Thursday, September 25, 2014

Is Your Workplace Prepared if a Catastrophe Occurs?


by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

Quite often we go to work, and think everything will be okay. But what if it isn’t? Is your workplace prepared? This is a discussion that needs to take place before a natural disaster or another catastrophe occurs.

Many workplaces have a plan in place, but the problem is that the employees don’t know about the plan. Thus, the first step in workplace disaster preparedness is to talk to a supervisor to determine if there is a plan.

If there is a plan, make sure that everyone in the office knows the plan. Some workplaces have a video or PowerPoint that employees can and should watch.

If your place of employment is smaller and/or there isn’t a plan in place, then a plan needs to be created. This can be a group or individual endeavor. Regardless of how the plan is created, make sure everyone knows the plan in the end.

When making a plan, make sure the following questions are answered:

1. Where do we go if there is a fire or a tornado in the building? For a tornado, find the part of the building that is designated a safe area. For a fire, designate a meeting place outside.

     2.  Who is the contact person? This is the person to contact in case of a disaster. This person has employee emergency contact information, and this is the person everyone checks in with to make sure everyone is accounted for. Make sure everyone in the office has this person’s contact information.

    3. Where are important files kept? Can they be accessed from a remote location if for some reason the office is not inhabitable?

4.   Where do employees work if they are unable to work in the office? Do they work from home? If so, do all employees have online access to important information if working from home becomes necessary?

The above questions are some questions that need to be answered. Visit the American Red Cross for additional information and classes that are available to prepare your workplace if a disaster occurs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stop and Listen for the Sounds of Peace

Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor

Like many of us who have been tuning in to news about conflicts in Ukraine, Israel, Afghanistan, Syria, and even places closer to home, you might have forgotten that on September 21st we celebrate the International Day of Peace. It is the day when the United Nations Chief rings the Peace Bell at the UN headquarters in New York to call for cease-fire and non-violence around the world and to draw attention to this year’s theme: “The Right of Peoples to Peace.”
 
At the Red Cross, we celebrate people’s right to peace on a daily basis by fulfilling
our mission to end suffering through our disaster relief services in other
countries, and even by teaching
international humanitarian law
. This Peace Day, we encourage you to ask yourself who you can make peace with because it is not only nations that war against each other. We also encourage you to immerse yourselves in the sounds of peace by taking part in the many celebrations going on in the DFW area.
 
At the World Peace Day Celebration in Dallas you can listen to music, poetry, and guest lecturers from the Human Rights Initiative.
 
At the Peace Day Dallas Awareness Adventure you can listen to great facts and stories about Dallas, Texas, the U.S. and the world as you go on a three-and-a-half-mile scavenger hunt in
Downtown Dallas.
 
You can also tune in the 2014 Peace One Day Celebration, broadcast from Goma International Airport.

For a list of events all over the world, you can also visit internationaldayofpeace.org.
 
Today and every day we wish you peace because, as Elie Wiesel said, “Peace is our gift to
each other.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Gift Will #MeanMore on North Texas Giving Day

by Emily Ergas, intern contributor

It's almost here! Tomorrow is North Texas Giving Day!

Tomorrow, September 18, from 6 a.m. to midnight, donations of $25 or more made to the Red Cross through NorthTexasGivingDay.org can be multiplied by bonus funds and prizes. This means tomorrow, your gift can #MeanMore to help people affected by disaster. Last year, we raised more than $133,000 on North Texas Giving Day and we’re looking to raise even more this year to help us make a greater impact on our mission. With these funds, we can accomplish so much to help our North Texas community in good times and bad. Every bit counts and can be multiplied so please think about getting involved!

Here’s a brief video from our CEO, T.D. Smyers, to tell you just how your donation on North Texas Giving Day can mean more:





If you can’t donate, please help us the spread the word! You can join our Facebook event page and ask your friends to do the same. (Bonus: Facebook will give you reminders on when to give!) You can also share our tweets on Twitter or our updates on Facebook.  

We’re excited about the opportunity to really help North Texas and we hope you are too. Happy North Texas Giving Day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Celebrating Volunteer Milestones

The North Texas Region and the entire American Red Cross would like to take a moment to congratulate a few recent volunteers who completed milestones in their service to our organization. Six general volunteers of the Dallas Area Chapter were recognized for their years of dedication and we’d like to thank them again and bring their accomplishment to our readers’ attention. Below you’ll see a table with the volunteers’ names as well as the year they joined the Red Cross and the milestone (in number of years) they have completed.


Name
First Year
Years of Service
Stanley Bugala
1999
15 years
James (Jim) Kavan
1969
45 years
Brenda Land
2004
10 years
Kathlyn Steer
2004
10 years
Charles (Chuck) Watros
1994
20 years
Richard Wood
1994
20 years


Congratulations and thank you! Their dedication to the Red Cross is commendable and shows the quality of volunteers we have. 

Volunteers constitute 94% of the total workforce to carry out our humanitarian work. They are an essential part of our organization and are composed of hardworking caring people who desire to help others and give back to their community. The above mentioned volunteers are a few of many volunteers that make up our volunteer community. Each and every member provides vital services through their work and is a valued part of the Red Cross team. Thank you to all our volunteers.

If you’d like to join the Red Cross, please visit RedCross.org/DFW to start your Red Cross story today! In a few more years, we could also be celebrating your milestone as well! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Honoring James Kavan as He Reaches 45 Years With the Red Cross

by Emily Ergas, intern contributor 
Longtime (seriously) volunteer James Kavan

The American Red Cross North Texas Region would like to take a moment to highlight a superior volunteer who reached a milestone of 45 years with the Red Cross. This individual has dedicated thousands of hours and his personal expertise to the Red Cross through teaching classes, delivering blood and supplies and participating in outreach initiatives. Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and it’s because of these people like our honoree today that we can accomplish so much. 

James Kavan is originally from Michigan although we have the honor of having him in our local Dallas Area Chapter today since 1994. He joined the American Red Cross in Michigan in 1969 at the urging of his former supervisor. He was a loss control specialist or safety engineer at an insurance business where his supervisor, with the desire to give back to the local community they worked in, asked that everyone volunteer. 

“My first contact with the Red Cross was in 1968 when I attended a First Aid Class,” James remembers. “I figured I was already in the safety field and I had had a First Aid class, so the Red Cross seemed the natural place for me to volunteer at.”

Throughout the years, James says he has been an instructor for First Aid & CPR classes as well as Disaster classes. He also used to deliver blood. Today, he delivers clothes once a month to local hospitals, is an active member of the Disaster Action Team in Denton and participates in outreach events. 

“I enjoy outreach,” James says. “It’s great to interact with the community and get kids interested in preparedness early.”

“People think the Red Cross is just about blood; they have no idea everything we do.  Prevention is such an important faction. So it’s great to pass out materials about prevention and preparedness to locals.” 

Besides outreach, another facet of working in the community that James enjoys is his role on the Disaster Action Team. He is one of the volunteers who arrive to provide assistance to people who have suffered a disaster. He claims that the most important thing people can learn about being on the team is how to be good listeners. 

“The thing I’ve learned from working with the local community is how to be a good listener and a good communicator,” says James.  “People who experience disasters in any form really need help, and part of that is just listening to their experience or hopes or fears.”

“There are so many people that really need help and it’s gratifying to be able to help them in any small way,” James says. “I’m looking forward to my next 45 years with the Red Cross.”

Thank you James! The American Red Cross looks forward to the amazing work you will continue to do. 

If you’d like to join James in his work at the Red Cross, please visit RedCross.org/DFW to start your Red Cross story today! In a few more years, we could also be celebrating your milestone as well! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11: A Day of Remembrance

by Anita Foster, Chief Communications Officer, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Ground Zero Badge
Last night, I got out my 9/11 memory box. It doesn't have much in it because honestly, most of what we experienced while on assignment would be best left behind. But I did keep my Ground Zero badge and today, like every year since September 11, I'll wear it on my lanyard as a reminder of every family, emergency worker, New Yorker and fellow Red Crosser who crossed my path during my time in New York City. 

My box also has some magazines from the time, a few patriotic buttons, a handful of printed photos from our first fundraising drive at the Ballpark in Arlington the day after the attacks and a heartfelt letter that Hugo Esparza from the Fort Worth Fire Department sent me when I returned. 

Even though there's not much in my memory box, I still keep it because it reminds me that while it's so important for all of us to keep moving ahead, it's also okay to take the time to reflect back and remember. 


Red Cross response vehicle near Ground Zero that morning
Today, the Leo Potishman Foundation in Fort Worth will be donating a brand new Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) for the Red Cross in North Texas. We'll dedicate the ERV in remembrance of 9/11 and our relief workers who endured the response. We have no doubt that this vehicle will be used to help families in the near future.

Thirteen years ago, a vehicle that looks exactly like the one we're receiving today was crushed underneath the debris at Ground Zero. That's because the Red Cross was at the scene within minutes of the first plane hitting the first tower. For the following weeks, months and years, the Red Cross continued to help. Here's a brief re-cap of our services following 9/11:
  • Helped 3,300 families who lost a loved one or had someone seriously injured. 
  • Provided assistance for 54,700 families who lost a home near Ground Zero, or lost a job and income
  • Distributed 14 million meals and snacks to families and emergency workers
  • Supported 237,000 Americans with mental health services
  • Helped 113,000 people affected with health services
The response from the American people is what allowed the American Red Cross to provide so much help and on this day of remembrance, that's what I'm thinking about. And I encourage you to think back to the many ways you helped. Maybe you gave blood, donated funds or tied ribbons on car antenna's. We all did our part. Let's keep those memories close to our hearts today as we reflect back on an unspeakable day, and pledge to be of continued service to our communities as we press forward.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Protecting Our Wilderness: Practice Campfire Safety

By Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

When actress Betty White can't sleep, she relives her childhood memories of camping in the Sierra Mountains. She says, “I can smell that air. I can hear the wind in the pines. It's where my soul is.”




Betty White is a supporter of the Wilderness Society—one of the nation’s top conservation organizations. The group is eager this month to share its accomplishments, as September is National Wilderness Month and this year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Act has helped preserve and protect over 110 million acres of wilderness in the United States—affording us a place to unplug, slow down, learn, and play, as well as saving the natural habitats of hundreds of species of plants, trees and animals.

As fall approaches in Texas, when the nights get longer and cooler, many will enjoy getting outdoors and appreciating a warm fire whether it is in our state parks or the backyard fire pit. To help further protect our beautiful land, always do your part and practice campfire safety.

Campfire Safety Tips
Always follow these eight tips when building a campfire.
  1. Do not build a fire if the area you are in is under a burn ban or burn restrictions.
  2. Use existing fire rings when making a campfire. If no fire rings are available, build your own. Start by picking a flat spot at least 15 feet away from tents, picnic tables, shrubs, trees or any other flammable object. Dig a pit one foot deep and surround the top of the pit with rocks, creating a fire ring.
  3. Fill a bucket with water and keep it close to the fire, as well as keeping a shovel handy.
  4. After lighting your tinder and kindling, slowly add larger pieces of wood one at a time to control the size of your campfire. 
  5. Never leave a fire unsupervised.
  6. Closely monitor children and pets around a campfire.
  7. Before turning in for the night, completely extinguish the campfire until it is cold. Let all pieces of wood burn down to ash. Pour water over the entire fire, not just hot embers. With your shovel, stir the ashes and embers making sure they are all wet. Alternatively, extinguish the fire using dirt and sand. Shovel dirt onto the fire, while stirring the embers and ashes until it is all covered and cold. 
  8. Do not burn aerosol cans, glass, or aluminum cans. The only safe trash to throw in a fire is food scraps. 
Treating Minor Burns

Burns are categorized into four classes; first, second, third and fourth degree burns. First and second-degree burns generally can be treated at home, while medical professionals must see third degree and fourth degree burns immediately.

First and second-degree burns are characterized by reddening of the skin, pain, swelling, and possible blistering. However, if the minor burn covers a large area of the hands, feet, face, groin, major joint, backside or covers an area larger than three inches, call 911. Third degree burns do not turn red, but skin will look white or charred and due to nerve damage, most likely the victim will not feel pain. Fourth degree burns affect all layers of the skin, plus the muscles, tendons and ligaments underneath the skin. These burns are usually fatal.

If someone is burned, always remove the source of the burn first. Run cool water over the area for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove any jewelry or tight fitting clothing in case the area swells. You may apply burn cream or Aloe Vera. Then, lightly cover the burn with a bandage. Never intentionally pop blisters.

Burns can get worse over time, so keep an eye on the wound. If it appears infected, call the doctor.

If you suspect the burn is more than a minor first or second-degree burn, treat it as a third degree burn. First, extinguish the flames and call 911. Remove any clothing or material that is smoldering, unless it is sticking to the victim’s skin. Never remove clothing that sticks to a burn victim’s skin. Do not put water or cream on the burn. Wrap it in a sterile gauze or clean sheet. Have the burn victim lie down until medical help arrives and treat them for shock. Keep the burned area elevated above the heart if possible.

Remember, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. 1,190,000 acres have burned in America this year alone. Help prevent more wildfires by always practicing campfire safety while enjoying the great outdoors.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alleviating Back to School Anxieties

by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

It’s that time of year again when parents are excited because their children are returning to school; however, despite the relief parents may feel now that summer is over, children may not feel the same relief. Instead, children may feel anxiety.

For some children, returning to school is filled with the excitement of reuniting with friends from the previous school year and meeting new teachers. For other children, however, back to school causes a host of concerns.

The concerns that a child may experience can depend on the child’s age. Younger children or children attending school for the first time may experience concerns about being separated from a parent or another caregiver. Adolescent worries may involve social anxieties such as will they fit in and will they have the “right” clothes.

Concerns a child may have are:
  • Who will be my new teacher?
  • Will any of my friends be in my class?
  • Will I fit in?
  • Are my clothes okay?
  • Will the other children be mean?

One of the best ways to alleviate or reduce some of these concerns is through preparation:

  1. Make sure your child has the correct supplies for school. To do this, contact the school and/or the teacher to receive a supply list. Some schools will have prepared packets that they sell directly to parents, or they can provide a preferred store to purchase supplies. 
  2. Take your child shopping for back-to-school clothes. Although you may be tempted to want to choose what your child wears for the first day of school, don’t. Let your child choose his/her own clothes. It is not necessary to purchase an entire wardrobe for back-to-school. For most children, the key clothing item is what they wear the first day of school. 
  3. Discuss fears that your child may have. Fears are normal, and by addressing these fears, your child knows that back-to-school anxiety is something many children experience. 
  4. Discuss the “what ifs.” Sometimes children are afraid of what could happen, such as what if I don’t like my teacher or what if my friends no longer like me. Discuss these issues and make a plan because a plan gives the child some semblance of control if something feared does occur. For example, if a child fear getting lost and not being able to find the bathroom, take the child to school and walk around and locate the bathrooms and the classroom.
  5. Visit the school, meet the teacher, and plan the route to school. Make the school routine familiar so that when the first day of school rolls around, the routine will be familiar and not anxiety producing.
  6. Focus on the positive aspect of returning to school. Ask your child to name three things that they look forward to with the return to school.
  7. Prepare the night before. When the first day of school arrives, make sure that clothes and lunches and snacks are ready the night before. Make sure your child goes to bed early, eats a good breakfast and arrives early to school. Lastly, if possible, arrange for your child to go to school with a friend because there is strength in numbers.


As you help your child deal with back-to-school anxiety, remember that this anxiety is only temporary, and that within a few weeks, everyone will be back to the school year routine.  Good luck!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Red Cross Guide to the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards

By Emily Ergas, intern contributor

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again! The Primetime Emmy Awards will take place tonight, August 25th at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles and will air on NBC at 7 PM Central Time. With Seth Meyers hosting, the show is sure to be full of laughs, questionable fashion choices and talent.




Everyone has their opinions on the nominees whether good (yay Game of Thrones!) or bad (what about Orphan Black? The Americans?).  In order to be fully prepared to judge who should win and who should not, we here at the Red Cross have supplied a listing of TV series to sample along with some relevant information each show probably needs to incorporate in its characters' daily lives.

The Walking Dead – It’s only been nominated for two Emmys this year in Outstanding Special and Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, but this series is a fan favorite without a doubt. With zombies milling about, it’s best to find a nice and fortified shelter in which to live/hide. These guys should get the Red Cross shelter app which provides detailed maps and locations of the nearest shelter.

Game of Thrones – Another huge fan favorite, it leads the nomination count with 19! It’s obvious to us that characters on this show should become familiar with our pet heat safety tips. Even dragons need some cooling off! And if you think the dragons are just fine in the heat, let’s protect those direwolves, goodness knows their owners aren’t lasting.

Orange is the New Black – This Netflix original series based on a woman’s experiences in prison has gained fans and critical acclaim alike. It received 12 nominations this year, including the first nomination for a transgender actor. All the women in this series deal with prison life and life after major upheaval which takes a toll on their mental health. We recommend looking at our Disaster Mental Health Safety page to learn how to cope with the aftermath.

True Detective – Equal parts mysterious and gripping, this HBO series about two detectives on the hunt for a serial murder sees both of its leads nominated in the Best Actor category. While rumors continue about who will be the cast next season, we’d like to strongly suggest any characters on this show pick up a Red Cross survival kit. They should be prepared for whatever awaits.

House of Cards – The first original online-only web series to receive Emmy nominations follows up with 13 nominations for its second season of political drama. Since these characters’ lives revolve around their work, it’s probably best that their workplace is fully prepared.

Modern Family – Another Emmys, another round of nominations for this hit classic comedy about a modern family in California. With the arrival of a new baby this past season, we think his brother and cousins should brush up on their babysitter training with our class.

Breaking Bad – Entering the Guinness World Records this year as the highest rated show of all time, this show about a high school chemistry teacher who turns to a life selling methamphetamine (meth) to provide for his family after his cancer diagnosis, definitely 100% needs to check out our chemical emergency preparedness tips. Also the home fire safety page. Seriously.

There are a few of the big names nominated this year. For the complete list, visit http://www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners. Tune in on August 25th to see who the winners are! (And if you’re like me, tune in early to check out the fashion as well.)

Good luck to all the nominees from the American Red Cross!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How Should Senior Citizens Prepare for a Disaster?

By Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

August 21st is Senior Citizen Day! It is a day to celebrate our older generations; the contributions they've made and the roles they have in our lives. It is also a day to remember to take care and think of them. With disasters occurring daily throughout the world, it is important to remember that our older generations should be just as prepared.



How do senior citizens prepare for a disaster? When I first mentioned this topic to my mother, she became angry, and she said, “Senior citizens don’t prepare any differently than other people.”

I respectfully disagreed and mentioned the number of senior citizens who died in the Chicago heatwave years ago.

My mom, then, regretfully agreed, “Yes, we do have to consider our lives today. We still think we are 20 and can do everything that we used to do until an emergency occurs, and we realize that we don’t have the same bodies that we had at 20 and can’t do the things we used to be able to easily do.”

After some discussion and research, here are some ways seniors can prepare for a disaster.

  1. Prepare an Emergency Kit
  2. Make a Plan
  3. Be Informed

Prepare Your Kit

Make an emergency kit. Put medications, identification, contact phone numbers, prescriptions, and vital information in this kit. Also, put enough food, water, and medical supplies for three days in it.

Because this kit may be heavy, it is better to put it in smaller bags that may have wheels. Make sure that you put your name on it and on any wheelchairs, canes, or walkers or any items that will not be placed in the kit.

Make a Plan

You may not think a disaster will occur in your area, but you never know. As the saying goes, “Better safe than sorry”. When an emergency does occur, you will be glad that you have a plan in place.

Discuss your action plan with family members and have at least one emergency contact who does not live in the area. This contact is necessary because quite often it is the local phone service that may not work, but you will be able to contact someone outside of the area. This person will need to know your whereabouts and contact information.

In addition, plan a meeting place whether it is a shelter or someone’s home. If you no longer drive, plan transportation; whether it is emergency senior transportation or a friend or relative who will pick you up. If possible, car pool so that people are not searching for one another.

Where will your pets go in an emergency? Quite often people don’t consider their pets in the emergency plan, and sadly, some people don’t seek shelter for them during an emergency. Before an emergency happens, see where you can shelter your pet until you return home if an evacuation becomes necessary.

Be Informed
What emergency is most likely to happen in your community?
Earthquake? Hurricane? Winter storm? Flood? Tornado?

Think about what type of emergency is most likely to occur, and base your plans on that type of emergency.

Also, how will you be notified of an emergency? Will it be on the television? Radio? Community alarm system? Phone call? Determine how your community warns people of a possible disaster, and make sure you have a system in place so that you will be alerted.

If you are in a retirement community, check to see what plans are in place. Sometimes, the community has already established emergency procedures and a safe place for residents. See if this information is available.

When to Prepare

The best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. Discuss plans with friends and family. If you no longer drive, make sure you have transportation arranged and a safe place in mind. Lastly, update your emergency kit every six months and throw out any expired food or medication. Also, review your emergency plans a few times a year to make sure contact information and shelters have not changed.

Go to RedCross.org/Prepare for more information!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

World Humanitarian Day—The World Needs More

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

"Things just started to fly. I heard an explosion and everything was upside down. I don't know, I don't know where they all are.''

This is Mahal al-Khatib’s answer to a journalist’s inquiry immediately after a car bomb exploded outside a converted hotel serving as the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad Iraq. Mahal al-Khatib was a secretary working for the UN along with hundreds of other aid workers helping to find homes for displaced Iraqis, distributing food, repairing electricity and defusing land mines scattered around the country. 

On August 19, 2003, a cement truck packed full of bombs exploded underneath a window of the office of Brazilian UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello. The terrorist attack—the worst attack on the UN in history—killed 22 people and injured at least 100 more. 

One month later, another car bomb exploded in the UN’s parking lot, killing two and wounding 12. On October, 27, 2003, just a little over two months after the devastating attack on UN headquarters, a series of car bombs injured over 220 people all over Baghdad, including an attack on the International Committee for the Red Cross office. It was the first time for a suicide bomber to attack the Red Cross. Fifteen people were killed when an ambulance sped into the Red Cross compound, exploding at its entry gate. 

The rush of attacks drove the United Nations to create World Humanitarian Day. Every year, on August 19, the United Nations encourages everyone to not only honor and remember humanitarian workers from around the world who have died while serving and helping others, but also celebrate those dedicated to responding to the needs of victims of disaster and war worldwide.


“More People Than Ever Before Need Our Help”




The World Humanitarian Day 2014 theme is “The world needs more…” The United Nations is asking everyone to step up, become a humanitarian, and join the Messengers of Humanity community to stand up and make a difference in the world. Becoming a humanitarian does not cost money, or time, nor do you need any type of specialized training. In fact, you might just be a humanitarian already. The definition of humanitarian is 

1. Having concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people
2. Involved in improving people’s lives and reducing suffering

When I asked my 200 plus Facebook friends what the world needs more of, I received these responses:
Love
Compassion
Understanding
Empathy
Tolerance
Acceptance
Hope 
Kindness 
Peace

These reasons why we have World Humanitarian Day—we believe in the human spirit and passing these positive qualities to others. To help others in need during a crisis surely requires patience, compassion, humility, kindness, and love. You might be thinking you are too busy, too tied down, not financially able or too frightened to drop what you are doing and travel overseas to help. However, what the United Nations emphasizes is that humanitarians usually serve in their home countries. World Humanitarian Day starts right here. In our backyards, in our neighborhoods and in our surrounding communities. It is as simples as offering a hug or a warm blanket to someone who just lost their house in a fire, or as far reaching as Fort Worth doctor, Kent Brantly working for Samaritan’s Purse who responded to the needs of thousands suffering from Ebola in West Africa. World Humanitarian Day honors those who have lost their lives in the line of duty—not because they were paid to be there, but because of their love, compassion, understanding, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, hope, kindness and peace. 

The world needs more… volunteers. Won’t you start becoming a Messenger of Humanity today and sign up? There are many ways to volunteer. After all, more people than ever before need our help.

What do you think the world needs more of? Add your hashtag below!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Local Red Cross Volunteer Featured in Weatherford NOW Magazine

This story is reposted from the August 2014 issue of Weatherford NOW Magazine. To read the complete article, visit the online issue and turn to page 24. Thank you to Weatherford NOW for sharing this great story about one of our amazing volunteers!

A Helping Hand
by Amber D. Browne



Growing up along the Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi, Larry Bushwar became familiar with the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes. His parents rode out a few of the storms when he was a child, and he saw first-hand the destruction caused by Mother Nature. "Disasters do not
discriminate between races, gender or economic status. I saw how people from all walks of life stood together to help their fellow neighbors in tough times," Larry explained. "Even though I was a child, those things stick in your mind forever."

As an adult living in Wichita Falls, Larry experienced another brush with a natural disaster. He had recently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and was working for the Internal Revenue Service. A massive tornado touched down near his apartment complex during the spring of 1979. 

"That was my first time to see a tornado up close. I actually saw the tornado. It was huge,” Larry explained. 

As an IRS representative, Larry worked with residents who had been affected by the destruction of the tornado. “I guess this is where I really realized how helpful I could be in a disaster,” he said. “I saw how all these people and organizations all came together for the common good of our fellow neighbors.”

That instinct and determination to help others led Larry to the American Red Cross. He volunteers with the Red Cross as a government operations liaison and a disaster assessment coordinator. His primary focus is working with state and city officials during a disaster.

To read the complete article, visit the online issue and turn to page 24.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Encourage the youth in your life to celebrate International Youth Day!

By Sydney Holt, volunteer contributor

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared August 12th as International Youth Day.  Fast forward to “twenty fourteen,” a time when youths face complex issues across the social and digital spaces. To educate this key population, the UN declared this year’s theme, "Mental Health," to raise awareness on this important topic, as well as many others.

Start this important conversation with the young ones in your life, and encourage them to learn more about what youth do around the world to support the Red Cross/Red Crescent/Red Crystal Movement.

RC Red Cross youth members attended the recent Malaysian Red Crescent Youth Festival - Putrajaya 2014

A Red Cross Youth Program in the Philippines

Happy International Youth Day from the American Red Cross!

Monday, August 11, 2014

RV There Yet? The Road Traveled for Disaster Relief

By Lisa Morgan, American Red Cross Communications Associate

If you’re a nature-loving, cross-country driving, general enthusiast who packs up and goes on a moment’s notice, then the American Red Cross has a place for you with Escapees RV Club. Instead of being deployed by plane, train or automobile, they are deployed via RV’s as a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Operations Volunteer Escapees (DOVES).


John & Anita Laffey, Red Cross volunteers

DOVES have been advancing and supporting the Red Cross mission since its inception –when Escapee RV Club members rushed to the impacted areas on the Eastern seaboard to help those impacted by the events of September 11, 2001.

DOVES have only one mission:  to support American Red Cross disaster services by:

1) Recruiting Escapees RV Club members for Red Cross Disaster Services
2) Assisting DOVE members in obtaining training as Red Cross disaster operations volunteers
3) Providing DOVE members with timely information about Red Cross disaster relief operations
4) Providing volunteer assistance to the Red Cross whenever and wherever practical

Earlier this summer the Club hosted its 54th Annual Escapade, an RV rally where DOVES leadership team recruited for new members to add to the over 200 members on the roster. Additionally, DOVES coordinated a blood drive and provided a Red Cross Training Institute to train other DOVES at the Elkhart, IN chapter. The courses provided were shelter operations, forklift class, bulk food distribution, client case work and psychological first aid. The class with the highest attendance was the forklift class, with Dallas chapter volunteer instructor, John Laffey. CROWN Forklift generously donated a brand new forklift to for use in the five hour course.

“I teach them how to stack the pallets so that the contents don’t spill and the load has even distribution,” said John. “One of the things they learn is that if they can’t see over their load they need to operate the lift in reverse or moving backwards so they can safely see where they are going.”

“The DOVES can be viewed as gems hidden around the country”, said Mahlon Stacy, vice president of DOVES. “While some DOVES are new to Red Cross, many DOVES bring both life experience and Red Cross experience to the game. They will be valuable assets to the Red Cross in times of disaster.”

DOVES are not only valuable resources during national disasters, they are also valuable resources during blue sky times.  They can provide support for:

  • Local disasters
  • Community events (blood drives, community fairs, etc.)
  • Replace local members out on vacation or unavailable for other reasons
  • Administrative tasks or any other short-term projects while they are in the local chapter area
  • Instructors who can teach basic or advanced level classes.

“DOVES love to assist Red Cross chapters in any way that is needed,” said Anita Laffey, president of DOVES.  “If one of us is traveling through your area, we’ll cheerfully empty trash cans, clean cambros, make phone calls—we’ll even bake chocolate chip cookies for you!” Anita goes on to say that DOVES are here to serve. “If Red Cross chapters will let us know what they need, we’ll do our best to help them.Whether we are helping to run a shelter in a huge disaster like Hurricane Sandy or teaching Client Casework at a local chapter, we love to support Red Cross disaster services.”

Anita is excited as she enters her term as president of this unique group of disaster responders. DOVES have the distinction of being deployed while maintaining all of their creature comforts. “We’re kind of like turtles carrying our homes with us,” she said.

For more information on how to join the American Red Cross as a DOVE, please email: RequestADOVE@dovebof.org.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Heading Into the Storm: Do's & Don'ts

By Emily Ergas, intern contributor

As Texas residents, we are no stranger to tornadoes and the threat they pose to our communities. This August, Into the Storm, aims to bring an action packed suspense story of one town’s fight to survive while being hit by tornadoes left and right.

Watching the trailer, we’ll give you a play-by-play on the right and wrong things the characters are doing in reaction to the tornadoes. Feel free to watch along!


[Watch the trailer here.]

Know your community’s warning system: (:13) Check. As graduation ends, the siren goes off to warn everyone of an approaching storm. (Though the rain is also a hint.)

Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter: (:18) Well done. Everyone from outside moves into the school in a quick, orderly fashion.

Pick a safe room – this should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows: Mmmm, half credit here. (:20-32) Everyone moves into a hall, on the lowest floor, away from windows. However, windows at the end of the hall cause damage and pose a significant risk to the characters.

Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees: (:22) Obviously not done, as a tree limb comes crashing through the hall window, almost harming a student.

Watch for tornado warning signs: (:51) Characters confirm that large hail is a result of an approaching storm, but then decide to go towards it...they are storm chasers, trained to do this, however.

Stay out of damaged buildings: (:55) Two characters stand in the middle of a clearly damaged building. This is a very poor idea.

If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter: immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter: (1:44) Several buses and cars are seen driving away from a tornado, but they seem to be trying to outrun the storm more than looking for a sturdy shelter. This is also never a good idea.

Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately: (1:49) As a power line whips onto the road, a character swerves the car. Good job watching out, but if he doesn't report it, it’s going to remain a danger to everyone else.

Overall, the characters seem to react somewhat appropriately to the tornadoes in the trailer. Hopefully, the movie will emphasize important safety procedures, but for the facts, make sure to visit RedCross.org. And look out for Into the Storm in theaters TODAY!