

SHELTER, FOOD AND RELIEF ITEMS In the first month since Sandy hit, the Red Cross provided almost 79,000 shelter stays for Sandy, part of an overall shelter response that provided more than 153,000 shelter stays. The Red Cross has also:

  • Provided more than 7.4 million meals and snacks through its partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention to people affected by Sandy in New York and New Jersey.
  • Distributed more than 5.2 million relief items including cold weather items like coats and blankets and supplies to help people as they begin the massive clean-up of their neighborhoods.
  • Provided more than 86,000 health services and mental health contacts for people who have been living in very tough conditions.

The Red Cross response dealt with the unusual cold weather hurricane. Sandy was followed by a nor’easter that dumped snow and brought frigid temperatures to people struggling without power, and the Red Cross supplies included more Red Cross blankets, gloves and hand-warmers.

LOOKING AHEAD The Red Cross has raised nearly $170 million to date for Sandy and estimates that it will spend $110 million on the emergency relief through the end of December. Any funds donated for Sandy beyond what is needed for emergency relief will be put to use serving the long-term needs of those affected by this disaster. The Red Cross is already working with communities to determine unmet needs and how they can be met—something which will continue into the recovery process.

The Red Cross is developing specific plans that will in­clude a comprehensive needs assessment of the affected com­munities and individuals; plans that will identify resources available from both the Red Cross and other organizations. Recognizing that each community will have different needs, and different groups working to meet them, the role of the Red Cross will be determined by these local needs. What’s crucial is that there is community collaboration and cooperation to ensure that longer-term help reaches people who need it.

 

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

My Travel to New York for Hurricane Sandy

By Gayle Hein, American Red Cross Disaster Volunteer 

(l-r) Carla from Madison, Charlie from Stevens Point and Gayle Hein from Green Bay with the Madison Emergency Response Vehicle on their way to Rockaway Beach portion of Long Island.

I have been involved in Red Cross disaster services for the past seven years.  I joined Red Cross shortly after seeing the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina.  Mostly my volunteering has involved fires in the community that displace people from their homes but this time I was deployed to the east coast due to Hurricane Sandy.   Red Cross volunteers are trained in various specialties and my specialty is sheltering so that’s what I was sent to do.

On Nov 1st, 2012 I left Green Bay and flew to White Plains NY, one of several Red Cross headquarters.   I was sent to open a shelter but before that happened I was sent to Staten Island to help hand out food, clothing and water.   Another day I was sent to check out a shelter that was being run by the community to see if they needed anything.   After those first couple of days I went to Old Westbury College in the Brookville area of Long Island to open a shelter for Red Cross volunteers.   I had a team of five people from all over the U.S.  That first night we only had a few people show up at the shelter.  But the next day we needed to set up 350 cots, get supplies to run the shelter and meet with the college representatives.  We went there in the dark and had no electricity except for a generator.  I supervised the shelter and as the days went by we had another team come in and they helped run it.

Noreastern Storm that hit the East Coast.

After about a week, two ladies and I decided we didn’t need so many people there to run the shelter so we transferred out of sheltering and then went to work in an Emergency Response Vehicle or ERV.  An ERV is a truck that we use to serve food to people in need.  The American Red Cross has 320 ERVs and all were sent to the east coast.  There were four kitchens operated by the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization preparing food for delivery.  I was in kitchen number 2 for my head quarters, which was in a parking lot at the Aquaduct Racetrack on Long Island. We would go there every morning, struggling with the traffic and some days it took an hour to get there.  Once we got there we had a meeting to plan the day’s activities.  I needed to find a truck that had two people and needed one more. It seems that three workers per truck were better than only two.  So I ran into these two people, Carla from Madison and Charlie from Stevens Point.  None of us knew each other before we teamed up.  We were assigned to the ERV from Madison. The area we were assigned was the Rockaway Beach portion of Long Island.  It was an area that was along the beach and saw a lot of storm damage.  Sand was everywhere, washed in town from the beach. We saw cement posts with no board walk left and piles of lumber, car smashed, and boats in the middle of the roads.  It looked like a war zone.  Many areas still didn’t have electricity or heat days after the storm.  Then there were others problem like sewer backups and a senior complex with no elevators, leaving people struck in their apartments.   We were sent to the same area every day and it was very sad to see the destruction.

Southern Baptist Disaster Kitchen #2 in New York City

On Thursday of my second week I was processing out and my team came back and said that the people that we were serving asked where I was. So they really did take notice of who was there to help them out and wondered if someone would take our places when we returned home.  On the way out my flight delayed at Austin Straubel Airport because President Obama was there and no planes could leave.  My return was no better.  I flew from New York to Minneapolis but was delayed there six hours due to mechanical difficulties.  Needless to say, I was glad when I finally got home but thankful to have been able to help the folks in New York.

Thousands Look to Red Cross For Shelter from Sandy

People Can Support Response by Giving To Red Cross Disaster Relief

Thousands of people across nine states took refuge from Hurricane Sandy in American Red Cross shelters Sunday night as the massive storm neared the East Coast.

More than 3,200 people spent the night in 112 Red Cross shelters in nine states – New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Massachusetts. The number of people going to shelters is expected to grow as the storm comes ashore.

The Red Cross has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers to the region from all over the country to help those affected by the storm. As many as 160 emergency vehicles are ready to respond when it is safe to do so, and more than 230,000 ready-to-eat meals have been sent into the area.

“Sandy is a large and dangerous storm, and will affect large parts of the eastern part of the country for the next few days, said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president of Disaster Services for the Red Cross. “We urge people to remain in a safe place until it passes, and to listen to instructions from local officials.”

To find a Red Cross shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or check their local media outlets.”

People can also register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool that helps families connect during emergencies. To register, visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). This site also connects with the Twitter and Facebook accounts of users.

BLOOD DRIVES CANCELLED Meanwhile, nearly 100 Red Cross blood drives have already been cancelled due to the storm, and there could be more as the week goes on. This means a loss of as many as 3,200 blood and platelet products. If anyone is eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, they are asked to please schedule a blood donation now.

“Patients will still need blood despite the weather,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. “To ensure a sufficient national blood supply is available for those in need, both during and after the storm passes, it is critical that those in unaffected areas make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible.”

 To schedule a blood donation or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them.  Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.

HOW TO HELP  “This will be a large, costly relief response and the Red Cross needs help now,” Shimanski said. “People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone.”

Financial donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC20013.

RED CROSS APPS More than 235,000 people have downloaded the free Red Cross Hurricane App Friday when Sandy began approaching, making it one of the most popular free apps. The app gives up-to-date weather alerts, information on open Red Cross shelters, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm and a one-touch “I’m Safe” button that lets someone use social media outlets to let family and friends know they are okay.

People have been using the app to find shelters, to set up locations for the app to monitor, to make a disaster plan, and learn what steps they can take to stay safe. The app is available in Spanish just by changing the smart phone setting to Spanish before downloading.

The First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in a person’s hand. Both can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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