Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Babysitter Training Day

American Red Cross Offers Babysitter's Training in Cuba NY
With summer on the horizon, teens will begin their summer jobs. One of the most popular jobs among them is being a babysitter. Babysitting children is a huge responsibility. It involves much more than just keeping children “out of trouble”. The more a babysitter knows and understands about children and problems that may arise, the better the experience can be for them and the children.

     On May 3rd, the Western New York/Finger Lakes Regions will hold a Babysitter Training Day at 11 different locations. It is designed for teens to earn the necessary skills to be a safe and effective caregiver. The all-day class teaches them a variety of skills from how to properly hold a baby to CPR and first aid.  Most importantly, a babysitter who earns this certification earns something even more valuable – peace of mind for the parents of the children they are taking care of.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Still #BostonStrong

My Boston Marathon response service pin
As April 15, 2014 approached, media outlets and others began looking back at what happened in Boston, MA one year ago. The one that really got me was when I saw Leighton Jones, the Chief Disaster Officer for the Red Cross in Massachusetts and the job director for Boston Marathon bombing response, post a picture of his service pin online. I immediately put on my pin.

My memories of those tragic events started much like those of anyone who was not there. I followed the news of the bombings at the finish line on social media, and immediately reached out to a friend running the race to make sure she was okay. Four days later, though, I was on a plane to Boston to join in the Red Cross response, landing while the city was locked down during the manhunt for one of the suspects.

That flight was an experience I'll never forget, but what I'm really thinking about one year later is the people. First, the Red Crossers I was privileged to work with. Many of the Boston staff and volunteers were a part of the race, either running or supporting first aid stations during the Marathon, but they all put their personal grief aside to help the community. I remember how much everyone there appreciated the work of our own Disaster Mental Health lead volunteer, Tara Hughes, who helped set up the Family Support Center and used her experience to share vital tips for coping with the tragedy to the entire community. Another Western New York Disaster Mental Health volunteer, Dominic DiGirolamo, was my roommate in Boston and even though we cannot share the details, I will never forget the stories of the incredible work he did for the family of fallen M.I.T. officer Sean Collier.

Probably my greatest memory, though, is how resilient the Boston people were, and how thankful they were for our support. Two images really stick in my head. First, at a vigil at the scene of the bombing one week later, seeing a woman wearing a Boston Marathon shirt crying in the arms of a friend, and silently handing them tissues. The other is walking back to the Chapter following the memorial service for Officer Collier. Not once, but twice, an officer directing traffic noticed my Red Cross shirt and thanked me for being there. Each time I responded, "No, thank you," but those moments are why I am still so proud to have been a small part of our response.

That response continues one year later, as mental health volunteers share tips for dealing with the emotions this anniversary might stir up. Fleet Feet Sports and the American Red Cross will hold a special blood drive in commemoration of the Boston Marathon Bombings on Tuesday, April 15 from 2pm-7pm at Fleet Feet Sports at The Armory, 155 Culver Road in Rochester. If you can't make it there, consider donating blood at another drive to help hospital patients in need as a healing moment. Personally, I'm marking this solemn occasion by remembering everyone that makes #BostonStrong a reality.