Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Brenda[1]
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.

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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 http://www.projectnewhopema.org/

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!

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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!

Icecream

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 www.redcross.org.

Local actions have international impact

Unless you have been so lucky to travel the world and visit other cultures than our own, then you probably feel as small as I do when I think about the world at large. As much as we like to appreciate the comfort of U.S. culture, we must accept that there are many others countries devastated by war.

To offer a little background, humanitarian principles are at the core of the Red Cross mission, especially in times of war. In 1949, the four Geneva Conventions formed to provide basic limits on how war is waged- to protect civilians, wounded and sick combatants, and prisoners of war. It is the duty of the American Red Cross, on behalf of the people and the government of the United States, to help to ensure that these humanitarian principles are widely understood and respected.

In times of international disasters, the American Red Cross responds by sending financial assistance, relief supplies, trained emergency response personnel, or any combination of the three. Not only does the organization assist in times of emergency, but also provides assistance to the Measles epidemic.

Something that has always inspired me is knowing that I can contribute to international relief programs from the comfort of my home. To do so, you can help in a number of ways. The most common way the Red Cross supports international emergencies is through financial assistance. You can make a donation, big or small, and you can rest assured that it will help provide food or water, or repair damaged homes, or send supplies to villages. To learn more about international humanitarian law, you can become an advocate for raising awareness to your peers.

Among many other volunteer opportunities, the Red Cross helps to restore family links. In this touching story below, the man from South Sudan was reconnected with his mother after being separated by war, thanks to the American Red Cross.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ2CBsDEEQs

To find a local chapter near you, visit http://www.redcross.org/find-your-local-chapter.

To learn more about our international support, visit http://www.redcross.org/support/international-support.

Go to college to get more knowledge… or just come to the Red Cross!

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When I was younger, my friends and I used to joke that some of the things we learned in school would never help us later in life. I didn’t plan on traveling to the moon, so why did I have to learn about it’s craters? The good news is that no matter how old or young you are, the American Red Cross offers classes of all types that will help for the rest of your life.

First, courses are offered in First Aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator). Would you know how to respond in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? With the skills learned in these three classes you could save a life, or many lives. Learn how to respond to cardiac and breathing emergencies in adults, and what to do in common first aid emergencies, including burns; cuts; and head, neck and back injuries.

If you’re more interested in soaking up the sun, you can take courses in lifeguarding, from lifeguard management to administering emergency oxygen. If you take the lifeguarding course, you will not only learn teamwork, rescue and surveillance skills, but also be certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.

Or are you more interested in pursuing a career in the medical field? You can join the growing field of health care professionals as a certified nurse assistant (CNA). Skilled trainers use hands-on lessons to provide the most beneficial education in order to give quality care for the sick and elderly in nursing homes, hospitals and their own homes.

Among these classes preparedness programs. “Be Red Cross Ready” is a program that assists in keeping your family safe in any type of emergency. From flooding to wildfires, emergency preparedness keeps you informed, ready, and able to act in an emergency.

If I had known that these classes were offered, I would have spent less time on studying the crater’s of the moon and more time on being informed, engaged, and certified.

To read the complete details of each program and find the closest place to be trained, visit our website: http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class

Babysitting is Serious Business

ImageDid you ever read the Baby-sitters Club book series? I am totally dating myself but I used to LOVE those books. They were about a group of friends that started their own babysitting business. The series covered the ups and downs of the business, the friendships and of course the teen angst. I’m pretty sure I read all of the books and saw all of the movies. One of the things I liked the most about the series was the fact that these girls created a viable babysitting business. Naturally, I started my own babysitting business shortly after reading the books. I was missing one thing though. Actually, I think the girls in the book were missing it too – American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training.

Babysitter’s Training from the Red Cross brings the best in child development and safety training. It builds confidence to hold, feed, and care for infants and toddlers, work with children safely, and deal with emergencies. Just as importantly, it teaches lifelong entrepreneurial and career development skills. Having my mother a phone call away to answer any questions that popped up was great but I’m thinking about how much more confident I would have been had I had the Red Cross training. I would have learned valuable skills like:

  • Leadership training
  • The business of babysitting, including how to set your pricing
  • Understanding and caring for kids from 0 – 10
  • Safety skills: picking up, holding feeding, and diapering infants and toddlers
  • First Aid and more

All of the Red Cross chapters in Massachusetts are holding babysitting training this President’s Day. If there is a teen in your life that is thinking about starting a babysitting business, encourage him or her to take advantage of the day off from school and attend Red Cross babysitter’s training.

Classes are available at all Red Cross Chapters in Massachusetts: Beverly, Braintree, Brockton, Fall River, Haverhill, Hyannis, Leominster, Peabody, Pittsfield, Springfield, Waltham, Westfield and Worcester.

For pricing and registration information visit redcross.org/babysitting or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Superstorm Sandy – What a Birthday Present!

Red Cross Health Services volunteer, Cathy Stevens, chats with Marilyn during her stay at the Red Cross shelter during Superstorm Sandy.

Marilyn was scared as the winds howled in her Worcester neighborhood.  She was afraid of losing power  so she called the bus company to bring her to the nearest Red Cross Shelter. Marilyn had stayed in a shelter during an ice storm a few years ago and knew that she would be safe there.  ” The Red Cross volunteers are wonderful. The food is always so good.  I know they will take good care of me,” shared Marilyn. “Tonight has certainly been a memorable 85th Birthday! Thank goodness for the Red Cross”.

We’re so glad we were there for Marilyn and others who evacuated their homes during the storm. Just as we were there for our communities, Red Cross chapters in nine states are currently providing a warm place to stay, meals and emotional support to over 9,000 people in response to Sandy.

If you are concerned about the safety of loved ones in parts of the country that suffered the most destruction, please visit our Safe and Well website to see if they registered themselves as safe and well.

Many people are wondering how they can help. There are a couple of ways you can get involved. You can  make a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief to support communities as they rebuild from devastation caused by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Many families will return home in the next few days only to find their homes completely uninhabitable. They’ll need supplies to clean up their homes, a place to sleep at night while their roofs and windows are repaired, and food and water to keep them going until power is restored to their neighborhoods. They’ll need you. Recovery takes time – and it takes commitment, not only from those affected by disaster, but also from those who are willing to give it their all and help.

You can also give blood. Superstorm Sandy has forced the cancellation of more than 325 American Red Cross blood drives in 13 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in a shortfall of nearly 11,000 units of blood and platelets thus far. The Red Cross is urging blood and platelet donations in areas unaffected by this storm and asks that community members consider donating blood in affected areas once it’s safe to do so.
To schedule a donation time or get more information about giving blood, people can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Red Cross Opens Shelters in Response to Sandy

We have opened three regional shelters across central MA   in response to storm Sandy. The shelters are located at:

Fitchburg Senior Center, 14 Wallace Ave, Fitchburg

Millville Elementary School, 122 Berthette Way, Millville

Worcester Technical High, 1 Skyline Drive, Worcester

Residents seeking shelter should be careful traveling as there are widespread power outages as well as downed power lines and trees. If at all possible, residents should shelter in place. Those seeking shelter in Red Cross shelters should bring pillows, blankets, medications, toiletries and other comfort items such as books, games and music.

The Worcester DPH tweets that transportation to shelters is available by calling 508-792-3252 until 9pm. Residents can call 2-1-1 for a complete listing of community shelters.