Tagged Volunteers

Making a Difference on #GivingTuesday


Giving is an opportunity.  You get to give.

On this Giving Tuesday, our family of donors and supporters will have the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross enabling us to extend a helping hand and make a significant difference.   Get excited, and get ready to give something that will truly mean something. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, people from around the world—charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students— will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.”

Generosity, love, and concern of our neighbors to make positive changes in our community has been a part of the Red Cross culture for years. No matter your sex, race, or creed, the Red Cross works to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.” Our mission is powered by “the mobilization of volunteers and the generosity of our donors.” Without volunteers or donors, the Red Cross cannot help those in need.

Last year, as part of Giving Tuesday, more than 10,000 organizations in 46 countries came together to celebrate this day. Join us in changing the lives of people in need for the better! For every dollar donated to the American Red Cross, 91 cents are used to fulfill our humanitarian mission. Most recognize the Red Cross for our disaster relief efforts on a national level, but we also provide support to our neighbors. Last year, the American Red Cross responded to more than 52,000 home fires. By giving to the Red Cross, you are helping to make this important work possible.


This year, grab your holiday to-do list, mark down Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 and get ready to give something that means something. We’re counting on you to join us on Giving Tuesday. Let’s make it a holiday season worth remembering.

Join us in the #GivingTuesday conversation on Facebook and Twitter and tell us how you plan to help the Red Cross change lives.


So long, farewell, Hurricane Season!

Saying ‘Goodbye’ can sometimes be sad and heartbreaking, but when it comes to the end of Hurricane Season (June 1 – November 30) we definitely can’t say that we’re sorry to see it go. In fact, we’d like to wish it a good riddance and ask that it never return…but we know that won’t happen, which is why we remain ready for disasters year-round (and want you to remain prepared as well). After all, hurricanes can still occur in the off-season and as we approach colder weather many states face the challenges of winter storms.

Although we were fortunate to not be hit here in Florida this year, our friends to to north weren’t as lucky when Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee came barreling towards the East Coast. But in true Red Cross neighbor-helping-neighbor fashion, almost 100 local volunteers from our Palm Beaches-Treasure Coast Region left the comfort of their homes to go help those in need during the aftermath of the storms.

And truly, that is what we are all about here at the Red Cross: responding to where the need is greatest, whether it’s down the street or across the country or around the world. If you’d like to see highlights of the 2011 hurricane season, tune in to a video on the NOAA website.

Updates from the Field: Pennsylvania flooding

From across the Palm Beaches Treasure Coast Region, 38 local volunteers have gone out to help with the massive Red Cross relief efforts in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas where flood waters and wildfires have inundated entire communities.

Jill Masters, a local volunteer and staff member (and one of the chief updaters of this wonderful blog!), recently headed out for her 1st deployment in Hazleton, PA where the swollen Susquehanna River and its tributaries flooded many of the nearby communities. Jill sent us this photo update from her work in the field today, a heartbreaking image that shows the extensive water damage throughout the neighborhood. The “mud lines” on the dresser mark how high the waters rose inside nearby homes, a visual reminder of the devastating effects of the flood.

Photo by Jill Masters/American Red Cross

Since late august, when Hurricane Irene first made landfall, the Red Cross has been on the ground working to help those affected. To give a quick snap shot of the type of help the Red Cross is providing we’ve complied the following update:

If you would like to help the Red Cross meet the needs of those recovering from the floods and wildfires, you can support us by volunteering or donating. Either way, check out www.redcross.org to find more!

How to help those hit by Hurricane Irene

Steve Bayer, a Red Cross volunteer from our region here in Florida, went to New York to help with the American Red Cross relief operations both before and after Hurricane Irene’s landfall. And although his deployment has come to an end, there are still more than 5,000 volunteers, including 29 volunteers from our Palm Beaches – Treasure Coast Region, who are along the East Coast bringing food, shelter and relief supplies the communities affected by the storm.  Steve sent us the following story, which we thought was a pretty moving  and selfless request from one woman whose town was destroyed by Irene:

After arriving home from a deployment in New York State for the Hurricane Irene response, I was talking with Barbara, one of my neighbors here  in Palm Beach County. Barbara told me she was concerned, because she had not  heard from her adult daughter who lives in Vermont (one of the states hit hardest by Irene’s rain and flood waters) in five days.  Fortunately, Barbara’s daughter was finally able to call her parents late the next day with the news that she and her family were okay. The flood waters missed Barbara’s daughter’s home, but still knocked out their power for almost a week.

Barbara told me how she then asked her daughter if there was anything she could do to help…and the daughter’s only request was to ask her mom to make a donation to the American Red Cross, in order to help all of her neighbors who had suffered so much damage.

We were humbled to hear this story from Steve. Even though Barbara’s daughter was impacted by Irene too, her thoughts first went to those around her in greater need. But for all of those hit by the storm — from those like Barbara’s daughter who are without power and unable to store or cook food, to those who have sadly lost everything in the flood waters — the American Red Cross is on scene, meeting every need.

And as Barbara’s daughter pointed out, donating to the American Red Cross is one way you can help those impacted by Hurricane Irene and other disasters. It is through the support of our generous donors that we are able to be there in the greatest hour of need. If you are interested in donating you can go online to www.redcross.org/donate, call by phone 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The American Red Cross is bringing food and relief supplies to communities along the coast hit by Hurricane Irene. This vehicle brings food to the people of Prattsville, NY whose town was flooded. Photo by Red Cross Volunteer Marvin Fonseca. 


Hurricane Irene: Road to Recovery

Many towns — like this one in Prattsville, NY — were destroyed by flood waters and high winds. The Red Cross is providing food, shelter and supplies to all those affected by Irene. Click on the image to see more photos taken by Red Cross volunteers stationed across the East Coast and helping with the response. (Photo by Red Cross Volunteer Marvin Fonseca).

The winds may have quieted down and the rainstorms may have trickled out, but for many people along the East Coast the wrath of Hurricane Irene can still be felt. Communities from North Carolina to New England are suffering from significant flooding, wind damage and widespread power outages as a result of the storm’s path this past weekend. But in each of the communities the American Red Cross is on the ground, working to provide shelter, food and other vital assistance as people begin the long road to recovery.

Gail McGovern, the Red Cross president and CEO put it best when she said, “The storm may be over, but our work is far from done. The Red Cross disaster relief operation will continue for several weeks.”

Here are some quick facts about how we have been (and will continue) helping people in the weeks to come:

  • Since Friday, the Red Cross has provided more than 52,000 overnight shelter stays for those affected by Irene
  • More than 2,700 people were still in Red Cross shelters on Monday night
  • Many people have returned home, finding their houses damaged or destroyed
  • The Red Cross has 260 mobile feeding vehicles in states hit by the storm and is distributing food to neighborhoods where people are returning home, and in many cases, still without power
  • The Red Cross is helping people recover by distributing thousands of supplies such as tarps, rakes, shovels, trash bags and buckets

Our information sheet, “Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood”, can help keep you safe after the storm. And as with every time the Red Cross helps, all of our assistance is FREE.

The footprint of destruction that Irene left is massive, but your donations enable us to help people take those first steps on the path of recovery. If you would like to donate to our Disaster Relief Fund please call, click or text today.

Call: 1-800-RED-CROSS
Click: www.redcross.org
Text: “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation

Red Cross representatives in your community

The American Red Cross is active in our community in more ways than one.  Aside from offering a  variety of training courses and disaster services, the Red Cross is constantly involved in disaster education events throughout our community, to help us lead happier and safer lives.

Last week, I attended my first event as a volunteer at a local community fair in Jupiter, FL.  Together with two other women, I sat at a table where we handed out informational pamphlets and chatted with people about emergency and disaster preparedness.

The event was a fun, rewarding experience in so many different ways. It was nice to help people and to feel like I did something for my community.  People would come to our table and ask all sorts of questions about TS Emily, emergency shelters, pet safety and much more.  It felt good to provide people with answers and information about being “Red Cross Ready” for any situation.

During the event, I also got to share a phenomenal afternoon with two magnificent fellow volunteers who were very welcoming and easy to talk to.  One of the women has been a Red Cross volunteer for 13 years, and it was very nice to chat with her and learn about her previous experiences within the organization.

It turned out to be a delightful afternoon, seeing the families as they walked about happily at the community fair, with children laughing and playing, and the dogs wagging their little tails.  Most importantly, I learned a lot about the Red Cross and was able to provide others with valuable information about emergency and disaster preparedness.

If you’d like a Red Cross representative at your next community event, or want to schedule a Red Cross speaker to talk to your group, send us your information via our handy online form. And let us know  if you’re interested in joining the Red Cross community events team…we’d love for you to join us!

More than just a color

We’ve posted a few of these maps during the past weeks, and each time we do it breaks our heart. From the flooding in the northwest and Vermont, to the continued recovery and clean-up from the tornadoes, the American Red Cross is active across the nation providing disaster relief. And although we always want to help people, we grieve when disaster strikes.

Each spot of red on this map show where the Red Cross is helping the people and communities affected by nature’s fury. The saying goes that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’…but in this case, even this image can’t quite capture the scale of the response on the ground.

Each spot of red on this map translates into stories of people affected by disaster, but who are receiving the assistance they need. It represents the almost 800 people who found refuge in a Red Cross shelter Tuesday night. It represents the more than 2.8 million meals and snacks given out. It represents the 260-some shelters open since March 31, and the 29,000 overnight stays in those shelters. It represents the 1.3 million relief items (like toothbrushes, shampoo and clean-up supplies) given out to help people start rebuilding their lives. It represents the 64,000 mental health and health consultations provided by trained mental health professionals and nurses. It represents the more than 12,000 volunteers — with 56 from our own local region — who have responded to the call of people in need.

So for each time see a spot of red on this map, know that it means so much more than just a color. It means people helping people during their time of greatest need.

How the Red Cross is Helping

For the past many weeks now, the television stations and news outlets have been showing us stories and images from the string of disasters across the nation.  This spring we’ve seen wildfires rage across Texas, floods destroying homes along the Mississippi and tornadoes devastating entire communities in North Carolina, Alabama, and Missouri.

Across the country, the American Red Cross has been on the frontlines of the disaster response, launching 29 large disaster operations in 22 states since the end of March. Locally we’ve deployed more than 40 volunteers to the various relief operations. In the days and weeks to come, we’ll most likely be deploying more as the Red Cross continues to help in the affected communities.

To give you a quick snapshot of how the American Red Cross has been helping:

  • Served more than 2.1 million meals and snacks.
  • Opened more than 200 shelters and provided 19,000 overnight stays
  • Provided more than 46,000 mental health and health consultations
  • Handed out more than 1.1 million relief items like toothbrushes and shampoo, tarps, coolers, rakes and other clean-up supplies.
  • Deployed more than 9,100 trained disaster relief workers to help people affected by tornadoes, floods and wildfires.

As tornado watches and warnings continue for much of the Midwest, it can seem like an endless stream of deadly spring weather. But for everything that nature throws our way, the American Red Cross is there to help with the immediate needs of the survivors. Please consider making a donation today to help the thousands of people who have been affected by the multitude of large disasters. The generosity of the American people allows us to be there in the greatest hour of need.

To donate 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.

Already donated? We can’t tell you enough how much we appreciate it…or more importantly, how much the people we’re helping appreciate it. Feel free to email, tweet or link this article to your Facebook to spread the word.

The kind of record no one wants to break

Preliminary government reports show that 600 tornadoes occurred during the month of April, making it the busiest month on record for tornadoes.

Although it can’t capture the full scope of the devastation and destruction, the map below does give a good insight into how the Red Cross is on the ground, helping all of those in the affected areas.

Locally, we have more than two dozen volunteers who have deployed with the Red Cross to areas like Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia…and we have more leaving each and every day. And that’s the silver lining that shines through all of these terrible storms — stories of neighbor’s helping neighbors, providing a lending hand, a place to sleep, and a shoulder to lean on.

An organization like no other

Colerain, North Carolina. Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV) and their crews of Red Cross volunteers fed residents of Bertie County, NC who were hit hard by a strong EF3 tornado on Saturday, April 16. Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is an amazing organization! I challenge you to find an organization that can launch a multi-million dollar operation — complete with a location, staff, equipment, transportation and lodging — in less than 4 days…and, factor in that it is during a holiday week and all done by volunteers. Well, that is exactly what the American Red Cross did last week at multiple locations throughout the country. I specifically got to witness the organization work in North Carolina.

If you remember from our blog posts last week, I was deployed with the Red Cross to Raleigh, NC after more than 60 tornadoes touched down in that area, destroying hundreds of homes and leaving thousands without power. It is during moments like these — when a person is in their hour of greatest need — when the American Red Cross puts all of the skills and training to work: sheltering, feeding and providing emotional support to those effected.

Leobardo Olvera and his family are shown at the Heritage High School Red Cross shelter in Wake Forest, NC. The family lost their home when a tornado ripped through the Stony Brook Trailer Park in Raleigh, NC on Saturday, April 16, 2011. (l-r) Lezith, Rosa, Leo Jr, Mario, Leobardo Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Preparedness Saves Lives
I visited Heritage High School in Wake Forest, NC, which was serving as a shelter to residents of the Stony Brook Mobile Home Park, a sub-division that was hit extremely hard by the tornadoes. It was there that I met Leobardo Olvera, a father of three. Last Saturday afternoon, April 16, Leobardo’s children were skateboarding and playing ball in the yard when Leobarto saw the weather begin to turn. He knew that something bad was about to happen, so he called his children inside and they huddled in a bathtub. The monster tornado passed right over them, lasting in excess of 5 minutes. When they emerged from their destroyed home alive, others in the community were not as lucky.

Red Cross Volunteers give of themselves like none other
Volunteers from throughout the country descended to Smithfield, NC (where the Red Cross set up their headquarters) to assist with feeding, sheltering, damage assessment, mental health, etc. All of these people are volunteers, willing to step away from their family, friends and lives for one, two or three weeks in order to help someone they don’t even know, in a city they have probably never been to. If that isn’t dedication, then I don’t know what is. The Red Cross relies heavily on volunteers, in fact 96% of our workforce is volunteers.

People are resilient
My first full day on the ground in North Carolina was Monday, April 18; many people had already removed trees, debris and other items from the storm. They were beginning to rebuild their lives, but they were extremely grateful for the American Red Cross and the bottle of water, bag of chips or hot meal we passed them as they worked to clean up their homes.

The good news for anyone affected by a disaster — whether it be the house fire in Stuart this weekend or those affected by the tornadoes throughout the country — is that the American Red Cross is in your community, ready to help when you need it the most.