Volunteer of the Month – September 2016


Congratulations Marcia Griffin, the September 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

Marcia has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for 15 years, starting out in Service to the Armed Forces and later moving to Staff Services.

“Marcia came in and trained in Staff Services,” explains DAT Response Supervisor Melisa Myers, who nominated Marcia for the award. “Within a month she was able to take over the Disaster Services Intake queue. This is a huge accomplishment. It means Marcia is talking to every single new disaster services volunteer. She creates accounts for them, registers them for initial courses and gets them to staff points of contact.”

“Not only is Marcia handling incredibly very detailed time-sensitive information, but she has completely taken this off the Staff Services plate,” Myers adds. “This has been a tremendous time saver on the overall department of Staffing.”

On the national level, Marcia also helps deploy disaster responders by preparing Mission Cards—prepaid credit cards that must be loaded with funds so volunteers can travel to needed areas. During major disasters, like the recent flooding in Louisiana, Marcia is part of a team that is on call to assign numbers, verify information and allocate funds for food and lodging to get responders to a scene quickly. “It’s a lot of responsibility,” Marcia says. “There’s a lot of donor money there. We don’t take it lightly.”

“We work long hours during a disaster,” she adds. “There’s a great team, and we all step up to the plate.”

A mother of two and grandmother of four, Marcia also works part-time as a switchboard operator for Mayo Clinic. She is an avid quilter and donates many pieces to hospitals, women’s shelters—“any group that needs one”—through the La Crosse Area Quilt Guild.

The 67-year-old Onalaska resident credits her parents for her desire to help the community.“I love to do charity work,” she says. “My parents put that ethic in me. They instilled in all us kids—you have to give back. And today I preach that to my children.”

“There’s such a need out there,” she adds. “You have to start volunteering.”

Thank you, Marcia, for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

If you would like to join Marcia as a Disaster Services volunteer, visitwww.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the Office of Volunteer Resources atvolunteerwisconsin@redcross.org. The American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including disaster response, supporting military troops, helping with blood donation drives and more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

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



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.


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!




Team Effort Creates Results!

Floods and winds created the need for 90 disaster responders to fulfill the emotional, health and disaster needs people come to expect from the American Red Cross after heavy rained caused wide-spread flooding damage across eight Northern Wisconsin counties with the sacred tribal lands of the Bad River Reservation being the epicenter of destruction.


The Red Cross provided the following:

  • Opened an overnight shelter
  • Spearheaded a Multi-Agency Resource Center, a one-stop location for disaster help
  • Staffed two Emergency Operation Centers
  • Integrated Care Team outreach after four fatalities
  • 105 Health and Emotional Health contacts
  • 690 Clean-up Kits distributed (bucket, mop, broom, squeegee, gloves, cleaners, etc.)
  • 2,862 Meals and Snacks served
  • 2,982 Distributed shovels, bleach, gloves, pet carriers and more
  • Truckloads of bottled water was provided

Volunteers haul up cleaning supplies kit into the van

“You could see on the people’s faces signs of hope because the Red Cross was there. I was so honored by the work our team was doing,” said Kyle Kriegl, Northwest Wisconsin Chapter Executive.

“Sometimes we don’t realize how we impact people’s lives and make a difference. One of the families we helped had a military spouse deployed in Alaska. Our team was able to connect her with our Services to the Armed Forces caseworker who was able to work with his command and have him come home for emergency leave to help cleanup and recover from this disaster. That is what the Red Cross is all about to me — helping people,”shared Kriegl.

Join us for free training so you too can be part of the disaster response team!

If you would like to support our efforts with a financial gift, please do at redcross.org/donate.

Learn more about flood safety.


The Disaster Team assisted the NW Wisconsin flood.





Volunteer of the Month, August 2016 Tim Majcen


roc_blog_img_Tim Majcen

Congratulations Tim Majcen, the August 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

New to the Red Cross in 2015, Tim Majcen began his Red Cross career in Disaster Services as a Disaster Action Team Responder in the North Central Wisconsin chapter. He’s usually called in as the first Red Cross representative at the scene of a fire or other local disaster. Tim’s role is to assess the family’s immediate needs and start them on the process of accessing available Red Cross services.

In the past year, Tim has invested his time in training and opportunities to greatly expand his service through the Red Cross; assisting with client casework, disaster assessment, learning about Mass Care sheltering and becoming an instructor. He is also active in the Fire Preparedness Campaign, helping with smoke alarm installations and fire prevention education. “Tim has shown great enthusiasm and dedication in being trained and integrated into Disaster responses in Oconto, Marinette and Brown Counties,” says Disaster Program Manager Brian Cockerham, who nominated Tim for the award. “He has been a tremendous asset in our northern counties.” The DAT Responder role is crucial in bringing Red Cross services to where they’re most needed, Cockerham says. In addition to helping locally in northern Wisconsin, Tim hopes to participate in national disaster responses as needed.

He also volunteers with two groups, SCORE and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), to provide coaching and assistance to small businesses and start-ups in the Green Bay area. As a former banker, Tim says volunteering is a way to keep busy since he retired. “This whole retired thing—I’m just doing something else in life,” Tim says. He always thought of retirement as a time for “golf, rocking chairs and fishing,” but found out he needs more activity. “I don’t enjoy doing a lot of that stuff for any length of time,” he says. Volunteering gives him an opportunity to use his skills and learn new ones—which the Red Cross is eager to teach him. “I never realized how much training Red Cross volunteer needs to have,” Tim says. “When I signed up I thought hey, I’m healthy, I’m ready to go, give me a call. It’s been a long process to get prepared for a national call-up.”

Though Cockerham calls him a “great example of what a community based approach to volunteering can look like,” Tim is quick to point out that his work as a DAT responder is only one small role in the much larger need at the scene of a disaster. “There’s nothing glamorous about what I’ve done,” he says. “I’m not pulling people out of burning buildings or anything like that, but I enjoy doing it, and I’m doing something good for the world, and that’s pretty cool.”

Thank you, Tim for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

If you would like to join Tim as a Disaster Services volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the Office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org. The American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including disaster response, supporting military troops, helping with blood donation drives and more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

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.



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.



Rachel Bennett - HeadshotWe’re proud to announce Rachel Bennett has joined the Wisconsin team!  She brings not only a sparkly personality and lives by Audrey Hepburn’s credo of “You have one hand for helping yourself, and one hand for helping others.”

“I could not be happier to be working for this organization. What an honor it is to be supporting such an admirable and powerful mission.” she shared.

Prior to joining the American Red Cross team, Rachel was the Philanthropic Services Assistant for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. With the Foundation, she hit the ground running – functioning as the administrative support for Philanthropic Services. She also assisted in the planning and execution of Foundation events, and worked on top assignments with the Foundation’s Board, committee members and consultants.

Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she earned a Communications B.A. with a Public Relations emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. After interning for an art non-profit geared toward engaging disadvantaged youth in Atlanta, she knew she wanted her professional career to  be nonprofit based with a humanitarian focus.

In her role, she will be supporting Regional CEO, Patty Flowers, and Chief Communications Officer, Barbara Behling, and assisting with development efforts alongside Chief Development Officer, Nicole Gulatz.

If you’d like to get involved with the Red Cross, click here.

To look at Red Cross employment opportunities, click here.