Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Dec 11

"Thank you @MMViverito & @CarmenYulinCruz for visiting yesterday with our volunteers at the #NYC Service Center who are helping families impacted by #HurricaneMaria from #PuertoRico & #USVI."
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 167 adults and 50 children following 54 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review  

Upcoming Events and Opportunities 
  • Dec 12, 15, 18, 19: 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. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Dec 13: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brentwood on Dec 13 installing free smoke alarms from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/lifiresafety.
  • Dec 17: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brooklyn on Dec 2 and 17 from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/nycfiresafety.
  • Dec 29: Please join us at Memories in Williston Park for the Face First show to help those in need this Holiday season!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In Case You Missed It – Dec 4

98 Degrees and Mastercard joined our volunteers and staff on Monday to
show recognition and gratitude for our work during the holiday season!
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 145 adults and 48 children following 65 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • For Red Cross Volunteers Only: Red Cross support for the hurricane evacuee service center in East Harlem continues and we need your help. Click here to sign up for available shifts in Volunteer Connection! 
  • Dec 5, 8, 9, 11: 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. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Dec 13: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brentwood on Dec 13 installing free smoke alarms from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/lifiresafety
  • Dec 17: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brooklyn on Dec 2 and 17 from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/nycfiresafety

A Day at with the American Red Cross at the NYC Service Center

Photo credit: R. Rigos/American Red Cross

By Michael J. Blyth
new Red Cross volunteer

This blog post is a first hand description of a volunteer's first day supporting the NYC Hurricane Service Center. Since October, the American Red Cross has supported the service center opened by New York City to connect displaced individuals and families from Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands following recent hurricanes with critical services. The center is located at the Julia De Burgos Latino Cultural Center located at 1680 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. For more information on the center, please call 311.


In late November, I had my first experience as a volunteer with the American Red Cross in the Greater New York Region. In the months leading to this day, I applied to be a volunteer, went through the initial orientation, a background check, and then the full day boot camp training. 

I spent my first day volunteering at the Service Center organized by the New York City Emergency Management Office. At the Center, various agencies and nonprofits, including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Medicaid, NYC Legal Aid, and the NYC Department of Education and others, sponsored information tables to assist residents arriving from from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to Hurricane Maria.

The room of the Service Center was bustling with people, including many young families with children, and some who had arrived at JFK Airport from San Juan only hours earlier. To the untrained observer, the operation might seem chaotic, but it was actually a very organized process. Visitors first sign in at the front desk and receive a checklist of all the programs in the room. They then go from table to table listening and learning how each program could be of service, and what benefits they may be eligible for as United States citizens.

For families with school aged children, a consultation with staff from the Department of Education was a must. At the Salvation Army table, visitors could apply for a clothing voucher. The Center was well staffed with many Spanish-speaking interpreters who were happy to assist with translation needs.

At the Red Cross table, Stephanie, our Red Cross supervisor of the day, gave us assignments and made sure we each had 30 minutes for lunch. We had two computers set up for visitors to register with FEMA, or if they previously registered, to check on the progress of their request for financial assistance. My fellow volunteer, Peter and Avina, taught me how to register people with FEMA. By the afternoon -- and 30 questions later -- I was able to sign up new enrollees by myself. The process got complicated if, for example, a visitor had previously registered, but forgot his or her password or PIN.

Deborah, the Red Cross nurse on staff that day, was busy examining visitors who needed medical attention or had questions about medication. Several of the people I met that day told me of their worry about not having their needed medication due to their homes being destroyed and the lack of medical attention available throughout Puerto Rico.

Volunteers Jose, Maureen, and Sarah were in charge of distributing clothing, diapers, baby formula and toiletries to those in need. When visitors checked in at our table, each was asked a series of questions so we could determine how to best help them. If our volunteers didn’t have something visitors needed or we didn’t have an answer to a question, we found someone in the room that could help.

The stories of the visitors that day were heart wrenching. People literally arrived in that center with the clothes on their back. Many were living in shelters for the past six weeks in Puerto Rico under dire conditions and were relieved to finally be in New York to start over. Some were staying with immediate family; others had to stay at a makeshift city shelter by JFK. Still others needed shelter right that moment since a temporary living arrangement was indeed temporary. Housing seemed to be the greatest immediate need of most visitors, especially for the families with children.

There was one story heard that day that I won’t soon forget. One young lady arrived earlier that day on a flight from San Juan. She came into the center with a distant cousin who lived in New York. She told me that in the rural part of Puerto Rico where she and her mother had a home, only a few had power by way of generators, and there was very little medical or health care available. Her neighbors relied on local good Samaritans providing sporadic water and food. There were always lines and waiting for some kind of help to arrive.

This young lady was the primary caretaker of her mother who had Parkinsons disease and she had not taken any kind of medication in several weeks. Hurricane Maria ruined their home left her mom in a constant anxious state living in a temporary shelter. On the advice of local authorities, she left her mom temporarily with a family friend and came to New York to secure a bed in a nursing facility that could treat her Parkinsons. She knew that Medicaid was the primary funder of patients in nursing homes who were indigent. This lady broke down in tears saying she felt terribly guilty for leaving her mom, but in the long run, being cared for in skilled nursing facility in the United States would be the best long-term plan. So, she came to New York City in search of help.

We signed her up with FEMA, we took her to our nurse since she seemed so stressed out. She stopped by Catholic Charities to apply for some temporary aid and then I escorted her to the Medicaid table where she spent an hour meeting with the representatives and applying for Medicaid.

Later, she came back to the Red Cross station to thank us for our kindness, and for listening. She asked me, “How long would this process take?”

I couldn’t give her kind of answer except to say, “Keep calling, keep emailing, and keep reminding people of your mother’s desperate situation.” I wish I had better words of encouragement to share, but I couldn’t think of anything better to say.

By the afternoon, I was getting a better idea of what services various agencies offered. For some visitors to the Red Cross table, after registering them with FEMA, I would walk them to another table and explain how this program could better assist them with specific needs. It seemed that every worker at the center couldn’t do enough to help the new arrivals to our city.

The first day was a real education for me. There was so much I didn’t know, but everyone I met patiently explained how their programs worked, and who might be eligible.

I look forward to returning to the Service Center in the weeks ahead. I really feel the Red Cross of the Greater New York Region was being so helpful to people who just went through a horrible experience and who needed so much.

I look forward to serving again!

###

Thank you Michael for sharing your experience and for your service!

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit volunteerconnection.redcross.org


If you are a family or individual who has just arrived in NYC from a hurricane impacted area, please visit http://www1.nyc.gov/311 or call 311. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

In Case You Missed It - Nov 27


Red Cross volunteers raising funds for disaster relief with the Harlem Globetrotters at Madison Square Garden.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 109 adults and 39 children following 51 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

Upcoming Events and Opportunities
    • For Red Cross Volunteers Only: Red Cross support for the hurricane evacuee service center in East Harlem continues and we need your help. Click here to sign up for available shifts in Volunteer Connection! 
    • Nov 28, Dec 1, 2, 5: 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. Schedule an appointment to donate today. 
    • Nov 28: The holiday season is a time for family and festivities. It’s also a time to be reminded of those who are less fortunate and in need of a helping hand. This year, on #GivingTuesday, you can give a unique and meaningful gift to help the people we meet every 8 minutes who have been devastated by disaster.#GiveWithMeaning 
    • Dec 2, 17: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brooklyn on Dec 2 and 17 from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/nycfiresafety.
    • Dec 13: Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. fire safety event will be in Brentwood on Dec 13 installing free smoke alarms from 10 am to 1 pm. To schedule a free smoke alarm installation and/or to volunteer to help make your community safer, please visit redcross.org/lifiresafety.

    Monday, November 20, 2017

    In Case You Missed It - Nov 20

    Employees of Morgan Stanley helping to build comfort kits for those affected by the recent Hurricanes.

    Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 157 adults and 51 children following 49 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

    Last Week in Review

    Upcoming Events and Opportunities
    • Nov 21,24, 25, 27: 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. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
    • Nov 24, 25: The Harlem Globetrotters are coming to MSG this Friday and Saturday and partnering with the Red Cross to raise fund for disaster relief. Purchase tickets here.
    • Nov 28: The holiday season is a time for family and festivities. It’s also a time to be reminded of those who are less fortunate and in need of a helping hand. This year, on #GivingTuesday, you can give a unique and meaningful gift to help the people we meet every 8 minutes who have been devastated by disaster. #GiveWithMeaning
    • Dec 13: The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign will be in Brentwood on Dec 13 installing free smoke alarms from 10 am to 1 pm. For an appointment, please call 516-229-1086 or visit redcross.org/lifiresafety.









    Monday, November 13, 2017

    In Case You Missed It - Nov 13

    "Thanks Michael Strahan and GMA for promoting Red Cross' Sound the Alarm fire safety campaign! #EndHomeFires “
    - Josh Lockwood
    Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 147 adults and 48 children following 45 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

    Last Week in Review
    Upcoming Events and Opportunities
    • Nov 15, 17, 20, 21: 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. Schedule an appointment to donate today. 
    • Dec 13: The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign will be in Brentwood on Dec 13 installing free smoke alarms from 10 am to 1 pm. For an appointment, please call 516-229-1086 or visit redcross.org/lifiresafety.

    Friday, November 10, 2017

    A Veteran’s Tale: Honoring a Red Cross Team Member

    Mauricio Serrato (center) is a veteran of the Marine Corps. He currently serves as the Disaster Program Manager for Brooklyn in the Greater New York Red Cross Region. Photo Credit: Erin Patrice O'Brien

    by Stan Frank

    Among the outstanding staff members in the Greater New York Chapter of the American Red Cross is Mauricio Serrato, Disaster Program Manager for Brooklyn. Mauricio is a Marine veteran, who grew up in Queens, New York, and served for one year in Japan before returning to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. There he honed his leadership skills by training Marine recruits.

    Mauricio joined the American Red Cross in 2004. Initially, he worked in the facilities department. Through training and hard work, Mauricio soon became a volunteer responder, going out to help local families after disasters. He was hired as a Full-Time Responder and then as Disaster Manager.

    After Superstorm Sandy, worked tirelessly to help his neighbors across New York City, with a focus on his home borough of Queens. After a two-year break, he again joined the Red Cross as a Program Manager and developed the operations plans for our Home Fire Program, which has installed over 60,000 smoke detectors across the region since 2014.

    This past Fall, Mauricio deployed for 45 days to support the response to Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Initially, he worked with the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Red Cross to provide comfort kits and food packages to more than 2500 evacuees whose homes had been obliterated by the hurricane. Mauricio then traveled between St. Thomas and Orlando, Fla., where he worked with volunteers from Wells Fargo to organize the planning and distribution of emergency supplies for residents on the US Virgin Island, including St. Thomas.

    Mauricio is proud that he could lead teams of Red Cross staff and volunteers to distribute more than 10,000 Clean-Up Kits, 180,000 pounds of rice and beans, 30,000 FEMA Food Boxes and 5000 cases of water to residents in need.

    Asked what he finds most satisfying in his work, Mauricio said: “My experience as a veteran and my work at the Red Cross have given me the ability to reach out and help those in time of need. There is no greater satisfaction than that!”

    Thank you, Mauricio, for your service! The Red Cross is very proud to have you on its team!
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