Monday, November 30, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Nov 30

Red Cross on Long Island teaching emergency preparedness to JFK Intermediate School in Deer Park.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 68 adults and 32 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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving Thanks by Giving Back


As we prepare to gather with friends and family on this special day, we wanted to take a moment to recognize some our volunteers who will be spending part of their holiday giving back. Among those offering their time and assistance today is Vincent Stephens from Staten Island. Prior to his shift, we chatted with him about his volunteer work with the Red Cross and what it means for him to offer a helping hand on a day like today.

Where are you from?
VINCENT STEPHENS (VS): I was born in Brooklyn but moved to Staten Island when I was two. I lived in [the neighborhood of] Sunnyside most of my life. I’ve lived in New Spingville for the past three years.

When did you start volunteering for the Red Cross?
VS: I became a Red Cross volunteer in September of 2012. Basically, I wanted to help people, not only on Staten Island, but all over the City.

What is your role?
VS: I’m a DAT [Disaster Action Team] captain. We help people after fires, vacates and other incidents. I oversee a group of volunteers from Staten Island who take shifts to respond, not only in Staten Island, but also City-wide if need be.

How often do you volunteer?
VS: 16-20 hours a week on average. Usually, two to three full Sunday tours [shifts] a month and two to three Mondays a month. But sometimes, even if I’m not on shift and something happens on Staten Island and I’m available, I’ll offer help so a team from Manhattan doesn’t have to. Often, if we hear or see something going on in Staten island, we’ll call in to see if we can respond.

Have you ever volunteered on a holiday before?
VS: I have. I’ve volunteered Easter Sundays, Thanksgivings and Christmas. 

Why do you volunteer on these holidays? 
VS: It’s particularly important for me to help people get back on their feet and find a sense of normalcy on these days. 

Who will be volunteering alongside you on Thanksgiving? 
VS: Two of my Staten Island DAT team members: Dinali Obeysekera and Chris Hojnacki.

Why do you keep coming back as a volunteer? 
VS: To know that you helped someone get to a better place after losing everything.

Along with Vincent, the following volunteers from across the region are also volunteering today: Janice Barnikel, Bob Brander, Chris Hojnacki, Frank Lossmann, Dinali Obeysekera, Marko Orgega, Dennis Patrikios, Mamadou Sall, Terese Schellhorn.

To learn more about volunteering for the Red Cross click here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Nov 23

Red Cross volunteer Richard Gallis at the scene of a fire in Queens.
Photo recently featured in Red Cross Red Crescent Magazine photo essay.
(photo credit: Marko Kokic)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 115 adults and 55 children following 55 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
  • Win a Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit by taking the online emergency preparedness training. You’ll be automatically entered to win. This contest is open to residents of New York City, Long Island, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties. Four winners will be chosen each month (notified via email).
  • Dec 3-6: For Long Islanders, we invite you to join us for the 20th Anniversary of Champions for Charity!
  • Dec 5: Our #GetAlarmedNYC campaign needs volunteers to support daily installation teams every week. The campaign also needs volunteers to support our upcoming Mega Event in Jackson Heights (Queens) on December 5th. Sign up for a Home Fire Campaign shift today (link for Red Cross Volunteers).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The New York Red Cross Through the Lens of Marko Kokic

By Catherine Kinney, American Red Cross


The Greater New York Red Cross is proud to have our volunteers featured in the October 2015 issue of International Red Cross Red Crescent (RCRC) Magazine. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies provide a range of humanitarian services, such as disaster relief, health and social programs, to local populations in more than 189 countries. RCRC Magazine features this work and the dedicated individuals who carry it out.

The article entitled Comfort After Tragedy, with Help from Technology features our very own volunteers and their use of smartphones and tablets to help families with immediate needs--shelter, clothing, food and emergency funds--after local disasters. Click here to read the full electronic article.

Marko Kokic, the former Audio-Visual Producer/Photo Editor at the International Committee of the Red Cross for eight years, produced and shot this photo essay. Kokic's work with the Red Cross spans 19 years and has taken him around the world--Afghanistan, Lebanon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Haiti, Nicaragua, Namibia and Switzerland. Marko currently lives in NYC and volunteers with our Chapter.

Last week, we chatted with Marko about his Red Cross work.




Q: Having traveled the world with the Red Cross, can you tell us something that most people would not know about the International Red Cross?

A: Most people don’t know that there are 13 million active Red Cross volunteers around the world. I know of no humanitarian organization in the world that can claim a larger volunteer base than the Red Cross. When you mobilize that many people for good, imagine what you can accomplish. Here’s an example. Way back in 2001, I was working in Zambia on a measles vaccination campaign where Red Cross volunteers were making sure children were vaccinated. We were driving down the road when I saw a man wearing a Red Cross apron. Behind him were nine children, all walking on this dirt road in the middle of nowhere. He told me he was accompanying these kids to a health post to be vaccinated against measles because their parents were unable to. To my delight, I later read that the vaccination campaign was incredibly successful. A million kids had been dying every year in Africa due to measles. Since then, campaigns such as this one have managed to cut measles deaths by three quarters. A big part of this success was because of the work of Red Cross volunteers.


Q: What did you learn about the Red Cross in Greater New York that you didn’t know prior to doing this photo series?

A: The first thing I learned about the Red Cross in Greater New York was that they assist victims of home fires. I had never seen the Red Cross do that anywhere else in the world. I’ve worked in large disasters so I’ve seen the huge impact these have on people. But I came to realize victims of home fires can be just as affected as those suffering a large disaster. The Red Cross in Greater New York doesn’t underestimate these “small” disasters. People lose their homes and there is often no place for them to go. I think I would even struggle if I had a fire in my apartment. The Red Cross ensures shelter and other basic necessities for victims. What also impressed me was that the Red Cross in Greater New York is not just waiting for the disaster to happen in order to respond. They are proactive about trying to prevent potential tragedy by installing smoke alarms and teaching people in their community to be better prepared.  


Q: What is the commonality between all the different Red Crosses or Red Crescents that you’ve seen in action?

A: What I see in all people involved with the Red Cross/Red Crescent, and which inspires me, is how enthusiasm about wanting to do something positive is turned into concrete action. Simple acts performed by millions of volunteers around the world are making a difference. Wherever you go in this world, no matter how remote, I guarantee you that you will always find someone who has been touched by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. This enthusiasm among Red Cross and Crescent volunteers is the same, whether they are in Africa or here in New York. They all want to do something positive without asking for or receiving anything in return. 


Q: What is it about the Red Cross/Red Crescent that keeps you coming back in different roles?

A: With everything that’s going on in the world, all the turmoil and sorrow, it’s easy to become cynical. Especially when you work in war and you see the worst in people.  But you also see some of the best - the Red Cross/Crescent in action.  I have worked alongside volunteers of the Red Cross/Crescent for years. And you know what? I still get choked up when I see what they can accomplish. It restores my faith in humanity.

Click through below to see more Red Cross ride-along photos by Marko Kokic.




View all

Monday, November 16, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Nov 16

Red Cross volunteers leaving Yankee Stadium to install smoke alarms in Highbridge Community. (Photo: Matt LaMonica)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 71 adults and 12 children following 39 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review


GNY Red Cross CEO, Josh Lockwood, discusses today's Home Fire Preparedness smoke alarms installations in the Bronx.
Posted by American Red Cross in Greater New York on Saturday, November 14, 2015




Upcoming Events and Opportunities 

  • Starting today, be on the lookout for the above Red Cross holiday PSA. Special thanks to our Board Chair John Osborne and BBDO for producing the TV spot.
  • Win a Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit by taking the online emergency preparedness training. You’ll be automatically entered to win. This contest is open to residents of New York City, Long Island, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties. Four winners will be chosen each month (notified via email).
  • Nov 16, 20: Red Cross blood drives; 1 to 7pm; 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Nov 22: The Red Cross “Restoring Family Links” program and many other city agencies will be on hand at the Family Resource Day taking place at P.S. 61, 88-50, 50th ave, Corona, N.Y., to provide many services for immigrant families.
  • Dec 3-6: For Long Islanders, we invite you to join us for the 20th Anniversary of Champions for Charity!
  • Dec 5: The Red Cross, Mayor, and the FDNY Foundation announced our #GetAlarmedNYC Home Fire Campaign. Our campaign needs volunteer support to staff Daily Installation Teams every week as well as an exciting Mega Event in Jackson Heights, on December 5th. Sign up for a Home Fire Campaign shift today (link for Red Cross Volunteers).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans Day Q and A with Akinori Tsuchida

By Peter Belfiore and Catherine Kinney, American Red Cross

Red Cross marching in the 2015 NYC Veterans Day Parade

The relationship between the American Red Cross and the military goes back more than a century to when our founder Clara Barton first recruited nurses during the Civil War. Today, through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program we carry on this tradition by offering critical services to men and women in all branches of the United States military, active duty personnel, reservists and members of the National Guard, and their families.
           
Since April 2015 Akinori Tsuchida has managed the SAF program in Greater NY. Tsuchida, a veteran himself, retired from the Army in 2008 and then began volunteering for the American Red Cross SAF program. A few years later, he became a SAF overseas station manager working at United States military bases in Korea. This past spring he returned to NYC to oversee the program in Greater NY.

Earlier this week we talked with Tsuchida about the services we provide to military members and their families in Greater NY and what Veterans Day means to him.

What are some of the services the American Red Cross provides to active duty service members?

Our primary mission is serving as a means of communication between the families and the military anywhere in the world. We deliver over 1,600 emergency messages in the New York Region every year. I like to tell people if you do the math it comes out to almost 5 families a day in this region that required some sort of Red Cross emergency communication service. Even though we do have all this technology, there are many instances where the Red Cross is the only way the family can communicate quickly with one another.


What services does the American Red Cross provide for veterans?

We continue to work with service members even after they get out. We are one of the volunteer services at the VA hospitals. We also provide financial assistance in partnership with various military aid societies.

Are there any other programs that you would like to talk about?

Something that we’re really proud of is our re-connections workshop. It's a series of modules taught by licensed mental-health workers. They’re free and they focus on reintegration and re-engagement skills for service members, veterans and their families. We have these different topics like communication, stress, identifying depression, working through anger. It’s free, it's confidential and it’s pretty successful. We’ve been doing it all over the country.

What do most people not know about the Services to the Armed Forces?

Some people don’t realize that the Red Cross deploys with the military. Right now we have two overseas deployed stations: one is in Djibouti, which is in the Horn of Africa and the other one is in Kuwait. We continue to support all the military in the Middle East through those Red Cross stations. We go where they go.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

For me as a veteran it’s not about me, it's really about all of my friends who I’ve served with. We try to keep in touch, even if it's once a year, and thank each other for our service. I don’t think of it as a sad holiday though, it's a day of reflection and think about the people you served with and the people who aren’t here anymore.

Monday, November 9, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Nov 9

Mayor Bill de Blasio: "The Red Cross is there to pick up people’s lives and we in government depend on them all the time...we’re thrilled to be partnering with them here to reach so many people."
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 67 adults and 21 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
  • Win a Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit by taking the online emergency preparedness training. You’ll be automatically entered to win. This contest is open to residents of New York City, Long Island, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties. Four winners will be chosen each month (notified via email).
  • Nov 9, 10: Red Cross blood drives; 1 to 7pm; 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Nov 11: Join the American Red Cross as it marches in America's Parade on Wednesday. The parade kicks off at Madison Park on 26th Street and Fifth Avenue and marches north along Fifth Avenue to 53rd Street. For Red Cross volunteers, who wish to march in honor of America's veterans, please email SAFGNY@redcross.org.
  • Nov 14: The Red Cross, Mayor, and the FDNY Foundation announced our #GetAlarmedNYC Home Fire Campaign. Our campaign needs volunteer support to staff Daily Installation Teams every week as well as an exciting Mega Event in the Bronx, on November 14th. Sign up for a Home Fire Campaign shift today (link for Red Cross Volunteers).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What the “Walking Dead” cast would have done differently today if they had the Red Cross Emergency App

By Catherine Kinney, American Red Cross


The Red Cross Emergency App is an easy-to-use, all-in-one resource that gives you safety information at your fingertips. This app monitors more than 35 types of emergencies, including severe weather, and provides emergency alerts in real time.

The cast of the “Walking Dead” is a group of courageous, cut-throat survivors, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a helping hand. Of course, with the world ending and all, they wouldn’t have access to phones. But if we were to run into the problems that happened to the cast of the Walking Dead today, the outcomes would be different with access to our Emergency App.

Rick

In the early seasons, Rick’s sore spot was one thing and one thing only—protecting his family. His family-orientated views make the “Family Safe” feature of our Emergency App a real asset. The “Family Safe” functionality allows you to instantly contact loved ones after alerts are issued in their area. If Rick woke up from a coma today and his family was unaware, he could alert Laurie to see if she was okay and tell her that he was alive. A lot of problems could have been avoided if that tool was available (i.e. Mister Steal Yo’ Girl Shane).

Glenn

In Season 5 after the prison got raided, everyone got split up, including Glenn and Maggie. Glenn and Maggie spent a few episodes desperately trying to find each other, while tearing at the heart strings of us viewers. Right before they were reunited, Glenn’s group had to make a choice: go through the underground tunnel where they could be flanked on all sides by zombies, or take the much longer route and walk all the way around. Today, if Glenn needed to figure out which route is best, the Emergency App severe weather and hazards alerts could help him decide. The app also gives you expert Red Cross tips and guidance on what to do before, during and after an emergency. Since zombies are a hazard, this function could have told the group which path the herds of zombies were in. Luckily they chose the right path without it. After the "Thank You" episode we see Glen being tackled by hundreds of zombies. If he was in that situation today, the Emergency App could have warned Glenn of the herd of zombies ahead of time with its emergency alerts. Let's hope this article is right and Glenn still found a way to survive.

Carol

In Season 4, Carol was kicked out of the group by Rick only to be let back in after she helped save them from the Governor. During her time alone, she worried about the group, especially the two girls, Lizzie and Mika. If Carol was ousted from the group today, she could keep tabs on the group while being on her own with the Emergency App. The app has customizable alert settings that could let her monitor her location, along with her loved ones and their location. Carol could also choose which alerts she wants to receive a push notification for, with or without sound, so zombies wouldn’t hear her phone go off when she was alerted.

Michonne

In Season 5, the team was on the run for months without much food or water. Michonne knew the group had to stop running soon, but she didn’t know how until they met Aaron from Alexandria. If Michonne and the group were in need of help today, they could use the Emergency App to see a map with a list of open Red Cross shelters. If Michonne had the app, she could check and see where there were open Red Cross shelters to make pit stops at. Here they could reboot, have a place to sleep and get some survival supplies as needed.

Carl

Carl had a hard time adjusting to Alexandria. He was so stuck in survival mode that he forgot how to be a kid. Instead, he criticized the rest of the teens for their lack of zombie survival skills. If Carl was having trouble getting along with other kids today, the quizzes with shareable badges on the Emergency App could help. He can share badges and play games while also teaching them how to survive with Red Cross tips.

Maggie
Maggie has definitely grown from her sweet, farm-girl past. Now she’s out on zombie killing sprees with the rest of the gang. If a zombie outbreak happened today, Maggie could distract zombies with the toolkit on the Emergency App. The toolkit function on the app comes with a flashlight, strobe light, and audible alarm. The flashlight comes in handy at night, especially in the winter when the sun goes down early. But the strobe light and audible alarm is good use for distracting zombies! One can put down their phone and put the strobe light or audible alarm on and lure the zombies in a different direction.

Daryl

Don’t worry we didn’t forget Daryl. But let’s face it; with his survival skills he doesn’t need anything high tech.

If you came across this in NYC, would you be prepared?

To learn more about the Red Cross Emergency App, click here.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Finding Strength in Family After Brooklyn Tragedy


By Peter Belfiore, America Red Cross



In early October, after their Borough Park apartment was destroyed by an explosion in a neighboring building, the Torres family suddenly found themselves homeless. Standing on a nearby street corner, Salvador Torres, a father of three, wondered how he and his extended family that lived next door were going to cope. That’s when they were approached by the Red Cross.

Prior to the explosion one of Salvador’s three children, 14-year-old Jeanette, was having a fun afternoon with friends at home practicing dance moves for her upcoming Sweet 15 birthday party. Suddenly, they were shaken by a loud noise. After looking out the window and seeing the building facade collapsing nearby, they quickly evacuated.

To everyone’s relief, the family all made it out safely, but they knew they had lost everything.

“We didn’t know where we would be living,” says Salvador.

As they began to process what happened, the family met with Red Cross volunteers who reassured them that everything would be OK.

“We feel a warmth when talking to them,” recalls Jeanette. “We could tell they really felt bad for us and wanted to help.”

The Red Cross initially offered them temporary shelter at a local hotel and money for food and clothing to help minimize the impact of such a life-changing event.

Along with the Torres' and their neighboring family members, the Red Cross assisted six other households left homeless by the explosion. Sadly, two individuals lost their lives in the disaster.

A few days after the tragedy, the Torres’ visited the Greater NY Red Cross headquarters in Hell’s Kitchen to meet with their caseworker Lilliam for additional assistance which included referrals to longer-term housing with a City agency and school supplies for the kids.

The road to recovery will be difficult for the Torres family. But as they begin to rebuild their lives and cope with the trauma, they know they can rely on each other to help move forward. Thankfully, Jeanette’s upcoming Sweet 15 party is still planned for November 28th and will prove a comforting opportunity to gather with family and friends.

Celebrating with their loved ones will be a reminder of the support they received following this disaster, an opportunity that may not have been possible without their new friends at the Red Cross. But to Salvador, they're more than just friends.

As he says, “The Red Cross is like a family you can trust with anything.”


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In Case You Missed It - Nov 2

Red Cross Volunteers supporting the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 42 adults and 15 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
  • Win a Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit by taking the online emergency preparedness training. You’ll be automatically entered to win. This contest is open to residents of New York City, Long Island, Orange, Sullivan, Rockland, Putnam and Westchester Counties. Four winners will be chosen each month (notified via email).
  • GetAlarmedNYC: On November 2nd, the American Red Cross, the Mayor, and the FDNY Foundation announced our #GetAlarmedNYC Home Fire Campaign. Our campaign needs volunteer support to staff Daily Installation Teams every week as well as an exciting Mega Event in the Bronx, on November 14th. Sign up for a Home Fire Campaign shift today (link for Red Cross Volunteers).
  • Nov 6: Red Cross blood drives; 1 to 7pm; 520 West 49th Street, Manhattan. Schedule an appointment to donate today.
  • Nov 11: Join the American Red Cross as it marches in America's Parade on Wednesday. The parade kicks off at Madison Park on 26th Street and Fifth Avenue and marches north along Fifth Avenue to 53rd Street. For Red Cross volunteers, who wish to march in honor of America's veterans, please email SAFGNY@redcross.org.

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