Friday, September 30, 2016

Heroes of the Pulse Nightclub Tragedy, National Hero Award



On October 5, 2016, civic leaders and philanthropists will gather at the American Museum of Natural History as the American Red Cross in Greater New York hosts its annual Heroes Among Us Gala to recognize the heroic efforts and humanitarian contributions of people and institutions who embody the spirit and mission of the Red Cross. Three heroes of the Orlando Nightclub tragedy will be among those honored at the event.

The early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, were disrupted by gunshots inside the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After a horrifying pre-dawn gun battle and subsequent rescue mission, 49 innocent lives had been taken, and more than 50 others wounded while a beloved haven was suddenly and forever changed. In the middle of the unimaginable fear and chaos, three Pulse Nightclub employees demonstrated extraordinary courage and selflessness.

Leading panicked patrons to safety and standing alongside and guiding law enforcement to locate the shooter and his hostages Neema Bahrami, Brian Reagan, and Neal Whittleton saved many lives that awful night. While witnessing unspeakable horrors, all three men demonstrated strength and clear thinking in the most frightening of circumstances. In the weeks following the massacre, these heroes’ resiliency and determination have provided inspiration to others as they, their coworkers and the Orlando community work to heal and keep Pulse alive.

Brian Reagan


"We need to be there for each over. Everyone has been impacted, so reach out behind the scenes as they may be struggling. We need to be there to lift each other up." 

Neal Whittleton


"We're still Pulse and we are going to keep going. We're going to be back."

Neema Bahrami


"These hearts are made by children that love you regardless of who you are. They love everybody regardless of sexual orientation, gender, religion or race."

Zurich Lends a Helping Hand For Our Pillowcase Project



On September 26, 2016 more than a dozen employees from Zurich took time out of their daily schedules to assemble preparedness resources for children. Their work was part of the Greater New York Red Cross Pillowcase Project.

Sponsored by Disney, the Pillowcase Project is an educational and interactive preparedness presentation for children ages 7-11. In addition to learning preparedness information on hurricanes and home fires, each child receives a Disney Pillowcase which they can personalize and use to create a go-bag. Last year more than 6,000 children in our region took part in the program.

The employees from Zurich helped by assembling the program materials for distribution to children. Materials included a workbook and activity book that will reinforce the program's curriculum, a marker to decorate the pillowcase, and a glow stick intended to be used in the event of a power outage. All of the materials were placed inside the pillowcases which featured the classic Disney characters. In addition to these educational materials, they also provided a guide of suggested items that could be used in the event that the children would need to leave their home during an emergency.

To find out more about the Pillowcase Project visit www.redcross.org.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tina Charles, Vanguard Award



On October 5, 2016, civic leaders and philanthropists will gather at the American Museum of Natural History as the American Red Cross in Greater New York hosts its annual Heroes Among Us Gala to recognize the heroic efforts and humanitarian contributions of people and institutions who embody the spirit and mission of the Red Cross.

NY Liberty player, Olympic gold medalist and founder of Hopey’s Heart Foundation Tina Charles will receive the Vanguard Award. The Vanguard Award recognizes individuals who are making an impact in the community by spreading ideas and new developments. Tina Charles is committed to advancing sports safety and raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest by providing free Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and CPR Certification to all non-profit organizations and institutions through Hopey's Heart Foundation. An award-winning athlete with the WNBA New York Liberty, Tina founded the Hopey’s Heart Foundation in memory of her late aunt, Maureen “Hopey” Vaz, who died of multiple organ failure in 2013. Through fundraising events, campaigns and Tina’s personal donation of half her WNBA salary the past two seasons and her entire salary this year, Hopey’s Heart Foundation has successfully placed over 200 AED’s worldwide.

In her words: "I think when you try to reach a goal, there’s no other feeling than the person you become along the way…It’s not about the duration of your life but the donation of it…Thank you American Red Cross for naming me for the Vanguard Award…I’m happy that I was able to receive this award on behalf of Hopey’s Heart Foundation and all the work we’ve been able to do to continue to keep communities heart safe." Tina Charles, Queens, N.Y.

Click here to read more about our Heroes Among Us Gala.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

FDNY EMS Lieutenant Craig Roeder, Local Hero Award



On October 5, 2016, civic leaders and philanthropists will gather at the American Museum of Natural History as the American Red Cross in Greater New York hosts its annual Heroes Among Us Gala to recognize the heroic efforts and humanitarian contributions of people and institutions who embody the spirit and mission of the Red Cross.

FDNY EMS Lieutenant Craig Roeder will receive the Local Hero Award. Trained as an Emergency Medical Services paramedic, in his ten years of service to the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), Craig had never been in a burning structure. But that did not stop him from responding to a fire he spotted in Queens and rushing into a burning two-story home to save a woman and child. After rescuing them, he entered the home again to search for additional residents upstairs and was able to find and save a dog.

In his own words: “To me a hero is someone who provides a selfless act for another without any thought how it’s going to impact their own life…The biggest thought I had going into that fire building was that I did not leave anyone behind… All in all, it’s just another day at work. I work with some amazing people, and they would all do the exact same thing I would. It’s definitely humbling to be recognized by the Red Cross, which is an organization that day in and day out, provides heroic things to people who are desperately in need. So to have them honor me is definitely a proud moment in my life.” Lt. Craig Roeder, Rosedale, N.Y.

Click here to read more about our Heroes Among Us Gala.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Sep 26

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 54 adults and 18 children following 32 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities.


Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
  • Sep 27, 29 and 30: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.

Monday, September 19, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Sep 19

Red Crossers at the scene of bomb explosion in Chelsea providing support to first responders and local residents.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 60 adults and 14 children following 32 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
  • Sep 19, 21, 27: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Sep 22: Seats are filled for “Born on the Battlefield” and registration is closed. This class is an introduction to the Geneva Conventions and how the International Committee of the Red Cross has historically played a role in war zones. 
  • Sep 24: #GetAlarmedNYC is coming to East Village. Volunteer to help out, or sign up to get a free smoke alarm installed in your home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 American Red Cross Gala to Celebrate Extraordinary Acts of Compassion and Courage


On Wednesday, October 5, 2016, American Red Cross in Greater New York will host its 2016 American Red Cross Gala: Heroes Among Us at the American Museum of Natural History.

Each fall, the gala honors men and women who have saved lives and inspire us all—they truly embody the spirit and mission of the Red Cross through their selfless actions and compassion. These heroes, along with civic leaders and philanthropists who make our mission possible, come together in New York City for a compelling cause.

We are proud to announce our honorees, who you will soon meet via subsequent stories and videos:

This year’s Corporate Leadership Award recipient is JPMorgan Chase & Co. who will be recognized for its longstanding support of the Red Cross mission.

We will honor Tribeca Film Festival founders, Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro, and Craig Hatkoff, with the Humanitarian Award for their efforts to revitalize Lower Manhattan following the 9/11 tragedy.

We will present the Vanguard Award to Tina Charles, founder of Hopey’s Heart Foundation and WNBA New York Liberty player who is committed to advancing sports safety and raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest by providing free Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and CPR training to schools and community centers.

We will also honor Local Hero Lt. Craig Roeder, a trained New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Emergency Medical Services paramedic who had never been in a burning structure, but that did not stop him from responding to a fire he spotted in Queens and rushing into a burning two-story home to save a woman and child.

And we will recognize National Heroes, Neema Bahrami, Brian Reagan, and Neal Whittleton, three Pulse Nightclub employees who demonstrated extraordinary courage and selflessness in the middle of the unimaginable fear and chaos.

Join us as we celebrate our mission and honor these outstanding honorees! For more information about the gala, please visit www.redcross.org and follow along on social media (Twitter and Facebook) with #RedCrossGala

Monday, September 12, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Sep 12

Red Cross Volunteers supporting FDNY 9/11 Memorial Service.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 72 adults and 17 children following 34 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
  • Sep 12, 15, 17, 19: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Sep 17: Please note the Radiation Situation: A Red Cross Simulation exercise has been postponed. Stay tuned for more information on a later edition of ICYMI. 
  • Sep 22: Seats are filled for “Born on the Battlefield” and registration is closed. This class is an introduction to the Geneva Conventions and how the International Committee of the Red Cross has historically played a role in war zones.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

In Case You Missed It - Sep 6

FDNY Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) volunteers deployed to Louisiana to help with the historic flooding.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 112 adults and 10 children following 38 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
  • Sep 6, 8 & 12: Red Cross blood drive: 2 to 7pm: 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Sep 9: The premiere of the movie Sully debuts on September 9th. Many actual Red Cross volunteers reprised their responder roles in the movie and will get an advance screening of the movie the day before.
  • Sep 10: #GetAlarmedNYC is coming to Flatbush, Brooklyn. Volunteer to help out, or sign up to get a free smoke alarm installed in your home.
  • Sep 17: Save the date for Radiation Situation: A Red Cross Simulation. The Greater New York Region will host its annual Full-Scale-Exercise on Saturday, September 17th from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Red Cross volunteers and staff are highly encouraged to participate and will have a choice of roles and locations throughout the Greater New York and North New Jersey Regions. Sign up today! 
  • Sep 22: Seats are filled are filled for “Born on the Battlefield” and registration is closed. This class is an introduction to the Geneva Conventions and how the International Committee of the Red Cross has historically played a role in war zones.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Q & A with Flight 1549 Volunteer - Dottie Brier

Interview by Kate Walpole, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is excited to be featured in scenes in the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ feature film SULLY. It recounts the story of the pilot who heroically landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the frigid Hudson River in early 2009. The movie; directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger; premieres in theaters nationwide September 9th! The American Red Cross is proud to be a partner of this film which, in part, honors the bravery and dedication of all our volunteers in New York City and around the country who give of themselves to provide these services every single day. 

Among those who supported the Red Cross response to the landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and who also reenacted that role in the movie SULLY was Dottie Brier. A few weeks ago we caught up with Dottie to discuss both experiences.


What went through your mind when you heard the plane went down?

As a Red Cross volunteer I had previously responded to Flight 800, the Swiss Air crash, the Egypt Air crash and smaller plane crashes. They were all fatal. There were no survivors in any of those plane crashes. So it was unbelievable that everyone had survived. I remember being shocked and thinking what a terrible experience it was to go through even though everyone lived.

What was your role in the Red Cross response?

My role was disaster mental health. The Mental Health Services program provides mental health counseling as needed to people affected by disaster. We offer short-term counseling right at the time of the disaster to help people cope with their reactions to a devastating situation. The emotional aspect is a very important part of a response to an emergency. In 2009, I went directly to the hotel in Queens [to the Family Assistance Center] where the passengers and crew members were taken. I worked with the survivors who were there to support whoever wanted to talk with us so they could express their feelings and get validation that what they are feeling was expected following a traumatic experience. It’s very helpful for people to be able to talk [following a disaster] to someone who will listen with great interest and compassion.

What did it mean for you to be an extra in the movie reenacting a scene you were personally involved in?

I was delighted that Red Cross was being included along with the emergency responders because we are a very important part of the response for people affected by disasters. Being with the group of other Red Cross volunteers was fun. It instantly brought back the memories of that day and the mixed feelings of sadness that people felt because the emergency landing happened, but also relief that everyone survived. I found it exciting to be an extra in a film with Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood. Plus it was interesting to see how much goes into filming a movie. It was hard work! We spent the whole day there in the pouring rain re-doing the scenes over and over again. We’d take Red Cross blankets, run up to the people coming off the rescue boats, walk them through the pier and then fold the blankets to start again.

To read and watch more about the movie SULLY, including behind-the scenes videos featuring Greater NY Red Cross volunteers and employees, visit www.redcross.org/sully.

Q & A with Flight 1549 Volunteer - Sally Phipps

Interview by Kate Walpole, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is excited to be featured in scenes in the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ feature film SULLY. It recounts the story of the pilot who heroically landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the frigid Hudson River in early 2009. The movie; directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger; premieres in theaters nationwide September 9th! The American Red Cross is proud to be a partner of this film which, in part, honors the bravery and dedication of all our volunteers in New York City and around the country who give of themselves to provide these services every single day.

Among those who supported the Red Cross response to the landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and who also reenacted that role in the movie SULLY was Sally Phipps. A few weeks ago we caught up with Sally to discuss both experiences.



What went through your mind when you heard the plane went down?

This was the third transportation incident I had responded to since my arrival at the Red Cross. I originally joined the Red Cross after the Flight 800 crash in 1996. The media coverage of this tragedy showed Red Cross volunteers with their arms around people. I was moved and knew it was something I’d like to do, a way to give back. I went into this response thinking the results were going to be the same as the other two plane crashes where there was loss of life. To go and see the passengers get off the ferry safely was amazing!

What was your role in the Red Cross response?

At the time, I supported our Chief Response Officer, who then sent me down to the Piers. I initially oversaw the passenger area for the Red Cross at the Piers. I also worked with passengers who did not have a place to go that night. They were taken by bus to a hotel near the airport. About ten days after the flight went down, my cell phone went off in a meeting. It was a man whose wife was on the flight. He explained that I had given his wife my phone so she could call to tell him she was safe and that was the first time he knew she was alive. I was so moved. It was an extraordinary testament to what the Red Cross does for people during some of their hardest times. Normally after an incident like this, you get very close to people but then you never see them again and you don’t necessarily know what happened. It was great because I was able to see how she was doing. Something else that struck me was the calm and composure of the pilot walking through all the chaos of the response.

How similar was the film shoot to the scene in 2009?

One similarity was that it was chaotic. There was a lot going on and Clint Eastwood had a stillness to him throughout all this chaos – whatever he’s focused on, he’s focused on.

What did it mean for you to be an extra in the movie reenacting a scene you were personally involved in?

It was fascinating; a real honor to be asked. It brought back lots of memories. It was an opportunity to bond in a completely different way with fellow Red Cross volunteers and share our memories. Quite frankly, it was fun because I had never been given the opportunity to be on the inside of a movie and actually participate. We were called the “real people” by everyone on set.

To read and watch more about the movie SULLY, including behind-the scenes videos featuring Greater NY Red Cross volunteers and employees, visit www.redcross.org/sully.

Q & A with Flight 1549 Responder - Chris Mercado

Interview by Kate Walpole, American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is excited to be featured in scenes in the upcoming Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ feature film SULLY. It recounts the story of the pilot who heroically landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the frigid Hudson River in early 2009. The movie; directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Oscar winner Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger; premieres in theaters nationwide September 9th! The American Red Cross is proud to be a partner of this film which, in part, honors the bravery and dedication of all our volunteers in New York City and around the country who give of themselves to provide these services every single day. 

Among those who supported the Red Cross response to the landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson River and who also reenacted that role in the movie SULLY was Chris Mercado. A few weeks ago we caught up with Chris to discuss both experiences.


What went through your mind when you heard the plane went down?

The first thing that came to mind was that a lot of lives were going to be lost and that we were going to encounter a tremendous amount of trauma. I immediately began organizing teams, quickly giving instructions and within 90 seconds I was heading to the scene.

I’m also a New York City First Responder so as I drove to the Piers I thought my EMT skills could be needed"

What was your role in the Red Cross response?

I received the first ferry that arrived. We immediately started to support the passengers and crew members in whatever way we could, including physical and mental health assistance, as well as spiritual care. The vast majority of passengers weren’t even wet (aside from their feet). How does a plane with about 150 passengers land in the middle of a body of water and the passengers don’t get wet? I had a picture of what I thought the needs would be and the reality was that they needed socks and blankets. As a medical professional, I was concerned about frostbite because there was snow on the ground and the temperature of the water was extremely cold. Another thing I won’t forget was the immediate need everyone had for cell phones. Everyone wanted to call their loved ones and tell them, “I’m okay.” All first respondents, including Red Cross volunteers lent passengers their cell phones.

What did it mean for you to be an extra in the movie reenacting a scene you were personally involved in?

I felt privileged and proud to be part of a motion picture. Beyond that, since I was present at the Piers six and a half years ago, the crew wanted to take a lot of what I felt and saw and incorporate it into the scene making it more life-like and actual to the events of that day. They made me feel like that was extremely important to them and that I could be instrumental in helping them understand how the response was orchestrated and how we incorporated our services into City's overall response. It’s uplifting that they worked to portray the scene as accurately as possible.

How similar was the film shoot to the scene in 2009?

I was doing the same function. I was one of the Red Crossers present as people were coming off the ferry; helping by providing blankets. I think that was one of the most important aspects of our relief efforts because it shows how quickly the Red Cross responded, how involved we were and how the shoot stayed true to the services we rendered that day. We received the passengers so they’d immediately have someone at their side to help them. Something I saw in the shooting and what I hope makes the final cut was that the crew just wanted to know about the passengers and make sure that they were OK. That was very true to the mindset of the crew that day. They were concerned about whether everyone was rescued. There was no budging until they had reassurances. They only settled down when they knew no lives were lost and everyone had been helped. That’s something I saw in the scene I took part in when Sully got off the ferry and immediately asked about the crew and the passengers.

To read and watch more about the movie SULLY, including behind-the scenes videos featuring Greater NY Red Cross volunteers and employees, visit www.redcross.org/sully.

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