Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In Case You Missed It - August 12

Red Cross teams assist nearly 200 residents affected by
 two multiple-alarm fire in the Bronx. (Photo: Kevin Suttlehan) 
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 215 adults and 104 children following 44 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
  • We are actively recruiting for the following volunteer positions: Visual Storyteller, Disability Integration Volunteer, Transportation Volunteer, Recruitment Support Volunteer. Apply today at www.redcross.org/volunteer! For more information, please contact recruitmentgny@redcross.org.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

In Case You Missed It - August 6


Senator Brad Hoylman supported GNY Red Cross as we
 provided assistance to those affected by a crane collapse last Tuesday in East Village Manhattan.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 237 adults and 79 children following 53 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review

  • Shout out to our dedicated Red Cross volunteers who installed free smoke alarms on Saturday in Co-op City, The Bronx, and Wurstboro, New York. #HomeFireSafety #EndHomeFires
  • Do you know about our Service to the Armed Forces program? Two of our volunteers explained the work they do to support military members, veterans and their families in this blog post.
  • On Thursday, we had a great evening at Calissa in the Hamptons celebrating with our Long Island Young Patrons. Thanks to our guests, sponsor, and volunteers for participating!
  • Our Red Cross volunteer Katie Constable believes that volunteering is a mutually beneficial thing. “Even though you are helping others, other people are also helping you”, she said in last week’s Instagram series #MyRedCrossLife
  • ABC7 reported last Tuesday a multiple-alarm fire on Pacific St in Brooklyn where our teams assisted dozens of residents.
  • Red Cross Logistics and Response teams provided assistance and temporary housing to those affected by a crane collapse last Tuesday in East Village, Manhattan. Senator Brad Hoylman was also there to support.
Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Red Cross Helps Dozens of Bronx Families After Two Early Morning Fires

Following two multiple-alarm fires in the Bronx yesterday morning, several Red Cross teams responded to provide immediate assistance nearly 200 local residents forced from their homes.

Photo credit: Kevin Suttlehan, American Red Cross
After a seven-alarm fire tore through a 40-unit apartment building on McClellan St., Red Cross and NYC partners opened a Reception Center at the nearby Family School (1116 Sheridan Ave.) for affected families. There, Red Cross provided food, water, health and emotional support, financial assistance and other relief items. Red Cross also offered temporary lodging to families. 32 families who needed it were provided emergency housing in local hotels. In total yesterday, Red Cross registered 34 families, 81 adults and 52 children.

Photo credit: Kevin Suttlehan, American Red Cross
Earlier in the morning, Red Cross teams helped 10 families (41 adults and 17 children) displaced by a multiple-alarm fire on Freeman St. Red Cross also provided emergency housing, food, water, health and emotional support, financial assistance and other relief items. 

Today, the Reception Center at the Family School has transitioned into a Service Center where Red Cross, NYC agencies and other community organizations are meeting one-on-one with families affected by both fires to provide additional assistance including supporting longer-term needs.

Photo credit: Kevin Suttlehan, American Red Cross

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Helping Those Who Serve

By Dana Gray, American Red Cross in Greater New York


The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program works to help the military, their families, and veterans prepare for and cope with the challenges presented by serving in the military.

Marilyn Vallejo, a resident of Long Island, is one of many volunteers here in Greater NY who dedicate their time to supporting our service members, but her work with the Red Cross started as a volunteer with the Disaster Response team. In 1996 while working as a licensed clinical social worker for the state of New York following the crash of TWA Flight 800 off the coast of Long Island, Marilyn was introduced to the Red Cross who had staff on the ground helping those who had lost loved ones. Soon after, she joined the Red Cross as a volunteer to do disaster relief work herself.

In 2011 she began volunteering with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, the oldest line of service for the organization, dating back to the days of Clara Barton. This year, Marilyn is celebrating her 23rd anniversary volunteering with the Red Cross.

Marilyn Vallejo (second from the right) at a SAF workshop.
With SAF, Marilyn uses her experience in the mental health field to help facilitate groups with veterans, active military, family members, and military children. These Reconnection Workshops, as they are called, work to ease the stress and challenges associated with entering the military, leaving for deployment, and returning home.

As part of her work with SAF, Marilyn deploys to military installations across the region and around the country. At times, she is even called on to travel to military installations outside the US to carry out this work.

Recalling her work over the past eight years, Marilyn says there is one experience that stands out to her. One of the groups that she ran was an anger management workshop at Fort Drum in Northern New York. At that time, Marilyn said she left feeling like there was more she could have done for those taking part. However, two years later while holding another session in New Jersey, one of the women in attendance recognized Marilyn. The woman had been at the group at Fort Drum and said that the group had helped save her marriage.

“We stood there and cried and hugged,” said Marilyn. “I thought I did a terrible job that day, but you just never know when there’s people listening and what they’re hearing.”

And Marilyn has a personal connection to the military: her husband is a Vietnam War veteran and her brother also served.

“The first time I heard about the Red Cross my brother was in Germany and got hurt and my mother, who had never flown before, was flown out by the Red Cross," said Marilyn. “It just touches people and most people know someone or have been personally touched by the Red Cross in some way. It’s an organization, but inside of that organization is such a human heart.”

Marilyn’s passion and commitment has motivated others, such as Mozelle McQuade, to lend their mental-health expertise to the SAF program.

Following 9/11 Mozelle joined the Red Cross and was inspired to work, specifically with the Service to the Armed Forces program, after hearing Marilyn speak at a Department of Mental Health meeting.

Mozelle, like Marilyn, facilitates workshops and teaches other mental-health professionals how to hold these sessions. Having worked as a therapist to military personnel who returned home from the Vietnam War, Mozelle said she sees firsthand the impact of what Service to the Armed Forces and the Red Cross in general provides.

When soldiers returned home from the Vietnam War, she said, no one was discussing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and very few services were provided to those returning home.

“I think that now the military is more aware, and I love the fact that the Red Cross is right there on the front lines with them.”

Through Reconnection Workshops, Mind-body Workshops, therapy programs, and more, SAF provides relief to military personnel before, during, and after their deployments.

“It is as meaningful to me as I hope it is to the people that I’m working with," Mozelle continued. "I get more from them than I think I give back and it’s just a nice thing. It’s an amazing piece of my life right now.”

To learn more about how the American Red Cross helps service members and their families visit https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/military-families.html

Monday, July 29, 2019

In Case You Missed It - July 29

GNY Red Cross volunteers opened two emergency shelters
in Southeast Brooklyn and Jamaica St in Queens (Photo: Ronnie Rigos).
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 150 adults and 51 children following 48 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review
  • Last Friday, ABC7 reported a fire on Ogden Ave in the Bronx where the Red Cross assisted 18 people with emergency housing.
  • Check out our "Three Questions" interview with two of our interns about their experience installing smoke alarms and educating residents about fire safety in Co-op City in the Bronx. #EndHomeFires
  • Senator John C. Liu and Councilman Barry Grodenchik stopped by on Thursday to observe and address attendees who came out to the Emergency Preparedness Training we conducted as part of our partnership with JASA at one of their centers in Queens Village. 
  • On Thursday, Mastercard employees participated in a Red Cross Disaster Response training. #BePrepared. 
  • As a Red Cross Disaster Responder, Ashira Konigsburg is one of the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency, soon after First Responders. Read about her experience in our Instagram series #MyRedCrossLife. 
  • On Monday, we opened two emergency shelters to assist those without power in Southeast Brooklyn and Jamaica St in Queens.

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Lifeguard Saves Student's Life

By Maria Sievers, American Red Cross in Greater NY

On March 11, Derek Jennings, a personal trainer and swimming teacher from Long Island helped save the life of a 14-year-old student who was seemingly unconscious underwater at Cypress Hills Collegiate Preparatory High School in Brooklyn, New York.

Derek, who is trained in American Red Cross Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED, noticed the unresponsive student and immediately entered the pool. Once he realized the student did not have a pulse and was not breathing, he began administering chest compressions. Other students and the school nurse aided him with AED and shortly after, Emergency Medical Responders arrived and took the student to the hospital.

This was the first time in 17 years of CPR training that Derek had to resuscitate someone. The skills learned in the American Red Cross courses helped to save the life of this student. For this act, Derek received the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award, one of the highest awards given by the organization to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

Last June, Derek Jennings received the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award.
“I have children so all I think whenever I am watching children is ‘this could be my child.’ I wasn’t nervous, I guess all the training I have had over the years helped me dealing with the situation. I felt like watching a movie. It was surreal in a way, like I was not participating, but watching it," Derek recalls.

To him, preparedness is critical: “It is not just the lifesaving training, it’s the general first aid and CPR. If it’s not regular, you lose skills. The same if teaching a land sport like basketball or football, or music even. If you stop training, if you stop preparing, your skills levels are affected," he said.

Derek Jennings has been a Lifeguard for over 17 years

That day, three students who had the Red Cross Lifeguarding Certificate aided Derek. One of those students was Carmelo Ortiz, an 18-year-old from Brooklyn, who was in swimming class at the time of the accident. He noticed that all of a sudden Derek got very alarmed checking a kid that was underwater, so he got very alarmed as well. When Derek got in the pool, Carmelo quickly set up the backboard and started getting ready to assist Derek. He and the other students helped opening the kid airway.

To Carmelo, that day served as a wake-up call that has made him more humble and conscious of the importance of awareness and Water Safety.

“I was very alarmed at the moment and a bit shocked. My brain kept thinking. What came to my head was everything I have learned,” says Carmelo. He had taken the Red Cross Lifeguard classes in spring of 2018. Because of his action, he received an American Red Cross certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

For both Derek and Carmelo, lessons were learned, and the biggest ones are the importance of Water Safety and preparedness.

Student Carmelo Ortiz wants to dedicate his life to help others

To learn more about the Red Cross Lifeguard Training and Certifications visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifeguarding

Friday, July 26, 2019

Three Questions: Summer Interns Help Save Lives in Co-op City

By Dana Gray, American Red Cross in Greater NY

"Three Questions" is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible. This interview spotlights two American Red Cross interns.




Twenty Red Cross interns installed smoke alarms in Co-op City on June 11, 2019 as part of the  Home Fire Campaign. Co-op City is a cluster of high rise apartment buildings and townhouses that makes up the largest single residential development in the country.

On average, seven people die due to home fires each day across the country. Since 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has worked to prevent these deaths by installing free smoke alarms in communities across the country. The Sound the Alarm installation events see volunteers installing smoke alarms, educating families about fire safety, and replacing batteries on existing alarms.

Samantha Vickers-Hymowitz, an Information and Planning Intern, and Maya David, a Workforce Engagement Intern, attended the June 11 Home Fire Campaign event and talked with us about their experiences.

Can you tell me about your experience at the Home Fire event?

Samantha: I thought it was a lot of fun. I was an installer and that was the first time I ever really used a power drill before so that was a lot of fun. We got to install in about seven homes. I thought it was going to be harder to literally install the alarms, but it wasn’t that bad after doing it the first time.

Maya: It was fun. I was an educator, so I got to talk to the people who lived there. We took a really long time to install and only did three homes, but it was fun still!

What was your favorite part of the day?

Samantha: Getting to know everybody a little bit better was nice. I also think feeling like you were doing something that matters was really cool too. You’re walking into some of those apartments and there weren’t any smoke alarms and it’s kind of hard to imagine if something did happen. It felt like you were saving lives.

Maya: It was nice to talk to different people, different walks of life. I was listening to people’s life stories which was nice. Meeting the other interns was also cool, I feel like we’re a little more connected. Whenever I see other people now I’m like “Hey” because I feel like I know them now.



What did you take away from the experience?

Samantha: The day was really meaningful. I would definitely do it again. 100%. I feel like it’s really cool to actually go out and do field work.

Maya: One of the ladies was telling me about how one of her friends and husband died from carbon monoxide recently. While we were doing the installation, she said thank you for this. Being able to do something that positively affects someone just makes you feel good.

Monday, July 22, 2019

In Case You Missed It - July 22


Red Cross volunteers provided water and support to the
Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride in Babylon, NY. (Photo: Doreen Brienza)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 112 adults and 33 children following 48 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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Three Questions: Zachary Terzano

By Dana Gray, American Red Cross in Greater NY

"Three Questions" is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.


Zachary Terzano has been involved with the American Red Cross since he took a water safety class in Hempstead, Long Island at six years old. Zachary has continued his passion for the water through his teenage and adult life. He started as a Water Safety Instructor at 16 years old and later began lifeguarding at 24. In the past year and half, Zachary has become an Instructor Trainer, training people on Long Island via the organization (and Red Cross partner) Aquatic Solutions. He also works to promote Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguarding classes and make sure that safety guidelines are being met.

What should someone keep in mind when visiting a pool for the first time?

A big thing when you first go to a facility is to look for signage, that’s the biggest thing, it’s the tell-tale indication of what is safe, what to do, what not to do. They’ll be pool rules, things like that, around the pool. Also, the lifeguard has more knowledge on that so anything that the lifeguard does enforce or tells you to do you want to follow that. You also have outdoor backyard pools which get a little bit more dangerous, so just making sure that the owner of the house is alert. I have a pool in my backyard now, so just making sure that anytime that I have people over, I’m always on top of it, it's a big responsibility. If you do have a party it’s good to have a certified lifeguard there. 

What causes the most accidents and what should people do if an accident happens?

When you’re with your peers you always want to have fun, joke around with your friends. A big thing is horseplay that’s unnecessary, and unfortunately, that’s the biggest thing that leads to danger. Yes, have fun but you want to do that in a safe way. [If there is a problem] in a supervised facility a lifeguard would be trained to help them and address that situation, but if it is unfortunately not a supervised facility or you are in a backyard, calling 911 is the biggest thing to make sure you do. It is also a big thing to try to take an American Red Cross class just to be at least trained in CPR or First Aid. The Red Cross also has some really nice resources like the First Aid app.

Why is water safety so important to you personally?

My friend in college was diving into the water and hit his head and ended up breaking his neck. He was on the swimming team and was a qualified swimmer, but you still have to be careful when you’re in and near the water. He recovered and was back swimming for the next year, but unfortunately accidents happen, and you just have to try to be safe.

Monday, July 15, 2019

In Case You Missed It - July 15

On Friday, GNY Red Cross staff and volunteers assisted those affected by a
massive fire on Watson Ave in the Bronx (Photo: Kevin Suttlehan)
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 253 adults and 80 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

Monday, July 8, 2019

In Case You Missed It - July 8

Gerald Rothstein, one of the volunteers at the GNY Red Cross, was featured in our most recent #MyRedCrossLife Instagram post (Photo: Matt Lamonica) 
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 109 adults and 30 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

Monday, July 1, 2019

In Case You Missed It - July 1


GNY Red Cross staff and volunteers participated in the NYC World Pride March 2019 (Photo: Josh Lockwood) 

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 82 adults and 17 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


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Three Questions: Henry Chu

By Dana Gray and Alessia Garcia, American Red Cross in Greater NY

"Three Questions" is an American Red Cross in Greater New York blog series featuring staff, volunteers, and partners who help carry out our humanitarian mission. Through these short interviews, we hope to shine a light on our different programs and get to know those who make this work possible.


Henry Chu, a retired business owner, joined the American Red Cross in Greater New York as a volunteer nearly five years ago. At the Red Cross, Henry completes two to three shifts a week as a disaster responder. In this role, Chu helps provide assistance to New Yorkers affected by local disasters like fires, floods, vacates and building collapses. In addition to supporting the Red Cross locally, Chu at times deploys outside of New York following large-scale emergencies. In 2017, he been deployed to Houston to help Hurricane Harvey 
relief. In his spare time Henry gives bicycle tours of Manhattan, some of which are 8-hour tours through multiple boroughs. Chu also volunteers with other organizations.

What did you hope to find by volunteering with the Red Cross and have you found it?

Volunteering for the Red Cross gives me a platform to be able to go out and help other people and also to meet other people that share the common goal of helping out those that are in need, using resources to benefit those who really need help. It’s very fulfilling. I’ve been with the Red Cross for five years. The Red Cross is a family. You come in here and everyone says hello to everybody. No one is a stranger here.

What’s been challenging for you?

The most challenging part would be that you don’t know enough to do a better job. What you know is maybe sufficient to do a good job and once you represent the Red Cross you’re going to want to do a better job. I will never say that I have learned enough. It’s difficult to push yourself to do better than you’re already doing. I find it happens when you’re responding to any major hurricanes or floods. Being on deployment and seeing that there are so many things that need to be done. And what you can do is limited. 


What was your first volunteer experience?

One of my first experiences was working during Hurricane Sandy [with another organization]. It’s still fresh in my mind. During Sandy I was a case manager. I was out in the field and I was going door to door to see the people that needed help and then we provided assistance to them. All the people that we helped were undocumented. It was a struggle because in the beginning a lot of people are not sure who you are. Since they’re undocumented they’re reluctant to talk to you or get help from you even though they lost everything. That was the greatest struggle, trying to tell them that we’re not a government agency and that we don’t share information with government agencies, that we’re an independent charitable organization that is there to help people that suffered because of the hurricane.



Monday, June 24, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 24

The Greater NY Red Cross participated in the Long Beach Pride Parade last Sunday.
(Photo: Lori-Ann Spaccarelli-Pizzarelli)

Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 76 adults and 23 children following 40 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

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In Case You Missed It - June 17

The Greater NY Red Cross kicked off the lifesaving #MissingTypes campaign on
World Blood Donor Day on the Today Show.
Over the last 7 days, the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency assistance to 115 adults and 37 children following 43 local disasters. Here are some highlights from last week and a preview of upcoming activities (see below).

Last Week in Review
Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Monday, June 17, 2019

Greater NY Red Cross Volunteers Answer the Call to Help

By Maria Sievers and Dana Gray, American Red Cross in Greater New York

With severe weather recently impacting multiple states across the country, the American Red Cross has been on the ground providing comfort and support.

Peter King, Douglas McNally, Alan Niewald and Denean Paulik are among several team members from the Greater New York area who have been deployed. Their experiences have been both challenging and rewarding.


Peter King

Picture of the flooding in St Louis County, Missouri
Peter King is a retired engineer from Long Island who is currently on a two-week deployment to Saint Louis County, Missouri, serving as a service associate in a shelter. In this role, he does a bit of everything: inventory, cleaning, talking to the people they are sheltering, etc.

The experience has been very touching so far, especially because some families have been separated as a result of the disaster.

“We met a man that was forced out of his apartment because of the flooding and he was apart from his son and grandson," said King. "We worked with him and we were able to reconnect them, and actually we got word this morning that he can come back to his apartment. We were substantial help to reconnect them. They were apart for a week.”

Peter has been a Red Cross volunteer for eight years and what he values most about the organization is the quality of the people and volunteers.

“People are very selfless, they give of their time, energy and effort," he said. "They ask for little or nothing in return. It’s gratifying to work with those kind of people."

Douglas McNally
Volunteer Douglas McNally during his deployment in Little Rock, Arkansas
Douglas McNally is a lawyer and social worker who has been a Red Cross volunteer since November 2018. He is from Long Island where he is in charge of coordinating mental health workers to assist following local emergencies. Last week he returned from Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was deployed for a week to help people affected by the Arkansas River flooding.

As Disaster Mental Health Team member he did a lot of driving across the state, working in shelters and visiting communities that were isolated as a result of the disaster. One town that caught his attention was Wright.

“It’s a small community, they all support each other, and they take care of their own. It was very remarkable to see”, said Douglas.

He met a retired homicide detective who had put his life savings in a home that was flooded.

McNally recalled: “We spent time with him and listened. That’s the main thing, they want you to listen to their story. That’s very therapeutic for someone, just to be able to tell us what’s going on. We also made sure they were hydrated, that they were wearing masks, because the mud that was in their home is probably toxic. We listened to them and assured them that Red Cross was in the community, and within half an hour a damage assessment team was there.”

Last year, Douglas was deployed to the California wildfires, and when he thinks about the lessons he has learned as a Red Cross volunteer, he explains, “I often find in a deployment that I get more than I give and that is true this time again. I met some remarkable people, who inspired me and make me realize how fortunate I am.”

Alan Niewald 
Volunteer Alan Niewald (right) manning the reception desk at the 
Saint Charles shelter next to fellow Red Cross volunteer

Alan Niewald worked in finance before retiring and joining the Red Cross as a volunteer. He deployed to Saint Charles, Missouri where he worked with the shelter manager as a supervisor.

The shelter where Alan worked provided comfort to those who have been displaced due to flooding in the area. One woman that the shelter assisted was provided a medical cot and special care for her diabetes.

The flooding in Missouri has caused damage to homes and the local area. Water levels have risen high enough to cover the local park and have left "the whole town buried in water."

Alan became a Red Cross volunteer this year.

Denean Paulik


Denean Paulik (left) receiving a donation for the Red Cross from
a local Arkansas organization
Last week, Denean Paulik returned from a week-long deployment to Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas where she worked as a fundraising liaison.

Denean has done field work before at the local Greater New York region, but her work in Arkansas was her first deployment. This recent trip has been the most fulfilling experience for her since her time at the Red Cross.

When discussing her work out in the community meeting affected families, Denean said she is always shocked by one thing: “When I see these husbands and wives, they’re just calm,” said Paulik. “Obviously it’s very devastating, they’re going through a very hard day, but they’re not pointing fingers or blaming they’re just trying to get through the next moments. I think there’s such a grace in that and that really puts life in perspective.”

Denean started as the Senior Philanthropy Officer at the America Red Cross in Greater New York nearly two and a half years ago but has worked in fundraising since 2002.

Volunteers at the Red Cross headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas