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.

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March is Red Cross Month!

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As I rushed to a school meeting this morning, my mind raced with assignments to get done, upcoming dates to remember, and everything I had to do by the end of the day. At the meeting with my peers and academic advisors, I was filling out some paperwork, like usual, and got to the bottom of the page that said, “Please sign and date.” I thought, “Okay, today is Friday, Valentine’s Day was just a little while ago, it’s probably February 21st…” Boy, was I wrong. Does anybody know where February went!?

As much as I was hoping time would slow down, the fact that March starts today means that GREAT things are in store for this month! Did you know that March is Red Cross Month?  Just like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, we tend to designate certain times to recognize and appreciate certain people in our lives. March as Red Cross Month is the perfect time for us to get together to celebrate the everyday heroes in our communities.

Every president since Roosevelt has proclaimed March as Red Cross Month. Even the mayors of Central and Western MA proclaim this OUR month! There will be events throughout the month, like the Hometown Heroes Breakfast in Springfield, MA and the Breakfast of Champions in West Boylston, MA, both on March 28th. To find out more details visit this website: http://www.redcross.org/ma/worcester/news-events/events

Red Cross Month is an ideal time to be part of the Red Cross, and there are a variety of ways to do it. Work on a preparedness plan for your household so you will be ready for emergencies, or download the free Red Cross apps for mobile devices such as the First Aid, hurricane or earthquake apps. Most importantly become a volunteer!

The Red Cross is grateful to the people in this country for their generous support. Thanks to them, the Red Cross is able to respond to disasters both large and small, to help members of the military, provide about 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply and teach lifesaving skills.

March is a new month; let’s use this spring inspiration to celebrate and recognize our Everyday Heroes, and also become involved with the local Red Cross in your community! Stay tuned for more events and updates on March is Red Cross Month.

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.

Sandy has a Cute Name, but She May Pack a Punch

Sandy is sure making a name for herself as she threatens to take aim at the east coast. From Florida to Maine, the Red Cross is getting prepared and we hope you are too.  If 2011 taught us anything, it taught us that severe weather can be a reality here in Massachusetts. Take a few minutes today to get you and your family prepared.

Create and practice a Hurricane Plan:

  • Planning and practicing an evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event. Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs, and make plans for your pets.
  •  Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit, essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration, manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights, battery-powered radio and extra batteries. • Heed Warnings: Listen to radio and TV stations for updated information. A Hurricane WATCH means hurricane conditions could threaten within 36 hours. A Hurricane WARNING means hurricane conditions are expected within 24 hours.
  •  Prepare your Home: Secure anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, trash cans, potted plants, etc.). Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, board up windows and doors with plywood. Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
  • Download the American Red Cross Hurricane app to Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out.

For more information, visit www.redcross.org.

Special Thanks for Special Service

Every year during the holiday season, Americans take time to reflect and give thanks for the many gifts in our lives.  Whether down the block, across the country, or around the world, we gather with family and loved ones to share a touch of home. It’s during this special season we ask you to take the time to ‘give something that means something” to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, our nation’s veterans, and their military families who may be separated from their loved ones or far from home.

Between October 1 and December 7, 2012, you are invited to send holiday greeting cards with messages of thanks and support to our troops. Red Cross volunteers will screen, sort, and deliver your cards to military installations as well as VA and military hospitals across the U.S. and around the world.

Visit www.redcross.org/holidaymail for details on how you can send a card.

Spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors, and let’s give something that means something to our service men and women, veterans and their families around the world in gratitude for their service.

We Remember…

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the devastating attack that took place on September 11, 2001.  Everyone remembers that day; what they were doing, what they were wearing, and who they were with.  I am no different.  I was sitting in the my 7th grade geometry class, when suddenly my teacher began to cry.  Minutes later, an announcement was made that the Pentagon had been hit.  To me, this meant very little.  I had no idea what the Pentagon was and why everyone was so upset.  Then I saw the footage of each location that was hit.  I then realized, our country was under attack. 

I stayed the rest of the school day completely and utterly confused.  It still didn’t fully register that we were all potentially in danger.  I had never been to New York City, and did not know anybody there, but my heart hurt for strangers in danger.  Once I was home, my parents sat me down and tried to explain how big of an issue this attack was.  This day would be spoken about for years to come.  The textbook I was reading in history about the civil war would eventually have this attack listed as well.  As a 7th grader, I was extremely scared, and was wondering how will New York City ever come out of this.

I know the American Red Cross took a big part in helping with this horrible disaster.  25,000 volunteers joined together from all different regions to help with shelter, food, and most of all, brought hope to those in complete devastation.

Red Cross 9/11 disaster relief operations included:

  • More than 14 million meals and snacks served
  • 60 shelters opened for 3,554 families
  • 101 sites opened to deliver services
  • 292 emergency vehicles deployed
  • 57,434 Red Cross employees and volunteers assigned from all 50 states
  • 240,417 mental health contacts and 133,035 health contacts made either in person or by phone by Red Cross employees and volunteers

Today, we all remember those who have perished, those who have suffered  loss, and those who took heroic measures.  Today we reflect on what has happened, and what the United States has become; more united, and more caring. Not only in a time of disaster, but always.

By: Jocelyn Provo

Experiencing a Disaster

Disaster relief is not at all uncommon to hear about when you are a Red Cross employee.  In fact, you are constantly aware of every disaster at all times such as fires, severe weather, etc.  However, hearing about disaster response for Hurricane Isaac, and actually experiencing it is a whole other story.

Last night we housed more than 5,000 individuals in 80 shelters.  Today more than 3,800 Red Cross responders will feed all those people and many, many more.  This storm brings back terror and worry for those on the Gulf Coast who are still struggling with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina 7 years ago. Families affected by Irene are still recovering and are being extremely brave through this time as they are leaving their home behind once more and being relocated to one of our shelters. American Red Cross has been very successful providing shelters to families to be relocated out of harms way.

At this time we have multiple volunteers deployed to different locations to help with hurricane Isaac.  Our very own Don Cawrse of Western MA was recently deployed to Florida, and now is located in Mississippi doing shelter work.  You as well can help is this disaster by donating to American Red Cross.  Please follow the link to donate or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
https://www.redcross.org/donate/index.jsp?donateStep=2&itemId=prod10002