Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Three Questions"... with Red Cross Volunteer Carlos Menendez

"Three Questions” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.


Carlos Menendez, a retired Corrections Officer, joined the American Red Cross in Greater New York last year after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. He spent several months volunteering in the Service Center set by NYC to help residents affected by the fall hurricanes arriving in New York City, before being deployed to Puerto Rico to do disaster assessment. He now serves the Metro NY North Chapter as a volunteer in multiple capacities.

What inspired you to join the Red Cross?

Hurricane Maria hit on my birthday, September 20th of 2017, and I said to myself, “Why on my birthday?” I’m watching the news, and I see the destruction and thought, "I can’t sit here and not do anything." Really for the life of me I couldn’t. I could not sit there and not get up and help. I’ve always been like that. My heart just went out for the people...I had always known the Red Cross to do things for people because when my sister died in 1971, I was in the military, and the Red Cross was able to reach me with the news. So when I saw the destruction [in Puerto Rico], I felt that the Red Cross had helped me in the past, so I wanted to be somebody that could help somebody else.

Can you tell me about your experience working in the Harlem Service Center?

I went to the Service Center for the refugees that were coming in from Puerto Rico. I went there as a volunteer to help, and I ended up staying for four months. I stayed. I was there October, November, December and January. And then January is when I deployed to Puerto Rico, and I didn’t get back until February.

When I was in the Service Center, I helped one man who had open heart surgery about a month before and was sleeping in a two-bedroom apartment with eleven people. He was sleeping on the floor, and he was in his 80s. And through the FEMA TSA [Temporary Shelter Assistance] program, I was able to help get him a hotel room. And while I was at the Service Center, I was able to help house close to 40-50 families through that FEMA program. I had another girl that I housed – she had three kids, one of them was autistic – and she had nowhere to go. I made referrals for mental health and medical services, and we were able to house her in a hotel down in the city.

I was rewarded by seeing people being able to continue with their lives. Some people lost everything and don’t know how to deal with it. If I could be that one little thing that could help them move on and help them start their lives over again, then I have to do it. So in the four months I developed a rapport with everyone around me where they were coming to me with questions.

Carlos, alongside former NYC Council Speaker Melissa
Mark-Viverito (L) and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
Can you tell me about your experience being deployed to Puerto Rico?

To me it was a privilege to go to Puerto Rico and do disaster assessment there. I was there for a month. I went into the mountains, areas that were maybe 1,500 feet above sea level. And I saw the destruction in the mountains. When people see you, they’re so loving. I don’t know how to explain it. You go into somebody’s house and right away they want to feed you. They want to feed you with the little they have. And I would say, “No, no, it’s ok.” I went to one elderly couple that had nothing. They lived on the side of the mountain and they farmed off the side of that mountain. Their whole crop, everything, was lost. They had no water, no lights.

The American Red Cross in Greater NY deployed dozens of volunteers like Carlos to Puerto Rico to support Hurricane Maria relief efforts. Dozens more volunteered with us at the Service Center in Manhattan. To learn more about American Red Cross relief in Puerto Rico, read the one-year update.

Monday, September 17, 2018

In Case You Missed It - Sept 17

Greater NY Red Crossers deployed to the Carolinas for Hurricane Florence Relief. (Photo: Vivian Moy)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 61 adults and 19 children following 30 disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Sept 18, 21, 22: Red Cross blood drives will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Greater NY Red Cross building located at 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan and other locations. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Oct 10: Join us for the annual American Red Cross: Heroes Among Us gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom to celebrate the civic leaders and heroic individuals who embody our humanitarian mission. 
  • Nov 4: The American Red Cross Greater New York Region is proud to Run for the Red in November at the TCS New York City Marathon. Come be a part of Team Red Cross and sign up by Thursday, September 13! Space is limited, so secure your spot today! For more information, contact Bob Estremera at NYCmarathon@redcross.org or 212-875-2091.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

In Case You Missed It - Sept 10

"Touch a Truck" Community Event at Brentwood Library
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 157 adults and 60 children following 57 disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Sept 11, 14, 17: Red Cross blood drives will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Greater NY Red Cross building located at 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan and other locations. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Oct 10: Join us for the annual American Red Cross: Heroes Among Us gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom to celebrate the civic leaders and heroic individuals who embody our humanitarian mission. 
  • Nov 4: The American Red Cross Greater New York Region is proud to Run for the Red in November at the TCS New York City Marathon. Come be a part of Team Red Cross and sign up by Thursday, September 13! Space is limited, so secure your spot today! For more information, contact Bob Estremera at NYCmarathon@redcross.org or 212-875-2091.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

In Case You Missed It - Sept. 4

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 56 adults and 29 children following 36 disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities.

On Tuesday night a group of area kids were honored at Yankee Stadium
 for their support of local blood drives this summer.
Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Sept. 4, 6 and 7: Red Cross blood drives will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Greater NY Red Cross building located at 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan and other locations. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Oct. 10: Join us for the annual American Red Cross: Heroes Among Us gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom to celebrate the civic leaders and heroic individuals who embody our humanitarian mission. 
  • Nov. 4: The American Red Cross Greater New York Region is proud to Run for the Red in November at the TCS New York City Marathon. Come be a part of Team Red Cross and sign up by Thursday, September 13! Space is limited, so secure your spot today! For more information, contact Bob Estremera at NYCmarathon@redcross.org or 212-875-2091. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In Case You Missed It - Aug 27

Red Cross Fire Safety Teams in Brooklyn educating residents about fire safety after a major fire.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 200 adults and 64 children following 52 disaster responses. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • The American Red Cross is partnering with KIND Snacks to encourage New Yorkers to donate blood. Blood donations are needed year-round—one pint can save up to three lives! We’re holding drives at our NYC Headquarters (520 W 49th Street) on Sat 8/25 from 9am-2pm; Mon 8/27, Tues 8/28, and Fri 8/31 from 2pm-7pm. Donors will receive a #KindAwesome card for their kind act, which is good for 2 complimentary KIND bars, while supplies last. Schedule an appointment to donate today. 
  • Oct 10: Join us for the annual American Red Cross: Heroes Among Us gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom to celebrate the civic leaders and heroic individuals who embody our humanitarian mission. 
  • Nov 4: The American Red Cross Greater New York Region is proud to Run for the Red in November at the TCS New York City Marathon. Come be a part of Team Red Cross and sign up by Thursday, September 13! Space is limited, so secure your spot today! For more information, contact Bob Estremera at NYCmarathon@redcross.org or 212-875-2091.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

"Three Questions With"… IT Specialist/International Disaster Response Delegate Andy Li

“3 Questions With…” is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.

Andy Li has been with the Red Cross for nine years working as an IT Specialist at the Greater New York HQ. He recently joined the international roster as an International Disaster Response Delegate following a competitive application process and two intense trainings. In his new role, he will have the opportunity to deploy internationally while specifically serving in an IT capacity.


What is an International Disaster Response (IDR) Delegate?

IDR roster members with the American Red Cross deploy in support of Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement disaster response operations in very distinct roles. I’m part of the ITT (Information Technology and Telecom) group which is one of the areas that the American Red Cross specializes in. [Other areas include Relief, Cash Transfer and GIS/Info Management.] As ITT we’d be going out to support the Federation or host National Society with technology solutions such as communications network setup or internet connectivity. American Red Cross is one of five countries that specializes in ITT, along with Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, and Spain.

I first heard about the International Disaster Response roster and the IT specialization in 2010 on my first deployment in Tennessee. While there, I worked with the DST [Disaster Services Technology] manager, who happened to be on the international roster. That’s when it originally piqued my interest because I found out I could deploy and do disaster relief with a technology element to it.

You took part in two trainings, what were they like?

The first was a week-long training held in Maryland in April and was facilitated by the Federation [IFRC], ICRC and American Red Cross. Our instructors were from Canada, Australia and the US and we also had participants from all over the American Red Cross and from Haiti, Panama, Bangladesh and Nepal. It prepared us for international deployments and familiarized us with the whole Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and their roles in disasters or conflicts. It was an awesome training because I hadn’t been exposed to the Movement or the type of work and programs other National Societies do.


The second was a technical ITT training at a ranch in Arizona and it was kind of in the middle of nowhere, about ten miles from the Mexican border. It was great to have the entire American Red Cross ITT group get together in the same place at the same time, so it was awesome to meet my new teammates and spend the week learning and bonding with them.

We learned to work with a variety of different technologies including VSATs. A VSAT is piece of equipment that can provide telecommunications connectivity via a satellite connection in a remote location. We also worked with network equipment such as routers and switches, as well as radio and communications equipment.


How does the thought of being deployed internationally make you feel?

I’ve done local deployments in New York City, regional deployments in New York State and the Northeast, as well as National deployments. International seems like the next step. I feel like the stakes are higher internationally, so I am anxious but excited to be a part of the international community. I feel like you work at an organization like this for that type of opportunity.

Red Cross Nurse Helps Revive Unresponsive Passenger on LIRR


By Brianna Borghi, American Red Cross in Greater NY



Long-time Red Cross team member and critical care nurse Debbie Hayden recently put her Red Cross CPR training into action during a routine commute on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

Hayden was a passenger on the Hempstead line of the LIRR on her way to work at the Greater New York Red Cross HQ in Manhattan when the conductor announced a delay due to a medical emergency.

“The conductor asked if any health professionals who can provide assistance would please come to the rear car,” said Hayden. “I didn’t have to think twice.”

Coincidentally wearing her Red Cross shirt, Hayden quickly stepped off the train and walked down the platform to the rear car, joining two nurses who also stepped in to help. They found a man in his late 20s slumped in his seat and unresponsive.

Despite the tense situation, Hayden remained calm as she kneeled next to the man alongside the two other nurses.

“We checked for his pulse. He had none, he wasn’t breathing, and he was blue. I looked at the two other nurses and confirmed we should do hands-only CPR’” said Hayden. “They agreed and one nurse immediately started compressions.”

After about two minutes of hands-only CPR, they saw a slight movement and paused compressions.

“It was just a little bit of movement that gave us an indication and his color improved,” said Hayden. “At that point we found a pulse. It was so amazing.”

Hayden and her fellow responders moved the man into a recovery position and monitored his breathing and color until emergency medical services arrived on scene. Without immediate CPR, the man might not have survived.

“At a minimum, familiarize yourself with hands-only CPR because it’s easy to learn and it works,” said Hayden about the importance of knowing this lifesaving skill.

Debbie Hayden started as a volunteer nurse with the American Red Cross on Long Island eight years ago and has been serving as the Greater New York Red Cross Regional Health Services Manager since January 2017.

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