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.

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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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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Volunteer of the Month – Rachel Goodrich

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Congratulations to Rachel Goodrich, the February 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

Many of us have a great appreciation for our military service members who have so proudly served our country, but how often do we actually reach out to say thank you or lend support to them and their families.  Since July of 2013, Rachel has been doing all this and more, as a Red Cross SAF ‘Services to the Armed Forces’ program volunteer.

Rachel has volunteered in many roles within the Red Cross, but having military service members in her own family, makes the SAF program especially important to her. She has volunteered as a SAF Caseworker, connecting military members with support and communications with their families and during countless SAF Special Events, helping with programs that honor military members, veterans and families. Rachel expresses such gratitude when talking about these volunteering opportunities, “I have met some of the most amazing people by volunteering in this program.  I have gained lifelong memories of moments that I will forever hold and cherish because of volunteering with the Red Cross.”

Taking on an even larger role this year, Rachel coordinated the statewide Red Cross- HMFH ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ program.  She not only promoted HMFH with TV and radio stations, she also organized card sorting and distribution events with Federal, State, local governmental and nongovernmental organizations throughout Wisconsin. Rachel’s says her favorite part about volunteering in this program is, “being able to hand deliver Holiday Cards to our active Military Service Members and Veterans, shaking theirs hands (the hugs are the best) and being able to show how much the community supports them.”  The Red Cross SAF relies on the talents of volunteers like Rachel to bring its programs to service members and veterans.  John Kost Regional SAF Manager credits Rachel for her perseverance in organizing an event of this grand proportion stating, “It’s indeed a gift to the organization, to have a volunteer like Rachel, who steps forward to coordinate all aspects of a region wide program and do it with such success.”

Rachel encourages others to get involved with SAF, “The more volunteers we have the more help we can offer our Veterans and their families. It truly is a life changing experience!” Thank you, Rachel for continuing to proudly represent the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to so many military service members with your heartfelt compassion.

To learn more about the important services the Red Cross SAF program provides please visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help/military-families

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

A Holiday Mail Story to Warm Your Holiday Spirit

It is always rewarding to give something that means something, especially during the holidays. No matter how big or small the gift is, it is the touching emotions and gratuity that make it all worth it.

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Mr. and Mrs. Claus are definitely watching! Tara and Alexa made it on the nice list!

Rachel Goodrich, Holiday Mail For Heroes Coordinator from our Madison office shares her heartfelt experience delivering holiday cards, celebrating with veterans, and watching her daughters as youth volunteers.

This past Tuesday, Rachel and her two daughters, Tara and Alexa, along with other Red Cross volunteers delivered holiday mail to the veterans at Tomah VA. The holiday mail delivery is part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The program gives people the opportunity to send holiday cards to U.S. Armed Forces members, veterans and their families. Cards may include thanks, support and holiday cheer. As Rachel describes it,

“… a magical night of laughter, tears, smiles and dancing. Red Cross volunteers helped serve cookies and punch. We danced the night away with veterans while wheeling, spinning them around in their wheel chairs on the dance floor. We even took some of them back to their rooms after the evening was over.”

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Special Delivery! Tara gives a veteran his holiday mail!

At the beginning of the eventful night, the girls were a bit timid but once they warmed up, they danced and even asked the veterans to dance with them. And how sweet is this? Tara received a kiss on the hand from a veteran and was thanked for dancing with him. She thanked him for his service too.

Rachel recalls the emotions in the room when the veterans received their cards, “We watched tears roll down the faces of some veterans while reading their cards, smiles lit up the room as we shook their hands and thanked them for all that they have done. The sound of laughter and pure happiness filled the air while volunteers danced with Veterans. ”

It is great to know that Tara, 10 on Christmas Day and Alexa, 8, are making a difference in their community as youth volunteers. They are also registered on the American Red Cross Volunteer Connection, where they log in their own volunteer hours and badges and earn certificates. Rachel continues with, “I don’t even know how to put this into words. Kids love the community service and learning how to give back, show their appreciation, there is more to the world than what’s in front of them”.

A total of 63 packs of holiday mail were given to the veterans! Both girls attend Caesar Chavez Elementary School in Madison. Students in their class created cards as well.

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Red Cross volunteers (L-R: Sharon Ernst, Rachel Goodrich and Jane Ramsey) posed with the big Red Cross holiday card! Can you imagine how many notes and signatures were filled with that card?

We thank each and everyone of our volunteers for their time and dedication. Special thanks to those that sent in and created cards for the members of our armed forces and their loved ones.

To learn more about the Holiday Mail for Heroes programs, please click here. For more ways to help and donate, please click here.

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Share Holiday Cheer!

The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is an avenue for people to share their appreciation of those who have served our country. The goal is to give service members and Veterans a little holiday cheer by presenting them with letters and cards of thanks.

This year, we are collecting hand-made or store bought cards. Plus, we have JUMBO cards around the state and at special events for residents to sign.  We kicked-off the campaign at the state Capitol.  Cards received by December 11th will be sorted and then presented at common Wisconsin venues, military installations, VA Hospitals, State Veteran Homes and more.

IMG_2134Get in the holiday spirit and send us your best cards! We’ll do the rest!  Here are few guidelines to get you going:

What is the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program? Since 2006, the American Red Cross has received and distributed nearly 10 million holiday cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Veterans. The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season by signing and sending cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our U.S. Armed Forces and Veterans.

I don’t know anyone in the military; how do I participate? You don’t need to know anyone in the military. Red Cross workers will distribute signed cards from the community to members of the military and Veterans right here in Wisconsin.

Cards are not addressed to anyone specific, so who gets these cards? We will distribute cards to service members and Veterans throughout Wisconsin. Cards will be handed to service members and Veterans, or displayed at common venues in military installations and hospitals.

Can I drop cards off at my local Red Cross office? Yes, your created cards can be dropped off by December 11th at your local Red Cross office or even better mail them to: American Red Cross, 4860 Sheboygan Avenue, Madison, WI 53705

Will my card be distributed to our troops overseas? Our National office has shipped cards to military bases around the globe so your cards will make the holiday brighter throughout Wisconsin.

What is the goal for the 2015 Holiday Mail for Heroes Program? The goal is to share season’s greeting and holiday cheer to the members of our Armed Forces and Veterans, creating millions of smiles.

Are there other restrictions and guidelines for cards? In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience, choose or create  “Happy Holiday” cards and use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, or Veteran” when writing cards.  Cards should not contain:

  • Glitter that could aggravate existing health issues.
  • Enclosures such as money calling cards, photos, or other gifts.
  • Complete mailing address.  (City and State are okay)
  • Email addresses.

Can I include money in the cards? Please do not enclose money with the holiday cards. If you wish to provide financial support for Red Cross services to the military, please donate online.

How can I find out more information about the Holiday Mail program?

Welcome Vet Corp Intern, Michelle Meuer!

John Kost, Service to the Armed Forces State Manager

Michelle MWe are excited to announce Red Cross Wisconsin has added to its Service to the Armed Forces team, Vet Corp Intern, Michelle Meuer

“I am 29. I was in the National Guard for nine years as a member of the 1157th Transportation Company out of Oshkosh. I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and performed convoy security. I have been married for 6 years and met my husband in Iraq. Our first date was at pizza hut at one of the FOB’s (forward operating base)! I was a Medical Assistant for four years and have returned to UW Oshkosh to receive my Bachelors in Nursing.

Michelle joins us from AmeriCorps’ Vet Corps program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. During her time in the Guard she earned the rank of Sergeant and served on two overseas deployments, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, conducting convoy and convoy security missions.

She is Medical Assistant and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) trained and currently in her second year at UW-Oshkosh pursuing admission to its College of Nursing.

Her focus in Service to the Armed Forces is to partner with State of Wisconsin Veteran Homes at King (Waupaca County) and Union Grove (Milwaukee County) to grow our staff of volunteers and participation in programs that assist veterans.

Welcome Michelle to the American Red Cross!