Thursday, February 7, 2013

Don't believe everything you read!

(Note: This does NOT apply to the Winter Storm Warning that starts at 1am Friday. You should absolutely believe that, and prepare ahead of time.)

I am a proud graduate of a university that has a top 10 college basketball team, a team I began rooting for long before ever stepping foot on the campus as a student, and a team I follow closely to this day. Last week, social media and internet message boards were inundated with rumors that the team's star point guard was going to be suspended because of academic issues. Lo and behold, who was still in the starting lineup for Saturday's game but the star point guard. On Monday, said point guard was named the school's scholar athlete of the month. So much for the academic issues!

You may be wondering what this has to do with the Red Cross. Well, last week I was also asked by not one, but two supporters to help them respond to a viral email that had made the rounds featuring unflattering information about the Red Cross and some other non-profits.

Several inaccurate emails have been circulating for some time about the salaries of large charity CEO's, with a frequent uptick in activity during the holiday season. These emails contain inaccurate information about the compensation of the president and CEO of the American Red Cross, and in fact are wrong about the name of the Red Cross CEO. These viral emails include the name and photo of Marty J. Evans and mistakenly refer to her and her compensation as the current CEO, even though she left the Red Cross many years ago.
The president and CEO of the American Red Cross is Gail McGovern, and her base salary has remained $500,000—without any pay increase—since she joined the American Red Cross in 2008. This is considered well within the range for executives of large non-profits like the Red Cross, a $3.3 billion organization.
The American Red Cross meets all standards of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. One of the BBB's standards for accountability is that a charity should spend at least 65 percent of total expenses on program activities. The American Red Cross vastly outperforms on this measure, spending an organization-wide average of 91 percent of every dollar raised on humanitarian services.
The Red Cross is committed to transparency; as it has for nearly the past decade, the Red Cross has posted its Form 990 in full on its public Web site,

But you don't have to take our word for it. You can also check out the independent watchdog website Charity Navigator. While you're there, you may want to check out the "facts" about the other non-profits mentioned in these emails, considering how inaccurate their Red Cross information is. Because remember, some people never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kenneth Turner Named Chief Program Officer for WNY Region

29-year staff member managed October Surprise and Flight 3407 response

Chief Program Officer Kenneth Turner
BUFFALO, NY, February 5, 2013 – Regional Executive Director Nancy Blaschak has announced the appointment of Kenneth Turner as Chief Program Officer for the American Red Cross, Western New York Region. A 29-year staff member, Turner will oversee disaster services as well as community service programs for the eight counties in Western New York. In addition, Turner will oversee disaster services for the Finger Lakes region, which encompasses the Greater Rochester Area.

“I am so pleased to be able to make this announcement today,” Blaschak said. “Ken has done an amazing job directing our Emergency Services department, and I know he will do the same for our Services to Seniors, HIV/AIDS Services and other community service programs moving forward.”

Turner has been with the Red Cross for 29 years, most recently serving as Senior Director of Emergency Services. Turner served as Operations Manager for the Red Cross response to the October Surprise Storm of 2006 and the crash of Flight 3407 in 2009. In the fall of 2011 Turner served as the Assistant Director for the Red Cross response to Tropical Strom Lee and Hurricane Irene in the Lower Hudson Valley, and he led the Western New York regional planning for and response to Hurricane Sandy last October.

“Accepting this position is a great honor for me,” Turner said. “It has been my privilege to be a part of the Red Cross for almost three decades now, and I look forward to working with our amazing staff and volunteers to help the Western New York community prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters for years to come.”

A graduate of Buffalo State College, Turner also holds a certificate from the Clara Barton Institute of Domestic Preparedness in weapons of mass destruction. The Buffalo resident also works as an NCAA Division I college basketball referee.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Still helping, three months after Sandy

You may not see it in the news daily anymore, but Superstorm Sandy continues to affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially in New York and New Jersey. Last week, the American Red Cross issued a progress report on its work to help people in the first three months after the storm struck the East Coast as well as its plans for longer-term recovery.

Click here to watch a video from Red Cross President & CEO
Gail McGovern regarding the response to Sandy
Our Regional Executive Director, Nancy Blaschak, is currently on an interim assignment to lead those recovery efforts in New York City and Long Island. Even as we continue to serve thousands of meals and snacks to people in affected areas daily, we are working closely with government partners on long-term recovery efforts, and the first part of the Red Cross recovery work is already underway. Just last week, a $15 million mold remediation project between the Red Cross, the Mayor's Fund and Robin Hood Foundation was announced

For the next several months, a big part of the Red Cross recovery effort will be working one-on-one with families who need some extra help making recovery plans and accessing available resources. Some need help finding child care, or understanding insurance paperwork. Red Cross case workers will help guide them through the recovery process. The Red Cross is also supporting the work of several other relief groups, such as helping to fund several local food banks in New York to boost their capacity to serve more meals and help ensure people who need food have access to it, as well as support for Operation Hope’s work to provide assistance and financial counseling to survivors.

The Red Cross has deployed a total of more than 16,800 disaster workers in the past three months to help those affected by Sandy, including 49 volunteers from right here in Western New York. Three months after landfall, more than 1,000 Red Cross workers remain on the scene, providing food, water and emotional support to people in need. Since Sandy made landfall, the Red Cross has:
  • Served more than 11 million meals and snacks.
  • Distributed more than 6.9 million relief items like blankets and cleaning supplies.
  • Provided more than 109,000 health and mental health contacts for those affected, many of whom lost everything they owned during the storm.
  • Provided nearly half (81,000) of the total 163,000 shelter stays by a range of groups. 
All of this amazing work is only possible thanks to the generous support of this community and the American public. The Red Cross has received more than $254 million in donations and pledges for Sandy.  By January 31, the Red Cross will have spent or made commitments to spend an estimated $145 million, and the remaining Sandy donations will be used to help individuals and communities affected by this storm with their long-term needs. More information on the Red Cross work on the Sandy emergency relief and recovery can be found at