An Experience of a Lifetime – Tiffany Circle Summit 2015

Story and Photos by Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, WI Tiffany Circle, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter (BMH) Member

The Tiffany Circle was formed in 2006 to unite and engage a group of generous and highly-involved women to continue to ensure that the Red Cross has the ability to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life's emergencies.

The Tiffany Circle was formed in 2006 to unite and engage a group of generous and highly-involved women to continue to ensure that the Red Cross has the ability to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life’s emergencies. Visit the Tiffany Circle page to find out more information.

I don’t believe I have ever experienced such a delightful, passionate and generous gathering of women in my life! The American Red Cross Tiffany Circle Summit 2015, held recently in Washington, D.C., was all that, and more.

From the moment I checked in and gathered with some of the Circle Members in the Tai Pan Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I knew this was a very special group. Each person with whom I came in contact was genuinely interested in getting to know me, and helping me understand our Mission – whether that be Time, Talent or Treasure.

Washington DC offered an amazing setting for our events within the Summit. There were incredible speakers – who were both intelligent and entertaining – and, learning sessions, which were informative and focused. I found myself drawn into components within the Red Cross mission. I look forward to learning more about them, and getting more deeply involved.

I cannot think of a better way to ‘give back’ than through an organization of women who deeply care, are incredibly kind and generous, and passionate about their cause. I left the Summit thinking, “I have made friends from across the globe with whom I share so much in common!”

My only concern? The next Red Cross Tiffany Circle Summit is not until 2017!

For more information, Visit the Red Cross’ Tiffany Circle page.

Wisconsin Tiffany Circle members. Back row: Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, Patty Flowers; Front row: Sara Horein, Aymee Balison, LA Walker, Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara

Wisconsin Tiffany Circle members. Back row: Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, Patty Flowers; Front row: Sara Horein, Aymee Balison, LA Walker, Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara

he Tiffany Circle mission is to advance the American Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure by engaging women locally, nationally and internationally.

The Tiffany Circle works to advance the American Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure by engaging women locally, nationally and internationally.

Tiffany Circle Donates New Blood Services Van

“It’s been two years in the works, and it’s finally here!” exclaimed Aymee Balison, co-chair of the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle.  On April 14, 2015, members of the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle and their guests gathered at the chapter office in Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate the arrival of a new van for the American Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services region.

The Dodge Pro Master, purchased with donations made by Tiffany Circle members in the region, has been on the road since January.

Tiffany Circle members Beth Anderson, Patty Flowers, Aymee Balison, Sara Horein, Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer and Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara celebrate the new Blood Services van.

Tiffany Circle members Beth Anderson, Patty Flowers, Aymee Balison, Sara Horein, Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer and Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara celebrate the new Blood Services van.

The van is on the road nearly every day, carrying supplies to and from blood drives around the state. Eighty percent of the blood donations collected by Red Cross are given through mobile blood drives like these; they are critical in helping the Red Cross meet the nation’s need for blood.  And, the new van has made a big difference.  In just the four months it has been on the road, it has allowed the Red Cross to collect an additional 1,500 units of blood – red cells, plasma and platelets that are being used to help patients in Wisconsin and beyond.

This project was very personal for Aymee, whose mother lost her battle with Leukemia when she was only 50 years old.  Though her mother died very young, Aymee explained that she was very grateful that blood donations had helped extend her mother’s life.  She advocated that the Tiffany Circle take on this project so that they could help others in a similar situation.

Today, the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle boasts a membership of 17.  With this project now finished, the members are now in the process of determining what their next project will be.

Please visit our website to learn more about Tiffany Circle and American Red Cross Blood Services.

The new van in action!

The new van in action!

My Challenge Coin Giveaway

By Patty Flowers, CEO, Eastern Wisconsin Region

(l-r) Patty Flowers with Adrianne Benson holding the coin.

(l-r) Patty Flowers with Adrianne Benson holding the coin.

For nearly a century, military personnel have created personalized challenge coins to honor exceptional individuals.

History says that a World War I flying ace had medallions printed for his unit to recognize their loyalty.  One of these men was shot down in Europe and captured by the Germans.  He actually was able to escape only to be captured by the French who thought he was German.  By producing his coin, he proved what unit he was from and apparently saved his life because the French were going to execute him.  What a story!  Challenge coins have lived on throughout the years and are still used to this day to honor individuals.  Military personnel collect these coins as though they are badges of honor.

So how did I, a non-military person, have the privilege of giving away a challenge coin?  The Tiffany Circle is a society of women philanthropists who support the American Red Cross with a generous annual gift in support of many programs and services.  I am a member of Tiffany circle and each year in May there is a summit of women from across the country who gather in Washington DC to learn more about the Red Cross and network to further their Circles back home.  For the last two years at the summit meeting, all attendees received a coin with specific instructions challenging us to uphold this honored tradition by giving away the coin to an individual that is very deserving.  Since last May, I’ve carried my coin in my work bag always looking for just the right occasion to depart with it, until recently.

Please allow me to introduce Adrianne Benson who is in the photograph with me.  Adrianne is a Non-Commissioned Officer in Civil Affairs with the U.S. Army Reserve based in Green Bay.  In her 14 years with the Army she has worked with diverse populations, led humanitarian projects, and served as liaison for several government bodies.  She also served in Afghanistan.  In addition to serving in the military, she is raising a family, is an active volunteer in the community, and she is also attending University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh full-time to earn a Bachelor of Arts International Studies degree.  Through the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Adrianne is part of the AmeriCorps Vet Corps program and has accepted an internship with us through March of 2014.  We are delighted to have her helping with our Service to Armed Forces programs and know she will bring a new perspective that none of us can bring to the table.  Adrianne recently told the story of receiving holiday cards from the Red Cross while she was in Afghanistan.  She said she posted the cards on the wall above her bed and they made her smile because she knew someone in the U.S. was thinking of her.  The Holiday Mail For Heroes program is one that Adrianne will be working on while interning with us and she is proof that these cards make a difference!

I am very proud to give my coin to Adrianne and know that she will always cherish it in the spirit it was given.  Thank you for your service, Adrianne.  We all appreciate you.

Tiffany Circle: Following the Lead of so Many Great Women Before Them.

By Sherry Holmes, Tiffany Circle Director

SONY DSCFounding member of the Northeast Wisconsin Tiffany Circle chapter, Aymee Balison, held a reception at her home on Monday, April 15, to announce the 2013-14 project for the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle Chapters and to introduce Tiffany Circle to women leaders in the Green Bay area.

Tiffany Circle is a society of women leaders and philanthropists. These women follow in the footsteps of a long line of women leaders who have helped the Red Cross serve the American public in times of war and peace with disaster assistance, blood collection, safety training and countless other community assistance services. The Northeast Wisconsin Tiffany Circle Chapter is in its inaugural year.

To support Blood Services, the Eastern Wisconsin Tiffany Circle members are committing to raise funds to purchase a new Sprinter vehicle.  This vehicle will provide more opportunities for businesses, schools and organizations who want to sponsor blood drives at their location. For more information on Tiffany Circle, contact Sherry Holmes, 920-922-3450 or sherry.holmes@redcross.org.

Photo by: Women Magazine

To learn more about Aymee – Read her article in the latest addition of Women Magazine!

As a business owner and mother to four lovely daughters, Aymee Balison already has her hands full. But, Balison’s home and work juggle hasn’t stop her from getting deeply involved in area charities and maintaining the strong friendships she’s developed the last 15 years in Green Bay.