Dynamic mother-daughter donor duo

By Tom Ruse, American Red Cross

Susan and Kristin Brown – mother and daughter, respectively – have been donating blood together for years. At a recent drive held at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), this dynamic family duo shared their bond and Mother’s Day spirit that continues to bring them back to make life-saving donations.

Susan has been donating for more than 50 years. She explained how it all started: “The first donation was when I was in the school of nursing at UW-Madison. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) was an avid donor. That had a positive impact on my decision to donate.”  

Kristin first began donating at age 17. “I wanted to participate because I knew that my dad was an avid blood donor and felt this was a simple way to give back and follow in his footsteps.”  

Kristin, right, and Susan Brown have a close-knot family that enjoys sharing in all things Wisconsin together, including sporting events, trying new food and cocktail creations. “Really anything we can celebrate as a reason to get together, we will!” That includes donating blood; in total, Susan has donated 25 pints and Kristin has donated 19 pints.

Besides Kristin, Susan has two other daughters, Erin and Sara and son, David. For the last several years, Susan and Kristin have donated together when WARF holds a drive (Kristin serves as Facilities Services Manager at WARF). Returning to the same site provides consistent mother-daughter time, not to mention a regular reminder of the need.  

 “It really provides a unique opportunity for us spend time together while helping support such an important cause. We often promote our involvement in hopes others will join us,” said Kristin.

Susan has seen the other side of giving blood, too.

“My husband has had a few open-heart surgeries that required blood transfusions, which made me realize the importance of giving back. There is always a need for donations, because of adverse weather events, other disasters, recent COVID-related issues.”

Kristin concured, “Having family members who have needed a donation has heightened my awareness of what I can do now for someone else. I’m thankful that WARF is so supportive of our work drives. I find great value in participating in a work-sponsored event that also has universal community impact”.

There are many memorable experiences Susan and Kristin have had because of donating.

“Prior to donating with WARF, I donated at a Christmas Eve drive,” Kristin recalled. “It was snowy, but it was important for me to show up and support. There was a real sense of community and festive spirit that day. It felt great to go into the holiday with a ‘giving back’ mindset.”

“I donated on my birthday once,” added Susan. “It made the birthday cake taste that much sweeter!”

Susan and Kristin are eager to encourage others who have never donated to give it a try.

“It is such a selfless act that doesn’t require a lot of time,” Susan emphasized. “You immediately feel this sense of giving back, that you really helped someone in need. Then, when you receive the email notification letting you know where your blood was sent to help someone in need, it provides a greater awareness of the impact one donation can have.  It really helps you feel more connected to the process.”

“Think about paying it forward,” Kristin continued, “And while no one wants to dwell on this possibility, there may be a time in the future when you or a loved one needs a donation.”

Consider the rewarding experience of helping by donating platelets, plasma or blood.  Visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS today to find current donor drives in your area.

First-person: after donor shared hers, I was ready to tell my family’s platelets story

By Tom Ruse, American Red Cross

We sometimes ask blood donors to give us a bit of background about why they donate and the experiences they’ve had. I was struck by one particular donor’s comments but was unable to reach out to flesh out the story.

Still, her brief comments about donating and her personal story about needing platelets motivated me to share a bit of my own experiences with donating.

First, her comments: “Donor blood/plasma saved my life. In June 2021, I went in for decreased movement at 31 weeks pregnant while having Covid. Tests showed my baby was struggling and my platelets were dropping dramatically. I had an emergency C-section and went to the ICU where I had [a transfusion of] four bags of plasma and a bag of blood. So grateful me and my daughter are here and thriving. Why donate? You can save a life! And you may need it one day.”

Tom, left, and Steve Ruse celebrate their mother’s 98th birthday recently.

Those last lines really hit home. Years ago, my brother, Steve, underwent intense cancer treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I mean, the whole nine yards. Massive chemo treatments, bone marrow transplant, radiation, the works. He was in it for the long haul. So long in fact that my sister-in-law rented an apartment nearby the hospital (they lived in Kansas City).

During the process he needed platelets and apparently, it’s not always a chip-shot to find a good fit for a donor. Bottom line was that I happened to be a good match. So, I flew down to Houston to donate.

Unfortunately, when my blood was tested, my white blood count was too high, likely on account of a recent cold. The last thing my brother needed was in infection, so I couldn’t donate. I was pretty bummed. He needed this and apparently couldn’t find an ideal donor! I was told if I waited a few days my virus infection might diminish to the point that I could safely donate. So, I had an unexpected longer stay in Houston. I visited my brother, my sister-in-law and I spent time finding some great eateries in the area. I even visited a long-lost cousin who lived there. A few days later I was cleared to donate – all good.

Even if you have a lot on your “Plate-Let’s” talk about donating

Donating platelets is a bit different than the whole blood donation most people are familiar with. They take it out of one arm, extract platelets, then put the blood right back in the other arm. It’s no more difficult than giving a pint of blood, it just takes a little longer. Figure two-to-three hours.

Steve recovered and was cancer free for 10 years before he got a second bout. His treatments this time were also quite intense but were able to be done at home in Kansas versus having to go to Houston. So I donated again; this time it was while I was visiting for Thanksgiving.

More good news, Steve’s second bout with cancer was 21 years ago! He’s bounced back and is doing great, spending lots of quality time with his grandkids when he’s not on the golf course. Or vice versa.

American Red Cross donors save thousands of lives each year with generous donations of blood, plasma and platelets. Photo by Michelle Frankfurter for the American Red Cross

Of course, the true heroes in this story are the medical staff. And Steve is the biggest hero of all, with his tenacity and sheer will to kick cancer’s ass. I’d say he’s a walking miracle, if there ever was one.

“It’s hard to put into words really”, Steve shared, “how special and inspirational it is when you experience receiving a donation, especially when you know it was specifically for you”.

“You can save a life! And you may need it one day”

Indeed! Just as that donor said recently. And as I’ve reflected on with my own platelet donations. I invite you to consider the uniquely rewarding experience of helping others by donating platelets, plasma or blood. Find a drive or donation center near you and make an appointment at RedCrossBlood.org or by calling 800 RED CROSS.

Local volunteer goes the extra 23,000 miles for the Red Cross

Red Cross volunteer Don Suloff loads boxes of lifesaving blood into the Red Cross vehicle to deliver to area hospitals. Photo by Laura McGuire / American Red Cross

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is always in need of blood and platelet donations, but it’s also in need of local volunteers to help transport blood products to area hospitals.

Don Suloff is a volunteer and platelet donor, who inspires and encourages others to follow in his footsteps during National Volunteer Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week, both in April.  

Suloff, a transportation specialist for more than 20 years, has logged nearly 23,000 miles behind the wheel of a Red Cross vehicle.

A quick Google search reveals that it takes 24,901 miles to circle the earth. Suloff has about 1,900 miles to go before he can claim to have rounded the globe in his volunteer travels. But it’s not about the mileage; he thrives on helping people and making a difference in the community by delivering thousands of blood donations to area hospitals.

While enjoying his retired life, Suloff found he had extra time on his hands and wanted to put it to good use. So, every Tuesday and Sunday morning you can find Suloff at the Red Cross donation center in Madison loading boxes filled with precious, lifesaving blood to deliver to area hospitals.

In 2001, Suloff got his start volunteering with the Red Cross as a blood donor ambassador, a role where he would check blood donors into their appointments, answer questions and give out post donation snacks. He volunteered at various community drives throughout the Madison area.

In 2010, Suloff became a transportation specialist. “I like driving and visiting with people”, said Suloff. “This is a perfect volunteer opportunity for me.” Whether visiting with Red Cross staff or hospital staff, Suloff’s caring, compassionate personality shines through and inspires us all.

“Some days I deliver a couple boxes of blood, some days I deliver eight boxes of blood,” said Suloff, a Madison resident. Suloff finds delivering blood to area hospitals an easy task but a very important thing to do. “Knowing that I am delivering blood is very rewarding, especially knowing that patient’s lives depend on it.”

Red Cross blood donor Don Suloff takes a moment to smile for the camera while donating platelets for patients in need. Photo by Laura McGuire / American Red Cross

On most Tuesdays, after volunteering his time as a transportation specialist, Suloff steps into the donation center to donate platelets for patients in need. Platelet donors are able to donate once every seven days up to 24 times a year and Suloff contributes every chance he gets. He has donated more than 117 gallons of blood in the past 30 years.

Suloff’s recalls one on his fondest Red Cross memories – While out in the community and wearing a “Red Cross Cancer Kicker T-shirt,” given to him as a thank you gift for one of his many donations, a woman he didn’t know approached him. Upon seeing his T-shirt, she thanked him for donating blood. She was indeed thankful for the lifesaving gift of blood as she had just completed her cancer treatment and knew too well the priceless gift of platelets.

“That was quite an impactful moment, and one I will always remember” said Suloff. “When I told her I also volunteered with the Red Cross and delivered blood to area hospitals she was even more thrilled.”

During this National Volunteer Week, we salute our Red Cross volunteers, celebrate their accomplishments and recognize each and every one of them for their lifesaving work. Without these volunteer heroes the Red Cross could not achieve our mission of helping people in need.

More than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce is volunteers. Last year, more than 300,000 individuals volunteered their time to support the mission of the Red Cross.

Our volunteers are the true heart and soul of the Red Cross. With endless compassion and dedication, Red Cross volunteers give of themselves whenever and wherever they are needed. You, too, can help.

Please consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more, or make an appointment to give blood by visiting redcrossblood.org.

Smoke alarms save lives: Free installations for Wisconsin residents in need as part of Red Cross home fire safety effort

Wisconsin residents in need can sign up for a free smoke alarm installation and home fire safety plan this May from the American Red Cross of Wisconsin and our partners. This includes focused community-wide events coming up in Milwaukee, Sun Prairie, La Crosse and Fond du Lac.

“Our goal is to save lives,” said Mark Thomas, Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive Director, American Red Cross. “There has been a disturbing spike in home fires over the past two years. That’s why we want to make sure everyone has working smoke alarms, which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.”

Residents who need assistance can visit redcross.org/WIsmokealarms or call 888-376-4056 to schedule an appointment for a free smoke alarm installation this May. All Wisconsin residents in need are eligible for these free home fire safety resources.

During the 20-minute home visits, Red Cross volunteers and partners will also share information on the causes of home fires, how to prevent them, what to do if a fire starts and how to create an escape plan.

While home fire visits may be scheduled across the state, for May 2022 Red Cross teams and partners will also have focused events in communities and neighborhoods, as follows:

Spanish language appointments and volunteer sign up are also available at ActivaTuAlarma.org.

Red Cross volunteers install a new smoke alarm during a “Sound the Alarm” event in 2019 in Menasha.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from regional partners such as QBE, Mercury Marine, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Nicholas Family Foundation, Generac Power Systems, Brewers Community Foundation, Great Rivers United Way, Milwaukee Tool, Festival Foods and We Energies Foundation.

Additional community partners with this initiative include Milwaukee Fire Department, Fond du Lac Fire and Rescue, Sun Prairie Fire Department, La Crosse Fire Department, Basilica of St. Josaphat, Pete’s Fruit Market, El Rey, City of Fond du Lac Senior Center, Aging and Disability Resource Center, and Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee.

You’re invited: fundraising gala celebrates southeastern Wisconsin heroes, supports Red Cross mission

          In-person and virtual tickets now available for 2022 Brave Hearts event

MILWAUKEE (April 6, 2022) – The 2022 Brave Hearts fundraising gala will return as an in-person event this May! There is no better way to celebrate coming back together as a community than by honoring this year’s heroes from southeast Wisconsin and supporting the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross.

The fun-filled night at Kohl’s Innovation Center will begin at 5 p.m., Thursday, May 12. This year’s event will be hybrid, allowing for online and in-person access to the evening’s inspiring hero stories, alluring auction items and many opportunities to join the Red Cross mission. Online and in-person tickets are available at BraveHearts.Givesmart.com.

Chosen across a handful of categories, honorees at this year’s Brave Hearts represent the best in spirit, service and action in our communities. The 2022 heroes are:

Frank Nee (Milwaukee Co.) – Hero of the Year

Sophie LaRose (Waukesha Co.) – Adult Good Samaritan Hero

Molly & Dustin Kesner (Ozaukee Co.) – Community Safety, Security & Resiliency Heroes

Milwaukee F.D. Station 24 & Rescue 2 (Milwaukee Co.) – Emergency Response Heroes

Passion Terrell (Milwaukee Co.) – From the Heart Hero

Eric Beach & Eric Hill (Waukesha Co.) – Military Hero

Isabel Zuniga-Meyer (Waukesha Co.) – Youth Good Samaritan Hero

Tickets are now on sale and will be available through the start of the event. Attendees who purchase individual tickets before April 22 will receive an early-bird discount.

Brave Hearts is made possible by incredible, generous support from organizations in southeast Wisconsin. Lead supporters this year include Nicholas Company, Northwestern Mutual, American Red Cross Tiffany Circle, Brewers Community Foundation, Clarios, Johnson Controls, Kohl’s and Molson Coors. Additional support is provided by A. O. Smith, Halo, SC Johnson, Snap-on, SysLogic, Rockwell Automation, We Energies and West Bend Mutual. All proceeds benefit the programs and people helped by the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross.

For info on ticketing & the event, email Sasha J. Parsons Waters: sasha.waters@redcross.org

First person: volunteer connects with shelter client facing “new beginning” after apartment fire

By Diana Higgenbottom, American Red Cross

As I walked into the American Red Cross emergency shelter on Feb. 23, it was clear to me that everything the residents had in their possession in this moment was all that they had left to call “belongings.” But as I learned from one shelter resident, there was much more to see in a person’s response and recovery than physical belongings.

A few of Lisa White’s belongings after a fire at her apartment building. She’s spent the past week at a shelter run by the American Red Cross.

Two days earlier, an early morning fire had caused widespread damage, displacing all 30 residents. For the foreseeable future, there’s no going back to what once home was now destroyed and uninhabitable.

As I looked around the shelter at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, one woman seemed to generate a light, which caught my eye. I walked over to her cot and smattering of belongings in the shelter just as if I were walking into her home. Lisa White or “Miss Lisa” welcomed me and agreed enthusiastically to share a little bit of her story.

Almost everything she owned had perished in the fire. Still, she had a smile on her face. With so much uncertain in the aftermath of this disaster, she had a sense of security. In part, it came from the volunteers around her and the other shelter residents. Miss Lisa said several times during our conversation that she “knew this moment was rough but knew everything happening was only temporary … the Red Cross doesn’t leave anyone behind.” 

Lisa told me that she has proudly lived in Milwaukee her whole life, where she ultimately graduated from Washington High School. In addition, Miss Lisa had lived in that apartment building for 32-and-a-half years, making her the longest running tenant. She explained to me that the very first year she was living at the building, there was also a fire that caused substantial damage. However, at that time it remained inhabitable.

Fast forward more than three decades and this recent fire took so much – but not her spirit. I could see her inner joy amid devastation. To get a few basic priorities together and more like her normal life, she said she took a few days off from her local cleaning job. The many things people don’t think about after a disaster like a home fire.

A Milwaukee County Transit System bus transports residents from their uninhabitable apartment building to a shelter a few blocks away.

Miss Lisa went on to tell me that as she got on the bus after the fire to go to the shelter, she realized she didn’t know a lot of the people in the building. These strangers in their own building, strangers on the bus, were now becoming neighbors through the bonds they were making at this disaster shelter and over meals after the fire.

Honestly, I was in awe of her – a sense of peace and security through this disruptive situation. She was quick to tell me that she had hope and trust in the Red Cross, and that she had her needs in this moment taken care of. Through the first week of the disaster, Red Cross teams had provided these residents with 65 overnight stays at the shelter, more than 300 meals and snacks, and dozens of health, mental health and spiritual care resources.

With those things in place, Miss Lisa said she could put back together the pieces of her life from before the fire. She said that this is the beginning of the rest of her life, not the end. Miss Lisa called it a “new beginning.” Where Miss Lisa sees the Red Cross as a symbol of hope, I can clearly see her as a reflection of hope and determination. 

Your support makes our disaster relief mission possible. To share your generosity as a donor or volunteer, visit RedCross.org.

A diet of perseverance pays off for Brown Deer blood donor

By Tom Ruse, American Red Cross

Susan Blaske from Brown Deer has served up plates of perseverance to become a life-saving blood donor.  

Growing up in the Philippines, Susan was inspired early in life by a friend who was a regular blood donor and encouraged others to do the same. Susan’s first attempt to donate was unsuccessful, however, due to low iron. Subsequent attempts resulted in the same rejection, one that can be common among people unable to donate blood at various times, though no less disheartening.

Fifteen years ago, Susan moved to Wisconsin where, along with numerous other significant changes to her lifestyle that such a move entails, she modified her diet. Growing up in the Philippines, Susan’s diet was primarily plant and seafood-based. Once state-side, she began to incorporate red meat. Last year, amid this dietary shift, she decided to try again to donate blood. This time – success!

Susan recalls the success: “When I realized that I started eating meat, I thought possibly that I would be able to donate blood, so last year I tried again and was accepted. I was incredibly happy. I recently donated for a second time and am hoping to donate every three months.”

No two people are the same with diet or outcomes. There are many factors that impact each individual’s hemoglobin. (Click here for tips on diet and preparation that you can take ahead of your blood appointment.)

Issues with iron at blood donations? Here are six, iron-rich foods that may make good additions to your menu before an appointment to donate:

  1. Meat such as beef, poultry, pork, lamb, liver
  2. Bread
  3. Pasta
  4. Dried fruits like raisins
  5. Eggs
  6. Tofu

As she says, it’s easy, costs nothing more than a bit of time, and makes you feel great that you’re helping people in need.

“After donating blood, I felt healthier. Maybe because I also felt really good knowing that I helped others with my donation. I feel humbled,” she said. “I am grateful for the good health that I am enjoying in my life.”

Make an appointment to donate at an upcoming drive near you at RedCrossBlood.org.

American Red Cross honors local heroes March 9 at annual Heroes Breakfast

American Red Cross Honors Local Heroes March 9 at annual Heroes Breakfast

By Laura McGuire, American Red Cross

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Feb. 9, 2022) – Every day at the American Red Cross, we see firsthand the remarkable deeds of everyday heroes. Their stories inspire and remind us to never doubt the impact an individual can make in the lives of others.

The Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin will honor individuals who have shown courage, dedication and unselfish character by their acts of heroism in our community at the Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast, hosted by Katie Phernetton, WQOW News 18. This year’s award recipients will be honored Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at 8 a.m.at The Florian Gardens Conference Center, 2340 Lorch Ave., Eau Claire.  

The Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast honors people making an impact through their bravery, dedication, and humanitarian service. This event grew out of a desire to celebrate local members of our communities living our mission – to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The award breakfast also serves as a fundraising event for programs and services provided by the Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin.

Chosen across a handful of categories, honorees at the Northwest Wisconsin Heroes Breakfast represent those among us who reflect what is best in our communities. For over 20 years, more than 130 local heroes have been recognized and we are thrilled to add to that number.

The 2022 Heroes are:

Adult Good Samaritan Heroes

  • Kevin Dague, Eau Claire County
  • Todd Dague, Eau Claire County

Community Heroes

  • Deputy Joel Eder, Price County 
  • Deputy Sean Peterson, Price County
  • Sergeant Robert Zoubek, Price County

From the Heart Hero

  • Isaac Grover, St. Croix County

Health Care Heroes

  • DeWayne Hanson, Chippewa County
  • Christie Naberhaus, Chippewa County
  • Chief Rick Sommerfeld, Chippewa County
  • Joel Sternitzky, Eau Claire County
  • Brittany Walters, Chippewa County       
  • Tim Walters, Chippewa County 

Lifetime Hero

  • Dave Nelson, Eau Claire County

Military Hero

  • Tim Nelson, Dunn County

Youth Good Samaritan Heroes

  • Alena Otto, Chippewa County
  • Briar Omar, Burnett County

Heroes are nominated by the public and are chosen by an awards selection committee comprised of local community leaders. Honorees are selected based on the degree to which their actions uphold the values of the Red Cross humanitarian mission and leave a lasting and positive impact on the community.

Mayo Clinic Health System is the presenting sponsor of this very special event. Additional event sponsors include HSHS Sacred Heart and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals, Xcel Energy, Ayres Associates and WQOW TV-18. This year’s individual Heroes sponsors include Royal Credit Union, Global Finishing Solutions, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Marshfield Clinic, Scheels Sporting Goods, Security Financial Bank and WESTconsin Credit Union. Additional support sponsors include Associated Bank, Charter Bank, Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire, Kaze Studios, M3 Insurance, Market and Johnson, OakLeaf Medical Network, TTM Technologies and Wipfli.

To reserve your seat for this event, visit https://NWHeroes.givesmart.com. Reservations for this event are $45 and all proceeds go toward the Red Cross of Northwest Wisconsin.

For more information, email Mary Jane Thomsen at MaryJane.Thomsen@redcross.org.

‘Red Cross came to the rescue’: after massive apartment fire, Milwaukee woman joins as a disaster volunteer

By Katie Baneck, American Red Cross of Wisconsin

House fires occur in the winter more than any other season. This can be attributed to heating equipment, especially in Wisconsin, among other factors. The American Red Cross utilizes Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers to help families affected by emergency situations, such as house fires. DAT volunteers assist those affected by providing resource information, financial assistance, emotional support, and whatever else may be needed after their tragic event

Shortly after experiencing her own tragedy, Martha Preston became a DAT volunteer herself. In January 2021, Martha arrived at her Burnham Park apartment to find that it was no longer a home. A fire within the complex just after midnight displaced more than 100 residents and took one life.

The morning after a deadly fire that displaced dozens from an apartment building in Milwaukee’s Burnham Park neighborhood.

Martha recalls the Milwaukee County Transit buses parked nearby as warming shelters for the building’s residents as firefighters battled the four-story building blaze. Then, the volunteers arrived.

“The Red Cross came to the rescue,” she remembered of the scene that day.

The Red Cross provided shelter for Martha and dozens of those who were displaced, in a 24-hour span that also saw other large apartment fires in Milwaukee, Janesville and Beaver Dam. At one point soon after these fires, the Red Cross in Wisconsin led the nation with the number of people supported in disaster sheltering, even surpassing the largest cities in the U.S., and areas ravaged by natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires.

It was the kind actions of the Red Cross volunteers that responded to this event that inspired Martha to join the cause herself. Now as a DAT volunteer, Martha is the first person many come in contact with after their emergency. She provides water, hygiene kits, stuffed animals for children, and many other things that help these families begin to recuperate after tragedy. Martha has fond memories of her first time responding as a DAT volunteer.

Martha Preston

“It is so rewarding to be able to help out people on probably the worst day of their life, and get them on their way to recovery,” Preston said.

In addition to her participation with the Red Cross, Martha also volunteers with anti-human trafficking organizations. When she is not busy volunteering, Martha enjoys spending time with her husband and their three cats.

The winter of 2021 saw a recent high in the number of home fires and number of people in need of humanitarian relief from the Red Cross. That trend has continued with nearly three fires per day to start 2022 – with people like Martha there to help people in the response and recovery.

For information on how to become a DAT volunteer visit this link. To search for other volunteer positions and opportunities, go here.

Wisconsin Region spotlight: Q&A with Edita Emini

Every few months, we’re highlighting the incredible work toward the mission of the American Red Cross by one of our colleagues in the Wisconsin Region. Hopefully these short profiles provide a little light of positivity and inspiration across all lines of service in our humanitarian mission.

This latest profile is on Edita Emini, an Aquatics Sales Leader with our Training Services department, who has transitioned her passion for athletics into programs that make our communities healthier and safer. Questions were asked by members of the Region communications team, and edited for style and space.

American Red Cross: Tell us about your professional background and your role at the Red Cross. 

My career started at Carthage College where I was a graduate assistant for the soccer program. Upon completion of my graduate degree I then transitioned into the role of Manager of Athletic Faculties at Carthage College. Prior to the Red Cross, I was with Kiefer Aquatics as an Account Executive. The transition to the Aquatics Division within Red Cross Training Services from Kiefer Aquatics was natural, as I worked in the aquatics industry for four-plus years. 

The mission of the Red Cross connects us to so many people. Can you share an anecdote about someone whose life was affected by your role or work at the Red Cross? 

My father recently experienced cardiac complication. My role with the Red Cross and training within our CPR and AED program helped myself and my family react quickly, which made a big impact in his treatment!

How do you explain what you do to people outside the Red Cross? 

This is a good question! The Red Cross carries such a big brand. When I say I work for the Red Cross the assumption is with disaster or blood services. I explain to family and friends I work for the division that trains individuals and organizations in CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, etc. Not many are aware the Training Services Division is within the Red Cross. However, I am proud to say that our Red Cross brand and name is always talked highly upon when asked, where I work or what I do.

What is your hidden talent? Or a hobby you have that people may not know about?

I am a big sports nut! I follow college, NFL, etc.! I played college soccer at Carthage Soccer and grew up around sports my entire life.

What does the Red Cross mean to you?  

The Red Cross to myself and my family represents a brand and company that always does the right thing! This term is often used in our Division – do the right thing – and it has stuck with me. That term can be used in business, but most importantly throughout life. The Red Cross to me represents a company that is there during time of disaster to help and do the right thing; that same term applies to our division of blood services and training services.

What would you say to inspire someone to join the Red Cross – through a training, or as a blood donor, volunteer or supporter? 

The Red Cross is a great place to work and be a part of! Many of times when you bring up the Red Cross, almost immediately you can bring up a conversation and commonality with anyone. The Red Cross is a company that holds great values and ultimately is there to help and meet the need of the community.