April Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Kohler

Linda KCongratulations to Linda Kohler, of Larson, on being named one of the April 2015 American Red Cross Volunteers of the Month!

Linda joined the Red Cross in November of 2010. “I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to get out of the house, but continued to volunteer because of the staff at the Red Cross,” explained Linda.

Volunteering about 12 hours per week, Linda supports the front desk at both the Oshkosh and Waupaca offices. As her nominator, Nick Cluppert, wrote, “Linda is always willing to help however she can. She puts on a smile and welcomes everyone that comes to the office. Linda is always eager to take on special projects from staff to help out by making phone calls, researching information and putting together packets of information for upcoming activities. If it was not for our front desk volunteers, our small staff would have a difficult time getting these things done. Linda really helps the office function smoothly and offers different perspectives on how things might be able to get accomplished.”

Linda’s work impacts the value of Red Cross every day. Not only is Linda a valuable resource for staff, but an important welcoming face of the organization. Nick explained, “Linda has a great sense of humor that she brings to the office every time she comes in. If anyone is having a bad day you can bet that Linda will bring a smile to your face. Linda is also very good at working with the clients and guests that come into our offices.”

“My favorite part of volunteering is being able to help people that need it. The staff makes me feel like I am part of their team and I feel really at home. Every day I’m here is a memorable moment even with the little things that happen. I would definitely recommend volunteering with the Red Cross. It will enrich your life and make a big difference, just as it has mine!” – Linda Kohler

Thank you, Linda, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact Volunteer Services at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

Shouldn’t Every Week Be National Volunteer Week?

WEYERS_03By: Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communications Director

Today starts National Volunteer Week! It seems like it always sneaks up on me and then I scramble to think….oh my gosh…. What am I going to do to recognize our volunteers??? This year, I am not stressing about it because it should not be about recognizing our volunteers during this week – we should be recognizing and thanking our volunteers all year long!!

Recognition comes in many different forms, and volunteers value recognition in different ways.  A verbal thank you, a hand written note, a little token of appreciation, a birthday/anniversary card, a formal recognition event.  All of these ideas are great ways to say thank you. What do you perceive as gratitude of thanks? There is no right or wrong answer, which is why volunteer recognition must be a mixed bag of showing gratitude.

Here is a list of some of my  top 10 ways to show appreciation and recognition all year long to our volunteer work force:

1. Always say Thank YOU!

2. Have a smile on your face when working with volunteers. Volunteers are coming into your organization to help others. They don’t want to hear you complain about your co-workers, other volunteers or problems in your life.

3. Create a comfortable working environment or create their own space to call home.

4. Send a birthday card. Go one step further and have it signed by all your staff and other volunteers they may work with.

5. Recognize anniversary dates.

6. If you see an article about that volunteer (or donor) cut it out and send it to them with a note of congratulations.

7. If you know about a loss of a family member, illness, or if they are just going through a hard time – send them a note of encouragement, a single flower, cup of coffee….. just a simple thing to let them know you are thinking of them during this time.

8. Comment on a volunteers Facebook page with “Great job today” or “Thank you for volunteering”. This also shows their friends and family the good work they are doing within your organization.

9. Show interest and get feedback. Ask volunteers “Are there ways we can improve things, how can we improve your volunteer work, etc?

10. Provide a name badge or some type of logo apparel.

Beside the last one, none of these tips cost much to an organization. The thing is this cannot just be the culture of the Volunteer Department.  To be extremely effective, this should be the culture of your entire organization.

On this week and EVERY WEEK I want to say thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time, energy, blood and support to the American Red Cross. We could not do it without you!

Red Cross Responds to Southern Spring Storms and Rising Red River in North Dakota

Red Cross Disaster efforts span 13 states in just the past week

Dempsey Brady and his family gathered in the hallway as the storms from Monday night ripped through the Ellisville, MS area. They were safely in the hallway when the storm tore the roof off of their home. They were very thankful for the Red Cross visiting with them to meet their immediate emergency needs.

Today, the American Red Cross is responding across the South after severe spring storms affected hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina. At the same time, Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground in North Dakota and Minnesota as the Red River continues to rise. In fact, since late March, the Red Cross has played a role in 14 disaster events in 13 states across the nation.

“Red Cross workers are helping people across the South whose homes were damaged by the recent storms, or who have no power to stay warm or cook meals for their family,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “At the same time we have trained workers and relief supplies in place in North Dakota and Minnesota, supporting the local volunteers who are fighting to protect their neighborhoods from the rising Red River.”

Wild spring storms damaged homes, downed trees and cut out power overnight in many areas of the South. Red Cross chapters opened shelters to offer people a safe place to stay and deployed disaster teams and response vehicles throughout the damaged communities. Red Cross workers are feeding emergency responders and people affected by the storms, and distributing items to help residents clean up the storm damage.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has set up headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota to provide meals and mental emotional support as the Red River threatens to overflow its banks. More than 50 Red Cross disaster workers are either on the ground already, or en route to the Red River Valley. Ten Red Cross emergency vehicles have been deployed to the area to help with mobile feeding and distribution of clean-up items and basic necessities like toothbrushes and soap. The Red Cross has already served more than 157,000 meals in support of sandbagging efforts.

April’s severe weather has kept Red Cross disaster workers busy. This latest disaster response comes on the heels of the Red Cross assisting people in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Texas where wildfires burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes and forced people to evacuate from their neighborhoods. The Red Cross opened shelters for those who had to leave their homes and provided food and refreshments for emergency responders.

Red Cross disaster workers were also on the scene in Florida after tornadoes, thunderstorms, high winds and flooding damaged homes and left thousands without power. Red Cross chapters throughout the state responded, opening shelters, providing food and drinks for emergency responders, and deploying emergency vehicles to distribute clean-up items to those affected by the storms.

The American Red Cross responds to as many as 200 disasters a day in the United States. This assistance helps people affected by larger emergencies such as the severe weather occurring across the country, or a family whose home is destroyed by fire. The Red Cross also continues to help the people of Japan and support the residents of Haiti. If you would like to help, you can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999. You can also mail your contribution to your local chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.       

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.