Thursday, March 21, 2013

Where I Love To Be

Ever since October, I have been interning at the Red Cross chapter office. Sure, it's not jam-packed with action and thrills and doesn't include showing up at the scene of disasters or saving the day, but I realized its more than just that. It's not about being the superhero, it's about being a part of the team.

Society always sees the people in the spotlight, outside saving the day. In movies, you see the superhero getting all the credit. In reality, you see the firefighters, the police officers, and the medical team rushing to save the day, but what about the people behind the scenes? What about the lady who answers the phone when you call 9-1-1 or the man who sends out the public broadcast message when a disaster is about to strike? Where is their medal of honor? Without these people behind the scenes, you wouldn't have anyone to save the day. They don't get all the credit they deserve, but trust me, they aren't forgotten.

I know it doesn't seem like it at times, but all the people who sit behind a desk and organize all the papers do contribute to the bigger picture. The gals handing out the flyers at booths about fire safety and preparedness are saving lives. The ones driving across the state to deliver presentations are making a difference in people's lives. The students knocking door to door inviting guests to events do impact the community. Without even realizing it, these small actions actually can change someone's life. Just by taking the time out of your day to volunteer at the Red Cross, you can save a life.

My experience at Red Cross has allowed me to mature and change my perspective on a lot of things. I was one of those people who never realized how much of an impact I was making. I thought, "Oh, they don't need me; I'm not important." But I was definitely wrong. In order for any organization to function, you need supporters and volunteers every step of the way. They are the backbone and skeleton of the organization. They are the ones who do the planning, the organizing, and the ones committing their time. They make up a team and every single one of them has that same motivation and drive to continue giving back. They are the real heroes saving the day. Together as a family.

Everyone who contributes their time to the American Red Cross is a hero in my eyes.

-Kelly Chu, Intern who sits behind a desk/Superhero in training

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Brief History

March is Red Cross Month and this week we are gearing up for our 1940's themed Real Heroes dinner and silent auction. This has inspired me to write a little about the history of the American Red Cross. 

Washington, DC, June 1942—These volunteer production workers of the American Red Cross prepared over 300,000 kits containing small articles for the comfort of the men sailing to foreign ports. The kits contained soap, writing materials, shoe laces, playing cards, a polishing cloth, and a paperback novel. Photo by F. Fusco

This picture is of volunteer production workers of the American Red Cross in Washington, DC, June 1942. These female volunteers put together comfort kits to send with our troops going overseas. The kits contained soap, writing materials, shoe laces, playing cards, a polishing cloth, and a paperback novel. Today we still provide this service among a growing number of other ones.

As the years have passed, a lot has changed as we learn and grow as an organization. At the heart of every change is the mission of the Red Cross - to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. Change is inevitable and necessary within an organization that has been around since 1881. Since its founding, America has seen the first airplane evolve into jets and space ships, the invention of the light bulb to the invention of Google Glass, from Fredrich Nietzche to Lil Wayne. America has gained 12 new states, gone through 7 wars, and 27 presidents. The American Red Cross has endured all this change by being able to change with the times.

Changing for the Red Cross has meant rapid growth.  In 1947 the American Red Cross responded to 150 disasters. In 2012 we responded to 88,0000. We still provide a shoulder to lean on during times of crisis, but now we also provide free training to help prevent and prepare people for disasters. With all this growth we are always looking for more help. If you are interested in volunteering with us check out our website and sign up! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why I Am Passionate About Military Services

If you ask me who my hero is, well I can tell you he does not exist in comic books. He is a man overflowing with courage and bravery. Everyday for the past 9 years he has devoted his life to the United States Army. Awarded the purple heart 4 years ago, he has risked and almost lost his life for our country. His current temporary residence, Afghanistan. Just as I support him I support the entire military community.

Now that I have introduced you to my hero and briefly discussed one of my connections to the military ( I had to sum it up because I can talk forever on this subject) you now know the root of my passion. Now you can understand my true commitment and devotion to Red Cross military services.

 Transitioning from a Service to the Armed Forces Intern to an AmeriCorps member with the American Red Cross Central Valley Region I continue to support the military community. For the past 13 months I have supported Red Cross emergency communications as a SAF caseworker. Following up with service members and their families it is my goal to ensure all of their needs are met. I have developed relationships with other organizations serving veterans, military members and their families within the Central Valley. Establishing these relationships has increased my knowledge and awareness of other services for client referrals. Attending Yellow Ribbon events, briefings and military resource fairs I am able to share and distribute information about Red Cross military services. Ultimately, I want to do everything that I can to support all veterans, service members and their families. The Red Cross supports the military community and I want to assure you that the Red Cross will be there for our veterans, armed forces and families.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why AmeriCorps and Red Cross? What am I doing?

In February I celebrated my one year Red Cross anniversary! It was over a year ago that I joined the Red Cross Central Valley Region as a Service to the Armed Forces intern. At the time I was a senior at California State University Fresno and in need of an internship to complete a certification in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership. Reflecting upon the past I am glad that I chose the Red Cross as my internship site. After completing my 300 hour internship I was given the opportunity to continue to serve the Central Valley and support the Red Cross mission as an AmeriCorps member.
I chose to become an AmeriCorps member because it is important to me that I serve my community and make a positive and lasting contribution to society. In addition I wanted to continue to be a part of an organization that I know is doing amazing work within the Central Valley. As John F. Kennedy stated, "Ask not what your country can do for you-but what you can do for your country".
 Over the past seven months I have touched many areas within many Central Valley communities. One of the main purposes of my position is to educate the community in the area of emergency preparedness. So far I have trained over 1,000 individuals in emergency preparedness and have reached nearly 4,000 community members through community events. I have trained 13 emergency preparedness leaders, including an awesome California State University Bakersfield intern. I have been trained as a Disaster Action Team member and respond to disaster calls. I even responded to the Hanford train derailment. In addition to emergency preparedness and disaster services I have continued to be actively involved with Red Cross Service to the Armed forces. I am a caseworker for 5 counties within the Central Valley. Currently I am the Veteran Affairs Voluntary Services Deputy Representative for the Fresno VA Medical Center and a member of FCF. I attend yellow ribbon events, military briefings and resource fairs.
 Being an AmeriCorps member with the Red Cross has opened many doors. I have been provided with the opportunity to gain further experience as a leader and apply my skills to help others.
-Jessica Marquez, NPRC AmeriCorps Member

Monday, March 11, 2013

Why AmeriCorps. Why Red Cross.

It’s funny how in life things always seem to work out. I didn’t set out with the goal to work for Red Cross when I moved home to help my mother after my father’s death. With a Master’s in Human Rights and several years experience working for international non-profits and NGOs I found myself waiting tables at a small cafĂ©. Work was hard to find upon my return to California, and I was lucky to even get that job when some restaurants were requiring 2 years experience for dishwashers!

One lucky day, a volunteer with the Red Cross came into my little restaurant. This volunteer spoke highly of the organization and how fitting it would be for someone with my background to work there. An application and an interview later, I filled one of two AmeriCorps NPRC spots at the American Red Cross Central Valley Region. I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve come since accepting this position!

I’ve learned more in past 7 months with the Red Cross than I learned in 4 years of college (not discouraging people from going to college). I’ve received certifications in FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS) courses, taught almost 2,000 local people how to prepare for emergencies, brought in and trained 16 new volunteers, encouraged our schools to get more involved, increased awareness of Red Cross by attending events outreaching to roughly 8500 people, became the only active International Tracing/Restoring Family Links caseworker in the Central Valley Region, also became a caseworker for our Disaster Action Team, spent a month in New Jersey helping residents get back on their feet after Hurricane Sandy, organized numerous events including a Zombie Crawl, and made some incredible connections along the way.

I could never have anticipated how much I would learn and grow by becoming an AmeriCorps member. Eventually, I would like to work in the international human rights field, and with this experience I will be much more capable to do so.

-Cayce Baierski, NPRC AmeriCorps Member

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy Hour

Just a friendly reminder that it’s time to turn your clocks forward an hour this Sunday at 2:00AM. 

Use Daylight Saving Time as a reminder to change out any items in your emergency kit that may have expired and see if any items need updating. Also, use this biannual time change to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and do a fire drill with your family. For more information checkout our emergency preparedness tips on our website or download our free apps onto your smart phone!

5 Fun Facts About Daylight Saving Time

·         The first American to advocate for daylight saving was Benjamin Franklin. He realized in 1784 that many people burned candles at night yet slept past dawn in the summer, wasting early-morning sunlight.
·         There's a spike in heart attacks during the first week of DST due to sleep loss. So make sure you or someone near you is trained in CPR! 10% off CPR and First Aid classes at American Red Cross during March for Red Cross Month!
·         There are 5% less accidents involving pedestrians on the road because of DST. So for the next 6 months, it's officially 5% safer for you to cross the road.
·         Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired.  On one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles!
·         And lastly, DST means that we can finally enjoy after-work drinks while it's still light out, giving all office drones, far and wide, one more happy hour!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Red Cross Aids 31 People in Apartment Fire

A fire that started Monday morning, is said to have been caused by arcing electrical wires. 16 units at the Peachwood Apartments in Southeast Fresno were left in ruins, and 31 people found themselves suddenly homeless.

Before the flames had resided, the American Red Cross' volunteer Disaster Action Team (DAT) was on site to provide comfort and assistance to the devastated residents. DAT members Katrina Poitras, Bob Wortman, Gary Crown, Cindy Thomas, Joy Dockter and, new member, Kristie Panas responded to the fire, giving victims funds for food, water, clothing and shelter over the next 3 days. These funds are provided by donors and earmarked to go to disaster relief. 

After the event, Kristie posted on Facebook, "Went out on my first Red Cross Disaster call today. What an experience!!! Definitely made the right decision to be a DAT-RN"She is among a growing team of volunteers who are specially trained to respond to disasters and provide emergency relief to victims. DAT members also have the opportunity to respond nationally when major incidents like Hurricane Sandy occur.

It does not cost anything to become a DAT member - all the training, supplies and travel expenses are provided free of charge. Here in the Central Valley we are always looking for new members to build our team and improve our service. 

If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross DAT member, please call 559-455-1000 or check out our website. Volunteer applications are also available here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Happy National Red Cross Month!

I was trying to find the perfect post to celebrate Red Cross Month, and I can't think of nothing more appropriate than the President Barack Obama proclamation, copied in full below. Happy Red Cross Month!

SINCE OUR NATION'S FOUNDING, seasons of trial and bitter hardship have revealed a core belief we share as Americans: that when we see our neighbors in need, we will always stand united in helping them get back on their feet. This month, we honor men and women who deliver relief to communities around the world, and we renew the compassionate spirit that continues to keep our country strong and our people safe.

The American Red Cross has proudly upheld a commitment to service that spans generations. Witness to the scars left by civil war, Clara Barton founded the organization in 1881 as a way to lift up the suffering -- from warriors wounded in the line of duty to families displaced by damaging storms. In the years since, countless service and relief organizations have joined the American Red Cross in realizing that noble vision.

 We saw the depth of their dedication just 4 months ago, when the sweeping devastation of Hurricane Sandy put millions of Americans in harm's way. In darkness and danger, thousands of professionals and volunteers stepped up to serve. They secured supplies and shelter when our people needed them most. And when times were tough, they proved that America is tougher because we all pull together.

 That sense of resolve has seen our Nation through our greatest challenges, and the conviction that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers will always remain at the heart of who we are as a people. As we reflect on the ties that bind us together, let us pay tribute to humanitarian organizations working here at home and around the world, and let us rededicate ourselves to service in the months ahead.

 NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America and Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2013 as American Red Cross Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities, and by supporting the work of service and relief organizations.

 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


American Red Cross Central Valley Region