Monday, July 24, 2017

In Case You Missed It - July 24

Red Cross employees and interns participated in the Tough Mudder Long Island
obstacle course on Saturday to raise money for the SAF program.(Photo: Vivian Moy)

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 149 adults and 53 children following 43 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
  • 7x a day, someone in the U.S. dies in a home fire. Help #EndHomeFires by joining Sound the Alarm.Save a Life., a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events. In addition to installing smoke alarms, there’s also a new way to help: peer-to-peer fundraising on CrowdRise! To join the team, click on your Red Cross chapter: Greater NY, Long Island, Metro NY North 
  • July 25, 27-29: 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.
  • July 29: The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is coming to East Flushing and Queensboro Hill to help make the community safer one home at a time. Volunteer to help out, or sign up to get a free smoke alarm installed in your home.
  • Aug 22-27: Do you like to volunteer? Do you like golf? If so, have we got an opportunity for you! Sign up today to volunteer at THE NORTHERN TRUST at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, NY. For $75, you gain daily access to the tournament for you and a guest, a logoed polo shirt and baseball cap, and much more. Plus, your efforts will support the mission of the American Red Cross. Learn more here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#MyRedCrossLife by Erin Patrice O'Brien

by Kylie Davidson, American Red Cross in Greater New York

This month we’re honored to partner with Erin Patrice O’Brien, a Brooklyn-based professional portrait photographer who has volunteered with us the past couple months documenting the stories of Red Cross volunteers and employees. Throughout her accomplished career, O’Brien has shot for People Magazine, Comedy Central and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. For the rest of the month, O’Brien will be “taking over” our Instagram account, highlighting some of our inspiring staff as part of our #MyRedCrossLife series.


How did you become connected with the Red Cross?

In January of 2017, I photographed 101-year-old Red Cross volunteer Blanche Baudin for AARP Magazine. I was moved by Blanche and her service and by the other volunteers at the Green Bay Wisconsin Red Cross Chapter, so I decided to volunteer as a photographer with the Red Cross in Greater New York. At first I went on a few “ride-alongs” to disaster responses throughout New York City to witness the work of the volunteers in the field. I was able to see the compassion and service they were able to give New Yorkers in a time of need, so I decided to focus on portraits of the volunteers. The volunteers are very special people. They give their time to take care of and serve people in need. I find that very admirable.

Who do you photograph? What kind of projects do you do?

For work I photograph portraits of different celebrities and personalities for various publications and advertisements.

Can you compare photographing celebrities with photographing volunteers?

Celebrities are used to having their pictures taken. They tend to have a styling team to make them look like stars. The volunteers I photographed are beautiful people who don’t need glamorous props. Their faces reflect compassion and integrity.

Have you volunteered with other organizations?

Yes, recently I have done some work for the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy School and for Planned Parenthood.

What are you trying to capture when photographing volunteers? Do you have a process that you go through?

I am trying to capture their essence. When I photograph them, I ask them about their life stories. I want to know exactly why and how they came to the Red Cross. I learn life lessons from them.

What has surprised you most since you’ve started volunteering with the Red Cross?

What has surprised me is how kind everyone in the organization is. It’s like a big corporation but since most of the people are volunteering and want to be there giving their service, it is uplifting to be around the people.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?

The most rewarding part has been hearing the volunteers’ stories and seeing them in action. It’s rewarding to know that they are volunteering their time and treating people who are in challenging situations with dignity and respect and to hear someone say that have been doing this for 10-15 years and still see a smile on their face.

Monday, July 17, 2017

In Case You Missed It - July 17

Greater NY Red Cross Health and Safety instructor Lipica Shah appeared on the Today Show on Tuesday to discuss summer safety.

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 42 adults and 24 children following 29 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

  • On Saturday, the Service to the Armed Forces team provided support at a 'Welcome Home' Outreach Event and Veteran Affairs Enrollment Day at St. Albans VA Medical Center.
  • On Friday, Greater NY Red Cross Health and Safety instructor Lipica Shah demonstrated infant CPR on Good Morning America. She also appeared on the Today Show on Tuesday where she taught CPR and provided essential summer safety tips.
  •  Metro NY North Red Cross volunteers were on hand at Stewart Airport in Orange County to provide care, comfort and compassion following a last week’s tragic military plane crash that took 16 lives, including nine based in Newburgh, N.Y. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones.
  • On Thursday the Greater NY Red Cross posted the newest installment to its #MyRedCrossLife series, featuring Communications volunteer Jessica Kirk. Jessica reflects on lessons she has learned since joining the American Red Cross in 1996.
  • On Wednesday, Greater NY Red Cross published a video featuring Danese Smalls, a Harlem artist who used her artwork to recover emotionally from a fire last April that destroyed her home of over 20 years.
  • The LI Red Cross and their volunteers were present at the Veterans Standown at American Legion Post 390 in Hempstead on Tuesday, supporting U.S. veterans and service members.
  • The Greater NY Red Cross celebrated the 5-year anniversary of their Learn-to-Swim partnership with NY State Parks, National Heritage Trust, NY State Department of Health and the National Swimming Pool Foundation on Monday. CEO Josh Lockwood was on hand at Roberto Clemente State Park to help celebrate the milestone.
  • Greater NY Red Cross published a new Hope Starts Here video highlighting five facts about the life of the founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton, bringing to light why the Red Cross supports service members through the Service to the Armed Forces Program. Hope Starts Here is a local employee engagement campaign to make the Greater New York Red Cross the best place to work in the 13 counties they serve.
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • July 17-19, 21 & 24: 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.
  • July 20-23: Join us for in-depth sessions and refresher courses at the Blue Sky Summer Camp. For 3 days, we will review all aspects of NYC Ops, from casework to teamwork, from sheltering to deployment, from using CAS to engaging with media. This training event is open to all volunteers. Registration is available on Volunteer Connection.
  • July 21: Cheer on Long Island Red Cross CEO Neela Lockel at the Babylon Soldier Ride next Friday, an event created in support of veterans and wounded service members. The community ride begins at 9:30 a.m., with the kick-off celebration taking place at 9 a.m.
  • July 22: Have you ever dreamed of enduring physical hardship to benefit the Red Cross? If so, please consider joining Team Red Cross Tough Mudders who will compete in Long Island on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Register here or cheer on the team as a spectator. Please contact our team lead Travis Tam with any thoughts, questions or suggestions. 
  • July 24: Pierce Country Day Camp in Roslyn is holding its annual Camp Swim-A-Cross fundraising event for the American Red Cross on Long Island.  
  • Aug 22-27: Do you like to volunteer? Do you like golf? If so, have we got an opportunity for you! Sign up today to volunteer at THE NORTHERN TRUST at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, NY. For $75, you gain daily access to the tournament for you and a guest, a logoed polo shirt and baseball cap, and much more. Plus, your efforts will support the mission of the American Red Cross. Learn more here.

Ready to Respond: Full Scale Disaster Exercise at the Red Cross

by Kylie Davidson, American Red Cross in Greater New York

Last month the American Red Cross in Greater New York conducted a full-scale exercise, a disaster simulation that allows volunteers, employees and partners to practice and evaluate existing procedures for disaster response. The exercise was developed and coordinated by our Regional Training & Exercise Team, a group led by Stephanie Hagans, Disaster Training & Exercise Manager. More than 200 Red Crossers, including volunteers, organizational staff and partner groups, from across the region participated in the exercise. Below is a Q and A with Stephanie to learn more about this day of training and simulation.

Photo credit: Erin Patrice O'Brien, American Red Cross 
What is a full-scale exercise? 

A full-scale exercise is a disaster simulation that tests various activities that we would carry out throughout a real disaster. It tests our ability to respond to a disaster in real time during which we move real resources throughout the region, and then we simulate external events occurring. It’s as realistic to a real disaster as we can possibly get without having one. The point of it is to test our current plans, policies and procedures to see if they’re working or if they’re going to work and how we can improve them for the next disaster.

What is the purpose of organizing this kind of exercise?

The purpose is actually two-fold. One, it’s to practice each of our functions [i.e. sheltering, logistics, mental health, health services], to build that muscle memory so that whenever a real event occurs, we will know how to do the things we say we’re going to do. Additionally, it’s to improve. After the exercise we create an improvement plan, or ARR/IP, the After-Action Review and Improvement Plan. Here, we look at everything that went well and we make sure we continue to do those things again in future events. Then we look at everything that didn’t maybe go as well as it could have and look at how we can improve so that when a real event occurs, we can do it even better.

How often do these exercises take place?

Our full scale exercise is annual, so we do one a year. We also hold a bunch of smaller exercises throughout the year. We have one every couple months.

What type of simulated disaster did volunteers practice responding to? Why was this type of disaster chosen?

The scenario was an improvised nuclear device, or IND. The reason we chose this is because we, as the Greater New York Region, participated in this type of exercise with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) earlier this year.

Where did this exercise take place? How many mock service delivery locations were set up?

This exercise took place in various locations throughout the Greater New York Region. We had three sites in Long Island, we had three in Metro New York North, and then we had one site here at the Regional Headquarters in New York City. The Disaster Relief Operation Headquarters was at the Rockland County Fire Training Center. We focused very heavily on sheltering for this exercise, so all of our mock service delivery sites were shelters. Everything else was simulated.

Can you talk about the role actors played?

Actors played the role of our affected residents and they were given actor cards with different profiles. It gives us the ability to test our plans for different personalities and individuals with different needs as well.

Was there anything unique about this exercise?

I think the most unique part was the scenario. It was something that, fortunately, we don’t see all the time, so it definitely had different challenges than a natural disaster might have. I think that it was good practice for us to kind of be creative and think outside the box and address the issues that come up in any disaster.

What were the biggest lessons or key takeaways of this exercise?

This year we had a really heavy focus on mentoring, so I think all of it was a learning experience for everybody. People who had not yet had an opportunity to perform specific leadership roles in the past were able to try out that role in a no-fault environment, one where there weren’t any real consequences. They were able to get advice throughout the day from a mentor and adviser that could help them. I think that was one of the strengths of this exercise that I would like to continue to do in the future.

For more photos from the exercise, click here. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Recapping the Long Island Centennial Celebration


The Centennial Celebration Heroes were honored at the event for their dedication to service in their communities.  
On June 15, 2017, community leaders and philanthropists gathered at the Nassau Country Club for the American Red Cross Centennial Celebration, to commemorate 100 years of service to Long Island by Long Islanders.

Here are a few video links that highlight the amazing honorees and heroes compassion and community spirit:

Thank you to our friends at SilvermanAcampora (and Flint the Dog) who were on hand to snap photographs and raise some funds. Head over to their site today to download your free pictures. They will also make a donation when the pictures are downloaded.

Long Island CEO Meets with Community Partners to Discuss Hurricane Preparedness

Neela Lockel and community partners showcase the contents of a proper emergency kit in the event that a hurricane strikes.
Long Island Chapter CEO, Neela Lockel, joined government and community partners from Nassau County, Suffolk County, National Grid and PSEG Long Island on the eve of hurricane season to discuss hurricane readiness on Long Island, and the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

“Preparedness is critical when it comes to life-threatening disasters such as hurricanes,” said Neela Lockel, CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island. “It's important that families and individuals make time to build an emergency kit, create an evacuation plan, and download the new free Red Cross Emergency App to help make it through the next storm safely.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Finding Peace of Mind in Queens

by Kylie Davidson, American Red Cross in Greater New York


In late April of this year, an unthinkable tragedy shook an entire community: four Queens Village children and one adult perished in a home fire on 208th St. The youngest victim was only two years old.

Roberte Marcelin, a resident of Queens Village for 30 years, remembers the tragedy vividly, and like many of her neighbors, the gravity of the loss weighed heavily on her, even triggering worry about her own safety in the event of a fire.

“After the fire, that lady lost four kids,” Marcelin said. “One night, I went to bed, and I was thinking about a fire in this place…I could not fall to sleep.”

Sharing in his mother’s concern, Marcelin’s son suggested reaching out to the American Red Cross for a free smoke alarm.

Marcelin obliged and scheduled an appointment with the Red Cross. Three volunteers soon arrived at her home, educating her about fire safety and installing three smoke alarms in the house.

“After the alarms were installed, I felt safer,” Marcelin said. However, Marcelin never expected that she would rely on the smoke alarms so quickly.

A week after the new smoke alarms were installed, Marcelin had just finished cooking and was preparing to go to church when she had an uneasy feeling. She said it was as if something was telling her not to leave her home. Suddenly, the smoke alarm went off.

“I opened the basement door, and I saw smoke,” Marcelin said. A fire had broken out in her basement. “I felt like my throat was burning…and I felt like I’m not going to be able to catch my breath.”

Marcelin immediately rushed to her neighbor’s home and called the fire department. Firefighters arrived within minutes and extinguished the fire.

The fire severely damaged Marcelin’s basement. Without the Red Cross, the smoke alarms and the quick response of the fire department, her entire home and even her life could have been lost.

“Without the Red Cross alarm, we’d be in a lot of trouble,” Marcelin said. “What the Red Cross is doing is very humane and very nice…Everybody working for the Red Cross, may God bless them.”

There was an error in this gadget