Why I’m An American Red Cross Volunteer!

By Tara Williams 

I became part of the American Red Cross young professional group, Club Red of Northeast Wisconsin in November 2014, only to realize I loved volunteering! At my first fire safety canvassing, I helped install smoke alarms in Green Bay. Nationwide, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% over the next five years and locally we are working with fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms in communities with high percentages of fires.

I went to my sefiresafetysheboygan1cond fire alarm installation in Sheboygan recently. Because of a second fire within a short time frame, the Indian Meadows mobile home park was targeted for this grassroots effort. Along with the Sheboygan Fire Department, nine Red Cross volunteers including myself came together to install free 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms & educated residents on fire safety materials & escape plans. The teams went to 243 mobile homes & installed 63 smoke alarms! The whole neighborhood was covered in just three hours!

It was an eye-opening experience to see how many people haven’t checked their fire alarms in their own homes; many didn’t even work! We also created an escape plan if there was a fire in their home. I learned, a person has as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends families create a home fire escape plan and practice it with every member of your household several times a year. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes for every room and families should consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes above the ground floor. The Red Cross also recommends families pick a meeting place outside your home and make sure everyone knows where it is.

One memorable moment was when a husband and wife greeted us with wide smiles & were so excited and grateful to the Red Cross & fire department for the work we were doing.  She said she needed to give me a hug! It feels so good to make someone that happy & aware of fire safety and this is why I choose to volunteer.

redcrossThere are many ways to get involved with the fire campaign across the state. The first is even in your own home. The Red Cross is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills. Also, download our new Red Cross Emergency App which provides a guide to fire prevention and the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. And finally, join me in a community project by volunteering, please call your local Red Cross office or send an email to volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

See more pictures here: http://wps.sx/1JDaNHw

2015 Heros Musicales / Red Cross Fundraiser / Central Wisconsin Photographer

*Blog reposted with permission from Studio 455 Photography.

On May 19th, I volunteered to photograph the 8th Annual Heros Musicales, an American Red Cross fundraiser founded and hosted by John and Vicki Jenks. Throughout the afternoon I had the privilege of hearing two different concerts. First, Greg Boerner, a singer / songwriter who played a blend of blues, folk, country, and rock and roll all in an awesome southern style. One of my favorites from his set was, “The Hong Kong Cafe.”

The last concert of the afternoon featured Liam Teague on steel pan and Robert Chappell on percussion. It was nothing short of magical. I was delighted that they started their set with one of my all time favorites, “Tico Tico.”

Throughout the course of the afternoon, concert goers had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items, learn about the Red Cross from people who have benefited from their services, share in hospitality, and visit with one another. It was a truly unique fundraiser and easy to see why it has grown to be so popular.  What could be better than an awesome concert for an important cause?

1:30 Concert - Greg Boerner Guitarist/singer/songwriter

1:30 Concert – Greg Boerner Guitarist/singer/songwriter

4:00 p.m. concert with Liam Teague and Robert Chappell

4:00 p.m. concert with Liam Teague and Robert Chappell

*We thank and recognize Jeremy and Kristin Albright from Studio 455 Photography for volunteering their time and talent to a great cause.

American Red Cross WI CEO, Patty Flowers, Shares Her Red Cross Passion with Young Adults

By Patty Flowers

As the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Wisconsin, I often get a chance to speak to groups about what we do and it’s one of the parts of my job that I love the most.  I can talk about the Red Cross and what we do for hours!  When you’re as passionate as I am about helping others and with the multitude of things we do at the Red Cross, it’s not hard to find lots of things to talk about.  Recently, I was asked to speak with a group of young adults who are learning English as a second language before they enroll in college here in the United States.  It was a mixed class of young men and women from China, Saudi Arabia, Japan and India.

Here is another note from the class which is one of many telling me they want to volunteer:

A note from the class which is one of many telling me they want to volunteer.

This very ambitious group was quite interested in what was happening in Nepal after the earthquake but also wanted to learn about the American Red Cross as a whole.  I brought some props along with me – a blanket, some comfort kits, water.  As I told them stories about all five components of our mission:  Educating through Classes, Service to Armed Forces, Disaster Relief, International Services, and Blood, they were all engaged.  I had to speak slowly so they could understand me but I constantly saw nodding heads, smiles and other signs that they were very interested in the information I was giving them.  Not one of them was on their phone texting and no one fell asleep – success!  When I paused for questions they had wonderful, very thoughtful questions for me.  As a group, they were very interested in how we keep our volunteers safe, how we manage volunteers who don’t do their job (I thought that was interesting!), and how much money we receive from the government.

This is her thank you note to me that I received just today.

This is her thank you note to me that I received just today.

They were all very surprised when I told them that most of our money comes from the American public and not from the government and that our relief services are free.  After I wrapped up the presentation, one of the young women approached me and told me that her friend was in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami struck and that the American Red Cross had saved her life.  She broke down in tears as she recalled the experience and thanked me several times for saving her friend.  It was such an emotional end to my time with them and as we hugged goodbye she told me she was going to tell her friend that she got a change to thank someone for her.

What an incredibly fulfilling day it was for me!  These young people who are trying to make a better life for themselves now all want to volunteer in some way for the Red Cross.  It’s my hope that they one day do show up at one of our offices and learn how to become a volunteer.

Would you like to volunteer with us?  Go to www.redcross.org and click on Volunteer Now to start learning the many different ways you can assist us and those in need.