Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year End Review: Unprecedented Year of Delivering Hope: Preparing the Community

by Stan Frank

During a year marked by unprecedented emergencies, American Red Cross volunteers from NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have answered the call to help around the country and right here in the Greater New York Region.

The statistics are impressive -- delivering emergency relief to approximately 8000 residents following more than 2200 disasters; installing over 27,000 smoke alarms; training over 7800 children in vital disaster preparedness skills. But numbers alone do not tell the story of all the Red Cross does to deliver hope and help in our communities. Over the next few blogs, I will share stories from the field about the lives our Red Cross staff and volunteers have touched across the region in each line of service: Disaster Response, Home Fire Preparedness, Services to the Armed Forces, International Services, and Preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness

The American Red Cross works to build resilient communities by training adults and children how to prepare for emergencies. In the Greater New York Region, Red Cross volunteers and staff deliver various preparedness programs to the community, including the Home Fire Campaign, which installs free smoke alarms; the Citizens Preparedness Corps, which trains New Yorkers ages 16 and up how to prepare for any disaster; and The Pillowcase Project, a national program, sponsored by Disney, which teaches children children coping skills to help them deal with an emergency situation and also offers tips and tools to help them prepare for emergencies.

John Waldman, Regional Senior Director of Government and Community Relations, highlighted two memorable events that took place in 2017.

The Pillowcase Project at P.S. 105 in Brooklyn 

In April, Red Cross teams visited P.S. 105 in Brooklyn, ready to train over 600 students how to prepare and respond to disasters. The Pillowcase Project teaches students the best ways to stay safe and create their own personal supply kits by packing essential items such as a first-aid kit, a water jug, a flashlight, a small battery-powered radio, etc. into a pillowcase or “Go Bag” for easy transport during a disaster. Students have the opportunity to decorate and personalize their pillowcase and share what they have learned with friends and family.

Coincidentally, this visit to the school happened just a few days after a tragic fire in Queens that claimed the lives of three young children. Said John, “I feel fortunate to have been able to provide children’s preparedness training the day after such a tragedy. The level of engagement from the participating children was extremely heartening. I’m proud that the Red Cross is able to bring this lifesaving program to the most vulnerable in our society and teach children how to avoid and respond to such terrible tragedies.”

The Boro Park Home Fire Campaign Partnership

Developing strong partnerships with local community organizations is vital for the Red Cross to deliver its mission. In 2017, the Red Cross is proud to have joined forces with the Boro Park Jewish Community Council (BPJCC) to help protect the community against home fires. Boro Park has a population of more than 100,000 residents and stretches over 200 blocks in Brooklyn. It is home to one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the country.

The community suffered three devastating fires during the fall, where both BPJCC and Red Cross responded to provide comfort and hope to the affected families. BPJCC's leaders knew it needed to act to prevent such tragedies in the future. Forming a partnership with the Red Cross was a perfect fit. On November 8, 2017, Boro Park residents, community leaders, elected officials and members of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) gathered in front of the BPJCC headquarters to announce their new partnership with the American Red Cross in Greater New York. The new fire-safety and emergency-preparedness partnership plans to hand out and install thousands of free smoke alarms to residents. There will also be an ongoing fire safety awareness campaign tailored specifically to the Jewish community’s needs and challenges. In addition, the campaign will include local tabling and canvassing events, and outreach efforts online throughout the year.

Initial reports are of a successful partnership, with over 400 households requesting smoke alarm installations in the first six weeks!


Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, and supporters who help the Red Cross prepare communities to respond and recover form disasters. To learn more about our preparedness programs, visit our website


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Support all the urgent humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross. Please consider making a donation today. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Year End Review: Unprecedented Year of Delivering Hope: Responding to Local Disasters


by Stan Frank

During a year marked by unprecedented emergencies, American Red Cross volunteers from NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have answered the call to help around the country and right here in the Greater New York Region.

The statistics are impressive -- delivering emergency relief to approximately 8000 residents following more than 2200 disasters; installing over 27,000 smoke alarms; training over 7800 children in vital disaster preparedness skills. But numbers alone do not tell the story of all the Red Cross does to deliver hope and help in our communities.

Over the next few blogs, I will share stories from the field about the lives our Red Cross staff and volunteers have touched across the region in each line of service: Disaster Response, Home Fire Preparedness, Services to the Armed Forces, International Services, and Preparedness.


Responding to Disasters Big and Small

The American Red Cross Greater New York Region serves more than 13 million people in New York City, on Long Island, in the Lower Hudson Valley counties of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan, as well as the community of Greenwich, Conn. After an emergency, Red Cross teams deliver hope and relief, including shelter, food, clothing and emotional support. On average, this happens 5 – 25 times a day in the Greater New York region. In 2017, teams responded to more than 2200 emergencies and disasters including home fires, building evacuations, floods and more, providing assistance to over approximately 8000 local residents in need.

Four Alarm Fire in Yonkers, New York

John Cascone, Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Metro New York North Chapter since 2001, described one of the major disasters in the chapter in 2017. On November 6, 2017, at about 5 a.m., a massive 4-alarm fire broke out in a densely populated residential community on Oak Street in Yonkers. The fire completely destroyed a 3-story apartment building and jumped to two adjacent wood-frame houses, causing major damage to one and minor damage to the other.

Quickly, more than 25 Red Cross volunteers mobilized and arrived on the scene. They set up a Reception Center -- a warm and safe place for families -- at the nearby Nodine Hill Community Center. Here, the volunteers were able to interview the 23 families displaced by this fire. Red Cross volunteers have a variety of skill sets, including speaking various languages, and 7 bilingual team members helped to translate for many families.

Many people arrived at the Center with only the clothes they were sleeping in. Red Cross volunteers quickly set up a shelter and provided blankets, clothing, food, and mental and emotional health support, as well as financial assistance to the residents.

Summing up the response Cascone said, “I was very proud of our response to this devastating fire. Our training and organization kicked in as soon as we were alerted and we were on-site helping victims almost immediately. Our volunteers, the Mayor’s Office, the OEM (Office of Emergency Management) and local social service agencies all worked together to help ease the pain of the 23 families who were displaced. That’s what the Red Cross is all about.”

Five Alarm Fire in Elmhurst, Queens

I also spoke with Uikki O’Bryant, Senior Disaster Program Manager for New York City, who recalled the events of a devastating spring time fire in Queens.

Photo Credit: Viv Moy
At about 6:30 p.m. on April 11, 2017, a 5-alarm fire broke out on the top floor of a large 6-story brick apartment building on 94th Street in the Elmhurst section of Queens. The ferocious fire spread quickly through the wooden roof frame before 200 firefighters from all over the city arrived at the scene. The fire completely destroyed the top floors of the building and displaced 67 families (144 adults and 31 children) and their many pets.

Red Cross teams responded quickly and worked with NYC Emergency Management to establish a reception center and temporary shelter at P.S. 13Q, just across the street from the fire building. Here volunteers provided food, beverages, health assistance, and, most importantly, emotional support. Many of the residents arrived with only the clothes on their backs. Some carried their children and pets - including dogs, cats, and turtles -- in their arms.
Photo Credit: R.Rigos


"The fire was so large that it was truly a regional response with volunteers, community organizations and governmental agencies from all over the city and across our region pitching in to help," said O'Bryant. We are grateful to count among our partners New York City’s Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCEM), and Tzu Chi, one of our most active community partners. We also collaborated with Animal Care Centers (ACC), which helped find temporary homes for displaced pets.

Within days, a multi-agency resource center was established and Red Cross case workers joined with City agencies and other nonprofits to provide additional assistance and help these families start to take their next steps. Kevin Rojas, a resident of the building for 33 years, shared his story in this video.

Thank you to all of our volunteers and partners who help the Red Cross to deliver hope and help down the street, across the country, and around the world.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods and countless other crises by making a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Please consider making a donation today. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Year End Review: Unprecedented Year of Delivering Hope: Home Fire Campaign

by Stan Frank

During a year marked by unprecedented emergencies, American Red Cross volunteers from NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have answered the call to help around the country and right here in the Greater New York Region.

The statistics are impressive -- delivering emergency relief to approximately 8000 residents following more than 2200 disasters; installing over 27,000 smoke alarms; training over 7800 children in vital disaster preparedness skills. But numbers alone do not tell the story of all the Red Cross does to deliver hope and help in our communities. Over the next few blogs, I will share stories from the field about the lives our Red Cross staff and volunteers have touched across the region in each line of service: Disaster Response, Home Fire Preparedness, Services to the Armed Forces, International Services, and Preparedness.

Home Fire Campaign
In 2015, the American Red Cross in Greater New York, as part of its national Home Fire Campaign, joined forces with the FDNY, the FDNY Foundation, the Office of the NYC Mayor, the NY City Council and local businesses to launch #GetAlarmedNYC, the largest smoke alarm giveaway and installation in the nation. Its goal was to provide the free installation of 100,000 combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms to city residents in the five boroughs that pose the greatest risk from fire according to FDNY statistics and analysis.

Since 2015, as part of this partnership, the Red Cross installed over 70,000 smoke alarms in neighborhoods known to have a history of home fires in New York City. In 2017 alone, volunteers and partner groups of the program installed 23,700 alarms in New York City and over 27,700 across the Greater New York region.





“We have several documented cases of lives saved due to this program. We know that smoke alarms save lives," said said Joe Spaccarelli, Program Director for New York’s Home Fire Campaign.

Team Effort
One of the memorable Home Fire Campaign events of 2017 was when the employees of Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), a corporate partner and supporter of the Red Cross, teamed up with us for a day of service. They have been a tremendous partner of the Red Cross as part of our effort to help #EndHomeFires. Two years ago, during a day of service, BBH employees established an all-time record for smoke alarm installations in Greater New York that has yet to be surpassed when they installed 1000 smoke alarms in East Harlem in one day. This past May, their team returned to East Harlem and installed 510 free smoke alarms -- another record making day!
Thank you to BBH and to all of our partners for your support for this life saving program! 

Installing the 1 millionth Alarm

Since the launch of the Home Fire Campaign in 2014, the American Red Cross in Greater New York has installed over 80,000 smoke alarms across our region. Our work is part of a national effort, where Red Cross teams across the country are working to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and save lives. This year, 2017, marked a milestone for the campaign: The installation of the 1 millionth smoke alarm! 

Long Island Red Cross volunteer, Craig Cooper, helped to install the 1 millionth alarm with local New York City talk show host, Wendy Williams, in her hometown of Asbury Park, NJ.

In November, Red Cross team members were thrilled to join with our FDNY partners to appear on Good Morning America to celebrate this milestone and share important fire safety tips. 


To learn more about the Home Fire Campaign, to sign up for a FREE smoke alarm, or to get involved to help #EndHomeFires, please visit redcross.org/NYCFireSafety

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Year End Review: Unprecedented Year of Delivering Hope: Service to the Armed Forces

by Stan Frank

During a year marked by unprecedented emergencies, American Red Cross volunteers from NYC, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley have answered the call to help around the country and right here in the Greater New York Region.

The statistics are impressive -- delivering emergency relief to approximately 8000 residents following more than 2200 disasters; installing over 27,000 smoke alarms; training over 7800 children in vital disaster preparedness skills. But numbers alone do not tell the story of all the Red Cross does to deliver hope and help in our communities. 

Over the next few blogs, I will share stories from the field about the lives our Red Cross staff and volunteers have touched across the region in each line of service: Disaster Response, Home Fire Preparedness, Services to the Armed Forces, International Services, and Preparedness.


Service to the Armed Forces
Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1863 to provide aid and comfort to soldiers wounded in battle. Those efforts have continued to this day. In 2017, the Greater New York Red Cross chapters alone provided more than 6145 individual services to veterans. Anthony Incarnato, Regional Program Specialist, provided a few highlights for the year.


New York City Veteran’s Day Parade
The Veterans’ Day Parade took place on a chilly and windy Saturday, November 11, with more than 40 Red Cross volunteers marching and canteening. Included were five special guests -- therapy dogs who are all well known at West Point for their service to vets. The volunteers assembled at Madison Square Park where they distributed more than 1100 hot and cold beverages and 1400 snacks generously donated by JetBlue. Then the Red Crossers marched alongside dozens of veterans groups up Fifth Avenue to 57th Street to salute our nation's veterans. For more photos, please visit here.


Northport VA Hospital Stand Down
On September 21, the American Red Cross participated in the annual Northport V.A. Hospital Veterans “Stand Down.” Red Cross volunteers distributed “Totes of Hope” Comfort Kits to homeless or at-risk veterans along with information regarding Red Cross services. The kits contained toiletries such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, soap, and shampoo. Veterans also received resources and referrals for assistance from other veterans agencies, including Samaritan Village, Military One Source, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans (IAVA), and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  


MEDEVAC Bags for Walter Reed
For the fourth year in a row, board members from the American Red Cross Metro New York North chapter assembled nearly 200 MEDEVAC Bags for patients arriving from overseas to receive care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Board members put the totes together with items donated by local businesses and community members as a way to say "Thank you" to our brave military men and women serving our nation. In addition, this year the Board also donated 100 electric razors for patients who are on blood thinners and hundreds of new popular magazines. Metro New York North CEO Mary Young transported the bags to Walter Reed personally.


This is just a small glimpse into the many missions led by the Service to the Armed Forces team members across the American Red Cross Greater New York Region. When asked what he finds most satisfying about his work, Anthony said, “Since it’s inception more than 100 years ago, The Red Cross has supported our veterans. Through our local community outreach efforts and the Hero Care Call Centers, we continue to support them in every way we can. And I’m proud to say that the Red Cross to this day continues to serve those who have served us.”
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HOW YOU CAN HELP

Support all the urgent humanitarian needs of the American Red Cross. Please consider making a donation today. Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends goes to its programs and services, which includes providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

In Case You Missed It – Dec 18

A successful day for the Pillowcase Project, teaching elementary school children about disaster preparedness!

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 155 adults and 63 children following 61 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 19, 21, 22, 23: 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 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!

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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!

    Tuesday, November 7, 2017

    In Case You Missed It - Nov 6

    "Wendy helps the @RedCross install their 1 millionth smoke alarm! #EndHomeFires." -@WendyWilliams
    Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 160 adults and 43 children following 53 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 7, 10, 13 15: 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 11: The Red Cross will be marching alongside veterans in the 2017 Veterans Day Parade on Saturday, November 11. Come and cheer the veterans and the Red Cross along the parade route on 5th Ave from 26th Street to 52nd Street starting at 11:15 am.
    • 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.


    Saturday, November 4, 2017

    Notes From the Field

    by Melissa Logan, American Red Cross in Greater New York

    Greater New York Red Crossers continue to deploy across the US to support residents who are working through what is expected to be a long road to recovery from record-breaking destruction over the past few months. Overall, the Red Cross has provided shelter, meals, and supplies to more people in the last 60 days than in the previous five calendar years combined. Just last week, a major Nor'ester can be added to the list of large-scale emergencies that our Greater NY teams have deployed to. Here's a look back at the work of our volunteers and employees on the ground as told from their own social media accounts.

    November 2nd, Daniel Delgado, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico
    Instead of getting some well-deserved rest, Daniel chose to use his day off from volunteering to continue his service to the people of Puerto Rico

    November 1st, Nor'ester, Maine 
    Earlier this week, a major coastal storm pushed through the northeast blowing high winds through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut. The high winds in some places topped 90 mph and knocked down power lines and trees that crashed into cars and caused structural damage to homes. It's estimated that 1 million people in the region were left without power. This past week four Red Crossers from Greater New York were deployed to Maine to assist with running shelters that were operating as emergency warming centers. The shelters provided hot meals and showers, phone charging, and other services to residents left without power.

    October 31st, Cedric Davoren, Hurricane Harvey, Houston
    After a disaster strikes there's usually a long road to recovery, including the effort to clean up. Cedric talks about his experiences supporting and collaborating with local and Federal authorities.

    October 29th, Gary Chin, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico
    Gary has been in Puerto Rico since October 16th. Below he's showing the logistical side of what the Red Cross does.

    October 26th, Bruce Vesloski, California Wildfires, Sacramento
    Bruce drove an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) all the way from California to upstate New York!

    October 23rd Steven Colon--Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico
    Steven went to Puerto Rico to work bulk distribution delivering life-saving supplies to thousands of residents left with no clean water or electricity. Before going to Puerto Rico, Steven deployed to Texas and supported residents there.

    October 20th--Doug Bainton, DART Volunteer, Hurricane Maria and the US Virgin Islands.
    Doug worked bulk distribution moving emergency relief supplies into difficult to reach areas.

    October 18th--Viv Moy, Hurricane Harvey, California Wildfires
    Viv first deployed to Texas back in September to assist residents affected by flooding. Now she's in California putting together recovery kits for residents displaced by wildfires. The kits include rakes, eye drops, sifters, garbage bags, hand sanitizer, masks, work gloves, all packed together in a tote bag.

    October 14th--Eli Russ, California Wildfires
    Eli deployed as a sheltering lead and helped thousands of residents displaced from their homes find comfort and safety.
    October 17th--Volunteers, Welcoming Families Displaced from Puerto Rico
    Volunteers and staff of the greater New York Red Cross met evacuees displaced from Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico. From October 11th through the 18th families were welcomed at John F. Kennedy International Airport and offered assistance. To further support those affected, the Red Cross of greater New York has partnered with city agencies to set up a service center on Manhattan's upper east side to address the long-term recovery plans of affected residents.

    Thx to our volunteers who have been supporting families at JFK returning from Puerto Rico. #HurricaneMaria pic.twitter.com/uPZqq6pA57

    September 20th--Alex Ong, Hurricane Irma
    Alex first deployed when Hurricane Irma struck. He drove an emergency response vehicle (ERV) to Florida and executed mobile feeding operations. Later he went to Puerto Rico to carry out bulk distribution efforts. At the end of his 2-week tour he was at the volunteer outtake center preparing to come home when he saw dozens of families standing in line waiting to register for shelter. Alex decided to extend his deployment for another week so he could help those families in their time of need.




    August 30th--Joe Spaccarelli, Hurricane Harvey
    Staff member Joe Speccarelli from Long Island coordinated the deployment of our emergency disaster vehicles (ERVs) from Louisiana to Texas. These large vehicles carry emergency supplies to affected areas. Before the storm hit the Red Cross coordinated around 200 ERVs in the region that drove out to people in need of food and water. Here is a picture of ERV teams getting a briefing and training before they head out.
    August 29th--Elizabeth Barker, Hurricane Harvey
    Elizabeth Barker of Long Island relayed critical information about where people could find shelter and communicated how the Red Cross is assisting residents. She was also out in the field at a shelter in Dallas connecting with other organizations involved with the response and recovery effort.
    — Elizabeth Barker (@LizBarkerNY) August 29, 2017


    August 27th--FDNY DART TEAM, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria
    At the onset of Hurricane Harvey, active and retired New York City Firefighters and members of FDNY DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) deployed to the Houston area to handle distribution of emergency relief supplies. The teams later went to Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

    Here is a view of them as they head out. http://abc7ny.com/teams-from-ny-head-to-texas-to-help-harvey-recovery-effort/2347217/

    August 26th--Matt Teter, Hurricane Harvey
    Matt Teter of Manhattan spent several weeks in Texas and surrounding regions to report on events as they were unfolding.

    Wednesday, November 1, 2017

    Faces of Service

    By Robert Juarbe, American Red Cross in Greater New York


    In an effort led by New York City, the American Red Cross in Greater New York has partnered with City agencies and community organizations at a Service Center in the East Harlem to assist with the short and long-term needs of hurricane-affected families arriving in NYC.

    The Red Cross has been present at the Center (1680 Lexington Ave) since it first opened on October 19, 2017. Here are some of the dedicated volunteers who have been working tirelessly to help.

    Betsy Tirado - New York, N.Y.




    Betsy Tirado, a nurse, has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for about twenty years. She has been at the service center providing medical support for evacuees with the assistance of her organization, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).

    "I’ve been volunteering for about 20 years. I was heavily involved in 9/11, then I stopped for family and my personal job. Then again, I went back. Whenever I have the free time and am able to help out, I’m out there!" Betsy said.

    "I also belong to NAHN. I recruited the NAHN members to come [here]… I recruited them to help and be here. Many of our clients speak English, but many do not and they are very stressed, they just went through an incredible event. They don’t have a place to stay, everything is up in the air. What they knew as normal yesterday is not necessarily normal today. They’re in a place that is outside of their comfort zone. Their language and needs are different and they have great needs. We need to be out there and help them out."

    Sara Cabezas - Brooklyn, N.Y.



    Sara Cabezas, a Brooklyn resident, has been volunteering for the Red Cross for 16 years, since 9/11. She has been volunteering at the service center since it first opened on October 19.

    "I do a lot of things. Client services, mass care, response. I also help install fire alarms and do data entry at the office. We hand out comfort kits, food, baby food. Speaking Spanish helps."

    When asked about why she volunteers for the the Red Cross, Sara responded, "Because I feel it, people need help, I feel it in my heart."

    Theresa Rimarachin - Long Island City, N.Y.



    Theresa, a resident of Long Island City, has been volunteering for the American Red Cross for a little over a month. This was her fist day volunteering at the Service Center.

    “I’ve always wanted to join the Red Cross," she said. "With the hurricanes and everything going on I wanted to be involved and do something instead of just talking about it.”

    Jennifer Nerby - New York, N.Y.



    Jennifer Nerby, an NYC native, has been volunteering for the American Red Cross for about six months. This was also her first day volunteering at the Service Center.

    "I find it really rewarding. It’s a great way to [help] people in the community. The Red Cross is really cool, I like the services they provide. Most people really need what's being provided to them."

    Wanda Sutter - Illinois


    Wanda Sutter has been volunteering for the American Red Cross in Greater New York for six months and this was her first day at the Service Center. She comes to us all the way from Illinois.

    "I wanted to come to New York and experience New York as a New Yorker and I wanted to do service work while I’m here, so I connected with the Red Cross which was a perfect fit for me," Wanda said. "I just enjoy helping people. I wanted to go on deployments and help during disasters. There’s not always an opportunity for deployment and so I got involved doing other things. There’s just so many things to do at the Red Cross and I’ve been busy for the months that I’ve been here."

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