Meet Kendall – Our New Disaster Cycle Services Intern

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

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Kendall enjoys traveling, concerts, jet skiing and spending time with her family and friends.

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

“I love to volunteer and help where I can. I have volunteered for several Hands on Oshkosh events where I was put with groups of people on campus and sent into the community to help certain organizations. I have also volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and I was an intern this past spring semester at the Oshkosh Seniors Center.  These volunteer opportunities have led me to work with diverse age groups and help with a variety of projects that were rewarding to see the impact that I can do to help.”

Although this is Kendall’s first time interning with the Red Cross, she has been aware of their mission and services for a while. When she was younger, she obtained her babysitting certification through the Red Cross. Now that Kendall is an intern with the Red Cross, she’s excited to assist in carrying out the mission, stating:

“The American Red Cross is an interest to me because I wish to help, inform, and be there for people and communities after a disaster has struck or to inform people with possible resources before a disaster occurs. I am really excited to see what I can learn and give during this summer internship.”

Post college Kendall plans to continue her education with a focus on social work . She then hopes to pursue a career in counseling, specifically helping those affected by disasters and trauma.

The Red Cross is grateful to have Kendall as an intern, and to be a part of her educational experience. To start volunteering like Kendall, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

My First Large Scale Disaster

By Jenny Berry, American Red Cross Disaster Services Intern

(left-right) Brenda Haney, Denis Davenport, Nick Cluppert and ME!

Can you believe it is only my second day interning with the American Red Cross and I have already been on a local disaster response call and now traveled to Platteville to be a part of a larger scale disaster operation. It all seems so surreal. I did not expect to gain this much experience in so little time.

On Thursday, I went with Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, and Maxine Klumb, disaster volunteer, to Platteville to observe the Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) that the Red Cross was opening with the help of community partners. We wanted to gain information on the MARC because the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter is looking to invite our local partners to information sessions come fall to educate the different partners on what a MARC is before a disaster strikes and we need to set one up. By doing this we will be able to provide information to community partners in the area and are able to demonstrate how they are a great resource for a community following a disaster.

When we first arrived we went to where the MARC was being held at Platteville’s High School. We were warmly welcomed by the American Red Cross Badger Chapter. Funny thing was that the first person I saw was a good family friend, Brenda Haney. Wow, it is small of a world! The Red Cross staff and Red Cross volunteers immediately filled us in the information we needed and much more about the MARC. I thought it was great with how much input we received. I think it will be very helpful when we create and setup a MARC come fall.  I also think that a MARC is a wonderful idea to have in times of a disaster because it makes it easier and more convenient for those who are suffering.

Some of the damage I saw as we toured the area.

Some of the damage I saw as we toured the area.

Volunteers, Brenda Haney and Diana O’Neill, invited us to go see the affected area. It was not until we reached the affected area when I realized how badly the area was hit. I understand that this was not a “major” disaster, but to me this was devastating. I still have crystal clear images of the damage that was caused to the homes of the community and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It is unbelievable how incredibly strong and destructive a natural disaster could be. When we arrived at the center of the scene I was in shock. Since I had never experienced or seen something even close to this, it took me a moment to take it all in. Nick, Maxine, Brenda, and Diane jumped right out of the Red Cross van without hesitation and went into action, going door to door of those affected. I then snapped out of it and jumped right out there with the others and started to help in our own little way by distributing information about the services provided by the MARC to those in the community that were affected by the disaster.

After that initial shock, it all started to come natural to me. In my opinion being able to lend a hand to even a few people is something that I have always aspired to do and to be. I now know that after even a few short days with interning with Red Cross so far, that I am meant to be helping others in any way that I can. It is beautiful to have been an observer of how the volunteers and staff of the Red Cross will travel and do anything possible to bring some light back into the lives and communities that are affected by emergencies and natural disasters. For someone who has had their eyes witness events that they have never seen before (house fire and community affected by tornado), I cannot say enough that the services provided by Red Cross is one of grave need in times of emergencies and natural disasters. Without a doubt in my mind, the Red Cross staff, volunteers, and community partners truly fulfill their mission and values which were one of the many things that drew me to the Red Cross.

My First Disaster Call

By Jenny Berry, American Red Cross Intern 

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Jenny Berry observing the two disaster team leads as they talk with the clients to determine their emergency needs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014, was my first day interning at American Red Cross in Oshkosh, WI and I would not have wanted my first day any other way!  I immediately felt welcome and at home with the American Red Cross especially after my boss, Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager for Territory 2, sent out a welcome email to staff and volunteers and the warm, kind and insightful welcome emails started to pour in. I even received my own desk and computer to work with during my time at the American Red Cross.

I spent most of my first day researching and updating information for community referrals as well as partnerships and hotels for the County Annexes.  I think that this is a great resource readily available for communities and individuals when a natural disaster occurs. I also helped Nick with filling out client information for a fake/mock case so Red Cross workers can gain more experience with how a case works, follow-up, and entering information into the new CAS 2.0 disaster intake system.

The environment in the office was so welcoming and engaging that I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time in the office brings! I have been given an amazing opportunity to learn and to grow with this organization and can’t wait to take it all in.

Towards the end of the day, I was asked to respond with the Disaster Action Team (DAT) to a fire that had happened the previous day in Winneconne in Winnebago County.  I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to get out in the field and gain some first-hand experience. I then received my American Red Cross vest and headed out for the call.

Disaster Volunteer, Dick Henderson, writing out our forms to assist clients in need.

Disaster Volunteer, Dick Henderson, writing out our forms to assist clients in need.

While riding with DAT Captain, Becky Tiles, I started to become very nervous and anxious because I did not know what to expect or exactly how to approach individuals when something so terrible like this happens to individuals. So basically, my mind was running in a million different directions before arrive at the scene. Thankfully, Becky calmed my nerves by preparing me for what to expect and giving me excellent advice for this type of experience. We then met another DAT responder, Dick Henderson, at a parking lot in Winneconne and road to the scene together.

When we got to the scene, I mainly observed how Becky and Dick were responding to the clients and the scene which is precisely how I wanted my first time out to be like. An event and scene like this is a lot to take in for a first-time responder so performing the paperwork and additional support would have been difficult to pursue. Personally and fortunately, I have never experienced any type of disaster so my heart sank for the clients. I was surprised at how well and how strong the clients were handling their situation, but I still wanted to snap my fingers and make everything better for them.  Knowing that snapping my fingers was an impossible task, we instead were able to provided assistance for food and clothing.

Even though, it may not seem like a lot, providing the littlest of assistance and alleviating the smallest of pain to those who suffer from a natural disaster or an emergency like this is something that is truly remarkable that the American Red Cross and the partners of American Red Cross are able to do.

I feel that we all hope that we will not have to go back out to another scene, but sadly, natural disasters cannot always be controlled. I am grateful and appreciative for being able to attend the scene with two individuals who offered their experience and knowledge so when the next time (praying there won’t have to be) comes I am one step closer to being able to respond full-force at the scene.

I am so thankful to be interning alongside a great organization that is filled with incredible individuals that are making first-hand differences in people’s lives. I am eager to continue to explore, participate, and learn more of what the American Red Cross and the individuals are doing to lend a helping hand to those in need.  I could not have imagined a better way to start my journey with the American Red Cross and excited to see where the journey heads next!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brenna Schobert

Monday, May 5th was the 8th Annual Celebration of Student Leadership event to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of UW Oshkosh Student leadership and organizations.

We are very proud of our UWO Red Cross Club in taking home honors of New/Emerging Organization of the Year and club member Brenna Schobert was awarded Emerging Volunteer of the Year.

Let us share with you a little more about Brenna, and why she deserved this award.

By Angie Dusenberry, UWO Red Cross Club President 

IMAG3371Brenna’s leadership style can be defined simply as “get up and go for it”. At the first Red Cross Club meeting, Brenna reached out to me right after with the hopes that she could get involved at a deeper level within the organization. Being fully aware of the challenge that this club was brand new to UWO, Brenna was ready to hit the ground running with passion and excitement to get this club going. She has kept that same mindset and drive throughout the course of the year.

As president of the club, I have looked to Brenna to fulfill many different aspects of the club and she does each of them whole heartedly. She is extremely versatile, and is always willing to step in wherever she is needed. At the beginning of the year, she willingly volunteered to become the Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) representative. That job quickly escalated to taking over the blood services portion of
the club, where she works directly with the American Red Cross to organize blood drives on campus and in the community. As if that wasn’t enough, Brenna has fallen into the role of becoming the spokesperson for the club members. I always look to her in terms of helping me with figuring out what the club members are looking to do next, and how they feel about various volunteer ideas and Red Cross courses. I can say with full confidence that Brenna is the main reason we have had such great club member
retention. On top of all of that, Brenna has established a new relationship with a campus fraternity (Delta Sigma Phi) that has allowed us to recruit more than 15 new volunteers for the club. With Brenna’s help, our club is now becoming largely known on this campus. Our club advisors and I look to Brenna to maintain that relationship to allow our club to grow year after year.

Brenna’s dedication to the American Red Cross goes so much further than her number of volunteer hours. The amount of time she dedicates to the club would probably be over 100 hours!

Let me remind you that Brenna is only a freshman! That kind of drive and passion for our organization’s success and the drive that she has to satisfy our club member’s needs and wants is something that definitely should be recognized. Brenna openly has stepped into a brand new, relatively unknown role with her headfirst and her heart followed right behind. She has definitely helped pave the way for this organization and I am confident that with her at the reigns we will continue to grow as the years come!

IMG_0895 group picIn Brenna’s own words:

“As a freshman, we all look for a good place to fit in on campus. I attended the first American Red Cross club meeting and knew that I could help them become the club they wanted to be. I felt very welcomed and encouraged to get involved. I applied for a board position and was granted it. Since then, my position has evolved into the Blood Drive Chair for the club. I work closely with the American Red Cross when they host drives here on campus. Because of the opportunities placed before me by the club I have discovered my potential as a leader and active member in my own club as well as others as we reach out to other organizations. We have recently started working with the Fraternity Delta Sigma Phi. We are hoping next year, they will be able to help us spread our club even further.

As an emerging club we have faced struggles such as no funding our first year, no storage space first semester and having a small amount of active members. However, we have proven our strength as a team. We have volunteered at multiple activities at Lambeau Field, Kings Veteran Home and on campus.

These activities include Holiday Mail for Heroes, Project Play 60, bingo and bowling with veterans and more. We reach such a variety of people and hope to continue on through the years. Joining this club was the best decision I made my first semester here. I enjoy every meeting and event and feel I have been able to expand my own interests and viewpoints on many subjects.”

 

Giving Back to our American Heroes

By: Kaitlyn Schmitt, UWO Red Cross Club, Service to Armed Forces Chair

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The UW Oshkosh American Red Cross Club joined Americorps Vet Corps and Adrianne Benson, Americorps Vet Corps member and Red Cross volunteer, to return to volunteer at King Veteran’s Home on March 16th. This time, we provided help with multiple activities. Half of the volunteers helped with a game of bingo and the other half went downstairs to the bowling alley for some rounds of bowling and snacks.

I volunteered with Bingo and I passed out prize quarters and collected bingo cards. We even had coffee and cookies for the Veterans. The Veterans got so excited when they won, and I heard a lot of them calling out their own numbers they needed to win. Bingo was very competitive. There was lots of great socialization and laughter heard in the room. I had several Veterans come up to me afterwards and thank me for being there. Then I thought, “Wow, we should be the ones thanking them for their service!” It was another incredible opportunity to give back to those who selflessly served us. UWO Red Cross member, Samantha Johnson, stated: “It’s a great feeling being able to give back to the veterans who risked their lives for our country.”

The bowling alley was full of excitement as well. The veterans definitely taught us younger volunteers how to bowl! It was exciting to see their faces as they knocked all the pins down.

UWO Red Cross President, Angie Dusenberry, exclaimed: “Bowling with the Veterans from King could not have been a more rewarding experience. It was heart-warming to be able to share the laughs and great experiences with the individuals who gave me my freedom – even if they did kick my butt in bowling!”

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members  Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

(l-r) UW Oshkosh Red Cross Club Members
Brenna Schobert , Angie Dusenberry, Kaitlyn Schmitt and Samantha Johnson.

The Veterans had a blast bowling and still have the skill. UWO Red Cross member, Brenna Schobert, expressed: “It was amazing to spend just a few hours giving back to those who gave up so much for our country. They are incredible people and I feel truly blessed to have helped to put a smile on their faces.”

Several of the veterans thanked us and said that they hope we return to volunteer again. We will definitely be returning for more fun-filled days with the veterans. Not only do we brighten their day, I know they brighten mine.

We enjoyed the stories, excitement, and camaraderie. We all walked away with smiles on our faces. This is the greatest generation and volunteering at the Veteran’s home is truly a blessing. I know I definitely leave King Veteran’s Home feeling inspired and happy. There is nothing greater than volunteering during American Red Cross month and “being a hero” to the true heroes in America’s hearts – the Veterans.