Hurricane Matthew – WI Responds

Hurricane Matthew. Thousands of people in shelters. Thousands of relief workers responding. Too many lives lost. This disaster is a big one, for all of us, requiring many hands, heads, and hearts pulling together to help others in dire need. Shelter, food, and relief supplies are American Red Cross priorities.

Blood and platelet donations are needed from people in unaffected areas to make up for canceled drives. Check out the stories below. They’ll show you how the Red Cross is helping.

You Just Gotta Be Strong: a video from the American Red Cross features Terry, a shelter resident who was forced to evacuate his home in Tarboro, North Carolina, because of Hurricane Matthew

Haiti Needs Help from All of Usan opinion piece from American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern published in Huffington Post addresses rumors, issues, and concerns about disaster relief responses in Haiti. False information shared on the internet hurts people who need our help the most

Suffering Continues After Hurricane Matthew: a news release from the American Red Cross with details about how the Red Cross is responding to the disaster in the U.S. and in Haiti

From Wisconsin, there are more than 80 Red Cross relief workers deployed to help in the affected areas. More will likely be on their way in the days to come.


Lori and Kevin Peterson and Gerry and Jim Gilmore drove their Emergency Response Vehicles from Wisconsin and are serving thousands of meals, water and distributing cleaning supplies to residents in the hardest hit areas.  

Please support this relief effort. Click here to donate money to Red Cross disaster relief. Click here to make a blood or platelet donation appointment.

Thank you!


How You Can Prepare & Prevent Home Fires

It’s National Fire Safety Week (October 9th-October 15th)!

Timing is precious when escaping home fires. You may have as little as 2 minutes to escape. Are you and your family prepared in case of a home fire or know how to prevent them?

An essential step is to install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. You can request for a smoke alarm from the Red Cross at Be sure to know 2 ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.


Red Cross Volunteers, Cindy Warner, Tom Davis, Peggy Leapley RN with evacuee Martin Freerks

A family of 2 share their Red Cross story about the fire that occurred in their California home.

He worries. She reassures.

As they prepared to leave the American Red Cross shelter at the First Baptist Church in Lake Isabella (CA) when evacuation orders were lifted for the Alta Sierra area, Martin Freerks agreed to one more step.

Through a donation from the local Home Depot, the Kern County regional office of the American Red Cross supplied his mom, Marcela, with box fans and air purifiers to ease any respiratory issues upon returning to her hilltop home.  In addition, Red Cross shelter volunteers Tom Davis (WI) and Cindy Warner (PA) installed five smoke alarms on 8/27/16 replacing the old ones throughout the two-story house.


Volunteers installing smoke alarms on the second floor.

During the visit with Martin in late August, area residents still had to show proof of residence, and fire engines were still posted around the property monitoring backfires nearby.

It was during his school summer break when Martin caught a glimpse of the glow from the Cedar Fire.  He and his mother started packing everything they could in his medium-sized car. “I started moving what was flammable away from the house like the chairs.”  He pointed at the “dozer” lines and the melted metal next to the Kern-River-Valley-bleached bones.  The house was spared as were trees, rosemary and lemongrass on the property.

During their stay at the Red Cross shelter in Lake Isabella, Martin and his mom found a place that was air-conditioned, where they could sleep, shower, have three meals, snacks, and access information via the Internet and wide-screen television.  The shelter team included a nurse who would monitor any health issues manifested by the evacuees.

Hopefully, as mother and son gather their belongings and get their lives back to normal, the smoke alarms will be another safety step. When Martin returns to start Graduate School in a few months, he will be reassured—and she will be less worried—about the danger of home fires.

Be Prepared for a Home Fire – Communication is key!

  • Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.



Evacuee Martin Freerks shows workers, Tom Davis and Cindy Warner, the dozer tracks along the perimeter of his property.

For more tips, visit If you’d like to donate and help those recover from home fires, click here.

Congratulations Jimmy Hazelton, the October 2016 Volunteer of the Month!


Jimmy began volunteering with the American Red Cross in 2001 after the September 11th attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. The retired army veteran—who had been a blood donor since his days of active service—was impressed with the widespread turnout at blood centers around the country following the bombings. “The response was great.” Jimmy says. “Soon after, I heard they needed people to help organize everyone at the donor centers and decided to become involved.”

Fifteen years later, Jimmy still volunteers as a Donor Ambassador at the Chippewa Valley Donor Center in Eau Claire, WI.

“Jimmy is a regular volunteer at Chippewa Valley Donor Center,” says Blood Services Volunteer Representative Panghoua Moua, who nominated Jimmy for the award. “He always shows up for his shifts ready to serve our donors to make sure they have the best experience and is an active individual who is willing to give his time and talent to help his community.”As a Blood Donor Ambassador Jimmy, welcomes blood donors, shares the Red Cross story, and registers donors. He also makes reminder calls, re-schedules donor appointments and attends to donors in the hospitality area when needed. Jimmy volunteers twice a week and also picks up extra shifts whenever he can. Panghoua notes, “over the years, Jimmy has proven to be a leader and now provides support to our department by training new Donor Ambassador Volunteers in Eau Claire Donor Center.” Jimmy’s quick to point out that we all can help, “I’ve been there so long—it’s very logical I show new volunteers what to do.”

He is an active individual who is willing to give his time and talent to help his community and we couldn’t be more grateful! “They do such great work around the world,” Jimmy says of the Red Cross. “I’m happy to be a very tiny cog in it.”

Thank you, Jimmy, for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others through assisting in the collecting of blood to save the lives of many!


Wisconsin Initiative Expands To Fight our Biggest Disaster Threat

img_3116So proud to announce the Wisconsin Smoke Alarm & Fire Education (WisSAFE) partnership to install 10,000 smoke alarms this year alone! have been distributed with local fire departments along with a call to action for every household to commit to key fire-prevention actions and to practice a fire escape plan.

By bringing the collective strength of Fire Departments across the state together with the Red Cross initiative and drive to reduce fatalities by 25% within five-years, a strategic alliance has begun.

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat to individuals and families in the United States. This campaign is in direct response to that dire threat. Since the beginning of the nationwide initiative 111 lives have been saved through smoke alarm installations and fire prevention and preparedness. A recent save from Columbus, Ohio, credited the smoke alarms installed by Columbus firefighters and Red Cross volunteers with saving seven lives. The fire, reportedly started by a candle, destroyed the family’s home.

“This campaign highlights the strength of collaboration with the end results undeniable,” said Mike Wos, Professional Fire Fighters of WI Charitable Foundation’s Executive Director. “It’s simple. Our partnership will saves lives. We commend the American Red Cross for their partnership to make our communities stronger and safer.”

If anyone in Wisconsin needs a smoke alarm, please register at or text the word ‘Alarm’ to 844-811-0100 and follow the prompts.