“Hey, Don’t Freak Out!”

 

For Denise Parker hitting ‘send’ to her husband Anthony Parker, who is stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and serving in the US Coast Guard, was a scary proposition. Upon opening his email, he knew the next words would not be good. Thankfully, seven days after the Northern Wisconsin floods, he can chuckle about it “that’s the best she could do?” he smiled a sheepish grin knowing his wife experienced a harrowing experience and her life may have been in danger. Through the support of the American Red Cross, Services to Armed Forces Emergency Communications program, he was by her side as the reality of several feet of water in their home set in.

On July 11th, more than a foot of rain fell with several inches of rain in just over an hour. The babbling streams turned into torrent rivers, washing away roads and scaring the landscape adjacent to majestic Lake Superior.

As the water rose above her ankles, Denise knew she and the pets were in trouble. She called 9-1-1. They traveled three separate routes but could not reach her; they retreated. She felt alone.  Via Facebook, her mother was able to reach a gentleman nearby with a ‘pick-up’ truck. She was rescued, with no time to spare, after she waded through chest deep water. In each hand, she carried a five-pound pet. The Great Dane wanted nothing to do with the water outside and refused to swim so he was left in the home. Her eyes filled with tears as she shared the thought of him drowning as the Marengo River now ran through her home.

Once safe, she sent an email to her husband serving on the USS Alex Haley. Fortunately, the ship was coming into dock.

She also reached out to her local American Red Cross, like she had done twice before to reach her husband serving abroad throughout the course of his career. In each instance, the Red Cross validated the emergency – a father’s illness and her surgery – for the commanders and in each instance; he was granted emergency leave to be with his family.

“Hey, don’t freak out. I’m o.k. that’s what is most important. The house is under water and the rabbits died.”  As he says, “Don’t freak-out is the best she could do? She also didn’t say the water was up-to the steering wheel in my 2010 F-150 truck.”  She retorts, “I could have died last night.” They can smile about it now.

For Red Cross responder, Marilyn Skrivseth, this case struck a similar cord as her first contact with the Red Cross when her brother was serving oversees and the Red Cross made an emergency connection.  At first, she worked with the Parkers on the phone to begin casework.

She also encouraged them to visit the Multi-Agency Resource Center for cleaning supplies, bottled water and to garner referrals for assistance. Upon arrival, they received bottled water, cleaning supplies, bleach and more material goods. What they also received was contacts for a “muck-out” team which helps families remove the water, sludge, drywall and personal items.  Any soft material will be destroyed.  Knowing he has a short emergency leave, the race is on to recover from this disaster. Thankfully, due to the Red Cross support, they are not alone.

By: Barbara Behling

Photos: Marilyn Janke

 

You’re Invited to the 9th Annual Heroes Musicales Extravaganza!

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Beautiful Waushara county isn’t just for antiquing, water activities, quaint restaurants and lovely family-run B & B’s and hotels, we’re the center of the musical world on Saturday, April 30th. Especially if you like world-class musicians, delicious hors d’oeuvres, refreshments and more than 200 silent auction treasures, please join us at the 9th Annual Heroes Musicales at the log home of American Red Cross volunteers Vicki & John Jenks just west of Wild Rose. Three Musicales (mini concerts) from Wisconsin’s Best Bluegrass Band,  a trio back by popular demand who are NPR ‘regulars’ plus a Carnegie Hall pianist and Chicago’s finest harpist will delight your senses. This volunteer driven event has the local support of businesses, organizations, churches and philanthropic citizens alike. Proceeds from the day support Disaster Relief & Education along with Services to Armed Forces!

Heroes Musicales line-up:

  • 11:00a.m. Features the down-home, authentic sound of Wisconsin’s Best Bluegrass Band, Art Stevenson & High Water.  Heard on bluegrass radio programs around the USA, they’ve received critical acclaim in Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Now industry publications.
  • 1:30p.m. Harmonious Wail is “back by popular demand!”  National Public Radio ‘regulars’ and the recipient of countless MAMA and Isthmus Readers Polls, the Wail features “smoldering vocals and an infectious blend of continental jazz, swing, and folk music.”
  • 4:00p.m. Carnegie Hall virtuoso pianist, Jodie DeSalvo and Chicago’s finest harpist, Faye Seeman.  Their “Made in America” show will include Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and so much more!

The Heroes Musicales were conceived by John & Vicki Jenks nine years ago as a way to marry their passion for music and the communities need for disaster relief and education programs. Since then, this event has grown with outstanding support from Waushara, Green Lake, Marquette and Waupaca County disaster volunteers along with this year’s sponsors:  Badger Mining Corporation, Farmers State Bank, 1st National Bank, Martz Insurance, Waupaca Foundry, Brakebush Brothers, Krause Foundation, Mt. Morris Holden WELCA. All Saints CCW, Anita & Lawrence Mielke Memorial Fund, John Gusmer, Jackie King, Rose Wendt, and Rick & Joni Parks.

Seats are limited and always sell-out! Reserve your seats now at just $35 per person/per musicale. To order, please email Vicki Jenks at vickipjenks@gmail.com or call 920-231-3590.

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Welcome Vet Corp Intern, Michelle Meuer!

John Kost, Service to the Armed Forces State Manager

Michelle MWe are excited to announce Red Cross Wisconsin has added to its Service to the Armed Forces team, Vet Corp Intern, Michelle Meuer

“I am 29. I was in the National Guard for nine years as a member of the 1157th Transportation Company out of Oshkosh. I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and performed convoy security. I have been married for 6 years and met my husband in Iraq. Our first date was at pizza hut at one of the FOB’s (forward operating base)! I was a Medical Assistant for four years and have returned to UW Oshkosh to receive my Bachelors in Nursing.

Michelle joins us from AmeriCorps’ Vet Corps program at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. During her time in the Guard she earned the rank of Sergeant and served on two overseas deployments, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, conducting convoy and convoy security missions.

She is Medical Assistant and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) trained and currently in her second year at UW-Oshkosh pursuing admission to its College of Nursing.

Her focus in Service to the Armed Forces is to partner with State of Wisconsin Veteran Homes at King (Waupaca County) and Union Grove (Milwaukee County) to grow our staff of volunteers and participation in programs that assist veterans.

Welcome Michelle to the American Red Cross!

 

Bridging the Generation Gap Through Volunteering

By Kaitlyn Schmitt, UW-Oshkosh Red Cross Club Member and Service to Armed Forces Chair

11045509_409289322566098_3802830992405436313_nOn Sunday, March 8th, members from the UWO American Red Cross Club visited King Veterans Home and assisted with Bingo with the veterans. This was the club’s third time volunteering with our heroes at King. We assisted the veterans to their seats, and once we heard someone yell “Bingo,” we checked their cards and handed out prize quarters. When the veterans entered the room and saw us, they got so excited to see a young group of caring and dedicated women who want to make an impact in the lives of our nation’s true heroes.

UWO American Red Cross Club member, Courtney Gussert stated: “It was a great time at King Veterans Home as many of the veterans along with the women instantly had a smile on their faces when they entered the bingo room and saw us.  There was tension in the air during bingo as you could tell how competitive some of the veterans got to win a quarter.  It was eye-opening to see the beautiful location on the water along with the high-tech underground transportation system.  Volunteering here was a fun experience which I hope UWO American Red Cross Club decides to do again!” Ali Sommerfeldt also noticed the smiles of the veterans and stated: “There were many times when I would catch a resident’s eye while we were playing bingo and they would just beam over at me. It is the best feeling knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s day just by spending a few hours with them.”

Rachael Carlson recounted: “I thought that it was an amazing experience to be with a generation we’ve heard so much about. In school, we learn what these people have been through. But it’s not every day that you get the chance to socialize with them. This experience really showed me how happy people can get from little things like bingo and quarters, and reminded me that it’s the little things in life that matter.”

Getting to talk with the veterans was very eye-opening and it was amazing to put a smile on these incredible people’s faces. I feel extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity to spend time with such an amazing group of individuals – those who selflessly served our country for the freedom that we have today and who have given so much for others. It is an incredible feeling spreading hope and joy to the veterans and making a positive impact in their lives. Seeing the excitement and gratitude on their faces makes what I do all worthwhile. Club member, Brooke Trzebiatowski, also enjoyed the experience and exclaimed: “Going to the veteran’s home was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed how excited all of the residents got because we were there to help, and it was really cool to see the place! I would love to go again! They were a blast to be around!”

These veterans, who have served our country, make us honored to serve them. Nicole Knudtson expressed: “I loved helping out with bingo today! The veterans all seemed to have a good time and their excitement when they got bingo made my day. Several veterans thanked us for our service at the end, and I wish I would have thanked them all for theirs. We did just one simple task, but they did so much for us!”

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Volunteering at King was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to more opportunities volunteering with these brave men and women again in the future. It is always heartwarming to see the impact that I have on individuals – especially those that helped give us our freedom. This month is Red Cross month, and I feel absolutely honored to be a part of the American Red Cross commitment to providing services to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Getting involved with the American Red Cross was the best decision that I have ever made, and I am blessed to be able to do so much for Services to the Armed Forces and see the immeasurable power of volunteering positively impact our American heroes.

Services to the Armed Forces: Volunteers Needed

Red Cross SAFDo you like to talk with and help people through trying times and adversity?  Have a military background, or an inner desire to commit to helping military families?  If you do, consider applying to serve as a volunteer Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) Chapter Caseworker.

SAF Chapter Caseworkers are a team of local volunteers, working in partnership with SAF National Emergency Communication Call Centers, to provide post-emergency support to military families who have sent an emergency message to a service member or sought emergency financial assistance with a Military Aid Society.

Training:  Training program consists of 6-8 hours total online and self study course work plus one week casework mentorship.

Commitment: After successful completion of training, approximately 6-8 hours per week per month needed to call, talk, and work with military families during the hours of 9:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Skills Needed: Good listening and interviewing skills, ability to handle confidential information and maintain confidentiality, basic computer skills (MS Office), good oral and written communication skills, and appreciation for military culture and military families.

Resources Needed: telephone, computer with an internet connection, and e-mail.

Have Questions?  Contact John Kost, SAF Regional Director, 920.733.4481, john.kost@redcross.org.

 Interested? Click HERE to sign up to become a Red Cross SAF Volunteer!

Local Red Cross Encourages Public to Send Holiday Greetings to America’s Heroes

“Holiday Mail for Heroes” Mailbox Open Through December 7

While military deployments and hospital stays may keep many of our nation’s heroes away from their families this holiday season, the American Red Cross is collecting and distributing cards that send words of encouragement, gratitude and cheer.

Between now and December 7, Americans can give something that means something by sending a card of thanks and support to members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

“Holiday Mail for Heroes is an excellent way for America to remain connected with service members deployed overseas under combat conditions.  Simple and nice, these cards convey the message that we still care about the sacrifices our service men and women make on a daily basis. This program is more important now than ever before,” stated Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Roy Krueger, who is also a Red Cross Services to Armed Forces volunteer.

We encourage you to make this a family activity, a school project or a civic group event, or participate in one of your areas card making events such as the Sunday, November’ 4th Packer’s Game and the Packer’s Holiday Blood drive on Wednesday, November 14, from 7a.m – 7 p.m. in the Lambeau Field Legends Room.

The Red Cross is inviting the public to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer until December 7 by mailing them to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Pitney Bowes Inc. receives cards at the special Holiday Mail post office box, and screens them for hazardous materials. Pitney Bowes screens, packages and ships the cards at no charge, and contributes thousands of volunteer hours at sites around the country. The local Pitney Bowes office in Neenah will also accept cards through November 30th.

A new drop-off location this year is at National Exchange Bank locations where they will collect the cards up-to the first week of December and ship them to the P.O. Box.

This is the third year Miles Kimball’s, based in Oshkosh, has supported the program with a donation of 10,000 printed cards! Cards will be available at community events for signing.

Red Cross volunteers across the United States and on military installations overseas then sort and deliver the cards throughout the holiday season. The Red Cross and Pitney Bowes have received and distributed more than 4.7 million cards for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families since the program began in 2006. Locally, the goal is collect at least 20,000 cards and distribute 10,000 cards to local Veteran clinics and hospitals and through Veteran groups. The Red Cross will schedule volunteers to assist in the sorting and delivery of cards.

To ensure that cards are delivered in time for the holidays, they must be postmarked no later than December 7. Individuals are asked to refrain from sending “care packages,” monetary donations, or using glitter or any other kinds of inserts with the cards. More information and card requirements are at redcross.org/holidaymail..

The public can connect with fellow card senders through Facebook at facebook.com/redcross and Twitter.com/redcross using the hashtag #holidaymail.

The Red Cross relies on the support of the American people to carry out its mission of service to the 2 million members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 24 million veterans and their families. During this holiday season, people also can support all Red Cross services by making a financial donation at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS. Individuals can also give the gift of life by making an appointment to give blood at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

About our Holiday Partners

During this holiday season, the American Red Cross is grateful for the support of our corporate partners that generously contribute to our Holiday Giving Campaign. They include:  University of Phoenix, Circle K West Coast Division, and the Community Safety Foundation, funded by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange. Thanks to the generosity of these and other sponsors, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies everyday here and around the world. Each holiday season the Red Cross gives everyone the chance to support our work by giving blood, signing a card for military heroes or buying a gift through our holiday catalog. To support the Red Cross this Holiday Season, visit www.redcross.org/holiday

 

We Are Looking for Volunteers to join our Service to the Armed Forces Program

At times of emergency, Service to Armed Forces (SAF) provides the communication link between armed forces personnel wherever they may be and their family members at home. Our Red Cross worldwide emergency communications network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By calling 877-272-7337 we can help you or your family with emergency messages regarding the death or serious illness of a family member, the birth of a child, or other family emergencies.

The American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces can provide a service member and their commander with fast, reliable information to help make decisions regarding emergency leave. The SAF collaborates with the military aid societies in providing financial assistance when an urgent personal or family crisis arises.

Hundreds of Red Cross chapters brief departing service members and their families regarding available support services and explain how the Red Cross may assist them during the deployment. Both active duty and community based military can count on the Red Cross to provide emergency communications that link them with their families back home, access to financial assistance, counseling and assistance to veterans.

Learn more about our SAF services by watching this short video.

Want to to join this team? Contact John Kost, Services to Armed Forces Director
at 920-733-4481 or john.kost@redcross.org