Online Babysitting Training, Provided by the Red Cross

Babysitting is a great way for teens to begin to make their own money. It was my first job, and I absolutely loved it. The kids were awesome, and I loved having my own money that I did not have to ask Mom and Dad for. However, I do remember being a little bit intimidated at first by the thought of having to take care of another child on my own. If I could go back in time, I would definitely have signed up for a Red Cross babysitting class before I started working, to relay my nervousness.

Stock Photography taken for the American Red Cross babysitter's training video.

The Red Cross has offered an in-person training course for some time now, but has recently launched an online course that can be completed at home, in four hours, at the student’s convenience.

The online course offers all of the same information that the traditional in-person training does. The course ensures that the student masters the information because he or she must pass each lesson before moving on to the next. This is a self paced course, so the student can take as much time as he or she needs to practice each lesson. The online course is interactive; it has animated hosts, videos, case study scenarios, and drag‐and‐drop and point and click exercises.

The Course Outline includes the following lessons:
• The Business of Babysitting
• You’re the Boss
• Safe and Sound on the Job
• Playing with Kids of All Ages
• From Feeding to Bedtime: Caring For Kids
• It’s an Emergency- Now What?
• Final Exam

Additionally, participants have unlimited access to downloadable resources that can be used for additional self‐learning or to refresh their skills. Those resources include resume templates, interview checklists, fact sheets, skill sheets, family information cards, parent consent and contact cards.

Upon successful completion of the online course, students will receive certification stating that they have completed the American Red Cross Babysitting Basics course.

Another advantage of the online version of the course is the price. The cost of the course is $29.95, while the in-person training costs $85, because it is taught by a certified instructor. If you wish to sign up for either the online or in-person course, or learn more about them, click this link.


Have you been trained in CPR? If not, why not? CPR is the most effective way to help someone who is choking before emergency services arrives. 1 in 4 Americans have found themselves in a situation where someone needed CPR.

And CPR has just become a whole lot easier to learn. A new method of resuscitation, hands-only CPR, which does not require the use of mouth to mouth, can be just as effective as traditional methods of CPR when used on teens and adults. Many people would be less likely to use mouth to mouth on a stranger if they were put in that situation. That is why hands only CPR is such a great method to be trained in- you only have to use your hands.

And even better, there is an event coming up right here in Springfield where you can learn hands-only CPR. On November 16, 2013, the Red Cross and YMCA are cosponsoring the Tiffany Hall Memorial CPR Training Day, which will teach participants hands only CPR. Tiffany Hall was a young Springfield woman who died in her sleep in 2012. She was a vibrant young woman who is greatly missed by both her family and the Springfield community. Her family has organized this event to help other families prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to them.

Tiffany Hall Flyer

Come out to learn hands-only CPR and help support a great cause. A $10 donation to the Tiffany Hall Memorial Fund, which helps students pay for college, is appreciated. Click this link to register, and we hope to see you there.

Check out the event page on Facebook, and join the conversation on Twitter using #TiffanyHallCPR!

Zombies have taken over Earth!

Well, maybe not literally, but they sure have taken over our televisions haven’t they? From The Walking Dead, to World War Z, to Zombieland, to all the other zombie-themed TV shows and movies that have come out in the past few years, we seem to have some kind of fascination with the undead. And with Halloween just around the corner, more and more zombies are sure to be popping up at your door shouting, “Trick or Treat!”

So, while zombies may not be a real threat to us, we should be keeping in mind some important safety tips for Halloween. The American Red Cross has come up with a couple of rhymes to help you and your kids remember some safety rules for the upcoming fright-filled night!

Alone is something you never want to be when the ghosts are out and the ghouls roam free! (Walk in groups or with a trusted adult, never alone.)

Candy and treats are very sweet, but make sure a grown-up checks your goodies before you eat! (Make sure to remove open packages and choking hazards.)

Whether you’re dressed as a bear or a park ranger, accept treats at the door, but please don’t go into the house of a stranger.

You may visit many homes on Halloween night, but only visit those with a bright porch light.

Scary monsters are a Halloween feature, be on the lookout for all sorts of creatures. (…maybe not zombies, but use caution around stray dogs and other unfamiliar animals!)

For a full list of our rhyming rules, check out this link.Have a safe and spooky Halloween! Look out for those zombies!

Some Essential Apps for your New iPhone

The latest craze in technology this month is Apple’s release of the new generation of iPhones- the iPhone 5s and 5c. For those of you who have already gotten your hands on this new hardware, or for anyone else still trucking along with an older iPhone, or a Droid, there are a few apps that every Smartphone user should download.

The first is the American Red Cross First Aid app. This is a great tool to have handy in case of any small emergency that could happen in your everyday life. The First Aid app provides step-by-step instructions on how to handle most common first aid situations, such as asthma attacks, choking, heat stroke, poisoning, and many more. It also contains videos and animations, making instructions easier to understand. Additionally, the app comes loaded with safety and preparedness tips. This is a great app to have installed on your phone because you can never be too prepared for an emergency-small or big.


For those bigger emergencies, the Red Cross also provides a number of apps based on specific disasters. These include the Earthquake, Tornado, Wildfire, and Hurricane mobile apps. Depending on what region of the country you live in, one or all of these apps could be useful to have. These disaster-specific apps provide local and real-time alerts for the disaster, and give instant information on what to do before, during, and after the disaster. The apps also include the location of nearby Red Cross shelters. This information could be vital in saving you and your family’s lives.

Another great feature of these apps is the “I’m Safe” button, which lets your family and friends know that you are out of harm’s way through your social media sites. This is a great way to let loved ones know that you are okay, without having to call everyone in your contact list.

Additionally, you can download disaster-specific apps relevant to your loved ones’ regions. This will enable you to stay current on disasters across the country that could be affecting your family. Encourage your family and friends to do so as well!

Lastly, if you are looking to volunteer for the Red Cross, an easy way to get involved is the Team Red Cross app. This app will send you push notifications for volunteer jobs based on your location. You can accept these jobs for yourself, or share them with your friends. For people who want to get started volunteering, but are unsure how to do so, the Team Red Cross app is a great tool to have.

All of these apps can be downloaded for free from the Apple app store or the Google Play store. The information provided by the apps is important to have handy- just in case. Being prepared for an emergency can make a world of difference, and so can volunteering to help those affected by disasters.

Want to help out but don’t know how? Volunteer!

Given the current flooding that is happening in Colorado, there are likely plenty of people in America who are thinking about volunteering to try to help out these suffering communities. A great way for those people to help out is to volunteer with the Red Cross. Brenda Brouillette, the Regional Emergency Services Director for the Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts, made her first connection with the Red Cross after September 11, 2001. After the tragedy that occurred on that day, Brenda felt helpless. She wanted to do soemthing but didn’t know how. Brenda decided the best way to stop from feeling helpless was to move to action and become a volunteer.

After heading to her local Red Cross chapter, Brenda learned that someone cannot immediately jump into action as a Red Cross volunteer. New volunteers need to go through a training course to learn the history of the Red Cross, and to become knowledgeable about the different services that the Red Cross provides. Brenda completed her training, and was amazed by all that the Red Cross does. She volunteered with the organization for nine months, helping with local emergencies such as house fires, and helping communities with emergency preparedness. She was then hired full time.

Brenda decided to start volunteering after the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. I asked Brenda what she would say to someone who wants to help the communities in Colorado. She said that like her, most people probably assume that they will immediately be sent out to help with huge disasters right away. The prospect of being deployed to assist with major emergencies such as the Colorado floods or September 11 can be a little bit intimidating. However, any new volunteers will go through the same training that Brenda did, and that every single new volunteer across the country will go through. If someone decides to volunteer, they will be assigned to help with their own community, with smaller emergencies such as house fires. September is National Preparedness Month, and local Red Cross chapters across the country can use the help of volunteers. In 2001, Brenda wanted to help after witnessing a tragedy. Today, anyone feeling the same way that Brenda did after 9/11 should locate their local Red Cross and see how they can help.

Bravery in the Face of Tragedy

 It is truly incredible to me how often people who are victims of horrible tragedies can use their stories to help other people. Tracy Vaillancourt is a perfect example of one of those people. Tracy lost her son, Brian Moquin, to the war in Afghanistan. Instead of retreating into her grief, something that would have been perfectly plausible for that kind of loss, Tracy wanted to proactively honor Brian’s memory. Tracy decided to become a part of Project New Hope, a wonderful organization that helps veterans and their families transition from military life to civilian life back at home. That organization’s website can be found here

What does this have to do with the American Red Cross? About five years ago, in partnership with Project New Hope, Tracy organized a car show in Brian’s memory which benefitted both Project New Hope and the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program. The Red Cross received a $1,000 donation from that show! How fantastic is that? Our organization is viable due to generous volunteerism and donations. The Red Cross thanks Tracy for volunteering her time and energy to benefit our Service to Armed Forces Program.

What’s even better is that Tracy, who is now the Vice President of Project New Hope, is not done yet! On November 9, 2013, in partnership with the Red Cross of Central Massachusetts, Project New Hope will host a Night of Comedy at The Manor in West Boylston, MA. The proceeds from this Comedy Fundraiser will, like the car show, benefit veterans and military families. If you are interested in attending, please see attached flyer.

People like Tracy Vaillancourt really astound me. Thanks to her bravery in the face of tragedy, the Red Cross and Project New Hope can continue their work in helping veterans and their families. Thank you, Tracy!




What’s Your Game Plan?

What comes to mind when you think about being prepared? An image of a boy scout pops in my head. The Boy Scout Motto is “Be Prepared”. It’s simple and powerful.

Be prepared.

Are you and your family prepared for the next disaster? It’s not something we really want to think about but we all know we need to have a plan in place.

I’m encouraging you to take some time this month and create or update your emergency plan with your family. We have a lot of fun interactive tools you can use like our Red Cross Ready site and our mobile apps.

Here’s a fun video about a game plan gone wrong. Happy National Preparedness Month!

Sweet Treat for Charity

Trace and the ice cream

Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet member Trace Adkins, is one of the two final contestants on the Celebrity Apprentice.  Show your support by buying Trace’s Maple Macadamia Mash Up and then share your ice cream photos to show just how fun and tasty helping the Red Cross can be. Only sales from this week will count toward the outcome of the show, so make sure you hurry!


We need your  help to support Trace Adkins and the American Red Cross in this week’s Celebrity Apprentice challenge. It’s the last week of the show. Let’s push Trace over the top with a big win ($100k) for the Red Cross!

We had fun trying Trace Adkin’s new ice cream flavor Maple Macadamia Mash-Up this week and we hope you will too!


Busy Weekend Doing What We Do Best

AAA_6474We had a busy weekend this past weekend helping 18 families after fires in Dudley, Worcester and Northbridge. A team of  our Red Cross Responders helped a family of eight (2 adults, 6 children)  with food and clothing after a fire on Thursday, May on Cross Street in Dudley.

Two more teams of our awesome volunteers responded to two multi-unit fires on Saturday, May 4. The first fire, on Hitchcock Road in Worcester, left three families (7 adults, 7 children) without a home. We helped the families with food, clothing and shelter.

The second fire,  on Church Avenue in Northbridge,  displaced 14 families (24 adults, 7 children). The Red Cross set up a service center at St. Peter’s Church to assess client needs and worked cooperatively with SMOC to make sure all of the clients had adequate housing. SMOC provided shelter for all of the families. The Red Cross provided food and clothing.

All families were provided snacks at the scene along with comfort kits, containing personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, shaving supplies and other items they might not have been able to gather in the rush to escape the fire.  We will be in contact will all 18 families in the coming days to further assist with recovery.

American Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge, a gift made possible by generous donations and the work of volunteers.  For more information about the Red Cross and how you can help, visit

Supporting our military one family at a time

Imagine living at home and caring for your children, while your partner is away fighting a war. For some, this may be a reality. For others, it is unimagineable. While troops are being deployed all around the world, their loved ones must say their goodbyes and hope for the best.

Luckily, when a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to help. Wherever their military service takes them, service members can rest assured that the Red Cross will deliver notification of an emergency such as the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, as well as the good news of the birth of a service member’s child or grandchild.

Take Audrey and Billy Wilkins from North Carolina, for example. Billy was deployed in Afghanistan when she was due to give birth to their second child. The Red Cross helped contact the Army to bring him home safe so he could be there for the special event. Tears flooded his and Audrey’s eyes when they were both standing in the delivery room, knowing that they were finally together again for such an important day.

Along with emergency communications across the globe, the Red Cross offers support to all military families, military personnel, and veterans. We offer courses in coping with deployment, and workshops to help families re-adjust to being together after a loved one’s deployment.

If I ever had a family member leave to serve in the military, I would feel blessed to know that the Red Cross was there to support me the entire way.

To read more about the Service to Armed Forces, visit our website: