Friday, April 21, 2017

"Volunteering for the Red Cross has made me realize how lucky I am"

"I feel rewarded when I am able to teach people about fire safety," said David Roma as he told me why he became a Red Cross volunteer.

In the November 2014 Buffalo snow storm, David was out helping shoveling driveways for his neighbors. From this, he wished he could help people regularly. His daughter, Nicole, was a volunteer coordinator for the Western New York Chapter. So David went to her, and she helped set him up to be a Red Cross volunteer.

David Roma with fellow volunteer Shirley
Carnall during a Home Fire Campaign event
in the City of Buffalo
David remembers a specific time installing fire alarms for an elderly woman as part of the Home Fire Campaign. He and one other volunteer arrived at the house and found it was very run down. Windows were broken, there was no stove, barely any furniture, and no doors on rooms.  The elderly woman that called them to install fire alarms was the head of the house she housed her daughters and sons and their children, and David knew they simply installing smoke alarms made this family a little safer.

"When I see people like this it makes me realize how lucky I really am", said David.

If you're like David and enjoy helping people, you too can become an American Red Cross volunteer. Our volunteers have a range of opportunities when it comes to deciding what kind of volunteer you would want to be. It ranges from disaster relief to being a desk receptionist. Whatever kind of volunteer you want to be, you'll be helping the Red Cross to do their job to help provide comfort and hope to our neighbors in need.

~Emma Reeve, Communications Intern

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Day Experiencing The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign

As a communications intern with the American Red Cross, I have been able to experience this organization in ways that I could not have guessed when originally applying for the position. If you had asked me last year what the American Red Cross does for the community, my answer would have been limited and honestly wrong. Through this experience I have been able to understand the vast array of services that the organization has to offer. One of them being the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.

Chairman Andy March assisting board member
Luke Fagan with the installation of
their first fire alarm of the day.
The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is the American  Red Cross’ way of trying to install fire alarms into every home that does not already have them. It has been proven that, from the time that the fire ignites, you only have about two minutes to get out of the house before someone gets injured or worse. While in training for this program, I learned that nationally, 19 percent of homes do not have working smoke alarms and four percent do not have them at all. However, out of all the fire fatalities, 37 percent happen in homes that have no alarm and 23 percent happen in homes without a working alarm. These numbers are sobering when you think of how many people could have been saved by having working smoke alarms. This is why it is so important to have an alarm that gives you the most time to make your escape.

This campaign really touched me as fire related incidents was a big part of my growing up. My grandmother, whom I was named after, passed away when my mother was very young in a house fire. While I never got to meet her, she has influenced my life in many ways. My mother has always been very proactive when it came to fire preparedness, and yet, I still did not know half of the information that this campaign has to offer.

Not only does this campaign install potential lifesaving alarms that alert you when there is a fire, it is our mission to also educate you on what to do when a fire happens and how to be fully prepared in a time of crisis. While one of our members installs up to three free fire alarms, another member educates the resident in what to do in case of an emergency. To me this is the most important part of the program.

Our educator goes through not only how to use the fire alarm and how to maintain it, but they also teach you about how to create a family fire plan in order to best be prepared if something does happen. This includes things like coming up with a meeting place so you can know if everyone is out of the house, and other lifesaving tips that are more than necessary. While these plans do not take a long time to come up with, they are so crucial to the well-being of your family.

Board member Renae Rokicki educating the home owner
on how to create a fire plan for her family.
They also teach you important lessons on ways to prevent a fire, like their catchy saying “Three feet from the heat” informing you that if you have any space heaters in the colder months, that there should be absolutely nothing within three feet of the it. Another tip I saw being talked about is to avoid using more than one extension cord to gain access to electric in a part of the house that does not have any. These tips are crucial and potentially lifesaving.

On March 25, 2017 I was given the opportunity to be a part of this campaign, and help install fire alarms in homes in the Central New York area.

I worked alongside Chairman of the Board, Andy March and board members Luke Fagan and Renae Rokicki. The first house we went to was an elderly woman who lived alone. While she was funny and quick as a whip, unfortunately without a fire alarm, if something were to happen it would be very hard to get out of her house that contains many steps. The fire alarms would give her more time to make her escape to safety. It was so nice talking to her and realizing how important the work we are doing is.

Going around installing fire alarms into homes that needed them, really helped to open my eyes to the importance of home fire preparedness. Not only was I able to learn a lot myself, but I also was able to be a small part in an organization that does so much for the community. I was able to be a small part in helping people to realize the severity of a house fire and hopefully not only help them in a time of crisis, but also prevent these issues in the first place. Overall, this was an experience that I would have never expected, and that I am forever grateful for.


If you are currently living in a home that does not have working fire alarms, or just think you could use a few extra in order to keep your family safe, please visit the Home Fire Preparedness Campaigns website to schedule an appointment to install alarms in your place of residence. 

-Gayle Landry, Communications Intern
M.A. Public Relations at Syracuse University 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Extraordinary Personal Action Saves a Life

"I saw an elderly lady hunched over and I knew it didn't look right," Caitlin McKinnon said as she recounted her actions.

Greater Rochester Chapter
Executive Director  James Love 
Presents the 
Certificate of  Extraordinary Personal Action
to Caitlin McKinnon
Caitlin was shopping at Trader Joe's in Pittsford, NY, when she heard a woman yelling, "Mom, Mom! Someone help!!" Caitlin saw an elderly lady clutching onto a cart. Caitlin, a registered nurse, carefully brought the woman to the floor and felt for a pulse. The woman did not have a pulse, so Caitlin asked the woman's daughter if she could give her mom CPR. Caitlin immediately began CPR, and within about 30 seconds, the woman woman took a breath. When the ambulance arrived, the elderly had a pulse and was able to speak.

"Caitlin in my mind has always been a hero because of the career she is in," said her sister, Lindsay. "But during an ordinary day at the grocery store, she continues to help others when in need."

Last month at the Greater Rochester Chapter, the Red Cross was proud to present Caitlin the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action. This certificate is awarded to individuals who save or sustain a life by action that exemplifies the mission of American Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services. 

Due to Caitlin's quick thinking, she was able to revive this woman and help save her life. Emergencies can strike anytime, anywhere, and every second counts. Having the skills to be able to save or help a life is very important, and we encourage everyone learn and get CPR/AED/First Aid certification from us here at the American Red Cross.


~Emma Reeve, Communications Intern

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"I've always loved the American Red Cross"

Janice Moore 
Very early Saturday morning, Janice Moore was going to her back room to watch TV.

"I suddenly heard a lot of footsteps and noises", said Janice. She looked out her apartment window to see fire engines. Still unsure of what was going on, she looked up to see a blaze coming out of the upstairs apartment window.

All residents of the Layette Avenue apartment building got out safely, and there were no injuries. The Red Cross opened a shelter at St. John's Grace Episcopal Church in Buffalo, and provided support to 84 people.

Janice is familiar with the Red Cross. She's been a volunteer blood services driver for nine years, but she had never needed Red Cross assistance before this weekend.

Shelter at St John's Grace Episcopal Church
"I've always loved American Red Cross," Janice said. She said that it must be hard trying to keep people calm and help them quickly, but the Red Cross pulled it through. She was also grateful that the NFTA brought a bus to the scene to protect them from the frigid temperatures as they met with volunteers and eventually helped them get to the safe, warm shelter.

Janice and her neighbors have since found other housing, but Red Cross volunteers continue to work with them to meet any additional needs and develop and individualized, long-term recovery plan. And Janice will soon be back on the road, delivering those life-saving blood products from the drives that were donated at to the blood centers.

Our volunteers responded to over 1,400 fires in the Western and Central New York Region last year, providing shelter, food and clothing, comfort and support to our neighbors in need. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

-Emma Reeve, Communications Intern

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Families Returning Home, Shelters Closing as Power Restoration Continues

207 people spent Saturday night in Red Cross and community storm shelters; Fire shelter in Buffalo remains open

As power restoration efforts continue across the Western and Central New York Region following this week’s windstorms, the American Red Cross has closed storm shelters in Batavia and Macedon. Anyone in these areas in need of additional assistance is asked to call their local Red Cross Chapter.

Red Cross volunteers continue to operate storm shelters at the following locations in the Greater Rochester area: 
        ·         David Gantt Center
        700 North Street, Rochester

        ·         Monroe Community College, Building 10
         1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester

Additional community storm shelters are being operated by other agencies and many are receiving Red Cross support. 207 people spent Saturday night in nine total shelters. The Red Cross remains in constant contact with emergency officials across Western and Central New York to coordinate the most efficient and effective response to this disaster, and is prepared to provide additional relief services as needed.

An additional shelter remains open at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle in Buffalo for those displaced by a multi-unit apartment fire on Lafayette Street in Buffalo early Saturday morning.

DRIVING IN WINTER WEATHER With a Winter Storm Warning in effect for much of the region starting Monday, Red Cross encourages you to stay off the roads if possible. If you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:
  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:
  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open - away from the blowing wind - to let in air.

WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.


You can help people affected by disasters like home fires, power outages and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Red Cross Begins Closing Shelters as Power Restoration Continues

Shelters to remain open in Batavia, Buffalo, Macedon, Rochester; Red Cross supporting community shelters

As power restoration efforts continue across the Western and Central New York Region following this week’s windstorms, the American Red Cross has closed three storm shelters, with a fourth scheduled to close by Saturday afternoon. Shelters at the Kendall Town Hall, Frontier Fire Hall and Varysburg Fire Hall were closed on Saturday as residents have been able to return to their homes. A shelter at Cross Creek Church in Macedon is scheduled to close on Sunday afternoon. Anyone in these areas in need of additional assistance is asked to call their local Red Cross Chapter.

Red Cross volunteers continue to operate storm shelters at the following locations:

FINGER LAKES CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 607-936-3766):
      ·         Cross Creek Church
3259 Canandaigua Road, Macedon

GREATER ROCHESTER CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 585-241-4400):
      ·         David Gantt Center
700 North Street, Rochester

      ·         Monroe Community College, Building 10
1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester

WESTERN NEW YORK CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 716-886-7500):
·         Batavia Veterans Administration Hospital, Building 4
222 Richmond Avenue, Batavia

Additional community storm shelters are being operated by other agencies and many are receiving Red Cross support. For example, a number of cots, blankets and comfort kits have been delivered to Gates Town Hall and Greece Community Center. The Red Cross remains in constant contact with emergency officials across Western and Central New York to coordinate the most efficient and effective response to this disaster, and is prepared to provide additional relief services as needed.

An additional shelter remains open at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle in Buffalo for those displaced by a multi-unit apartment fire on Lafayette Street in Buffalo early Saturday morning.

With cold temperatures predicted throughout the weekend, the Red Cross encourages families to take precautions to stay safe:
      ·         Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
      ·         Keep all potential sources of fuel, including paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
      ·         Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
      ·         Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
      ·         Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
      ·         Run water at a trickle to help prevent pipes from freezing
      ·         Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which offers additional safety tips, as well as real-time weather alerts, shelter locations and more.


You can help people affected by disasters like home fires, power outages and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Red Cross Opening Shelter after Multi-Unit Apartment Fire in Buffalo


45 people spent Friday night in seven Red Cross-operated storm shelters across region

The American Red Cross is opening a shelter for those displaced by a multi-unit apartment fire on Lafayette Street in Buffalo early Saturday morning. That shelter will be located at St John’s Grace Episcopal Church, 51 Colonial Circle in Buffalo.

45 people spent Friday night in seven Red Cross-operated storm shelters across the Western and Central New York Region following high winds that left thousands without power and displaced many others. Volunteers are providing residents in need with a safe, warm place to stay as well as food and water. Health Services and Disaster Mental Health volunteers are also available, and caseworkers will meet with individually with families to assess their needs.

Anyone in need of assistance can come to one of the shelters or call their local Red Cross Chapter. Shelters are currently open at the following locations (new locations in bold):

FINGER LAKES CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 607-936-3766):
     ·         Cross Creek Church (three overnight residents)
3259 Canandaigua Road, Macedon

GREATER ROCHESTER CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 585-241-4400):
     ·         David Gantt Center (40 overnight residents)
700 North Street, Rochester

     ·         Monroe Community College, Building 10 (One overnight resident)
1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester

WESTERN NEW YORK CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 716-886-7500):
     ·         Batavia Veterans Administration Hospital, Building 4 (Zero overnight residents)
222 Richmond Avenue, Batavia

     ·         Kendall Town Hall (Zero overnight residents)
1     873 Kendall Road, Route 37, Kendall

     ·         Varysburg Fire Hall (One overnight resident)
2446 Route 20A, Varysburg

Additional community shelters are being operated by other agencies and many are receiving Red Cross support. A total of 110 people spent Friday night in 13 shelters across Western and Central New York. The Red Cross remains in constant contact with emergency officials across Western and Central New York to coordinate the most efficient and effective response to this disaster, and is prepared to open additional shelters and provide additional relief services as needed.

With cold temperatures predicted throughout the weekend, the Red Cross encourages families to take precautions to stay safe:
     ·         Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
     ·         Keep all potential sources of fuel, including paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
     ·         Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
     ·         Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
     ·         Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
     ·         Run water at a trickle to help prevent pipes from freezing
     ·         Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which offers additional safety tips, as well as real-time weather alerts, shelter locations and more.


You can help people affected by disasters like home fires, power outages and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Red Cross Opening Storm Shelters across Western and Central New York

New shelters open at Monroe Community College, Kendall Town Hall

The American Red Cross is opening a storm shelter at Monroe Community College and has relocated the previous shelter in Orleans County to the Kendall Fire Hall. Volunteers continue to operate five additional shelters across the Western and Central New York Region following high winds that left thousands without power and displaced many others.

Volunteers are providing residents in need with a safe, warm place to stay as well as food and water. Health Services and Disaster Mental Health volunteers are also available, and caseworkers will meet with individually with families to assess their needs.

Anyone in need of assistance can come to one of the shelters or call their local Red Cross Chapter. Shelters are currently open at the following locations (new locations in bold):

FINGER LAKES CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 607-936-3766):
·         Cross Creek Church
3259 Canandaigua Road, Macedon

GREATER ROCHESTER CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 585-241-4400):
·         David Gantt Center 
700 North Street, Rochester

·         Monroe Community College, Building 10
1000 East Henrietta Road, Rochester

WESTERN NEW YORK CHAPTER (Chapter phone: 716-886-7500):
·         Batavia Veterans Administration Hospital, Building 4 
222 Richmond Avenue, Batavia

·         Frontier Fire Hall 
2176 Liberty Drive, Niagara Falls

·         Kendall Town Hall
1873 Kendall Road, Route 37, Kendall

·         Varysburg Fire Hall
2446 Route 20A, Varysburg

Additional community shelters are being operated by other agencies and many are receiving Red Cross support. The Red Cross remains in constant contact with emergency officials across Western and Central New York to coordinate the most efficient and effective response to this disaster, and is prepared to open additional shelters and provide additional relief services as needed.

As temperatures are predicted to fall well below freezing tonight, the Red Cross encourages families to take precautions to stay safe:
·         Never use a generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
·         Keep all potential sources of fuel, including paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
·         Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
·         Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
·         Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
·         Run water at a trickle to help prevent pipes from freezing
·         Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which offers additional safety tips, as well as real-time weather alerts, shelter locations and more.


You can help people affected by disasters like home fires, power outages and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

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