Friday, October 31, 2014

Red Cross presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award by Project Hospitality

Regional CEO Josh Lockwood with Greater New York Board Member and Staten Island resident Robert Coghlan. 

On Tuesday, October 23rd the American Red Cross in Greater New York was presented with the Distinguished Community Service Award by Project Hospitality at its annual Harvest Gala in Staten Island. The event was held at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn. Regional CEO Josh Lockwood accepted the award which honored Greater New York for its support to Staten Island in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and for its continued long-term recovery operations.

Red Cross has helped thousands of Staten Island residents with disaster case management, home repairs, mental and physical health support and financial assistance through the Move In Assistance program. Over $3 million has been provided to Staten Island residents through the program. In his remarks, Lockwood thanked Project Hospitality as well as the borough’s elected officials, community groups and faith-based organizations for their partnership to help those in need. He also extended a special thank you to Richard and Lois Nicotra, owners of the Hilton, for their assistance to Red Cross volunteers in the immediate days after Sandy struck. The Nicotras provided sleeping arrangements, showers, food and additional amenities at the hotel to the volunteers at no charge.

Regional CEO Josh Lockwood accepting the Distinguished Community Service Award from Project Hospitality while Executive Director for Project Hospitality Rev. Terry Troia looks on. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

South Korean Delegation Visits Red Cross HQ in Manhattan

On Tuesday, October 28th, a delegation of over 30 individuals representing the Office of the Prime Minister of Republic of Korea (ROK) visited the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The delegation came to learn more about how the Red Cross prepares for and responds to local emergencies as well as large-scale disasters.

The group included the ROK Presidential Secretary, ROK Prime Minister’s Deputy Chief of Staff, several prominent professors and 20 civic leaders.

The group met with Regional CEO Josh Lockwood and Chief Response Officer Kelly McKinney who provided a brief presentation on Greater New York’s operations and provided details on the chapter’s specific responses to the East Harlem explosion in March 2014, Superstorm Sandy and the events of September 11, 2001.

The group was also provided with a tour of the building which included a visit to the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

American Red Cross Responds to Inaccuracies in ProPublica and NPR Stories

This morning, NPR and ProPublica published stories detailing criticisms of the Red Cross response to Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac. Click here for a matrix that documents information provided to these news outlets that was omitted in their reporting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Grandmother’s Red Cross Legacy

By: Valeria Ricciulli-Marin Greater NY Red Cross Intern

Margarita Sandoval (on the right,) my grandma, when she was a gray lady for the Colombian Red Cross. 

When I think about Margarita Sandoval, my grandma or “abuela,” I think about a proud, strong woman. She was born in Colombia, in a small village called Oiba. When she was 52 years old, with no education, my grandma was inspired to help others by volunteering with the Colombian Red Cross; and she’s now inspired me to work with the American Red Cross as well.

Sadly, my grandma was forced to marry young, at 15, dropping out of school to do so. She had six children with my grandpa; the oldest was my mother, Maritza. When her youngest daughter started high school (my mother was in college in another city), grandma decided to start a whole new journey. She wanted to feel a purpose in her life and she wanted to feel accomplished.

She separated from my grandpa and, in 1974, she joined the Colombian Red Cross. Deeply passionate about helping others, grandma started volunteering as a dama gris or gray lady, providing nursing services across marginalized areas around the country.

My grandma’s eyes brighten every time she tells the stories of her 35 years as a volunteer, travelling and meeting others while she provided hope and health services to those in need, wearing a gray dress.

Whenever I had tantrums at age five, she would give me the best advice I have ever received: “Don’t cry; there’s people suffering out there, yet putting a smile on their faces.”

She told me how she traveled to remote areas to provide free vaccinations to children, how she talked to women with health issues, and how she gave talks about reproductive health. She recently told me about travelling with the Red Cross to provide farmers with food and healthcare after a flood in the small villages that border the Magdalena River.

 Based on what I learned about my grandmother’s Red Cross work, I believe that the values of deep neutrality and humanity that characterize the Red Cross allow the organization to impact every person involved in it. It is an organization that promotes and provides aid, irrespective of nationality or any religious or cultural affiliation, which makes it, for me, the most peaceful, inclusive organization in the world.

My grandmother’s Red Cross experience also inspired her to study nursing, after completing her high school studies. In 2001, at age 56, she pursued a nursing degree, while living with my family in Cartagena, the northern Colombian city where I was born. She later worked for a hospital, while still volunteering for the Colombian Red Cross.

It is almost magical, how the story of my grandma connects with mine and how everything she went through and every tear she shed, led me to where I am today. She always taught her daughters—and me—to be independent; to complete our studies so we could excel in life and be autonomous.

That is why my mother, who is the regional CEO of a bank which helps the Colombian petroleum company (Ecopetrol) workers, taught me and my sister those values and was, as well, inspired by my grandma to strive, succeed and help others.

Thanks to the legacy of my grandmother, who currently lives with my mom and dad in Cartagena (I see her every time I visit), I am passionate about serving others.

I am currently studying in the United States, about to attain my bachelor’s degree in communications, and I am interning in the Communications Department of the Greater New York Red Cross, where I write for the chapter's blog and post on their social media. I get to inspire and help others on behalf of one of the most important humanitarian organizations in the world!

I have also volunteered and interned at several other nonprofits, including Operation Smile, UNICEF and

I hope other grandmas and granddaughters keep getting inspired to love, thrive, help and succeed, just as my grandma and I did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Childhood Bereavement Expert David Schonfeld Addresses Disaster Mental Health Workers

Dr. David Schonfeld addresses attendees
One of the callings of American Red Cross disaster mental health workers is to give children affected by disaster support and guidance at one of the most difficult times in their lives—suffering the loss of a parent or close family member in a fire or other disaster.  

On Oct. 18, a total of 90 Red Cross disaster mental health volunteers and members of partner organizations joined Dr. David Schonfeld, a prominent figure in the field of childhood bereavement, at Greater New York Red Cross regional headquarters in Manhattan. Dr. Schonfeld led a best practices conversation about supporting the mental health needs of individuals in the aftermath of a disaster in which a child has perished.

He applauded the passion of the Red Cross volunteers. “They are an incredible resource for those affected by emergencies,” he said. “Their selfless compassion and skills provide relief and comfort during times of unbearable tragedy. It was amazing to see their dedication first hand and to engage with them in a discussion about best practices for supporting those who lose a loved one.”

Diane Ryan, lead specialist, Disaster Mental Health Services for the Greater New York region said that while Red Cross DMH volunteers are themselves licensed practitioners, they were enriched by Dr. Schonfeld’s discussion.

“Our disaster mental health volunteers mobilize quickly whenever there is a loss of a child due to disaster—a fire, flood or other incident,” Ryan said. “They are the compassionate presence for those who are suffering. The presentation today provided additional tools for this challenging work.” 

New York Life co-hosted the event.

“New York Life is proud to partner with the Red Cross and its disaster mental health volunteers to provide advanced level training on childhood bereavement,” said Maria Collins, MSW, Vice President, New York Life Foundation.  “Today’s discussion supports our vision and awareness raising efforts around childhood bereavement. We couldn’t be more pleased to be here and to take part in such a meaningful dialog.”

Right Place, Right Time

In support of our #RedTieHeroes initiative, American Red Cross partner JPMorgan Chase recently reached out to their employees nationwide and asked them to submit stories of heroic coworkers who embody the humanitarian spirit of the Red Cross. Below is one of those stories.

submitted by Denise Edwards, JPMorgan Chase Employee
Deborah O'Toole
Deborah O'Toole began her career at Chase as a contract employee while pursuing training as a medical assistant back in 2009. After two years she completed her training, but decided to stay on with Chase in a permanent position because she enjoyed the work, the company and the people.

One morning in May of this year, between 7:00 and 7:30 am, Deborah and another Chase employee were in the deli/cafe getting breakfast. The deli is independently owned and patronized by the companies and employees that utilize the business campus where our offices are located. Another Chase employee came in wearing stiletto heels.

While standing in line and moving along she slipped and fell. When she fell one of her legs landed on top of one of her heels, which punctured her leg, and she began to bleed profusely. No one knew what to do.

Deborah came to the rescue, had her lie down and applied pressure to the puncture, kept it clean and calmly instructed everyone as to what to do.

The deli staff was panicked; the injured employee was going into shock. They called an ambulance and the other Chase employee went outside, flagged it down and directed the paramedics into the deli. They came, took over and transported the injured employee to the hospital.

We often hear of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in this particular case Deborah was in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It- October 21

Swiss Re Employees rebuilding a Sandy damaged home in Brooklyn. 

Since October 1, the Greater New York Red Cross has responded to 127 emergencies and provided aid to 334 adults and children.



Representative Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn with GNY  Director of Community Relations Alex Lutz.