“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!

4th Annual Disaster Training Conference

Last week, the Wisconsin Region conducted our 4th  annual Disaster Training Conference. Though the conference was held on the shores of Green Lake, attendees paid little attention to beautiful autumn scenery outside. The 183  attendees, Red Cross volunteers and staff from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, enjoyed four days of learning, sharing and networking.

The broad range of classes provided opportunities for brand new volunteers and seasoned veterans. The newest volunteer had been with the Red Cross for only two days and several in attendance had more than 20-years of service. Classes were offered to provide instruction on delivering the Red Cross mission, supervision & leadership along with diversity & inclusion. Workshops built upon classroom instruction and provided hands-on opportunities to set-up a shelter, conduct damage assessment and manage a disaster relief operation.

On Wednesday night, Red Cross volunteers partnered with the Berlin Fire Department to make homes in Berlin safer. They visited homes and provided smoke alarms testing, free smoke alarm installation, home evacuation planning and fire safety tips. 25 homes were visited and 69 smoke alarms were installed.  Community outreach like this is happening around the state and more than 10,000 smoke alarms will installed this year alone!

By all reports, the Disaster Training Conference was a wonderful success! It was wonderful to see so many Red Crossers come together to learn and celebrate together. Plans for next year’s conference are already underway. We hope to see you there!

 

Dear Wisconsin,

August has been a tremendously busy month for disaster responses! On the news, we’ve seen the devastation in Louisiana, California, Indiana, Ohio and now several parts of the country are bracing for hurricanes and tropical storms. In Wisconsin, we experienced a significant number of disaster responses. Though these disasters did not capture national media attention hundreds of people experienced the worst day of their lives. In a moment, lives were turned upside down, homes were destroyed, pets died and cherished belongings are gone forever. Some lost loved ones including a family that lost their 2-year-old son in a home fire. Through all this, the American Red Cross was there. Wisconsin volunteers and staff responded at all hours of the day and night providing assistance, guidance and hope. They were there to listen and to help people begin to recover and heal.

In August, the Wisconsin Region…

  • Responded to 81 local disaster events including two Level II Disaster Relief Operations
  • Opened 198 cases helping 463 people
  • Opened and ran a shelter for 6 days and provided 106 overnight stays to people with no other place to spend the night
  • Coordinated 2 Multi Agency Resource Centers providing a one stop recovery shop for clients to meet with numerous agencies and receive support
  • Opened a Reception Center which provided people with casework, health services and crisis counseling
  • Responded to 4 requests to provide hydration and food to first responders

And remember, all of this came on the heels of a Level III flooding response in July!

In addition to helping at home, 77 Wisconsinites accepted assignments in Louisiana, California and now Hawaii. They set aside their lives to travel to communities torn apart by disasters, worked long hours, slept in gyms and more. They worked in shelters, served hot meals, delivered supplies, counseled survivors and did behind the scenes work to raise money, provide logistics support, managed staff and provided operational leadership.

All of you have a role in making sure the Red Cross mission is delivered in Wisconsin and beyond. Whether you respond to disasters, recruit, train and mentor volunteers, raise funds, tell the story, ensure vehicles, supplies and buildings are available or work with partners, please know that you make a difference. So many have benefited and will continue to benefit from Red Cross services and you help make it happen! Thank you!

Warmest regards,

Marytha Blanchard,

WI Disaster Officer

#proudredcrosser

 

3 Reasons and 4 Ways to #Help1Family on Red Cross Giving Day

GD16_SavetheDate2_FacebookWe need your help for one very special day.   Nearly every eight minutes, the American Red Cross extends a helping hand to a family in need that has lost everything – the roof over their heads, their clothes, and their most cherished possessions – to a home fire.   In order to continue to provide the emergency services that our neighbors depend on each and every day, we need you to #help1family.

On April 21, you have a chance to help families in need whenever and wherever they need it by participating in the Red Cross’ Giving Day to #help1family. A donation of just $88.50 can provide a family with a day’s worth of food, plus blankets and other essentials.

We are proud of the work we accomplished to help people in Wisconsin last year.  Here are just a few of our stats:

  1. Installing 2,145 smoke alarms in the community impacting 3,000 people
  2. Training 107,869 people in Red Cross lifesaving courses
  3. Collecting 209,608 units of blood and blood products from 87,850 donors
  4. Responding to 828 disaster incidents, servicing 4,118 individuals

SGD16_FamilyIcons_Facebooko what can you do?  Spread the word about Giving Day – the more people who support Giving day means we can help more families.  Use your social media channels to reach out to friends and family and ask them to donate to #help1family by visiting redcross.org/giving day.
Here are 4 ways your donation will #help1family:

  1. Supporting a family in urgent need: provide funding to give a family a day’s worth of food, blankets, and other essentials.
  2. Supplying warm meals: help provide hearty, comforting meals to people impacted by disasters.
  3. Providing clean-up kits after a disaster strikes: make clean-up kits available for families in need that include vital items like a mop, bucket, and disinfectant.
  4. Deploying an emergency response vehicle for a day: Red Cross workers travel to impacted neighborhoods in fully stocked Emergency Response vehicles to provide food, water and critical relief.

Imagine the impact that we could have on our community if everyone did their part.  Please make a gift on April 21, 2016 and help us to #help1family.

Thank you.

~ Patty Flowers, Regional CEO

You’re Invited to the 9th Annual Heroes Musicales Extravaganza!

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Beautiful Waushara county isn’t just for antiquing, water activities, quaint restaurants and lovely family-run B & B’s and hotels, we’re the center of the musical world on Saturday, April 30th. Especially if you like world-class musicians, delicious hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and more than 200 silent auction treasures, please join us at the 9th Annual Heroes Musicales at the log home of American Red Cross volunteers Vicki & John Jenks just west of Wild Rose. Three Musicales (mini concerts) from Wisconsin’s Best Bluegrass Band,  a trio back by popular demand who are NPR ‘regulars’ plus a Carnegie Hall pianist and Chicago’s finest harpist will delight your senses. This volunteer driven event has the local support of businesses, organizations, churches and philanthropic citizens alike. Proceeds from the day support Disaster Relief & Education along with Services to Armed Forces!

Heroes Musicales line-up:

  • 11:00a.m. Features the down-home, authentic sound of Wisconsin’s Best Bluegrass Band, Art Stevenson & High Water.  Heard on bluegrass radio programs around the USA, they’ve received critical acclaim in Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Now industry publications.
  • 1:30p.m. Harmonious Wail is “back by popular demand!”  National Public Radio ‘regulars’ and the recipient of countless MAMA and Isthmus Readers Polls, the Wail features “smoldering vocals and an infectious blend of continental jazz, swing, and folk music.”
  • 4:00p.m. Carnegie Hall virtuoso pianist, Jodie DeSalvo and Chicago’s finest harpist, Faye Seeman.  Their “Made in America” show will include Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and so much more!

The Heroes Musicales were conceived by John & Vicki Jenks nine years ago as a way to marry their passion for music and the communities need for disaster relief and education programs. Since then, this event has grown with outstanding support from Waushara, Green Lake, Marquette and Waupaca County disaster volunteers along with this year’s sponsors:  Badger Mining Corporation, Farmers State Bank, 1st National Bank, Martz Insurance, Waupaca Foundry, Brakebush Brothers, Krause Foundation, Mt. Morris Holden WELCA. All Saints CCW, Anita & Lawrence Mielke Memorial Fund, John Gusmer, Jackie King, Rose Wendt, and Rick & Joni Parks.

Seats are limited and always sell-out! Reserve your seats now at just $35 per person/per musicale. To order, please email Vicki Jenks at vickipjenks@gmail.com or call 920-231-3590.

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Dancing with Our Stars 2016 Fundraiser Raises Awareness for Local Services and $200,000+!

Karen Classon takes home the fundraising mirror ball trophy raising over $87,000. Photo by: Mark Witte

Karen Classon takes home the fundraising mirror ball trophy raising over $87,000. Photo by: Mark Witte/American Red Cross. 

The 8th Annual Dancing with Our Stars for the American Red Cross held on Saturday, February 20 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay featured fantastic fundraising as well as spectacular dancing. Together, with the amazing efforts of our star and professional dancers, sponsors, and with the support of the community, we raised more than $200,000 in net revenue to support Red Cross programs and services in our community.

“Here at the Red Cross, we are truly humbled by the outpouring of community support received through the “Dancing with Our Stars” event,” said Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive. “Saturday night, the entire event concluded with the entertainment and demonstration of dancing skills by our stars, but the real event started more than four months ago, when our dancers made the commitment to raise funds to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross.”

Thank you to our sponsors including: Broadway Automotive; Erie Insurance; Festival Foods; Gagnon Clay Products; Green Bay Packaging; Green Bay Packers; NXC Imaging; Schneider Foundation, Toonen Properties and Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. We also thank our media partners of WBAY-TV2and 101 WIXX for their promotional support.

Our dancers definitely put their best foot forward to entertain and dazzle the crowd. The evening began with dinner and followed with our amazing dance program where each star dancer performed two dances. The night concluded with the awards ceremony.

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People’s Choice award for showcase one: Kati Donaho and Rane Cegelski, Foxtrot – “Kill of the Night.” Photo by: Dave Pruszka/American Red Cross. 

Taking away the top honor for the Mirror Ball Fundraising Trophy was Karen Classon. The owner of SKB Management raised $87,000 to support the local Red Cross.

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People’s Choice award for showcase two: Jen Berres-Dart and Michael Witte, Jive – “Shut Up and Dance.” Photo by Mark Witte/American Red Cross. 

The People’s Choice award for showcase one went to Kati Donaho and Rane Cegelski for their Foxtrot to “Kill of the Night.” The People’s Choice award for showcase two went to Jen Berres-Dart and Michael Witte for their Jive to “Shut Up and Dance.”

The Judges’ Choice award went to Anna Allen and Michael Witte for their two performances: the Foxtrot to “Sexy Silk” and a Bolero to “Alone.”

Judges Choice: Anna Allen and Michael Witte for their two performances: Pictured - the Foxtrot to “Sexy Silk” photo by: Dave Pruszka

Judges Choice: Anna Allen and Michael Witte for their two performances: Pictured – the Foxtrot to “Sexy Silk” photo by: Dave Pruszka/American Red Cross. 

Special thanks to Cami Rapson and Tammy Elliott of WBAY-TV 2 for serving as masters of ceremonies and Nikolay Karchev, Jay Morth and Heather Wudstrack for their professional and colorful commentary as judges.

Thank you to all our star dancers for their time, commitment, energy and passion:
Anna Allen – Teacher, Lineville Intermediate School
Jen Berres-Dart – Owner/Instructor, Jenstar Yoga
Karen Classon – SKB Management
Kati Donaho – Business Travel/Group Sales Manager, Hyatt Regency
Lori Dufek – Account Manager, NXC Imaging
Maureen Gagnon – Co-owner, Gagnon Clay Products
Zeb Metzler – Learning & Development Specialist, Innovative Services
Dan Terrio – Learning Facilitator, Humana
Marty Williams – Owner/Dentist, Sierra Dental

Also, thank you to our pro dance partners: Rane Cegelski and Brad McDonald from DanceSport of Green Bay; Bill Beschta; Jamie Blair, Michael Witte and Mina Witte from Simply Ballroom of Green Bay; and Jim Gagnon, Toby Crawford and Terry Irwin from TC Dance Club of Appleton.

Thank you to our committee, volunteers and most of all the community for supporting your local Red Cross.

10th Annual Dancing with the La Crosse Stars Shines Bright

Community leaders and professional dancers from Southwest Wisconsin came together on Saturday, November 28th to participate in the 10th Annual Dancing with the La Crosse Stars! Now in its tenth year, the event has raised $141,000 this year which brings the 10 year total to more than $740,000! All funds go right back into the community to support disaster relief, fire prevention outreach, life-saving programs to support of our military members and Veterans.

Eleven local celebrities and their professional dance partners competed to win the coveted Mirror Ball trophy. Each team was raising funds since July to earn “votes” for their team. Final “votes” were cast during the intermission in which “Team Flower Power” (Bob Mock and Heidi Tabbert) raised the most votes, earning them the People’s Choice Award.

Each team received a fundraising score towards their overall total. The top fundraising team was Team “Make it Rain,” composed of Nehomah Thundercloud and professional dancer Amy Garvin. Together, they raised more than $25,000.

The near capacity crowd was treated to outstanding dance routines! In fact, two teams earned perfect scores from the judges: “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” (Jim Reed and Katie Fish) and “Team Legal Motion” (Gifford Collins and Kate Phillips). “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” was also selected as the Judge’s Choice Awards Winners.

"Team Rock ‘N’ Reed" (Jim Reed and Katie Fish)

“Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” (Jim Reed and Katie Fish)

At the end of the completion, fundraising scores and judge’s scores were combined to determine the overall winners. “Team Rock ‘N’ Reed” came out on top with a score of 47 out of 50 earning them to coveted Mirror Ball Trophy! “Team Flower Power” came in second with a score of 46. Third place went to “Team Legal Motion” with a score of 45, and fourth place went to “Team ‘You Go Girl’ (Leah Misch and Tiffany Brookman) with a score of 44.

In the end, every dance, professional and supporter is a winner in our eyes as they made our community stronger!

Check-out our photo album!

We’ll be putting our dance shoes back-on for the 11th annual next November! Will you join us?