“The Volunteer You Would Need” Red Cross Volunteers are There When Disaster Strikes.

Written By: Dawn Miller, American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region

Photos provided by: Megann Hooyman

When the volunteer from the American Red Cross arrived it was like seeing an old friend and that was just what Megann Hooyman and her family of Appleton needed. The moments leading up to it were a blur of smoke and sirens.

Megann’s family, including her husband, Andy, 4-year old daughter, Zoey and the two-year old twins, Rylee and Callie, had arrived home from a holiday event with Santa. It was a festive Saturday morning so it took Megann a few moments to realize something was wrong.

When she opened her door all she saw was black and smoke. The glass from the oven was shattered on the floor and smoke was everywhere. She bent down to Charlie, their basset hound, but he was already gone. In the living room the smoke was so thick she could not see her hand in front of her.

She ran out the front door and yelled for someone to call 9-1-1. Smoke billowed out behind her. When she opened the door it allowed oxygen in to ignite the flames again.

Andy grabbed the fire extinguisher nearby and used it to keep flames down until firefighters arrived. “It was lucky that we had the fire extinguisher and that Andy knew how to use it,” says Megann.

Within moments Megann heard the sirens and the fire department was there. The fire fighters not only got the fire under control but assisted the family’s other dog, Zebby, who suffered bad burns and smoke inhalation. The ambulance assisted Andy who also was treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire damage was extensive and their possessions were destroyed.

Megann says the American Red Cross volunteer appeared out of nowhere. It’s like seeing a familiar face when you see the American Red Cross logo and that red vest. “It was nice to have that one reliable thing you know you can count on for information and support.”

Megann says the volunteer being there made her feel less alone. “I would have felt lost because I wouldn’t have known what to expect.”

He offered honest advice, time to process next steps and he made sure they were ok. He made sure they had housing and asked if they needed community resources like the food or clothing pantry. He gave them a $625 debit card for necessities like shampoo, conditioner and diapers. “It goes pretty fast when you have little ones,” says Megann.

Megann says she is thankful for such a supportive community. In the weeks following the fire, they stayed with family and were offered much support from friends and community who rallied to help keep the holiday season merry.

“You donate, you give back but you never think you are going to be on the receiving end,” says Megann. “But you need these services.”

Megann recently became the newest member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team.

“I hope I volunteer but I hope I don’t because it’s not a good situation,” says Megann. That’s why she’s not only being trained in disaster response but also wants to assist in fire safety and prevention education.

Megann is joining the team of compassionate and caring volunteers in red vests so she can be a friend when someone needs it the most. “You see it in school and on t.v. but you never think it will happen to you,” says Megann. “I don’t know any way to thank those who helped us except to give back and volunteer.”

If you want to be like Megann, please check out the volunteer opportunities at redcross.org/WI/volunteer.  Join us as we #Help1Family!

Then & Now! Reflections during March is National Red Cross Month

By Patty Flowers
Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region

I recently read a book titled The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough.  The Johnstown Flood is still considered to be one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history and it was the first big disaster that sixty-seven year old Clara Barton responded to with all the might of the American Red Cross she had established just eight years earlier.  As I read about her arrival with 50 doctors and nurses, I realized how shocked she must have been by the sheer size of this disaster.  She had been to several other smaller disasters across the country but this one was truly her first major disaster.

johnstown.jpg_large

@RedCross TBT: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1889 – #RedCross sets up mass shelters for the first time to feed & house those affected by Johnstown flood. (via Twitter)

Reading how they quickly established medical tents, shelters, kitchens, and even built two-story hotels for the homeless from local lumber; I was overwhelmed by the comparisons I can make to today’s Red Cross.  Clara declared the Red Cross was there to stay in Johnstown until they were no longer needed which is the same as our call to action today.  She spent more than $500,000 on blankets, food and other supplies with money she had raised from the American people – imagine how much money that was in 1889!  She executed a house-to-house search to find the people who needed help and we do the same today in 2017. 

So much is different from 1889 to 2017 but the fundamental principles of the American Red Cross live on.  I am so proud to be following in that little five foot tall woman’s footsteps doing things on a much smaller scale than her.  Thank you, Clara Barton, for caring for all; for standing up for everyone’s right to have emergency aid; and for working so hard to bring hope to so many!  I promise we will continue to do your good work!

 

Cut out Clara with Leadership Team.March 2017

The Wisconsin leadership team shows off their “Clara Barton” cut outs.

 

How did you celebrate March is Red Cross Month? What are your reflections with how far the Red Cross has come since the 1880’s to now? Share your stories with us!

Drum roll, please… welcome Alexandra Heyn – Southeast Wisconsin’s new Disaster Program Manager!

Alex Heyn HeadshotAlthough we’ve dubbed her “the newbie”, she’s really no stranger to the Red Cross… Alexandra (Alex) has supported the Red Cross as a Lifeguard and First-Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, Disaster Preparedness and Response volunteer, and most recently as a Volunteer Scheduler for blood services here in Milwaukee. In her new role of Disaster Program Manager, she will be overseeing disaster services in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

Alex earned her B.A. of Communications with an emphasis in Community Education and Mediation from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She is an AmeriCorps alumni, Lion’s Club Member, has extensive experience designing special events, fundraising, leading volunteer engagement, and enjoys problem solving and connecting community members to meaningful service.  In her free time she can be found in our local waterways and nature trails kayaking, birdwatching, and biking.

Red Cross blood drive held in honor of volunteer’s 101st birthday

Join the American Red Cross in helping to save lives on Monday, March 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in Green Bay. The day is sure to deliver something special for Red Cross volunteer, Blanche Baudhuin, as she celebrates her 101st birthday.

Blanche has been a volunteer for the Red Cross for over 40 years. She volunteers about 24 hours a month staffing the registration desk at the Red Cross Green Bay Blood Donation Center. Her zest for helping to save lives continues because she believes in the good work being done at the Red Cross. “I look forward to coming into work to see the donors,” said Blanche. “If I had to stay home I don’t know what I would do.”

Last year Blanche celebrated her 100th birthday with the Red Cross family and friends. She challenged the community to roll up their sleeves and donate 100 pints of blood for patients in need. Causing quite the excitement across the state, donors traveled from miles away to celebrate her birthday and donate blood in her honor. Her birthday wish came true and 114 pints of blood were collected.

This year Blanche is planning to celebrate her birthday with another Red Cross blood drive.  Donors can help make her birthday wish come true by helping to save lives by collecting 101 donations on March 13.

Festival Foods and Thrivent Financial will join the celebration this year by donating refreshments for the birthday blood drive.

“We are honored to be able to help Blanche purchase refreshments for blood donors who help her reach her goal,” said Brian Stenzel, Festival Foods Director of Community Involvement. “We applaud her 40-plus years as a Red Cross volunteer and we encourage everyone to make Blanche’s 101st birthday the best ever by coming out to give blood on March 13.”

The Red Cross will have a party at the drive in celebration of her birthday.

“Our Church and Thrivent Member Doris Emmel was delighted to help with the Blanche’s birthday blood drive by utilizing one of her Thrivent Action Teams.  It’s about Christians helping others,” said Guy McCauley, Financial Associate, at Thrivent Financial.

The Red Cross is inspired by Blanche’s support to the Red Cross and for helping to save lives.  The joy is ours telling her story and encouraging others to volunteer and follow in her footsteps.

Blood Drive in honor of Blanche Baudhuin
Monday, March 13, 2017
11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Faith Lutheran Church
2235 S. Webster Ave., Green Bay, WI 54301

How to donate blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visitredcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

Home Fires Remain #1 Disaster in WI

It’s been a busy few days and weeks for the American Red Cross, both here in Wisconsin and across the country.  There have been a number of ongoing response and recovery efforts. Your partnership and support makes it possible for us to help the families and individual affected by each of these events.

The Red Cross continues to provide disaster relief to people across the country in California, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.  Flooding, tornadoes and strong storms tore have kept Red Cross workers and volunteers busy.  Three Wisconsin disaster workers deployed to Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties in California working with state and volunteer partners to provide comfort and care to shelter over 2,200 residents.  Another 4 disaster workers from Wisconsin were deployed to the tornado-ravaged areas of Mississippi in response to the string of severe storms that ripped through the South on January 21-22.

Home fires, however, remain the single most prevalent and most destructive disaster the Red Cross responds to. This year has gotten off to a very busy start for Wisconsin disaster teams.  Since January 1, the Red Cross has responded to 131 fires across the state.  wisconsin-home-firesAs you can see on the map shown, these fires have happened in communities big and small – with responses in 43 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.  Comparing against the same period last year, 20% more families have needed our help in 2017 as the Red Cross has provided comfort and assistance to 699 people, 213 of them children.

In each of these incidents, trained Red Cross Disaster Responders were on the scene, providing immediate support for affected families and individuals – such as food and clothing – while ensuring that they have the resources they need to get back on their feet. Generous support from those in the community allow the Red Cross to be there providing hope and comfort during these challenging times for all those affected.

Continuous support also ensures that communities are stronger and more resilient to home fires. To help prevent injuries and loss of life from home fires, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014. Together with local fire departments and community groups, they visit neighborhoods at high risk for home fires, educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installing smoke alarms. There is still much work to do, but since the campaign began, 159 lives have been saved nationwide through these efforts.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Home Fire Campaign, protecting your loved ones and home from a fire, or how the Red Cross is making a difference in your community, visit www.redcross.com. Or if you would like to help people affected by disasters by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief please donate here. two-rivers-house-fire-2-11-14

Platelet Donations Needed

Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries. Every 30 seconds someone in the U.S. needs platelets. And because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day. That’s why we need you.  That’s why 4-year-old Graden Hansen from Bloomer, WI needs you.
bloodblog1In September, 2016, Graden was diagnosed with acute lymphblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow and has had to depend on blood and platelet transfusions to help him fight the disease.

The American Red Cross recently issued an emergency alert for platelet and blood donors.

“Right now we are at an emergency alert level,” explained Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Sue Thesenga. “During November and December, the Red Cross collected 37,000 units less than we expected, so we’re trying to make up that shortfall.”

Every 30 seconds someone in the United States needs platelets, and because platelets must be used within five days, new donors are needed every day. That is why the American Red Cross began collecting platelets on Jan. 7 at the Chippewa Valley Blood Donation Center, 3485 E. Hamilton Ave.bloodblog

“Most people don’t realize, but cancer patients or people with life threatening illnesses that have bleeding involved, really need platelets,” Thesenga said. “It’s really important to have a staple supply of platelets available at hospitals because they only have a shelf life of 5 days, so we it’s really important to have so we can meet patient demand.”

During a platelet donation, blood is collected by a device that separates platelets, along with some plasma, from whole blood and returns the remaining blood components back to the donor. The entire process takes about two to three hours to ensure a full donation. Donors are encouraged to relax during the donation, and the Red Cross center has videos, television and wireless internet available.

Donors are able to donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times a year. In comparison, people donating whole blood are eligible to donate every 56 days, up to six times a year.

To donate or to find out more information about donating platelets in Eau Claire, download the new American Red Cross donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit http://www.redcrossblood.org.

Welcome Rich Seymour

rich-seymourWe’re proud to announce that Rich Seymour has joined the Wisconsin team as our Service to the Armed Forces Director! Just retiring from the Army after 30 years, Rich is excited to start a career where he will continue to care for service members, veterans and their families.

During his illustrious work with the Army, he completed multiple deployments and attained the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest enlisted rank in the Army. Throughout his career he became familiar with and utilized the Red Cross Services to the Armed Forces.

“I continuously used Red Cross as a tool to help the soldiers and families that I had under my leadership. I can give you hundreds of stories where Red Cross services contributed to the morale and welfare of the Armed Forces members.”

Originally from Baraboo, Wisconsin, he’s called many places “home” over the years -the Republic of Panama, South Korea, and various places stateside. Along for the ride have been his wife and two sons – and his dogs, too.

We could not be more excited to have Rich on the Red Cross team and back in his home state of Wisconsin!

If you’d like to get involved with the Red Cross, click here.

To look at Red Cross employment opportunities, click here.