Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ryan Fitzpatrick, United Way and Red Cross Team Up to Help Local Disaster Victims This Holiday

Bills QB urges others to “Give Something that Means Something” this season

Photo courtesy
BUFFALO, NY, December 21, 2012 – For a second consecutive year, Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is helping two area families that are attempting to rebuild after losing everything in separate fires this year feel at home for the holidays. Thanks to a generous donation through the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, Fitzpatrick and his family have provided toys for the children, computers for school, furniture and much more to help these families on the road to recovery. The Fitzpatrick family had the opportunity to meet the recipients of their generosity and personally deliver some of the gifts during a private meeting Friday evening at the Administrative Headquarters of the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties. Due to concerns regarding client confidentiality, the recipients of these gifts will remain anonymous.

“These families have been through so much this year, losing everything in the blink of an eye,” Fitzpatrick said. “We hope these gifts help to lift their spirits, especially during this holiday season.”

The families have been receiving assistance from the American Red Cross since their respective disasters.  “A fire or other life-changing disaster can happen to anyone at anytime,” Fitzpatrick said. “If everyone who watches me play on Sundays joined my family in helping our neighbors in need by giving a gift to the Red Cross this holiday, it would make a huge difference for our neighbors in need throughout Western New York.”

Last year, 1,046 people in Erie and Niagara Counties received food, clothing, shelter and support from the Red Cross following a fire or other disaster. All assistance is free, and the Red Cross relies on the generosity of the American public to provide these vital services in the community.

The American Red Cross joins the Fitzpatrick family in encouraging Western New Yorkers to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. The 2012 Holiday Giving Catalog includes a variety of symbolic gifts that support Red Cross programs. Donors can help vaccinate an entire village in a third world country, provide food and shelter to a disaster victim, help purchase items like phone cards and supplies for members of the Armed Forces or help supply basic necessities to families in desperate need across the world. Catalog purchases also come with greeting cards than can be sent to your friends and family when you make a donation in lieu of a gift and to show others your Red Cross support during the holidays. The purchase of each gift item is a tax-deductible contribution and provides support to the mission of the Red Cross.  Please visit  to order your gift today.

“We are so thankful that Ryan Fitzpatrick and his family have chosen to help these families that were touched by disaster this year,” said Nancy Blaschak, Executive Director of the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties.  “The Red Cross helps people in need everywhere and every day, and financial donations are critical to allowing us to serve the Western New York community throughout the year.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

WNY Couple to Spend Holiday Together In NYC Working with Sandy Relief Efforts

Bob and Beth Shook two of nearly 50 WNY volunteers deployed so far

Bob Shook
BUFFALO, NY, December 21, 2012 – Robert Shook of Cuba, NY will be deploying to New York City on Saturday to assist in the Superstorm Sandy relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Shook will be working on an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), helping deliver food, water and relief items including clean-up supplies and cold weather items such as blankets directly to people in the areas hardest hit by Sandy.

When he arrives in New York City, Shook will reunite with his wife, Beth, who has been deployed as part of the relief efforts since Sandy hit in late October. Beth Shook has already spent Thanksgiving away from her husband, and Bob took a long-planned vacation to visit their children and grandchildren alone while Beth worked on the Sandy relief operation in Staff Services.

Beth Shook
The Shook’s have been volunteering with the Red Cross since 1972, after Hurricane Agnes flooded their apartment and they received shelter, food and cleaning equipment from the organization. They currently serve as Disaster Action Team (DAT) Captains and Disaster Training Instructors. Beth has responded to disasters in over 40 states, Guam and Puerto Rico, and Bob is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York.

“I can think of no better way to celebrate Christmas than helping those who need it,” Bob Shook said. “Some folks are still without electricity and I will be delivering food and supplies to them.”

Communications Coordinator Jay Bonafede
enjoys a "Cubicle Thanksgiving" with
great friends at the Greater NY Chapter
in Manhattan 
Robert and Beth Shook are just two of the nearly 50 staff and volunteers from Western New York that have deployed to assist in the Sandy relief efforts of the Red Cross since the storm hit. Several of these dedicated volunteers sacrificed spending Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and/or New Year’s with loved ones at home to help our downstate neighbors who have been devastated by Superstorm Sandy, including Steven Schwartz of Buffalo and Peter Swales of Springville, who each returned to Manhattan this week for a second deployment.

Thanks to the public’s generous support, the American Red Cross has provided food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to thousands of people impacted by Sandy. More than 1,400 Red Cross workers are still on the ground supporting survivors through our relief work even as we begin our longer-term recovery efforts. The Red Cross is working with government and community partners as part of a comprehensive response to help survivors recover. For more on the Red Cross response to Sandy, please click here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Look for the helpers"

Photo courtesy
In the aftermath of an event like this weekend's unthinkable tragedy in Newtown, CT, we often find ourselves looking for answers. Sometimes, simple advice from our childhood is the most helpful. This has been circulating since Friday (I first saw it on the Facebook page of a good friend, a Red Cross colleague I met while while deployed to assist in the Sandy relief efforts), so you may have already seen this old story about none other than Mr. Rogers:

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: "My mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world."

Tara Hughes speaking at White House panel
entitled "Building Resilient Communities by Empowering
Individuals to Take Action and Strengthen Community
Capacity" in September
One of those helpers in this case is from right here in Western New York. Volunteer Tara Hughes got in her car Friday afternoon and drove to Newtown to help lead the Red Cross response to this tragedy. Tara is our NYS Disaster Mental Health chief, and recently returned from leading the emotional response to Hurricane Sandy downstate. She is an expert in childhood trauma who helped run the Family Assistance Center here following the crash of Flight 3407, and Tara's skill and expertise will hopefully help bring comfort to members of this suffering community.

Of course, events such as this can affect us even if we're hundreds of miles away. Click here for some tips on dealing with violence and traumatic events. 

The Red Cross joins all in keeping the families and community in our thoughts. We currently have what we need to support our efforts, but if you want to make a donation to support the affected families, the United Way of Western Connecticut has created a Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Red Cross, Grigg-Lewis Foundation Team Up For Preparedness

$6,000 donation funds purchase of disaster trailer for Eastern Niagara County

BUFFALO, NY, December 13, 2012 – Thanks to a $6,000 donation from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties has purchased a new disaster trailer that will be based in Eastern Niagara County. The trailer, which has been stocked with cots, blankets, and other disaster preparedness items, will be housed at the Rapids Fire Hall on Old Beattie Road in Lockport, where it will be available to quickly deploy to assist Eastern Niagara County residents in the event of an emergency.

“We are so thankful for the continuing support of the Grigg-Lewis Foundation,” said Mark Dashner, Director of Niagara County Services for the American Red Cross. “This trailer will greatly cut down on our response time should a disaster strike Eastern Niagara County, allowing our staff and volunteers to quickly set up emergency shelters in affected areas and give local residents someplace to turn when they need it most.”

This generous donation is just the latest example of support the Grigg-Lewis Foundation has provided to the American Red Cross. The Foundation also makes an annual gift of thousands of dollars to support the work of the Red Cross, and the foundation’s founder and primary benefactor, Henrietta Grigg Lewis, was a long-time volunteer with the Red Cross in Eastern Niagara County.

For more information on the Grigg-Lewis foundation, please visit

To schedule a free disaster preparedness education program at your school, business or organization, please call (716) 886-7500, and visit for Be Red Cross Ready for emergency preparedness tips and checklists.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Send a Hero some Holiday Cheer!

We've been so focused on our assistance to those affected by Sandy while responding to a number of fires here at home recently that you may have lost track of another important thing the Red Cross does each year around this time. Friday's deadline for people to send holiday greetings to men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces through the Holiday Mail for Heroes program is fast approaching!

Hoover Elementary students proudly display their thanks
to members of the armed forces during a 2010
Holiday Mail for Heroes card-making event
One of my first experiences working for the Red Cross was two years ago, when I had the pleasure of attending a Holiday Mail for Heroes card-making event at Hoover Elementary School in the Ken-Ton district. The kids had so much fun designing and decorating greetings to send to our men and women in uniform, and I think they learned something about giving back to those who sacrifice so much for us. Last weekend, a table with cards was set up in the Clement Mansion lobby during the Holiday Gift Show. I think the highlight of my six-year-old's visit was addressing a "Dear Soldier" holiday greeting. 

If you've ever been away from home for the holidays, you know how much it means to receive a little cheer in the mail. So please, take some time over the next couple days to thank some real heroes for their service to our country. All holiday greetings should be addressed and sent to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol HeightsMD 20791-5456

Once the Red Cross receives the cards that are sent in by the public, Pitney Bowes Inc. scans them to ensure safety and security. Red Cross volunteers sort and deliver them to military installations, in VA and military hospitals and to veteran’s organizations in the United States and overseas.

The Red Cross cannot guarantee delivery of those cards postmarked after December 7. Visit for a full list of recommended guidelines. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red Cross Responding to Fire in Town of Lockport

Red Cross Responding to Fire in Town of Lockport
Disaster Action Team assisting residents of trailer park
BUFFALO, NY, November 29, 2012 – The American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties is currently assisting residents following a trailer park fire this morning. Volunteers from our Disaster Action Team met with the two adults and four children on the scene earlier today to assess their immediate emergency needs.
Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food, clothing, and emotional support for those displaced by the fire. The family is expected to meet with caseworkers in the coming days to work out a longer-term recovery plan.
The Disaster Action Team is a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to the scene of a local disaster when called upon 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information on how to Join Us as a Disaster Action Team member, please call (716) 878-2140 or visit
The American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties spends an average of just over $1,000 when responding to a single house fire affecting a family of four.  To make a financial donation to help this family and others affected by house fires and other disasters down the street, across the country, or around the world, please visit, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (charges will appear on your cell phone bill).  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Stories From the Field

There's so many amazing stories happening as part of the Red Cross response to Sandy, and I'm honored and humbled to have been a small part of it. So today, I want to link to a few stories put together by the members of the Public Affairs team that I was honored to be a part of.

I'll start with a photo record of my two weeks in NYC:

Bob Wallace, one of my Public Affairs teammates, caught up with Niagara Falls own Mike Hoplight, and like us, Bob was amazed at everything Mike does for the Red Cross:

I met this gentleman-who's also a judge-a week and a half ago, working on his day off to help those in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood (special thanks to my good friend Alyson Roach for putting the final story together):

This one isn't a link, but Julie Krizen's story of a man we met at a union meeting to inform members of services available to them:
The remains of Michael O'Hanlon's Breezy Point home.
Michael says his wife loves the meals the Red Cross provides.
Michael O'Hanlon was displaced after Superstorm Sandy made landfall and caused a massive fire in his neighborhood. He and his wife had to swim out of his burning home and are now living with relatives. Both have been very thankful for the support they have received from the American Red Cross - especially hot meals at a time when they were needed most. Almost 3 weeks later Michael remains positive and upbeat despite the tears in his eyes. He carries around pictures of what is left of his home but says "I can look at them, but I just can't stare at them. I know I need to sit down and have a big cry, but I just don't have the time for that right now." Michael is just thankful to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family and knows although the road to recovery is a long one, he will be just fine.

Together with the amazing Katie Wilkes-who gave up a vacation in Australia to volunteer with the Red Cross-we met Miss Cynthia, who's passion and dedication is off the charts:

Of course, the Red Cross can't be there for our neighbors in need without the support of the American public. These high schoolers from Ohio made some beautiful music to help those affected by Sandy;

And just in case you're still not impressed by the sacrifices of Red Cross volunteers, check out this Wall Street Journal story on how a hundred or so of them have been living while helping those most affected by Sandy:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Seeing the devastation--and the relief--first hand

We've all seen the pictures over the past three weeks. Homes destroyed and people's lives turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy. Having now seen it first hand, I can tell you the pictures don't do it justice.

Our first stop on Sunday was to a bulk distribution site on Coney Island, where folks from this relatively poor area of Brooklyn lined up to get much needed food and water, blankets and flashlights, mops and buckets, and more things essential as they start rebuilding their lives. I was a little surprised at how widespread the need appeared to be three weeks after the storm hit--until I took a walk around.

Nope, that's not snow they're shoveling. That's sand that had washed up on the shore and completely covered this Coney Island gazebo hundreds of feet away from the normal shoreline. These local residents were clearing literally inches of sand off the gazebo. Nearby, there were mounds of sand that had already been cleared from the boardwalks and streets, much like we'd see after a good old-fashioned Buffalo blizzard. When you consider what that sand--and the water that brought it up--could do to homes and power lines, the need comes a little more in focus.

Then we moved on to a nearby community called Sea Gate, and were greeted with visions like this:
A picture speaks a thousand words, but so do the people who lived through this. A Sea Gate resident who was getting a bite to eat from one of our Emergency Response Vehicles told me that he just got his heat back the day before, and the lights are coming on "in phases". "Before the storm, I parked my car eight blocks away, just in case," he said. "The water was up to the roof. I watched the storm with a buddy from an eighth floor apartment. He asked me, 'Is this the end of the world?' I replied, 'I don't know.'"

Considering the unthinkable devastation that they are dealing with, the perseverance these people continue to show is inspiring. One woman told me, "Two days after the storm, a Red Cross truck pulled up to the corner. I had my first Red Cross meal. It was good!"

The Red Cross will continue to help those affected by Sandy for weeks and months to come as families get back on their feet. This is likely to be the biggest Red Cross response in the U.S. in the past five years. To help, call 1-800-REDCROSS, click, or text in a donation today. Our neighbors in New York City thank you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Taste of Home

When I worked in the media, we always joked that no matter what the story, there was ALWAYS a Western New York connection. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that this was the first thing I saw when heading out to a bulk distribution site on Brooklyn's Brighton Beach:
Yep, that's our Emergency Response Vehicle from Niagara Falls getting ready to serve a hot meal to  residents still devastated almost three weeks after the storm, one of over 300 Red Cross vehicles working on the Sandy response. The volunteers inside weren't WNYers, at least not this time, but it's yet another example of The City (or should that be region?) of Good Neighbors coming through for those in need.

Brighton Beach is one of 15 fixed sites across New York City where the Red Cross is serving meals and water and distributing comfort and clean up kits with things like blankets, flashlights, mops and buckets this weekend. As of Friday, over 2.1 million relief items had been distributed and over 6.1 million meals and snacks have been served, and those numbers are going to continue to jump. In addition to Brighton Beach, I also visited a site at Red Hook, and was struck by the size of the line.

It's pretty clear that this response is going to last a long time. If you want to help, please visit, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to charge a $10 donation to your phone bill. The people here still need your help.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Extra Special Visitor

On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of volunteers and staff working at the Greater NY regional headquarters were called from our fourth floor operations center to a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern. But long before either of the featured speakers arrived at 520 W 49th Street in New York City, someone else stole the show. 
Cinza Iverson tells her Sandy story to Jay Bonafede

Cinza Iverson simply wanted to say thank you. Her Far Rockaway home was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, and then was part of a 50 home fire. Cinza ended up at the Red Cross shelter at Nassau Community College.
“When I walked in the shelter, I didn’t have anything. I was soaking wet,” Cinza said. “As soon as I walked in, I got nothing but smiles and encouragement. Everyone made me feel very comfortable. After two days, I started volunteer there myself.”
Following 12 days at the shelter, Cinza is flying to Iowa on a ticket purchased with help from the Red Cross and partner agencies. “I didn’t want to be near any water!”
“I just came to the Red Cross to drop off my forms to volunteer,” Cinza continued, “and to say thanks.” She left to a standing ovation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So THAT'S what they mean by staff shelter!

For two years now, I've been sharing the stories from our amazing volunteers as they've deployed in the field to assist folks who have been affected by disaster across the country. Well, now I'm going to be able to tell my own. That's right, I flew out yesterday to volunteer with the Sandy relief efforts of the Red Cross.

So far, I have met many people from across the country: including a woman from Louisiana nervous about her first deployment; a Chapter employee from the Erie, PA area who's done this many times; and our own deployment veteran, Lou Colca! Lou and I filled out our deployment paperwork together Monday morning, then took different flights but ended up at the same place: the staff shelter in White Plains, NY:
Yep, that was home last night. Dozens of volunteers sleeping on cots on the floor of the YMCA. Some of those volunteers have been there for days!

This morning, it was off to the operations center in White Plains for orientation and to receive our assignments. I have been sent to the Greater NY Chapter building on W 49th St, where the headquarters have been set up and much of my work will be done. At some point soon, I'll join the majority of the 5,700 Red Cross workers who are on the ground in the affected areas. But in the meantime, I can say hi to Lou--he's here, too, awaiting his assignment.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

SWNY Chapter opens shelter to help explosion victims

At approximately 9:30pm Sunday, November 11, 2012 volunteers from the American Red Cross of Southwestern New York volunteers opened a shelter at Alfred State College following an apartment explosion in Alfred, NY at the request of emergency managers from Alleghany County. The shelter will remain open through the night to accommodate residents of the Rose Apartment Building. The Red Cross will continue to provide the victims with temporary shelter, food and clothing, and will work with the families to provide support during their recovery process. 

All disaster assistance offered by the American Red Cross is complementary and made possible by generous contributions from the American people and residents of Allegany County. The United Way organization of Allegany County also provides financial support to the local Red Cross mission.

Also, the WNY Region continues to deploy volunteers to assist in the Sandy relief efforts. 37 local volunteers have been or will be deployed, with 28 still out serving in the response. Recent deployments include:
  • PearlieMae Hargro of Buffalo to North Brunswick, NJ for Client Casework
  • David Erickson of Lakewood, NY to Middletown, CT for Client Casework
  • Patricia Coate of Allegany, NY to Middletown, CT for Client Casework
  • Mary Walker of Dunkirk, NY to North Brunswick, NJ for Client Casework
  • Jay Bonafede of Tonawanda, NY to White Plains, NY for Public Affairs

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stories from the field

Since Hurricane Sandy first hit the east coast nearly two weeks ago, we have been using this blog to keep you updated with our official press releases. Those are fine sources of information on what the Red Cross is doing to help those affected, but they really don't tell the personal side of how a disaster of this magnitude affects the residents and the volunteers who deploy to help. So today, I want to share just a couple of stories from some of the 34 folks from the Western New York region who have traveled to assist in the relief efforts so far. This first story comes from Bill Tucker, the Executive Director of the SWNY Chapter, who deployed shortly after the storm:
Volunteers at Red Cross shelter at St. Joe's on Long Island

After six days as a mass care shelter associate (Kitchen supervisor) at the Deer Park shelter on Long Island I moved with our clients and staff to a brand new shelter at St. Joseph College in Patchogue, about 20-ish miles further east on Long Island.  It was a chaotic move, as most are; we had to be out of the Middle School we were in because school was starting the next day, but the new shelter wasn’t up and running yet.  We had school buses transport the clients about 5:00pm, and we managed to get the rest of the staff and most of our remaining supplies to the new shelter in jam-packed rental cars.  We walked into a big gym full of people (no cots!), where we joined staff and clients from other shelters who were consolidating there with us as well.  At 10:30 pm (on election night) our truckload of cots arrived; what a flurry of activity!  Everyone jumped in to tear open boxes and set up cots; within 15 minutes (literally) there were over 100 cots set up and families were settling in for the night.

The most amazing thing about this was that despite a certain level of uncertainty and the initial scarcity of resources, everyone – clients included – worked with phenomenally positive attitudes to make it all come together.  The picture that sticks in my mind is the gentleman in the wheel chair, with only partial use of his hands, struggling to push a boxed cot to the area he wanted to sleep in; our staff saw this and immediately came to his aid, setting up his cot and getting him comfortably situated for the night.  Similar scenes happened over and over, all across the gym floor.  By about 11:30 the lights were dimmed, the noise settled down, and everyone (except the exhausted night shift) fell into a deep sleep.  The next morning our shelter management finalized the set up and quickly had a “by-the-book” shelter in place; head counts were confirmed, signage increased, shift assignments adjusted, and routines established.  We are now running smoothly and working through the challenges that are inherent in mass care sheltering; feeding without a kitchen, showering without hot water, and (for the night shift) sleeping in the midst of much commotion with ear plugs in and eyes covered.  Through it all the mutual support has been there, with everyone displaying a positive, productive attitude and a sincere desire to help.

Client at Red Cross shelter at St. Joe's on Long Island
The stories of our clients are heart-breaking, and almost too difficult to write about.  I have spoken to so many, most in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, who have nothing left and don’t know where to turn.  There are the families with young children also, trying to get the kids to and from school while living at a shelter miles distant from their homes (I am hearing that the school district is to start bus service for the children soon).  I am so thankful that the 31 volunteers from WNY (33?  34? I’m losing count) are here on the coast and doing all they can to help people in need.  Thank you!

Take care, and be safe!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Red Cross Continues Massive Relief Response to Sandy

Western New York Companies, volunteers assist in efforts

BUFFALO, NY, November 5, 2012 – The American Red Cross is continuing a massive relief response following Superstorm Sandy, providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to people affected by the storm. More than 5,300 trained Red Cross disaster workers from all over the country are supporting shelters, providing food and water at fixed sites and driving through affected neighborhoods to distribute meals and supplies. The entire Red Cross fleet of Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs), more than 320 in total, has been activated to distribute meals, water, snacks and relief supplies.

Volunteer Pete Swales of Springville (Center) with other
members of the Disaster Assessment team in Queens, NY
To date, the Red Cross has helped families and individuals in ten states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico affected by Sandy. The Red Cross served more than one million meals and snacks, provided more than 54,000 overnight stays, made more than 17,000 health services and emotional support contacts and handed out more than 60,000 relief items.

The response to Sandy is likely to be the biggest Red Cross response in the United States in the past five years. Western New York corporations and individuals have stepped up to support these efforts, especially those companies with employees and customers in affected areas:
  •        M&T Bank is donating $250,000 to assist those affected by Sandy, will match all contributions made M&T employees, directors, and retirees and collect contributions from the public at any of its branches;
  •          The First Niagara Bank Foundation made a $100,000 donation and established a bank-wide Red Cross donation account that customers can deposit money into;
  •          Praxair Foundation is making a $50,000 donation to support relief efforts in Connecticut where their headquarters are located and an additional $10,000 to support the American Red Cross in Buffalo;
  •          Wegmans Buffalo Division is making a $10,000 donation;
  •          Tops Markets have made a $5,000; DiMino’s Lewiston Tops Market is making an additional $5,000 donation. 

Dozens of other Western New York corporations have also made generous gifts to support the Red Cross relief to Sandy, and media outlets including WGRZ-TV, WKBW-TV, WBBZ-TV and Buffalo Rising have donated advertising space and/or live broadcast time to encourage donations. In addition, the Red Cross thanks individuals from across Western New York who have made gifts large and small to support the Red Cross efforts.

Two additional volunteers from the Western New York Region are leaving Tuesday to work in the Red Cross relief efforts. Lizbeth Booth from Grand Island and Sue Olexenko of Amherst will serve as Disaster Mental Health workers, providing emotional support to those dealing with the trauma caused by Sandy. Booth and Olexenko make a total of 31 staff and volunteers from the eight counties of the Western New York region that have been deployed as part of the Red Cross response to Sandy:

NAME, HOMETOWN                   FUNCTION                                                             
Anthony Addotta, West Seneca            Logistics
Phillip Baker, Jamestown                     Logistics
Lizbeth Booth, Grand Island                Disaster Mental Health
Carl Chamberlain, Lockport                 Disaster Mental Health
James Collingwood, Amherst               External Relations/Government Operations
Tom Daley, Tonawanda                       Mass Care/Sheltering
Janice Davis, Friendship                       Disaster Health Services
Martin Doster, Getzville                        Feeding/ERV
Marieanna Elliott, Hamburg                Disaster Mental Health
Marianne Evans, Ransomville             Mass Care/Sheltering
James France, Amherst                        Feeding/ERV
Allison Hall, Buffalo                              Disaster Mental Health
Michael Hoplight, Niagara Falls           Mass Care/Shelter Supervisor
Tara Hughes, Amherst                          Disaster Mental Health Chief
Norman Kehl, Strykersville                   Mass Care/Sheltering
Kevin Kelley, Medina                             Mass Care/Sheltering
Jose Latalladi, Buffalo                           Financial & Statistical Information
Rosalind Lind, Medina                           Mass Care/Sheltering
Margaret McGee-Smith, Kenmore       Disaster Mental Health
Hollyann Moffett, Dunkirk                    Mass Care/Sheltering
Diane Sargent, Lockport                        Disaster Assessment
Michael Schultz, Kenmore                     External Relations/Public Affairs
Beth Shook, Cuba                                   Staff Services
Katherine Story, West Seneca                Disaster Health Services
Peter Swales, Springville                         Disaster Assessment
Terry Sweet, P0rtageville                       Mass Care/Sheltering
William Tucker, Jamestown                  Mass Care/Sheltering
SWNY Volunteer, Bemus Point             Feeding/ERV
SWNY Volunteer, Bemus Point             Feeding/ERV
Noel Varela, Orchard Park                     Mass Care/Sheltering (Returned home)
Dawn Zaker, Niagara Falls                     Mass Care/Sheltering                 

HOW TO HELP The response to Sandy is likely to be the biggest Red Cross response in the U.S. in the past five years. Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. They can also use the “donate” feature on the free Red Cross Apps for mobile devices to support this relief response. Contributions may also be sent to local Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

GIVE BLOOD Hundreds of Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled due to the storm, representing a loss of thousands of blood and platelet products. The Red Cross is asking people who are eligible, especially in places not affected by the storm, to schedule a time to give blood in the days and weeks to come.

To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit 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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seven WNY Volunteers and Two Emergency Response Vehicles Deploying Wednesday Afternoon

Red Cross helping people after storm affects lives in multiple states

Lavallette, NJ
BUFFALO, NY, October 31, 2012 – The American Red Cross has a huge relief response underway to Sandy, providing people across a number of states with a safe place to stay, food to eat and comfort during this difficult time. Thousands of people have spent the night in hundreds of Red Cross shelters since the storm began its onslaught on the country. The Red Cross has already served more than 100,800 meals and snacks and mobilized more than 2,300 disaster workers and almost 200 emergency vehicles so far and more are being deployed.

The Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) based in Niagara County deployed with two volunteers from the Western New York region Wednesday afternoon, and five additional volunteers and a second ERV deployed from the Jamestown office. They will be driving to the operational headquarters in White Plains, NY, where they will then be assigned to the affected areas.

A total of 25 volunteers from the Western New York region have been deployed to assist in the Red Cross response to Sandy so far. Below is a current list, with those deploying Wednesday afternoon listed in bold:

NAME, HOMETOWN                   FUNCTION                                                             
James Collingwood, Amherst            External Relations/Government Operations
Tom Daley, Tonawanda                     Mass Care/Sheltering
Janice Davis, Friendship                    Disaster Health Services
Martin Doster, Getzville               Feeding/ERV
Marieanna Elliott, Hamburg      Disaster Mental Health
Marianne Evans, Ransomville          Mass Care/Sheltering
James France, Amherst                Feeding/ERV
Allison Hall, Buffalo                           Disaster Mental Health
Michael Hoplight, Niagara Falls        Mass Care/Shelter Supervisor
Tara Hughes, Amherst                       Disaster Mental Health Chief
Norman Kehl, Strykersville                Mass Care/Sheltering
Jose Latalladi, Buffalo                        Financial & Statistical Information
Rosalind Lind, Medina                        Mass Care/Sheltering
Margaret McGee-Smith, Kenmore    Disaster Mental Health
Hollyann Moffett, Dunkirk          Mass Care/Sheltering
Diane Sargent, Lockport                     Disaster Assessment
Michael Schultz, Kenmore                 External Relations/Public Affairs
Beth Shook, Cuba                               Staff Services
Katherine Story, West Seneca            Disaster Health Services
Peter Swales, Springville                     Disaster Assessment
Terry Sweet, P0rtageville                    Mass Care/Sheltering
William Tucker, Jamestown        Mass Care/Sheltering
SWNY Volunteer, Bemus Point   Feeding/ERV
SWNY Volunteer, Bemus Point   Feeding/ERV
Dawn Zaker, Niagara Falls                 Mass Care/Sheltering

“This response to Sandy is just getting started. The storm has left devastation in its wake and we will be helping people for weeks to come,” said Nancy Blaschak, Executive Director of the American Red Cross, WNY Region. “This will be very costly and the Red Cross needs help now. We ask everyone to support us as we help people recover from this massive storm.”

HOW TO HELP The response to Sandy is very large and very costly and the Red Cross needs the public’s help now. People can make a financial donation by visiting, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) 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, DC 20013.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The storm has also caused the cancellation of hundreds of Red Cross blood drives, resulting in a loss of as many as 11,000 blood products and people are eligible are asked to schedule a blood donation now, especially if they live outside the areas impacted by the storm.

To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit 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.