My First Disaster Call

By Jenny Berry, American Red Cross Intern 

Jenny Berry - fire winneconne

Jenny Berry observing the two disaster team leads as they talk with the clients to determine their emergency needs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014, was my first day interning at American Red Cross in Oshkosh, WI and I would not have wanted my first day any other way!  I immediately felt welcome and at home with the American Red Cross especially after my boss, Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager for Territory 2, sent out a welcome email to staff and volunteers and the warm, kind and insightful welcome emails started to pour in. I even received my own desk and computer to work with during my time at the American Red Cross.

I spent most of my first day researching and updating information for community referrals as well as partnerships and hotels for the County Annexes.  I think that this is a great resource readily available for communities and individuals when a natural disaster occurs. I also helped Nick with filling out client information for a fake/mock case so Red Cross workers can gain more experience with how a case works, follow-up, and entering information into the new CAS 2.0 disaster intake system.

The environment in the office was so welcoming and engaging that I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time in the office brings! I have been given an amazing opportunity to learn and to grow with this organization and can’t wait to take it all in.

Towards the end of the day, I was asked to respond with the Disaster Action Team (DAT) to a fire that had happened the previous day in Winneconne in Winnebago County.  I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to get out in the field and gain some first-hand experience. I then received my American Red Cross vest and headed out for the call.

Disaster Volunteer, Dick Henderson, writing out our forms to assist clients in need.

Disaster Volunteer, Dick Henderson, writing out our forms to assist clients in need.

While riding with DAT Captain, Becky Tiles, I started to become very nervous and anxious because I did not know what to expect or exactly how to approach individuals when something so terrible like this happens to individuals. So basically, my mind was running in a million different directions before arrive at the scene. Thankfully, Becky calmed my nerves by preparing me for what to expect and giving me excellent advice for this type of experience. We then met another DAT responder, Dick Henderson, at a parking lot in Winneconne and road to the scene together.

When we got to the scene, I mainly observed how Becky and Dick were responding to the clients and the scene which is precisely how I wanted my first time out to be like. An event and scene like this is a lot to take in for a first-time responder so performing the paperwork and additional support would have been difficult to pursue. Personally and fortunately, I have never experienced any type of disaster so my heart sank for the clients. I was surprised at how well and how strong the clients were handling their situation, but I still wanted to snap my fingers and make everything better for them.  Knowing that snapping my fingers was an impossible task, we instead were able to provided assistance for food and clothing.

Even though, it may not seem like a lot, providing the littlest of assistance and alleviating the smallest of pain to those who suffer from a natural disaster or an emergency like this is something that is truly remarkable that the American Red Cross and the partners of American Red Cross are able to do.

I feel that we all hope that we will not have to go back out to another scene, but sadly, natural disasters cannot always be controlled. I am grateful and appreciative for being able to attend the scene with two individuals who offered their experience and knowledge so when the next time (praying there won’t have to be) comes I am one step closer to being able to respond full-force at the scene.

I am so thankful to be interning alongside a great organization that is filled with incredible individuals that are making first-hand differences in people’s lives. I am eager to continue to explore, participate, and learn more of what the American Red Cross and the individuals are doing to lend a helping hand to those in need.  I could not have imagined a better way to start my journey with the American Red Cross and excited to see where the journey heads next!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brenna Schobert

Monday, May 5th was the 8th Annual Celebration of Student Leadership event to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of UW Oshkosh Student leadership and organizations.

We are very proud of our UWO Red Cross Club in taking home honors of New/Emerging Organization of the Year and club member Brenna Schobert was awarded Emerging Volunteer of the Year.

Let us share with you a little more about Brenna, and why she deserved this award.

By Angie Dusenberry, UWO Red Cross Club President 

IMAG3371Brenna’s leadership style can be defined simply as “get up and go for it”. At the first Red Cross Club meeting, Brenna reached out to me right after with the hopes that she could get involved at a deeper level within the organization. Being fully aware of the challenge that this club was brand new to UWO, Brenna was ready to hit the ground running with passion and excitement to get this club going. She has kept that same mindset and drive throughout the course of the year.

As president of the club, I have looked to Brenna to fulfill many different aspects of the club and she does each of them whole heartedly. She is extremely versatile, and is always willing to step in wherever she is needed. At the beginning of the year, she willingly volunteered to become the Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) representative. That job quickly escalated to taking over the blood services portion of
the club, where she works directly with the American Red Cross to organize blood drives on campus and in the community. As if that wasn’t enough, Brenna has fallen into the role of becoming the spokesperson for the club members. I always look to her in terms of helping me with figuring out what the club members are looking to do next, and how they feel about various volunteer ideas and Red Cross courses. I can say with full confidence that Brenna is the main reason we have had such great club member
retention. On top of all of that, Brenna has established a new relationship with a campus fraternity (Delta Sigma Phi) that has allowed us to recruit more than 15 new volunteers for the club. With Brenna’s help, our club is now becoming largely known on this campus. Our club advisors and I look to Brenna to maintain that relationship to allow our club to grow year after year.

Brenna’s dedication to the American Red Cross goes so much further than her number of volunteer hours. The amount of time she dedicates to the club would probably be over 100 hours!

Let me remind you that Brenna is only a freshman! That kind of drive and passion for our organization’s success and the drive that she has to satisfy our club member’s needs and wants is something that definitely should be recognized. Brenna openly has stepped into a brand new, relatively unknown role with her headfirst and her heart followed right behind. She has definitely helped pave the way for this organization and I am confident that with her at the reigns we will continue to grow as the years come!

IMG_0895 group picIn Brenna’s own words:

“As a freshman, we all look for a good place to fit in on campus. I attended the first American Red Cross club meeting and knew that I could help them become the club they wanted to be. I felt very welcomed and encouraged to get involved. I applied for a board position and was granted it. Since then, my position has evolved into the Blood Drive Chair for the club. I work closely with the American Red Cross when they host drives here on campus. Because of the opportunities placed before me by the club I have discovered my potential as a leader and active member in my own club as well as others as we reach out to other organizations. We have recently started working with the Fraternity Delta Sigma Phi. We are hoping next year, they will be able to help us spread our club even further.

As an emerging club we have faced struggles such as no funding our first year, no storage space first semester and having a small amount of active members. However, we have proven our strength as a team. We have volunteered at multiple activities at Lambeau Field, Kings Veteran Home and on campus.

These activities include Holiday Mail for Heroes, Project Play 60, bingo and bowling with veterans and more. We reach such a variety of people and hope to continue on through the years. Joining this club was the best decision I made my first semester here. I enjoy every meeting and event and feel I have been able to expand my own interests and viewpoints on many subjects.”

 

Get to know: Cassie DeClerc, Summer Intern

By: Cassie DeClerc, American Red Cross Intern

hb photoMy name is Cassie DeClerc and I am a Summer Intern for the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin Chapter.

I am currently a senior (with 1 semester left!!!) at Evangel University in Springfield Missouri. I am majoring in Non-Profit Business and have a huge heart for helping people.

A bit about me: I was born and raised in Green Bay, and graduated from West High School. (Go Wildcats!) I love anything to do with the outdoors. Fishing, camping, hiking, I love it all. I am a die-hard sports fanatic and absolutely love the Packers and Badgers. I also enjoy running and playing almost any sport there is.

football champsThe picture to the right is from 2012 when my college powder puff team won the championship.

I’m excited to be interning with the Red Cross this summer and working with the wonderful people of Northeast Wisconsin! I cannot wait to learn about event planning and scheduling along with gathering great minds to accomplish a common goal.

Thank You to Maple Grove Countryside 4-H Club

Maple Grove Countryside 4-H Club 2-2014

We want to say THANK YOU to the 29 youth members from the Maple Grove Countryside 4-H club, in Pulaski, for making tied blankets for the American Red Cross.

Our Red Cross workers hand-out these blankets to children and adults who have been impacted by a disaster. These blankets provide more than just warmth, they provide comfort and hope to our clients! 

 

Giving Back to our American Heroes

By: Kaitlyn Schmitt, UWO Red Cross Club, Service to Armed Forces Chair

bingoroom

The UW Oshkosh American Red Cross Club joined Americorps Vet Corps and Adrianne Benson, Americorps Vet Corps member and Red Cross volunteer, to return to volunteer at King Veteran’s Home on March 16th. This time, we provided help with multiple activities. Half of the volunteers helped with a game of bingo and the other half went downstairs to the bowling alley for some rounds of bowling and snacks.

I volunteered with Bingo and I passed out prize quarters and collected bingo cards. We even had coffee and cookies for the Veterans. The Veterans got so excited when they won, and I heard a lot of them calling out their own numbers they needed to win. Bingo was very competitive. There was lots of great socialization and laughter heard in the room. I had several Veterans come up to me afterwards and thank me for being there. Then I thought, “Wow, we should be the ones thanking them for their service!” It was another incredible opportunity to give back to those who selflessly served us. UWO Red Cross member, Samantha Johnson, stated: “It’s a great feeling being able to give back to the veterans who risked their lives for our country.”

The bowling alley was full of excitement as well. The veterans definitely taught us younger volunteers how to bowl! It was exciting to see their faces as they knocked all the pins down.

UWO Red Cross President, Angie Dusenberry, exclaimed: “Bowling with the Veterans from King could not have been a more rewarding experience. It was heart-warming to be able to share the laughs and great experiences with the individuals who gave me my freedom – even if they did kick my butt in bowling!”

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members  Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members
Brenna Schobert , Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

The Veterans had a blast bowling and still have the skill. UWO Red Cross member, Brenna Schobert, expressed: “It was amazing to spend just a few hours giving back to those who gave up so much for our country. They are incredible people and I feel truly blessed to have helped to put a smile on their faces.”

Several of the veterans thanked us and said that they hope we return to volunteer again. We will definitely be returning for more fun-filled days with the veterans. Not only do we brighten their day, I know they brighten mine.

We enjoyed the stories, excitement, and camaraderie. We all walked away with smiles on our faces. This is the greatest generation and volunteering at the Veteran’s home is truly a blessing. I know I definitely leave King Veteran’s Home feeling inspired and happy. There is nothing greater than volunteering during American Red Cross month and “being a hero” to the true heroes in America’s hearts – the Veterans.

Only Treats, No Onions!

By: PaKou Lee

spooktacular

Oct. 12th, 2013- Neveah, Lucky, Jada, Telvin, Cienna, Kace, Ethan, & Khloe at the Spooktacular event held at Lambeau Field. Typical teenager, Ethan is not too enthused being around the littles ones, but they’re all so cute!

I think everyone can agree with me that treats are great, but some tricks are even greater! I remember when I was in the fifth or sixth grade, my family and I went trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. At the end of the night, we all gathered in a circle at home to check every piece of candy to make sure they were good and not opened. As we looked through our goody bags, both of my cousins pulled out onions! How funny is that? I don’t know which neighbor did that, but that was a pretty slick trick up their sleeves!

This Halloween, I’m super bummed that I can’t go trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews because I work late. I like going with them because I get to enjoy a few chocolate candies while on supervision duty. Of course when they notice their favorite chocolate bar is missing, I tell them the ghost took it. They never believe me but hey, you can’t blame me. I need all of the calories and energy I can get to catch up with these little vampires, ninjas, and witches. Before I know it the older ones are already playing tricks at the next house and the youngest one is still debating if they should walk up to the first house and face that creepy scarecrow sitting on the porch to get candy. I can’t wait to get home from work today and rummage through some of their hard-earned candies. I promise I’ll only take a little, only the ones I need.

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Before you head out for some trick-or-treating, check out these tips for a safe Halloween:

  • Look for flame-resistant costumes.
  • Plan the Trick-or-Treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
  • Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  • Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, consider using face paint.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around pets and any other animals.

If you are passing out treats tonight for the ghosts and goblins, please remember:

  • Make sure the outdoor light is on.
  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain any household pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.

There might be a chance of rain tonight so don’t forget your umbrella and ponchos! I also recommend you visit Haunted Wisconsin for the trick-or-treat times in your area. Enjoy your candies and have a safe Halloween!

Are Your Kids Ready to Walk to School?

By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross PR/Social Media Volunteer

It’s back to school week! I’m super excited to have my nieces and nephews back at school again. They grow up so quickly; sometimes I forget what grade they are in. I swear they were just babies not too long ago! They attend school not too far from where we live so usually it is a 3-minute car ride or nice walk to school. During the cool and warm weather it is all about walking.

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Look at that smirk on Kace’s face. He didn’t want to take a picture.

I enjoy my walks with them, especially after school. I start our talks with my typical questions of asking how school went, what they ate for lunch and if they have any homework or reading to do. Last year, I think I asked way too much because my nephew, Kace, now 7, refuses to tell me what he eats for lunch. He would whine, “Why do you always ask us what we ate for lunch?”

Then of course, right after that, he would hand me his blue Skylander backpack so he can run off to be the first one home. And me being the worried aunt that I am, I always shout, “Wait for me! You better not cross the street yet!” or “Stay to your right. Watch out for the people on the bikes!”

Knowing me so well, Kace likes to test his limits with me.  He would pretend he is about to cross the street and shout “I’m going to cross the street, Auntie PaKou.” This boy wants to give me a panic attack! Again, knowing me so well, he knows not to cross without me. As a reminder, I tell Kace, my nieces, Nevaeh and Cienna, to look for cars both ways, stay a foot back from the curb, and wait for an adult to cross the street. I’m sure I’ve established these safety tips into their carefree minds but sometimes kids forget!

Today, Nevaeh asked if she could walk with her friends to school instead of getting a ride. She has been asking all week so their dad, Pheng, my brother agreed. And of course, I stand at the porch with their baby sister, Khloe, on my hip reminding Nevaeh that she is the older one so she needs to watch after Kace and Cienna, don’t talk to strangers and for the little ones to listen to her. A part of me wanted to walk with them to make sure they were safe, but I told myself I trust them to make the best decision.

Nevaeh & Cienna crossing the street to school.

Nevaeh & Cienna crossing the street to school.

I’ve shared just some of the basic walking tips, but here are more tips you can utilize and share with other children:

  • Stay Alert: Don’t get distracted by your phone or music player. Put your electronics away and focus on the sidewalk and road, especially when crossing the street.
  • Walk with a Buddy: Don’t walk alone. Always walk with someone you know or with an adult. Don’t talk to strangers. If a stranger approaches you, find a trusted adult or go to a safe spot. Never follow or go into a stranger’s car.
  • Listen to the Cross Guards:  Look for the pedestrian signs and wait until the cross guard signals the okay to cross the street.
  • Stay Aware of Runners and Bikers: Not only do you have to watch out for cars, but also for runners and bikers. Stay clear of their way. Bikers should ring their bike bells and runner should call out that they are passing you.
  • Be Visible: Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing the traffic. Wear bright colors so drivers can spot you easily.

Parents, make sure you practice walking to school with your children so they remember the route that is safe for them. Let’s make this school year an exciting and safe year!