Firefighters have been busy lately; Winter typically the busiest time of year

Reporter: Beth Jones, WLUK Fox 11 – Click HERE to view video of the story.

GREEN BAY – Thursday morning’s fire in Pulaski, which displaced a family, was one of four other emergencies The American Red Cross responded to within 24 hours.

Since last month, the Lakeland Chapter has responded to 17 incidents, the majority of them fires, assisting 79 people.

But all four Red Cross chapters across the region have been busy.

“When we look at it since Thanksgiving, we’ve responded to some type of disaster every single day,” explained Red Cross Communications Director, Jody Weyers. “So not only are we out there providing support for the families, but we’re also there as a resource to the emergency crews.”

And it’s been tough to keep up.

“It definitely puts a strain on our resources as well as our personnel and volunteers, as well as financially, with having so many incidents back to back,” Weyers said.

Area fire departments, like Green Bay, have been busy too. They’ve responded to 9 residential fires since Thanksgiving.

“What’s unfortunate, that’s about on average for us,” said Lt. Nick Craig.

While the number may seem excessive, Craig says the department usually responds to about 10 fires at least by the first of the year.

December, January, and February are the busiest three months of the year for fire departments across the nation.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association says one third of all fires and fire deaths occur during those months.

But there are ways to prevent becoming a statistic.

“We’ve seen several wood stove fires, chimney fires in the area and one of the big things we want people to remember is make sure you have them checked out by a certified chimney sweep to make sure they’re in good working condition before the heating season starts,” Craig explained.

One more thing, check your smoke detectors. Craig says over half of all residential fires they respond to, don’t have working smoke detectors.

The Green Bay Fire Department does offer free smoke alarms to residents who need them.

Holiday Joy To Veterans & Military Families Delivered

Local American Red Cross volunteers deliver holiday greetings through the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program to area VA Hospitals

Red Cross Volunteers Bev Schuelke, Janet Herter, Cliff Schuelke, and Sandy Hofler showing some of the holiday cards being handed out to the Veterans in King, WI. Photo By: Barbara Behling, American Red Cross

Holiday greetings made for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program were delivered to Veterans at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, Wisconsin today and at the Oscar G. Johnson facilities, in Iron Mountain, Michigan over the weekend. The King facilities are home to 675 former military service members, and the Veterans Assistance Program also houses 30 men and women.

The Holiday Mail for Heroes program provides Americans with the opportunity to send holiday greetings and a note of thanks to our men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Each year the Red Cross provides assistance to over two million service members and many of the nation’s 24 million veterans. At the core of the Service to the Armed Forces mission is the commitment to support military families, military and veterans hospitals and provide emergency communications across the globe.

Many community groups and schools throughout the region participated in this year’s program with more than 12,000 cards were created and signed with heart-warming messages. A special thank you is extended to the following groups who participated:

  • Franklin Elementary, Oshkosh
  • Shapiro Elementary, Oshkosh
  • Smith Elementary, Oshkosh
  • Johnston Elementary 3rd grade class, Appleton
  • Lincoln Elementary 3rd grade class, Appleton
  • Janet Berry Elementary 3rd grade class, Appleton
  • Appleton Christian School 1st grade class, Appleton
  • Little Chute Elementary 1st and 4th grade classes
  • Woodland Elementary 3rd Grade class, Kimberly
  • Park Elementary 1st through 4th grade classes, Kaukauna
  • 3rd Grade Religious Education class of Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac
  • Maplewood Middle School, Menasha
  • Florence High School, Florence, WI
  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Gymnastics Team
  • University of Wisconsin Green Bay students
  • UW Green Bay Red Cross Club
  • UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club
  • Valley Visiting Nurse Association, Neenah
  • First Congregational Church, Oshkosh
  • Faith United Methodist Church, Neenah
  • Many Boy and Girl Scout Troops throughout the area

 A special thank you goes to Miles Kimball in Oshkosh for donating 2,500 cards which were signed at local events in area malls, at craft shows and at area businesses.

 In addition, Pitney Bowes in Neenah collected & shipped more than 8,600 cards, which more than doubled their goal of 4,000 cards. The holiday cards will be distributed throughout the nation and to those serving overseas.

 About the Northeast Wisconsin Region: The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of four chapters serving 20 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Lakeland, Outagamie and Scenic Shores Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit www.NewRedCross.org

 About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

 

One Voice Through Social Media

We can text, twitter, post Facebook messages and use websites; so what is more important if you can’t do them all? With so many communication channels, did we stop communicating all together?  Are we over communicating? 

These are just a few of the questions Red Shoes PR, Inc. helped us navigate through. With their expertise, and guidance, we have launched NEWRedCross in several formats. They are shared resources so we speak with one voice to increase brand awareness, engage the community and increase volunteerism all while increasing the emotional connection to the American Red Cross.

Please join us on several social media sites under NEWRedCross, NEW stands for Northeast Wisconsin. If you can’t stop in to see us in person, please do join our viral applications. We look forward to connecting with you!

Wisconsin’s East Central Chapter Lends Hand to Veterans Assistance Program

Before

After

The Red Cross was founded on principles of supporting the military and their families, including veterans. Whether it be communications or emergency services, the military has found it can count on the Red Cross.There are many times when the Red Cross can say it has assisted the military or service men and women but rarely do we get to see the before and after of the efforts so clearly as we do with this latest effort to help veterans as with these pictures. When we here at the Lakeland Chapter saw what Wisconsin’s East Central Chapter had done for the Veteran’s Assistance Program in King, WI, we had to stop and say nicely done.

The room pictured is at the Veteran’s Assistance Center located at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home in King, WI. Because of the good relationship the Red Cross Waupaca office has with the facility, they were able to brainstorm with the facility’s staff to find a meaningful way to help. They took the dire room you see in the first picture and made it the comfortable, hopeful place you see in the second. It all started with an application for a grant and collaboration with the staff at the facility to see what the needs were.

The Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs established the Veterans Assistance Program (VAP) in 1994. It helps homeless veterans and those at-risk of becoming homeless receive the job training, education, counseling and rehabilitative services (such as alcohol and drug abuse treatment) they need to obtain steady employment, affordable housing and the skills to sustain a productive lifestyle.

“I was shocked when I went in there the first time,” says Paul Fruit, an Americorps member with the Red Cross . The room and donated furnishings were in a dilapidated state. “And it wasn’t going to change based on the funding they had.”

The average stay for veterans assisted by the program is 2 years so they think of it as their home. “They have given their time of service and they come back to something like that. Its nice to spruce it up a bit,” says Paul.

In October 2009 the local chapter received word from the National Red Cross that they received the grant and then work began.  The pictures say a lot but amazingly don’t tell the full story of transformation. Volunteers removed the old furniture and painted. The room also got new air conditioners and lighting plus a new laptop for the residents to use.  Final touches were made and pictures were hung for the project to be complete in March, 2010.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Veteran’s Affairs website the philosophy of the Veteran’s Assistance program is simple, “vets helping vets; a one-stop shop to access needed services; a structured environment with long days and hard work to rekindle the pride and confidence these men and women once used to defend our nation.”

This room is a more comfortable place to stop after a hard day’s work of rekindling pride and confidence all because of some hardworking people who saw a need and filled it.

Paul says no one who worked on the project saw it as a struggle or chore but as something that should be done. “I don’t think it was going to change and we had the opportunity to change it.”