Alright, so this is sorta long, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. A little back story… I love all Red Cross volunteers. They are an amazing group of selfless individuals that make all of our work possible, but every once in a while, I meet a volunteer that I just fall in love with. Paula is one of those, and if I could steal her from Chattanooga then I so would! (Be warned Tennessee! Ha!) Paula is compassionate, fun, lively and just exudes joy, but you will see that after you read my many words. (Again, so sorry.)
Prepare to feel warm and possibly fuzzy…
Volunteer Paula Coll, of Tennessee, considers central Illinois her second home. Paula, a Red Cross client representative, spent weeks along the Illinois River assisting after the historic flooding last spring and fell in love with the people she met. “I could just wrap you all up, put you in my pocket and take you home to Chattanooga,” said Paula. “Central Illinois has some of the best people I have ever met.”
When Paula heard her beloved home away from home was hit by a catastrophic tornado in November, she let her local chapter in Tennessee know immediately that she was available to come help. Just days after the tornado hit, Paula walked through the Central Illinois Chapter’s doors to report for duty.
In Paula’s role at the Red Cross, she gets to know those affected by disasters on a personal level. This enables her to be able to tailor the assistance to their specific needs and situation. Many times though, volunteers like Paula walk away being moved to tears and forever changed after hearing the stories. The first family Paula met with in Washington was such a case. Read the rest of this entry
March is a time of hope and renewal. It’s also Red Cross Month. Since 1943, the U.S. President has proclaimed March as a time for the nation to support the work of the Red Cross.
That’s why this month we are celebrating the everyday heroes – our friends, neighbors, and family members – who dedicate their time to keep our communities safe year round. Whether they’re providing first aid training, responding to a house fire, or serving meals to families affected by emergencies, they make every month brighter.
And by reading this, you’re a hero, too. Every Red Cross friend makes it possible for us to prevent and relieve suffering around the country and communicate our mission to our community. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Red Cross Month and become a local hero with the Red Cross by signing up for a class, making an appointment to give blood, becoming a local volunteer, preparing your family for disasters down the road or supporting local Red Cross services.
Happy Red Cross Month!
Post from Ben Corey, Communications Program Manager, American Red Cross Blood Services
During Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross invites everyone to make a difference in their communities by giving blood, volunteering, taking a class or making a financial donation. Those supporters enable the Red Cross to continue to help people in need like the Roux family.
Jenny Roux’s son, Blake, was born with a rare and serious chromosome disorder that causes multiple abnormalities. Jenny and Blake both received two pints of blood the day he was born. For Blake, that marked the first of many transfusions. Jenny said she knew her time with him would be short, but she credits multiple blood transfusions with helping extend his life.
“Without the blood transfusions, I don’t know that he would have even had the 10 months we had with him,” she said. Read the rest of this entry
Message from Anne M. Fox, Regional CEO
This month we continued our work to provide Red Cross assistance to those affected by the devastating tornadoes of November 17th, 2013. We are currently working with about 1,000 families and individuals to meet their unmet recovery needs. The incredible generosity of caring individuals and corporations makes our work possible. The Red Cross received approximately $5.5 million designated for the Illinois tornadoes and will spend all of it in the affected communities. Our goal is to spend 90% of the funds in the first 12 months, and we are pleased to report that even before we reached the 90 day mark after the disaster, we spent or committed more than 50%, or nearly $3 million, on emergency relief and tornado recovery efforts in the state. Read the rest of this entry
We spent the whole weekend house hunting, and, man, is that exhausting. I have lived here my entire life yet I think I have seen more of central Illinois in the last 48 hours than ever before. There were many homes that we didn’t get to see, though, because of flooded roads. I was so happy when the snow was finally melting, but it melted a little too fast for the frozen ground. We encountered a lot of flooded roadways, and being the good Red Crosser that I am, we did not attempt to drive through.
After driving over 150 miles in a Sunday afternoon, we were finally home. My overworked and almost dead phone was very happy to be on the charger after a day of home searching and Google mapping. And, I was elated to settle in for the season finale of Downton Abbey. Before bed, I saw that I missed a call from my good friend and our local Preparedness Health & Safety Training Specialist, Traci Johnston. Since it was late, I just texted to see what she needed. This morning, I received this response, “I will be late this morning. We totaled my car but we are okay. It is a crazy story. I have to get a rental and then we will be in”.
When Traci finally made it to work, she was greeted with a wild-eyed Erin. I was so worried about what happened and wanted to hear the story. This is what she told me…
The other day late afternoon as I was getting ready to leave the office, I was just talking in the lobby. All of a sudden I was approached by a volunteer that had a lady on the phone that just wanted to tell someone her story about how great the Red Cross is. Normally, Erin would have taken this call because she is head Communication Director for the region. However, Erin left early that day and I was the only communications person left in the building. So, I went into the room and answered the phone.
This lady began to tell me all about what the Red Cross has done for her and her family. She told me that since day one, the Red Cross has been there for her. On the day of, the Red Cross was there providing water and for over a week they were providing sack lunches/meals that to her tasted very good. She also mentioned that volunteers come by and check on her and the family quite often still and always ask if there is anything that she needs.
I have been lucky enough to intern with multiple different organizations during my time in college. Each opportunity has taught me something different, and I continue to grow with each passing experience. But, there is always something that is the same across every experience: learning the norms of a new office.
The first few weeks are always the most interesting, as you try to figure the ins and outs of the space. I’ve already struggles to figure things out in my time here. Here are a few examples of things that have already happened to me here at the Red Cross:
I am on a roll. I have been on a quest these last few months to get healthy, and part of this journey is the gym. I have never been a workout kinda girl but I found myself joining the ranks of health nuts… I can’t wait to go to the gym. On my days off, I wake up, take a swig of coffee, throw on my trusty Red Cross hat (to cover the unwashed hair) and venture out. I even plan my workouts around the perfect playlist of motivating, high-energy songs. I am a little obsessed really.
Today, I was at the gym donning the hat and rocking out to Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup during my cool down on the exercise bike when a man tapped my shoulder.
“Holy crap!” Yeah, that’s what I said. Not my most eloquent moment, but he startled me. I popped out my headphones and said, “I’m sorry, can I help you?” I thought he was impatient and wanting the bike.
He said, “I am sorry to bother you, but I was just curious… Do you volunteer at the Red Cross?” I responded with a quizzical, “Yes, and I also work there.” The man smiled and said, “I thought so. I live in Washington and I lost my home when the tornado hit. I think you were my angel at the shelter that Sunday.”
To be honest, it was sweet, but I didn’t remember him. That day is a blur. Sure, I was at the shelter, and I talked to a lot of people, but I didn’t remember doing anything angelic. I was at a loss for what to say, and he must have noticed because he took pity on me and reminded me… Read the rest of this entry
I was gone from the Red Cross for a short six months, but now I am back! Yesterday was my first day and I am so glad to be back working here again, this time as the Disaster Communications Lord (as Erin calls me). I was thrown right into the mix yesterday and have to learn quickly. It certainly was a day filled with information, as well as doing some listening to stories about the recent tornado disaster here in Central Illinois.
I spent most of yesterday learning about the Red Cross’ Disaster Recovery, but also about the other form of Long-Term Recovery for individuals. I personally went to Washington and observed a few tornado representatives who were helping clients with long-term recovery. These representatives were working with clients that have been affected by the tornado. Individuals who are confused, exhausted, who don’t know the process or its next steps, or those that simply just want someone to talk to and hear their story. Most of these clients come in with great attitudes and are just appreciative of any help that they can receive to help with this disaster. Read the rest of this entry
Ugh… for real they are talking about more snow again. This morning, this is the first thing I saw in my newsfeed on Facebook.
While I have been a Midwesterner my whole life, and snow is to be expected in winter, I am sick of named winter storms and the term “polar vortex”. The arctic just needs to keep their cold air up north! This winter seems to be dragging on endlessly and Nika (the next winter storm) is supposed to visit here tomorrow and leave 6-8+ MORE inches of snow. For real????
I miss… Read the rest of this entry