A reflection and personal story to support her native Puerto Rico by Wisconsin volunteer, Julianna Kimpton who packed her backpack and flew to her island after Hurricane Maria.

September 20, 2017. All media say that my island is dark. My Boriken will never be the same. My search for the voice of my people began.

October 21, 2017. At approximately 1:38 pm local time an American Airlines airplane landed in San Juan with me as a passenger, at that moment is when I really understood what silence means. There were no cheers or songs, only teary eyes because we have witnessed from the sky the destruction Maria caused. Then it hit me, this was just the beginning.

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As a volunteer for the American Red Cross, I was assigned to Reunification. (Helping those affected to communicate with loved ones, it is the search and rescue unit of the Red Cross) What I never imagined was that it would be me who would meet a new reality, a new story and reunite with the Boricua that has been asleep inside me since I left the island in December 2001.

I’ve spent the last 21 days with my family, we do not carry the same last name or DNA but we share the “plantain stain” on the forehead. We carry the warrior air of our Taino Indians, carry the flag and raised fists shouting “I shall not quit.”

My island will never be the same. It will take generations before our Yunque recovers, take years before the streets are once again free of debris, months until every household has water and electricity, but what you can already feel and hear in the air is Faith.

Kimpton Photo - Carrying Supplies I have met with thousands of people in these three weeks. Every day, I go out to distribute water and supplies to groups of 300 to 600 people. I visit the elderly in their homes and take items to people with disabilities. I embraced, I prayed, laughed and cried with more people than I can count. I held the hand of elderly people in beds of which they will never rise again. I’ve met families who had lost contact and I’ve heard people talk about what Maria “stole”. But from everything I’ve have seen and heard, something that everyone has in common, regardless of age or situation, destruction or pain is Hope.

This hurricane took ceilings, houses and unfortunately took lives. But for those who are still here the hurricane could not steal their fighting spirit – that Boricua heat. The same spirit that leads us to feed the neighbors when in our own home we have barely enough to eat. That spirit of family, I traveled to places where there was nothing and still people came out of their homes with “a cold coke” or “a glass of water with ice cubes.” (Trust me, here the ice is more valuable than gold) and always the “I owe” with promises of “pateles” and rice with pigeon peas cooked on the fire.

Kimpton Photo - Home Destruction 2

My people, our island will never be the same, but the #puertoricoselevanta is law. People are ready to rebuild, they are ready to put Maria as part of the story in a social studies book with the word “Survivor” next to it. Boriken is being renovated. Children are flying kites today, the projects are full with cleaning crews consisting of people who live there. Crime has decreased and people are on the street helping others.

I write this at 4:12 am local time. In less than two hours, I will leave wearing my red vest and go to work. I have written this with the music of the Coqui orchestra as inspiration. Hoping to give at least a small window to the Boricua dream.

Please do not be discouraged. Yes, it’s true the hurricane has destroyed thousands of homes, uprooted trees and claimed lives. It has given back what we had forgotten for a time — Puerto Ricans are one. We are family. We fight amongst ourselves but if a stranger comes to bother one of us we defend our own “uñas y dientes”. It has given us humility. It reminded us what our parents told us a chancletazo limpio, “be kind, be a good person  and certainly no me abochornes”.

I leave you to sleep for a little while, but not before thanking you for your support. I hope my message proves what my heart screams, we are one. We are family and my people please know Puerto Rico is getting “make over” when we finish will be “de show”.

Kimpton Photo - Day Off God bless you.

Julianna Kimpton

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Historic Fundraising Concert to Benefit Disaster Victims

UMOS, Dist. 12 Alderman José G. Pérez and El Conquistador

Newspaper to Co host: HISTORIC FUNDRAISING CONCERT TO BENEFIT DISASTER VICTIMS featuring Multiple Grammy Winner and Living Legend Eddie Palmieri & his Latin Jazz Ensemble in a unique once-in-a-lifetime concert performance with local salsa musicians and a special appearance by Afro-Puerto Rican Jazz Virtuoso Dr. William Cepeda direct from Loiza, Puerto Rico. 

International and Locally known Puerto Rican Artists unite and donate their services to raise funds to aid victims of Hurricane Maria and Mexico Earthquakes

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (October 13, 2017) – UMOS, together with 12th District Alderman Jose G. Perez, and Publisher Victor Huyke will welcome Grammy Winner, Music Icon and Living Legend Eddie Palmieri & his Latin Jazz Ensemble in a special benefit performance to raise funds for victims of the natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Mexico on Saturday, October 28, 2017 10:00pm at the Potowatomi Hotel & Casino- Woodland Dreams Ballroom, 1721 W. Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233. ALL ticket proceeds will be donated to charity thanks to the generosity of Mr. Palmieri, his sidemen, and all of the participating artists and volunteers.

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The recent catastrophic natural disasters in Central America and the Caribbean have directly impacted friends and families of many residents of Milwaukee County and Southeastern Wisconsin. An important humanitarian effort to aid victims has emerged from high profile musicians who are donating their time, talent and artistry to provide a dynamic entertainment experience while generating much needed monetary funds. The City of Milwaukee was honored to be the recipient of legendary musician Eddie Palmieri’s offer to donate 100% of his services on a precious Saturday evening time slot together with local and regional musicians in order to send aid directly to victims. Mr. Palmieri, winner of 10 Grammy Awards, an NEA Jazz Master Award-America’s highest honor for lifetime achievement in Jazz, is currently on a national tour entitled: “EP @ 80” celebrating his 80th birthday with innovative new music and a selection of classic hits most of which have become anthems throughout the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. A volunteer committee of artists, elected officials, educators, and community activists quickly mobilized to produce and market the event. All three event co-hosts have a distinguished record of providing outstanding leadership and support to underserved communities. UMOS, a leading nonprofit community based advocacy agency has generously offered to support this humanitarian fundraiser and concert which follows its acclaimed annual Hispanic Awards Banquet scheduled to take place earlier that evening in an adjacent ballroom. The Palmieri Concert will take place promptly at 10 p.m. in the Woodland Dreams Ballroom of the Potowatomi Hotel & Casino, 1721 W. Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. Advance tickets available online at: www.eddiepalmiericoncertforprmx.mivoz.com. Donations will also be taken at the door and a select number of Special Discount Coupons will be available on a first come- first served basis to all patrons who attend the UMOS Hispanic Awards Banquet. A VIP package is available with premium seating and perks which include a private meeting with the artists, and signed poster or CD. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross whose representatives will be on-hand to meet and share information about their relief efforts. It is anticipated that one or two actual Red Cross volunteers who are serving currently in Puerto Rico will be on hand to describe first hand accounts of relief efforts on the island.

Ticketing // Admission: Seating capacity is limited. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended. Minimum advance donation is $40.00. Special VIP package $150.00 includes premium reserved seating, private meet and greet with artists and complimentary signed CD or Poster while supplies last. ONLINE TICKET PURCHASE AT: www.eddiepalmiericoncertforprmx.mivoz.com.

The event organizers and artists have set a minimum goal of $25,000.00 for disaster relief. All proceeds donated to: The American Red Cross. Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation. Artist websites: www.eddiepalmierimusic.com www.williamcepeda.com

Attorney Michael Reyes, event coordinator: 414-350-5522 michaelreyesmusic@gmail.com

Remembering One of Our Own Donut Dollies: Emily Strange

Emily Strange (July 23, 1946 – July 12, 2016) served as a Red Cross Donut Dollie with the 9th Infantry Division and Mobile Riverine Force. The Red Cross program was called Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO).

When President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country”, what call to actions do you think of to help your country? Recycle more? Travel to third world countries and provide support in education and health? As a young college graduate in the 1960’s from Atlanta, Georgia, Emily Strange went to Vietnam as a Donut Dollie with the American ReIMG_2583d Cross to provide aide and a piece of home to soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War.

Side lesson: Donut Dollies started in WWI then continued onto WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War. Donut Dollies made and brought donuts and coffee to soldiers on base. It was one of the many things they did, to help ease soldiers’ minds into a safe and comforted feeling to mentally escape the war environment, even if it was just for a little bit.

Earlier this year in April, the Red Cross honored Emily Strange at her residence, Rainbow Hospice Care Inc. in Johnson Creek, WI. She, along with two other Donut Dollies, Pat Rowan of Texas and Margaret “Maggie” Godson of South Carolina and Registered Nurse Joan Garvert of Illinois were awarded with a certificate and pin for their courageous service.

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Strange reminisced with the Red Cross about comforting the soldiers– they had just lost a lot of the men in their unit and were digging holes for the night. She spoke to them; joked around and comforted them to ease their minds, “maybe we’re not gonna die tonight”. Watch: https://youtu.be/ypUfKznwQgU

She even wore perfume around the soldiers to help them sense their girlfriends, mothers and a piece of home. It took them out of the war.

Strange passed away last month at Rainbow Hospice Care Inc. Barbara Behling, Red Cross Chief Communications Officer, was an attendee at the ceremony. She said that when Strange spoke it was like an “open window to her soul”. The courageous stories Strange told and the memories she shared were incredible. She is truly missed.

To learn more about the Donut Dollies, please visit http://www.donutdollies.com/.

Strange also created her own website to share her Donut Dollies stories and to reconnect with those that served in Vietnam: www.EmilyDD.com.


Thank you, Emily Strange!

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Ending Measles in Kenya: A Volunteer’s Perspective

Written by Sara Horein, American Red Cross volunteer and Tiffany Circle Donor

Sara recently traveled to Kenya to witness the life-saving work of the Measles and Rubella partnership. While the disease is most prominent thousands of miles from Madison, Wisconsin, it’s just a plane ride away.

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I recently returned from a trip to Kenya where the government —supported by the American Red Cross and our partners in the fight to eliminate measles—completed a successful nine-day vaccination campaign in the East African country. Targeting 19 million children between nine months and 14 years old, this effort was Kenya’s largest immunization campaign in the Measles & Rubella Initiative’s 15-year history.

Although preventable by a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine in use for over 50 years, measles still kills about 315 children every day. Conditions in Kenya made this campaign particularly vital: 45.9 percent of the population currently live in poverty, while many children have limited or no access to medical treatment and are often malnourished.

Because of widespread poverty and weak kenya2public health infrastructure, only 79 percent of children in Kenya receive vaccines through the routine immunization system. The large number of unvaccinated children
 can lead to deadly measles outbreaks, such as a 2016 outbreak in remote Mandera County. These outbreaks are particularly deadly in communities that are also experiencing conflict or natural disaster, with the youngest children—those less than two years of age—
at greatest risk of dying from the disease. In recent years, Kenya has experienced extreme flooding and drought, increased security issues and urban growth.

The safe, effective and inexpensive vaccines delivered throughout Kenya will undoubtedly add to the growing number of lives saved through the Measles & Rubella Initiative. Since 2001, the Initiative has helped immunize more than 2 billion children in 88 countries. This work has had an extraordinary impact. The number of measles deaths decreased by 79 percent between 2000 and 2014— saving the lives of 17.1 million children.kenya3

The seemingly impossible feat of reaching 19 million children in just nine days is only achievable through dedicated Red Cross volunteers. The success of any campaign relies on mobilizing parents and caregivers to bring their children to vaccination centers, and Red Cross volunteers are ideally located and well equipped to carry out this vital task. They speak the local language, know community members and understand local customs.

Leading up to and during the nine-day campaign, the
 Red Cross trained more than 1,300 local volunteers to canvass neighborhoods throughout Nairobi, Bungoma and Tharaka Nithi. These volunteers played a fundamental role
 in building awareness, educating parents and calling them 
to action on vaccination days. While they used many forms
 of communication—including megaphones, radio ads, and text messages—the most relied-upon and effective method was personal outreach through house-to-house visits. This was particularly important in engaging households that may otherwise not be reached through traditional communications. kenya4

As a Red Cross volunteer and donor, I witnessed the strong partnership and lifesaving efforts between the American Red Cross and Kenya Red Cross. The breadth and depth of staff knowledge, dedication of local volunteers and overwhelming resilience of Kenyans amazed me. It was exciting to see donor dollars hard at work, saving lives one vaccination at a time. The Measles & Rubella Initiative is important because the virus is only one plane ride away – living in one shared world, we need to improve the lives of everyone. I am honored and humbled to have represented the American Red Cross during this mission-focused trip in the fight to eliminate measles.

Watch Sara and other Red Cross volunteers’ trip to Kenya to vaccinate millions of Kenya children with Measles and Rubella vaccines.

How YOU can help: Donate! Text PREVENT to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross and help us vaccinate children against measles. Learn more here.

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It’s World Humanitarian Day!

WHD14_ENGLISH_REVIn December 2008, the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly decided to designate August 19 as World Humanitarian Day. August 19 is the date on which a brutal terrorist attack on UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003 killed 22 people, including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. World Humanitarian Day honors those, who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and those, who continue to bring assistance and relief to millions.

The day also seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international cooperation in meeting these needs. Every year, disasters cause immense suffering for millions of people – usually the world’s poorest, most marginalized and vulnerable individuals. Humanitarian aid workers strive to provide life-saving assistance and long term rehabilitation to disaster-affected communities, regardless of where they are in the world and without discrimination based on nationality, social group, religion, sex, race or any other factor.

Down the Street. Across the Country. Around the World. The American Red Cross helps people affected by disasters. Internationally, we accomplish this by working with the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network and other partners to deliver lifesaving services.

World Refugee Day “Vine” Your Support Contest

WRD Flyer (IRC-ECDC-ARC Event)

For World Refugee Day, the American Red Cross is having a Vine Your Support contest. Participating in the contest is easy. Just post a Vine sharing why and/or how you support refugees worldwide and in your local community. Then, send the link to jonathan.dillon@redcross.org. The winning entries will then be reposted on the Restoring Family Links Twitter the week of World Refugee Day and shared during the World Refugee Day event co-sponsored by the American Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, the Ethiopian Community Development Center, and Lutheran Social Services. The deadline for submitting to the contest is Sunday, June 15th. Below are some ideas for your Vines:

  • Fill-in-the-blank:

o   I support refugees because ________.

o   I support my local refugee community by ________.

o   I celebrate World Refugee Day to/because _________.

o   World Refugee Day is important because _______.

  • Use this year’s themes:

o   UNHRC theme: One family forced to flee is too many

o   Suburban Washington Resettlement Center theme: Celebrating our identities

  • Show your involvement with your local Red Cross chapter or refugee community
  • Get creative!

Remember each contestant is allowed a maximum of five submissions!

Deadline: Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Submit your Vines by sending the link to jonathan.dillon@redcross.org.

For more information on the Restoring Family Links program at the American Red Cross, visit the Restoring Family Links blog and follow us on Twitter!

World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day

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One in twenty-five people receive help from the global Red Cross network every single year. One in five hundred people in the world is a volunteer for the cause. Today—World Red Cross Red Crescent Day—we’re celebrating all the men, women, and children who have a Red Cross story to tell.

The Red Cross network transcends borders. Guided by its seven
fundamental principles:

  • humanity
  • impartiality
  • neutrality
  • independence
  • voluntary service
  • unity
  • universality

tumblr_static_my-story-headerRed Cross volunteers are inspired to help at every turn. They fly halfway around the world during international disasters, drive to nearby communities when tornadoes strike, and walk right down the street to teach swimming lessons. The network is so abundant, many people are touched by the Red Cross without even realizing it.

Nearly everyone has a Red Cross story. What’s yours? Share your Red Cross story at: http://ifrc.tumblr.com/