Deployment: Day One – Colorado Floods

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director

Deployment: Day one:  September 15, 2013

Twenty-four hours ago, I was saying yes, to assisting with the Colorado floods, and now here I am on a plane. This is my second National Red Cross Deployment. My first assignment was in 2008 for Hurricane Ike, deployed to Dallas, TX and then Houston and Galveston. It has been over five years since I have answered the call, so when this assignment came along I couldn’t say no.

IMAG1134I went into work, cleared my calendar, printed off a ton of information on Colorado and our response efforts, clean my house (yes, I am one of those people that has to have a clean house before I leave for a trip) and packed. I packed everything Red Cross I own (as seen by the picture to the right.)

My journey started out at 3:30 this am, to get ready and get to the airport for a 6am flight. As I am sitting back in my seat on my way to Denver I find it a coincidence that I am reading a book right now called “The Third Wave – A volunteer Story” by Alison Thompson. It was given to me by an amazing volunteer and it is about the inspiring account of what one woman and her friends can accomplish against the greatest odds.

It has me thinking as I am getting ready to pitch in and help those who have had their homes, possessions, and for some, have lost loved ones due to the floods, that it is amazing what one person can do, but it is even more amazing what an “army” of people can do.

photoThat is what I am doing. I am joining an army of people to help those who need it. That is what the Red Cross does. It gathers our trained group of workers and sends them to where the help is needed most. It is incredible the logistics that is behind a small operation, let alone something of this magnitude.

My assignment is that i will be assigned to a photographer as a sherpa? Yes, I wondered what that meant too.  He will be capturing pictures that tell the human side of this operation, and I will be putting the words to them.

Am I nervous? I can honestly say NO. I have been with the American Red Cross for over 12 years and it has prepared me to be ready. I am excited to share the great work of our team in photos and words. I hope these images and words inspire people to give. I thank the American people for your donations because it is allowing the American Red Cross to be able to respond to those impacted in Colorado and across the country affected by disaster.

Follow me on twitter @jweyers2 to share in this journey with me!

During Red Cross Month, Honor the Everyday Heroes Who Help Our Communities

During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross recognizes the nation’s Everyday Heroes who give of themselves and in some way help their community.

 “Please remember those who help all of us either down the street or across the country by giving their time to help their neighbor,” said Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive. “We want to thank our heroes during Red Cross Month – our volunteers, blood donors, class takers and financial supporters who help us assist those in need.”

March was first proclaimed as Red Cross Month 70 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since 1943, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross is synonymous with helping people, and has been doing so for more than 130 years.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year in this country, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, Veterans and their families – in war zones, military hospitals and on military installations around the world; collects and distributes about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and trains more than seven million people in first aid, water safety and other life-saving skills every year.

 In just one fiscal year, our local Chapter responded to 171 local emergencies with trained Red Cross responders who are able to respond to disaster not just down the street but across the country. We assisted more than a 1,000 military members, their families and Veterans with pre and post-deployment briefings and emergency communications. We also brighten the holiday season for local Veterans and active duty personnel with our Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Through our Preparedness, Health & Safety services we trained thousands of people in both classroom and online courses in life-saving skills to disaster education. Throughout our area, people also rolled-up their sleeves to donate the gift of life. Throughout the state, we provide a safe and reliable blood supply for more than 40 hospitals and clinics.

“Red Cross Month is a great time for people to become part of the Red Cross and there are many different ways to do it. You can develop a preparedness plan for your household, become a Red Cross volunteer, give blood, or take a Red Cross class, just to name a few,” concluded Hansen.

The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar given to the Red Cross is invested into humanitarian services.

The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter has a number of activities planned for Red Cross Month, including:

  • Governor’s State of Wisconsin Proclamation to be announced.
  • All Disaster Classes are free and open to the public:
    • International Humanitarian Law course explores global relationships via the Geneva Conventions, rules of war, etc. (Saturday, March 9, 9:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.) Green Bay

Disaster Overview course provides new and perspective volunteers an overview of Disaster Services and previews involvement opportunities.

      • Waupaca, WI Tuesday, March 12 (6:00p.m. – 9:30p.m.)
      • Iron Mountain, MI – date/time to be announced
  • Fundamentals of Disaster Mental Health & Psychological First Aid, Saturday, April 5, In partnership with the University of Wisconsin –Oshkosh Department of Professional Counseling.
  • Boys & Girls Club (Fond du Lac) Family Preparedness seminar, 6:00p.m.
  • Participant at 46th Annual Governors Conference on Emergency Management and Homeland Security (March 7& 8)
  • Tornado App roll-out: Starting March 4th, a free downloadable App will provide preparedness tips, define/provide watches & warning tips and more
  • Flags over Fond du Lac: on the Johnson Street Bridge
  • Blood Drives are hosted at various locations and at the Blood Collection Center at 2131 Deckner Avenue, Green Bay which is open five days a week. To find your nearest local blood drive visit www.redcrossblood.org.
  • Introducing Babysitting Basics a new web-based course with video and interactive activities geared toward children 11 – 15 years of age. This is a compliment to the traditional classroom training course.
  • Life-saving Courses like CPR/AED, first aid, babysitting, etc are being held in multiple cities and locations. To find ALL classes & to register go to www.redcross.org/TakeAClass
  • Nursing Assistant Training: There is no greater calling than to provide care and compassion to those in need. Registration is now open for classes in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Waupaca. For more information visit www.redcross.org/newisconsin, call 800-727-0477 or send an email to Paulene.Kipke@redcross.org.

Our Services to Armed Forces support Yellow Ribbon Events for our enlisted military members and their families with “Get to Know Us Before You Need Us” presentations to reintegration services and/or information booths.

  • March 2, MI National Guard 1432nd Engineering Company, Kingsford, Michigan
  • March 9, WI National Guard 372nd Engineering Company, Milwaukee
  • March 10, WI National Guard 1157th Engineering Company, Appleton
  • March 21  WI State Warrior Summit Exhibitor, Milwaukee
  • March 24 WI National Guard 121st Field Artillery & 97th Agri-Development Team, Elkhart Lake, WI
  • Heroes Musicales are a collection of musicians giving of their talent with concerts in Wild Rose, WI (Saturday, April 20) All three concerts were sold-out last year so order tickets early.
  • When filing Wisconsin State Taxes, this is the second year you can use the donation ‘check-off’ to give directly to American Red Cross disaster relief
  • Dine for Disaster participants are being recruited! Eateries, of all types, are being recruited so we can all eat/drink and socialize at their locations on May 16th with a percentage of sales raised donated to local disaster relief.

Northeast WI Chapter

The American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin Chapter serves 20 counties, including two in Michigan, with a mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Chapter at 920-231-3590 or visit redcross.org/newisconsin or via social media.

Congratulations Betty Bonfigt; WPS Blood Drive Coordinator

(l-r) Sonja Juric, Donor Recruitment Supervisor and Michelle Otero, Bilingual Donor Recruitment Representative presenting Betty a plaque for her years of service.

On Friday, October 8th the American Red Cross had the pleasure of attending the Wisconsin Public Service retirement party for Betty Bonfigt.  Betty was the recipient of the American Red Cross Service Award for her 15 years of dedicated service to blood services.  She has been committed to organizing and coordinating the blood drives and One-A-Week club at Wisconsin Public Service since 1995. She has had a tremendous impact on donors, patients, and the community.  The American Red Cross wishes Betty the very best in her retirement and will always welcome her back for more volunteering opportunities.