Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Becoming an American Red Cross Volunteer

Becoming a volunteer is a different process for everyone. Maybe you want to help the community, build your skills, learn more about an organization or just want something to fill up your time. Whatever it may be, your volunteering is always welcome and wanted. At the American Red Cross your time and talent can make a real difference in people’s lives.

The volunteers at the Red Cross help people prevent, prepare for and recover from disasters in America; support for members of the military and their families; blood collection, processing and distribution; health and safety education and training; international relief; and development.

90% of the American Red Cross workforce is made up of volunteers, so as you can imagine the Red Cross is always looking for more.

Once you become a volunteer you’ll get your own profile online where you can log hours and set yourself goals.  

Even if you don’t want to become a volunteer you can always donate or give blood.

Being a volunteer doesn’t just mean being on the front line, it is also about being behind the scenes. This could range from writing grants and getting the Red Cross story out to the community to administrative work and stocking supplies. The volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross are endless, and every little bit helps.

Joining the Red Cross was one of the best decisions I have made. I joined as an Intern because I was interested in the work they do and the people they help. I have only been here for a couple weeks and I love it. I am not on the front line at the moment but I know whatever you do here at the Red Cross helps, and I know I will stay on to be a volunteer for a long time.  

Check out some more Red Cross stories and see why you should sign up to be a volunteer today!

--Emma Reeve, Communications intern

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"I'm grateful for the Red Cross"

This is what was left of Martinez's Bailey Avenue apartment
complex after an early-morning fire
Like all of the tenants of her Bailey Avenue apartment complex in Buffalo, Miriam Martinez was sound asleep when a fire broke out early Saturday morning.

"It all happened so fast," Martinez says. Luckily, she was awoken by a smoke alarm that had been installed by American Red Cross volunteers only three weeks earlier.

"That will save you're life," she said, explaining that she encourages others to have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed. Unfortunately, Martinez knew the importance of being prepared, as Saturday's incident was the third house fire she's suffered in her life.

"I'm grateful for Red Cross, they came immediately," she told us when this latest fire broke out in her apartment. She was also pleasantly surprised to recognize some of the volunteers from her previous experience with the Red Cross as they responded to the scene of this latest disaster. She says having familiar faces around her helped her feel more at ease.
Miriam Martinez with her family and other tenants of the
Bailey Avenue apartment fire

In addition to that comfort, the Red Cross provided food, clothing and support for 17 people, including Martinez, after this fire. Volunteers also provided some residents with temporary housing, but Martinez was staying with her son and his girlfriend, who invited other tenants to stay with them as well. The residents of the Bailey Avenue complex are are one big family, all concerned for each other. Despite the tragic events, everyone was keeping a positive attitude, and in addition to the Red Cross, other community groups were also coming to help. The atmosphere was positive in a tragic event.

"This truly is the City of Good Neighbors," Martinez says.

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign helped saved the life of Miriam Martinez and the other residents of this apartment complex. Experts say you have as little as two minutes to safely escape a burning home, and working smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a house fire in half. The Home Fire Campaign offers free smoke alarms with installation as well as fire preparedness education.If you want to learn more or sign up for a free installation then you can click here.

--Emma Reeve
Communications intern

Friday, December 23, 2016

Resolve to Prepare!

The New Year is coming and many are making their New Year's resolutions. We're asking everyone to add getting prepared for emergencies to their list for 2017.

Families need to plan as to what they should do if a disaster occurs. People can make a difference in your community by knowing what to do when disaster strikes. It’s just a few short steps away:

1. Get a kit. If you’ve ever fumbled to find a flashlight during a blackout, you know what it feels like to be unprepared. Use a downloadable checklist  available on redcross.org to make it easy to get your emergency preparedness kit ready. You should include:
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit, medications and medical items
  • Copies of all important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Extra cash
  • Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
  • Don’t forget your pets. If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
  • If you live or travel often to areas near a fault line, learn how to prepare and what to do during an earthquake. If summer brings to mind not just beaches and picnics but also tropical storms and hurricanes, arm yourself with information about what to do in case one occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
  • Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency.
  • Learn First Aid and CPR/AED so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders maybe delayed. Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for online and in-class offerings and to register.

2. Make a plan. Talk with household members about what you would do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet - one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate. 

3. Be informed. Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play.

The Red Cross Emergency App provides real-time emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of emergencies, as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. It is a single ‘go-to’ source for 14 different types of emergencies and disasters and allows users to notify loved ones who are in an affected area. The Monster Guard App gives 7- to 11-year-olds a free, fun, gaming environment to learn how to prevent emergencies, like home fires, and how to stay safe if severe weather or natural disasters occur. You can download the apps for free in your app stores or at redcross.org/apps

The Red Cross has also partnered with New York State to offer free Citizen Preparedness Corps training. Available online or in person, the training provides information about common types of natural and man-made disasters and teaches effective ways to prepare for, respond to and recover from them as an individual, family and community. 

Most of all, on behalf of all of us at the Western and Central New York Region, best wishes for a very happy--and safe!!!--2017.

Friday, November 11, 2016

"It's a blessing to be with people that care"

"It was really bad. The first thing that came to mind was 9/11, and that's exactly what it looked like."

Rose Blattenbeger had no idea that 90%
of the American Red Cross workforce are
volunteers until she came to the shelter
at Lackawanna High School
Rose Blattenberger lives in Bethlehem Park in Lackawanna, and says the massive fire that broke out at the former Bethlehem Steel plant on Wednesday, November 9 was terrifying.

"We were so lucky that the wind went to the opposite side, otherwise all those houses would've gotten on fire, and everything would've gone down like dominoes," she said. Unfortunately, the winds shifted the next day, and the thick, black smoke forced Rose and her neighbors to evacuate. She was one of 13 people who spent Thursday night at a Red Cross shelter at Lackawanna High School.

April Brough said it's a "blessing" to have
Red Cross volunteers taking care of her
and her family
"It's not home, but it's a blessing to be with people that care," Rose said of the Red Cross volunteers. "They provide us with food, beverages, and I'm lucky to be with my neighbors. It's just a blessing to be here instead of being at home, breathing that smoke."

"They go above and beyond the call of duty to be of assistance to someone who might be in a difficult situation," added April Brough, who was staying at the shelter along with her husband and three young children. April also encouraged any of her neighbors trying to stick it out to listen to the evacuation warnings: "Don't be stubborn, all that they're doing is looking is looking out for our safety. Especially seeing how well you guys have taken care of my family."

"Being here, you are with people that care. And that's the best thing that one can have is people that care, and they're nice," added Rose. "I just heard about the Red Cross, that they're all volunteers, and they don't get paid for that, and I was not aware of that. I would recommend the Red Cross sky high from now on."