Friday, July 18, 2014

Inside a Red Cross Response to a Dallas Apartment Fire

By Kay Pinkerton – Red Cross volunteer contributor

A tenant’s burning candles led to a predawn blaze Saturday, April 12, at the Mayan Palms apartment complex located in Southeast Dallas.  The four-alarm fire consumed 36 apartments, destroying the homes and possessions of more than 50 tenants.

Thankfully, no deaths were reported. 

The American Red Cross was on the scene, offering blankets, safe shelter and emotional support to the fire victims.
A Mayan Palms tenant wrapped herself in a Red Cross blanket after escaping the flames that ripped through her apartment.  Her relative, Virginia Reyez, later searched for the woman’s belongings in the tangled debris of wood, glass and metal -- all that remained of the apartment.  Reyez used the same Red Cross blanket to wrap and protect a surprising find.    

The woman’s jewelry box.
“It’s one of the most valuable things she owns now,” said Reyez.
 Being Grateful

The Red Cross opened a shelter at Samuel Grand Recreation Center after the fire was contained.  There, Red Cross volunteers provided information, support and a listening ear to fire victims who had lost their homes. 
Inside the shelter, Minnie Sessions sat in a row of chairs next to her son and his wife.

"I was asleep, woke up and smelled smoke. And I said, 'I know I ain't cooked,'" recalled Minnie.
She walked into the living room of her apartment. "I went in there and seen all that smoke," she said. "I grabbed a tub of clothes and drug them out with me."

Minnie's son, Freddie Sessions, admitted he felt overwhelmed by the day’s events. Still, he was grateful for his mother’s life, and appreciated the help and support she had received.
"She didn't have a jacket, and someone gave my mother a jacket,” he said. "There are good people out there.  To see them come out, you know, and help her. To be there for her.”
“I'm very grateful for the Red Cross organization,” said Sessions.
Helping Your Neighbor
Back at the scene of the fire, a young apartment resident surveyed the damage while recalling that morning’s frightening events. 
“I hear all this, this screaming.  ‘Fire!’  I woke my baby up, and we went outside,” said the woman.  “I saw a guy get one person out.  They had to break the fence down to get him out because he was on a cane.”
The woman was saddened by the devastating loss.  
“My apartment’s okay,” she said.  “But our friends?  Our close neighbors are going through this.  And there’s nothing we can do.”
At the Red Cross, there is something we can do. 

Red Cross disaster relief helps victims get back on their feet and resume their lives as quickly as possible. The organization also supports emergency workers, links family members outside the disaster area, and provides blood and blood products to disaster victims. 

For more information about the Red Cross and its services, or to learn how you can help, visit

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dog Days of Summer: Pet Heat Safety

by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor

Dear Owner,

Listen, I know you like summer because of outdoor barbecues and swim parties, but don’t forget about me. Now, it’s not that I’m ungrateful for the hamburger patties you “drop” off the grill or the hot dog buns you conveniently leave on the edge of the countertop—thank you for those. But when it gets this hot, don’t forget I’m sporting a full fur coat and bare feet. Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts to keep your furry four-legged friends happy. 


leave me in the car—it’s like an oven in there. And if you see one of my fellow furry friends in a car, track down their owner immediately (and give them a good talking to).
take me on walks when it’s hot outside—remember those bare feet? A nice morning walk or evening stroll will do. 
leave me outside for more than a few minutes—even with shade, I’m going to get hot pretty quickly. Now if you installed that dog door you’ve been promising…
ignore me—if you see heavy panting, excessive thirst, uncoordinated behavior, or dizziness, chances are I’m suffering from a heatstroke. If that’s the case, take me inside, put some ice packs on me and give me small amounts of water and ice cubes. 


brush me or give my fur a good trim so I’m a little bit cooler in this weather.
leave me plenty of water and make sure I have shade when I’m outside. A fan is nice, but it’s not going to help me cool down very well. 
put ice cubes in my water, or better yet, make some peanut butter popsicles! 
wet my neck, feet, and belly so I can cool down faster. If we do go for a long walk, I wouldn't object to wearing a cooling vest—it’s so much less embarrassing than that bumblebee costume you tried to get me in last year. 
make a plan for a power outage
download the Pet First Aid App from the American Red Cross. Those guys think of everything. 

Oh!  And do keep dropping those hamburger patties, maybe even one with cheese on it?


Your Pet

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Water Park Safey Tips for a Fun & Safe Summer Outing

by Munira Syeda, volunteer contributor

Summer is here and that means lots of fun time with family and friends. At Red Cross, however, we also want to make sure that you have a safe summer. 

If you and your family are planning to head to any of a number of water parks in North Texas this coming holiday weekend, please follow these important safety tips.

1. Wear comfortable clothing, such as a loose shirt and shorts, comfortable shoes, and a hat or sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Be sure to apply waterproof sunscreen generously and protect your skin against sunburns and skin cancer.

2. Follow all instructions for water rides and activities, including designated height and experience levels. Children who are under 48 inches and not strong swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

3. Actively supervise children and don’t be more than arm’s length away from them. To avoid the scenario of a child getting separated or lost, use a buddy system. Also designate a meeting place in case a family member gets separated.

4. It is a good idea to have all family members learn how to swim. You can enroll your family in age-appropriate Red Cross swim classes.

5. Keep yourself and your family hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid caffeinated drinks since they contribute to dehydration. 

6. Practice cleanliness and stay healthy. Shower before participating in a water ride or activity. Wash your hands well after using the toilet. Take your children to the bathroom frequently throughout the day. If you have a baby, use waterproof diapers and change your baby’s diaper in designated changing areas.

7. Avoid alcohol consumption. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

8. If you see someone in trouble, call a lifeguard immediately and follow their instructions.

For more water safety tips, visit Have a safe summer!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Importance of Practicing Lightning Safety

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

Are you the type that gets a kick out of rubbing a balloon on your younger sibling’s head to watch their hair stand up on end? No matter your age, it always looks hilarious, right? 

Have you ever experienced that same charge without rubbing a balloon on your head or after shuffling on the carpet and touching something metal? Way back when I was a silly little girl whose main concern was fun in the sun, my friend and I were swimming in a resort pool at the Lake of the Ozarks. Foreboding gray clouds had formed in the distance. We failed to realize we were putting ourselves in great danger. You see, a severe thunderstorm was brewing and the static electricity in the air was so intense, our hair was standing up on end just as if we had rubbed a balloon on each other’s heads. 

The clouds in the sky that day were statically charged with electricity—a clear sign to get out of the water and go inside. Luckily, we did become alarmed and went inside. Our child wonderment and amusement could have been cut short that day; lightning kills more Americans a year than tornados and hurricanes. The only other weather event that causes more fatalities is flooding. Indeed, NOAA isn’t wrong when they say that lightning is the most “underrated weather hazard.” 

Lightning Facts

Scientists and weather specialists are still trying to figure out lightning, but what we do know is that the mixture of a storm cloud’s water droplets and ice, air currents and ground evaporation cause turbulence inside the cloud, polarizing the cloud’s structure. Positive charges form in the upper part of the cloud, while negative charges form in the bottom. This reaction causes an electric charge not only in the cloud, but also on the ground below. When these two electrostatic charges meet, a lightning bolt strikes. 

A lightning bolt can hold up to 300 million volts of electricity and can heat the air around it five times hotter than the sun’s surface. Every day around the world there is an estimated 2,000 thunderstorms. All thunderstorms produce lightning. On average, that is eight million lightning strikes a day. 

It does not necessarily have to be cloudy and rainy for lightning to strike, either. Lightning has the capability to strike 10 miles away from its originating thunderstorm. If you hear thunder—the sound lightning makes—you can be struck. (We see lightning before we hear it, because light travels faster than sound.) Even 30 minutes after a storm passes, you can still be struck by lightning, so stay indoors or in your shelter 30 minutes after you hear the last round of thunder, or see the last lightning strike. 

There are many myths floating around about lightning safety. Did you know that many victims of lightning strikes were either standing under a tree or in their garage? Though lightning is not attracted to any certain item, like a metal fence, there are many good conductors for electricity—water, concrete and metal being the top conductors. There are three factors that go into where lightning strikes—height, space and isolation. One thing that is true about lightning—it tends to hit the tallest thing around.

Even though only about 10 percent of the 400 Americans hit by lightning a year die, more than half suffer long-term devastating effects such as brain damage, memory loss, and severe burns. Over your lifetime, you have a one in 3,000 chance of being struck by lightning. But here is the good news: most lightning strikes are completely avoidable! Don’t wait too long to seek shelter like I did as a kid. If clouds form and it turns dark, you see lightning or hear thunder seek shelter right away—not “just after this inning.” 

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! 

Whatever you do, do not stay out in the soccer field or baseball diamond. When storm clouds form, you hear thunder or see lightning seek shelter indoors. Baseball dugs out, concrete bathrooms or picnic table shelters and shades are not safe. Lightning travels through concrete. Your best bet is to seek shelter in a building with electricity and plumbing. Like I said above, it is true what you have always been told, lightning will strike the tallest thing, so don’t be the tallest thing, nor stand under the tallest thing. The second leading cause of lightning strike fatalities is due from standing under a tree. If your only option is trees, do not pick a large, isolated tree. Seek shelter under a small cluster of shorter trees. And for goodness sake’s put down your umbrella! That metal tip at the top might just as well be Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod! 

Bring your pets inside, as well. Doghouses will not protect your pet. While inside, do not shower, bathe, wash dishes, or use a corded phone. Lightning can travel through wires. Stay away from windows and go all the way inside if you are in the garage. Cell phones and battery-operated electronics are safe to use during a lightning storm. Listen to the weather, turn on your NOAA-approved emergency weather alert radio, or download the American Red Cross app to stay current on when it is safe to go back outside. It is definitely not the time to fly a kite, raise a flagpole, or wear your 5-inch heels. 

If you are outside and nowhere near home, your car, as long as it is not a convertible and the windows are rolled up is a safe place to seek shelter from a lightning storm. If no inside shelter or vehicle is accessible, do not remain in an open field, try to pick a wooded area and assume the “lightning position.” This position will not guarantee you will not be hit, but you have a better chance of remaining safe. To assume the lightning position, squat or crouch down on your feet. Roll up with your feet together, head down and wrap your arms around your knees. Do NOT lie down. 

Get off and out of the water immediately if you are swimming or boating and seek shelter indoors. If you happen to be too far out from shore, stop all activities such as tubing, skiing, or swimming, and go into the cabin of the boat. For boats without cabins, crouch down in the bottom. Do not touch any of the electronics in the boat. If you do not have a lightning protection system, remove or lower all metal poles, like the antenna or lights. Do not touch two different metal things at the same time. 

It is safe to touch someone hit by lightning. You will not get shocked. They need immediate help. Perform CPR if necessary and call 911. 

Because of the frequency of thunderstorms and increase in outdoor activities, summer is peak season for lightning. To be safe, always pay attention to the weather, and cancel any outdoor activities if there is any threat of thunderstorms. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

World Refugee Day – More Than a Number

by Lauren McMinn Clarke, volunteer contributor

Every year, on June 20th, countless international civic groups, including the American Red Cross and the United Nations, celebrate World Refugee Day. This annual celebration honors refugees and displaced persons for their courage and resilience in the face of conflict and strife.

This year, the Restoring Family Links program of the American Red Cross is working with partners and members of the refugee community around the United States to celebrate World Refugee Day. The Restoring Family Links program works two ways; it initiates cases here in the United States to loved ones abroad, and it also connects displaced refugees overseas back to family members in the US. 

In Texas, we receive an average of 4,500 refugees per year. In fact, the North Texas region is the second busiest region in the United States for the Restoring Family Links program. The primary source of refugee cases coming to the Dallas area is from Iraq, because there is a large Iraqi population spanning the Metroplex. After that most cases to Dallas come from East Africa, from refugee complexes in Kenya and Uganda. 

Recently, our Dallas Red Cross team was able to reconnect a local family with a refugee family member in East Africa. After our volunteers did a great deal of internet research, tracking down addresses and phone numbers, the team reached out to the family in a local apartment complex via phone. The message wasn’t received, so our team went out in person to the address, donned in their Red Cross vests. After visiting the apartment, it was clear the family had moved. As our volunteers were leaving, the landscape staff of the complex stopped and asked why the Red Cross was there. When they heard, they led our staff to the complex office and found a new phone number for the family. The next day, our team was able to deliver a message from the cousin in Uganda to the family here in Dallas.

Are you interested in helping? We need volunteers. The Red Cross team appreciates volunteers with abilities that may include: an interest in interacting with people of different cultures, knowledge of current global events, ability to speak a different language and availability of time (because it is a very involved process).

If you are not already a Red Cross volunteer, please visit our website to sign up for a volunteer orientation and at the appropriate time, designate your interest in International Services and Restoring Family Links.

If you are interested in more information on our local Restoring Family Links program, please contact Alexis Chase at (Metro Field Specialist, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services), or Jack Wilson at (Assistant Director, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services).

Lastly, there is a local event being held this Saturday, June 21, 2014 (10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.) at which the American Red Cross will be in attendance. More information can be found here,

Eight Summer Safety Tips from American Red Cross

by Kay Pinkerton, volunteer contributor

It’s here!  Another searing, sweltering, steaming, scalding, sizzling, scorching, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk Texas summer!

To ensure a fun and safe summer for you and your family, the American Red Cross offers the following safety tips. 

  1. Fluids.  When conducting outdoor activities on hot days, drink, drink, drink.  Consume plenty of cold fluids – especially water.   Stay away from alcohol when conducting hot weather activities, however.   The risks include heat-related illness and accidents.
  2. Sunscreen.   Use sunscreen when spending time outdoors – even on cloudy days.  The FDA recommends using broad-spectrum (protects both UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When the sun’s UV rays are strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), wear broad-brimmed hats and loose-fitting clothing for extra protection. 
  3. Grilling.  According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 27 percent of home fires involving grills started on a courtyard, terrace or patio. Keep propane and charcoal BBQ grills a safe distance from your home, deck railings and overhanging branches. Keep children and pets away from the grill area.  Never leave a grill unattended.  And keep your grill clean – grease or fat buildup can cause fires. 
  4. Exercise.  Early morning is normally the best time to work out, especially if the day promises blast-furnace heat conditions. For intense activities, drink a glass of water before leaving the house. Carry a bottle of water or a hydration pack such as a CamelBak®.  Replenish your electrolytes while running, cycling, or other intense exercise. 
  5. Swimming.  Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for people ages 5 - 24.  Never leave a child unattended when near the water. If a child is missing, check the water first.  Even for strong, adult swimmers, use a buddy system while in the water due to issues such as fatigue or muscle cramps.  
  6. Boating.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard, life jackets could have saved the lives of more than 80 percent of boating fatality victims.  Wear a life jacket at all times while boating.  Another leading factor in boating fatalities is alcohol.  Boating and liquor simply don’t mix.  
  7. Helmets and safety gear.   Helmet use may reduce head injury risk, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  When biking, skateboarding or other such activities, wear a comfortable, properly fitting, approved safety helmet.   Always fasten the safety strap. 
  8. Red Cross classes.  Consider enrolling in a Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid, or CPR/AED course.  It could mean saving a life.  
For more information on enjoying the lazy days of summer – safely – or to enroll in a safety course, visit the American Red Cross website

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Drownings on the rise – FREE resources available in Dallas-Fort Worth!

by Sydney Holt, volunteer contributor

Click to enlarge
this helpful
With the Dallas-Fort Worth region still experiencing major droughts, your lake plans and annual safety preparations may have fallen to the wayside, but here’s why they shouldn’t. Believe it or not, drownings are on the rise this summer!

While drownings are the #1 cause of death for kids five and under, it’s important to remember that water does not discriminate. Take a minute to review these FREE and low-cost local resources so you can relax and enjoy some fun in the sun this season. 

  • Assessments – Seems simple enough but don’t just learn to swim, be a confident swimmer. Your local YMCA offers free Swim Assessments to assess swimming ability. Times and locations vary – see here.
  • Activities – Grab a group of your neighbors and take a walk around your community identifying any potential threats for drownings. Identify creeks and other bodies of water nearby, pools without safety fences, empty and turn over and large containers or buckets of water, and talk to your unexperienced swimmers about the importance of only swimming with an adult present. It’s a free activity, and more importantly another touch point to talk to your kids about water safety!
  • App – Yes, there’s an App for that! The free Red Cross Swim App will help you keep your swimmer motivated, while providing you the latest in water safety guidance to help ensure your family stays safe in, on and around the water. Download it directly from the iTunes, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace app stores.
  • Accountability – Many celebrations take place with family and friends during the summer months, and while adults are present it’s important to designate who will be responsible for supervising swimmers at all times. Another option is to contact a local community pool and ask if they have any certified lifeguards available for hire – a small price to pay for safety.
  • Act – If you are sending your inexperienced swimmer with an older sibling or babysitter, remind them of any safety devices needed such as floaties or a life jacket. Also remind them that if any accident should occur don’t be afraid to seek help for fear of getting in trouble – Every second counts, call 9-1-1 immediately and ask an adult for help!

Remember, the Red Cross offers a number of swim classes for all levels. Check out to find one near you.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Volunteers Carry on Tradition of Knitting, Sewing and Crocheting for a Good Cause

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Knitting, sewing and crocheting have been tools American Red Cross volunteers have been using since World War II to give back. For active soldiers, Red Cross volunteers would knit wool socks to help prevent trench foot and to give the soldiers a sense of comfort and love from home. 

The tradition has carried on now for over 80 years and is still going strong in the Dallas Area Chapter. Every Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., volunteers come to the chapter and dedicate their time to produce over 40 individual items. The items made include: layettes for newborns and still-borns, baby caps and booties, blankets, slippers, wheel chair caddies, bibs, chemotherapy caps, cooling neck wraps for soldiers and more. 

Charlotte, a Red Cross volunteer for over 30 years,
 with one of her specialty items, a "Textured Worm"
 used as a comfort item for children in the hospital
A "Special Layette" which will go to Parkland Hospitals
for still-born babies

Around 36 volunteers help with this initiative, with an average of five volunteers in the production room every Tuesday, and the rest working remotely from all around North Texas, from the Panhandle to the far east. The items made go to Parkland Hospital, Children's Medical Center, Veteran's Administration Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House, Camp Maxey Canteen, USO, Medical City Dallas and St. Vincent DePaul Society. 

The production room, now named "Albina's Production Room" is named after the team's previous volunteer leader, Albina Young. Albina and her husband, Bob were passionate and dedicated volunteers to the Red Cross, volunteering for almost 50 years. Albina and her husband were over 90 years old when they stopped volunteering due to injuries in a car accident. 

When Albina retired from team leader, Marcia Bauer took over the role. After Marcia moved back to the Dallas area, and her children were grown, she began looking for volunteer opportunities. She recalls her husband recommending the Red Cross and her reacting with "Well yeah, I know, I'm aware of the Red Cross...," but then her husband said, "But did you know you could sew at the Red Cross?" 

"Realizing I could actually use my talent to help the Red Cross is what got me to get involved," said Marcia. 

Marcia has been asked to speak at several volunteer recognition events to share her Red Cross experience. At one event, Marcia mentioned that she needed to learn how to knit, and the next Tuesday she walked into the production room to find a basket with knitting materials and instructional books from the Red Cross. 

When asking Marcia why she volunteers, she stated, "They need me, and I enjoy being here, I enjoy the people, and I get to do what I like, which is sewing and knitting." Another volunteer, Julie Muse, jokingly chimed in, "and talking." 

From left to right: Marcia Bauer, Charlotte Kleinfelder and Julie Muse

"The one thing I always point out is that we deal in comfort," said Marcia. "But the one time we deal in disaster is providing layettes for the still-born babies, because that is a gigantic disaster. But just thinking about all of the things we do, all of them provides some form of comfort."

Julie Muse, a Red Cross volunteer working with a handmade piece
The day we visited the production room three ladies were sewing, knitting and crocheting: Marcia who has been volunteering for over 15 years, Charlotte who has been volunteering for over 30 years and Julie who has been volunteering at the Red Cross for two years. 

The production room volunteers have been recognized at many events, and the American Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter is so glad to have them! If you'd like to volunteer in the production room or are interested in other Red Cross volunteer opportunities, visit

Friday, May 23, 2014

Row, Row, Row Your Boat….Safely

by Carol Grinage, American Red Cross volunteer contributor

With summer right around the corner, many people have vacations that involve activities on the water. One summer activity that many people love is boating; however, this fun activity requires precautions. 

Since it's National Safe Boating Week, before you go out in a boat, please keep the following safe boating tips in mind:

  • Learn to swim. If you plan on spending time on a boat, it is essential that you learn to swim. The Red Cross offers swim classes that will fit your schedule.
  • Wear a life jacket. Regardless of whether you know how to swim, a life jacket is essential. Why? You may sustain an injury or be knocked unconscious, and in these cases, a life jacket could save your life. Also, many great swimmers cannot battle the forces of the waves or the cool water temperatures, and again, a life jacket could save lives.
  • Take a boating course. Most people don’t think about boating courses, but these courses teach you the rules of navigation, the effects of wind and weather, and emergency safety procedures. You can find boating classes through the National Safe Boating Council.
  • Remember Operation Dry Water – don’t drink and boat. Alcohol is responsible for 17% of boating fatalities, making it the number one cause of boating deaths. Drinking while boating is just as dangerous as drinking while driving, and the you could receive a BUI (Boating Under the Influence).
  • Have a float plan. What is a float plan? It is a plan that you leave someone who is not going boating with you that tells where you will be boating, who is on the boat, a description of your boat, and when you will return. This is detailed information in case you don’t return within a designated time frame and the person who holds the plan must contact authorities to find you. 

These tips aren’t meant to put a damper on your summer activities; instead, these tips are to help you make sure your fun summer activities stay fun. Have a happy summer and safe boating!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Red Cross Impacting Lives at Tyler, TX Veteran's Home

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

This month, American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteers spent time at the Watkins Logan State Veteran's Home in Tyler, TX installing wheelchair accessible raised gardening beds for the veterans.

Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) includes linking military families during times of emergency, connecting families with local community resources, providing resiliency training and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals.

Since the partnership began between the veteran's home and the Red Cross in 2012 when the veteran's home opened, the Red Cross has been assigned Cottage D which houses ten veterans, two of which are bedridden, one capable of walking and the rest in wheelchairs. 

Service to the Armed Forces volunteer Julie McDaniel has been volunteering since 2012 at the home and has been hoping to provide the vets with the raised gardening beds for the last several months. 

"The gardening beds will help get the less mobile veteran's outside," said Julie. "With the gardening bed being raised, the veteran's in wheelchairs can pull right up underneath it. I think this will give them a chance to feel like they have ownership of something." 

Red Cross volunteers Julie and Jim helped assemble the gardening beds
Julie often plans events for the veterans such as holiday and birthday parties, and says that she enjoys cooking for them when she gets a chance. Now Julie will be able to involve the veterans in picking fresh vegetables from the gardening beds. You can read here about Julie's dedication to the veteran's home. 

The raised gardening beds aren't all that the Red Cross has been doing at the veteran's home. Several volunteers dedicate their time to Cottage D, such as Stacy Gore who is head of the Red Cross youth club. The youth club came out to the veteran's home around Easter to hide eggs and enjoy a picnic with the men at the home. They also came during the holiday season to sing carols. 

Roger Middleton, another Red Cross volunteer has been working with one of the veteran's on his dream to write and publish a novel. Roger, who is a member of the local writer's club, is helping the veteran get his work typed and saved on a computer, in hopes that the novel will one day be published. 

"We continue to be so thankful for volunteers like these year-round. The joy that these volunteers bring the veteran's is such a blessing to see," stated Jennifer Cato, Services to the Armed Forces and International Services Field Specialist. "Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and they're the reason we can work toward our mission."

Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, the second largest population in the country. This week, between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, the Red Cross invites you to help us continue to provide vital services to thousands of military service members, veterans and their families each year, keeping military families connected during emergencies, connecting families with local resources and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals. Join us in #HonoringHeroes. Visit for more information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Veteran Dr. D'Angio Recalls Red Cross Acts of Kindness

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

World War II veteran Dr. Giulio D'Angio (now 92), former Captain and head of the 284th Medical Dispensary in the Army Air Corps was stationed on the air base of Kanoya on the southern island of Kyushu, the third largest island in Japan when he received what he calls "a pleasant surprise that the troops were still remembered in such acts of kindness."

A tradition since World War I, Red Cross volunteers would hand-knit heavy-duty wool Red Cross socks for the troops to give them warmth, a sense of home and to help prevent "trench foot" while at war. Dr. D'Angio states, "Trench foot was a real hazard for ground troops in active theaters."

Although Dr. D'Angio was comfortably housed, and not in high risk of getting "trench foot," he still says that the Red Cross knitted socks brought a sense of comfort to him. While Dr. D'Angio was in Japan for his two years overseas, he received the socks by mail, he guesses around 1947. 

In February 2014, nearly 70 years later, Dr. D'Angio still had the Red Cross knitted socks and decided it would be best to return them to the Red Cross chapter that blessed him with them. The socks, along with Dr. D'Angio's letter written to the Red Cross Dallas Area Chapter are now framed and displayed on our Red Cross memorabilia display case.

When asked why he chose to return the socks to the Red Cross, Dr. D'Angio said, "Gratitude for your kindness. One good turn deserves another. I feared that they will be discarded when I'm gone, I'll be 93 in a few days, and I thought that they deserved a better fate."

To the volunteers that graciously knit the socks, Dr. D'Angio says, "Thanks again, and to all of those who followed, you do wonderful things for people who are in need of help."

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Giulio D'Angio now resides in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA with his second wife, Dr. Audrey Evans. After wearing the uniform for six years, Dr. D'Angio practiced as a radiation therapist for 50 years, specializing in childhood malignant diseases. Dr. D'Angio is a prolific author and has been honored by many national and international pediatric and radiology societies for his work.

Today, American Red Cross volunteers continue knitting and sewing for those who need comfort and protection. In our Dallas Area Chapter, our production room volunteers sew and knit blankets for children's hospitals, as well as cooling neck wraps for active soldiers made from military uniform fabrics.

This week, between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, the Red Cross invites you to help us continue to provide vital services to thousands of military service members, veterans and their families each year, keeping military families connected during emergencies, connecting families with local resources and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals. Join us in #HonoringHeroes. Visit for more information.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fifth Class of Leadership North Texas Includes Red Cross Regional CEO T.D. Smyers

NORTH TEXAS – The North Texas Commission graduated the fifth class of Leadership North Texas presented by Oncor on Friday, May 16. Leadership North Texas is a graduate-level, regional leadership program designed to recruit, develop and support leaders who have a commitment to civic engagement and to the North Texas region. Among the graduates is American Red Cross North Texas Region CEO T.D. Smyers.

The class of 31 leaders from throughout the region spent nine months learning best practices in regional stewardship, with discussion including education and workforce, regionalism, the North Texas economy, the impact on incarceration, sustainable development, healthcare and transportation.

“As one of the fastest growing large regions in the nation, North Texas needs leaders from all cities and counties along with stakeholder groups such as businesses, higher education institutions and non-profits working together to grow responsibly,” said Mabrie Jackson, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission. “Leadership North Texas brings these individuals from across our 12-county region together to form bonds that will last a lifetime.” 

The graduates of Leadership North Texas Class 5 are the following:
Bruce Arfsten, Realtor, RE/MAX and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Town of Addison
Beth Bowman, Chief Development Officer, Greater-Irving Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
Dana Burghdoff, Deputy Planning & Development Director, City of Fort Worth
Richard Casarez, Vice President Customer Operations, Oncor 
Vanessa Copeland, CFO, O. Trevino Construction, LLC
Armin Cruz, Vice President, Parking Business Unit, DFW International Airport 
Corey Davison, Vice President, Government Relations, Tenet Healthcare Corporation
Dr. Laura DeFina, Chief Scientific Officer, The Cooper Institute
Scott Donaldson, Assistant Coordinator, Tarrant County College District
Lynda Gearheart, Manager, Public Affairs, Chesapeake Energy
Mark Israelson, Director of Policy and Government Relations, City of Plano
Gianni LaBarba, Managing Partner, Venator Group
Kim Ludwig, Founder, The Giving Tree 
Opal Mauldin-Robertson, City Manager, City of Lancaster
Wes Mays, Councilmember, City of Coppell and Division Engineering Manager, Peterbilt Motors Company 
Tracy Merzi, Publisher, Dallas Business Journal
Winjie Miao, President, Texas Health Alliance, Texas Health Resources
Cindy Milrany, CFO/CAO, Freese and Nichols
Carl Pankratz, Councilmember, City of Rowlett
David Parker, Vice President, External Affairs, AT&T
Mary Jo Polidore, Vice President, Public Affairs, DFW International Airport
Asusena Resendiz, President and CEO, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Kristin Reznicek, Public & Community Relations, Crandall ISD
Larry Robertson, President, Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery
Dr. Liz Seymour, Physician, Medical Associates of Denton
Owais Siddiqui, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Murphy
TD Smyers, President and CEO, American Red Cross - North Texas
Charlene Stark, Executive Director, Hope for the Brave
Michael Thomas, Executive Director, My Possibilities
Jake Yarbrough, Account Director, Global Prairie

Recruitment is underway for Leadership North Texas Class 6. Since the program’s inception, 146 leaders from across North Texas have participated, including a state representative, numerous mayors and city council members, city managers and economic development professionals, business leaders, higher education executives and nonprofit leaders.

Over a nine-month period, the class addresses and discusses topics such as the history of North Texas, regionalism, our economy, workforce and education, sustainable development, the impact of incarceration and a plan for civic engagement. They learn best practices in regional stewardship from experts and other regions, and explore how to collaborate to best address current regional issues.

The application deadline for Leadership North Texas Class 6 is noon, June 13., 2014. Applications are available online at or through the North Texas Commission office at 972-621-0400. Tuition for the program is $3,000.

Oncor is the Presenting Sponsor for Leadership North Texas.

Established in 1971, the North Texas Commission is a regional non-profit consortium of businesses, cities, counties, chambers of commerce, economic development entities and higher education institutions in the North Texas Region. The North Texas Commission improves the economic vitality, infrastructure and lifestyle of North Texas by marketing the region, promoting collaboration and advocating on critical issues.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Volunteer Dan Barrios Reflects on One Year Since Granbury Tornado Outbreak

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

One year since the Granbury, TX tornado outbreak, volunteer Dan Barrios reflects on his experience as the shelter supervisor in Cleburne and Grandbury, TX. 

On May 15 through May 17, 2013, a storm produced a total of 26 tornadoes touching down across four states. The strongest of these was an EF4 tornado which hit Hood County, TX, causing six deaths. That night, volunteer Dan Barrios remembers receiving a call from the Red Cross disaster services manager asking him to head to Ft. Worth to get instructions for a sheltering assignment. 

When asking Dan what first runs through his mind when he gets a call for deployment, he said, "First, I obviously think about my family, make sure they're okay and taken care of. Then I immediately drop everything and head to where I'm deployed. On my way there, I start thinking about the logistics in opening a shelter. With the Red Cross, you're provided so many training sessions that it all kind of kicks in."

On the night of May 15th, Dan headed to Cleburne, TX to begin opening the shelter for those affected by the tornadoes. He remembers having to find additional routes there, with the roads being blocked due to floods from the storm. Once he arrived to Cleburne, Dan worked a 20 hour shift, serving the community by opening a shelter. After his shift, he spent the night in a local hotel, and the next day was deployed to open another shelter in Granbury, TX, where the storm impacted the community the most. 

"I was actually in three different shelters in four days," Dan recalls. "I started in Cleburne, opened a shelter. Went to Grandbury, opened a shelter. And then I went home for one day. The very next day, the storm hit in Moore, OK, I actually helped in opening the first shelter in Moore."

"I think the first time you see a shelter, it kind of kicks in how people need the help. They need somebody that can go in, control the situation and help provide what they need," said Dan. "People arrive in all different situations. There is a lot of uncertainty in those times and those affected are under a lot of stress."

Dan still remembers the folks he encountered in the Granbury shelter. "A man came in the shelter whose two kids were in the hospital and were severely injured by the storms. He didn't know what to do, he was walking like a zombie, in a state of shock," recalled Dan. "I was able to translate, speak some Spanish and guide him through the process of recovery. To help someone like that is truly a great feeling." 

One of the most remarkable situations Dan witnessed was when a family entered the Grandbury shelter in need of feeding tubes for their daughter. The Red Cross nurses were able to work with the local fire department to go back into the families neighborhood to get her feeding tubes. 

"With the people you see, it produces memories you'll never forget," states Dan. "The work I do with the Red Cross is with the people. It breaks my heart to see what storms can do. I think about the anniversary of Granbury, and those people are still in my heart. I hope they're on a good road to recovery. No matter what impact I made, little or big, I hope I was able to be a positive force in their lives."

One thing in particular stood out to Dan about Hood County, TX: the community. "I remember the outpouring of the community, they really wanted to help. Not all community's have that, but this community really did. Everybody in those towns wanted to help," said Dan.
Dan along with his wife and son.

Dan has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since Spring 2010 serving as a shelter supervisor, training instructor, community events team member, and even answers the phones from time to time. Professionally, Dan is a Sales Director and resides in Richardson, TX with his wife and son. 

As we remember the tornado outbreak a year ago, we continue to salute volunteers like Dan, and are thankful for their dedication and time. Red Cross disaster action teams (DAT) take on-call shifts to respond to emergencies in their local community 24/7/365. Here in North Texas, we respond to about 6 home fires or other local disaster every day. Join Dan in serving our community by visiting,

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Local Woman Saves Lives in Memory of Husband

by Jan Hale, Communications Program Manager, American Red Cross Blood Services

John Sills with 6-month old daughter, Sydnee Grace
What would you do if your life had been touched not once, but twice by the unselfish act of strangers? Trinity Meadows School Nurse Alicia Dunn knows more than most the importance of donating blood, with her husband receiving many units before his death from non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a close friend also fighting cancer and currently receiving blood. She choose to use her experiences as a reason to pay it forward by coordinating the first-ever blood drive at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School.

The drive was held in memory of Dunn’s husband, John Sills (pictured here with his daughter) and in honor of friend, Ricky Dean. Sills battled non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma for 16 months before passing away in March 2009. He received approximately 61 pints of blood and blood products during his battle with the disease.

“My daughter and I are so thankful for the time we had with John,” Dunn said. “We can never repay the generous blood donors who helped give us that time, but we can pay it forward.”
Rickey Dean, currently fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Dean is currently undergoing treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia and has, to date, received three pints of blood and blood products. As plans are finalized for a stem cell transplant, Dean is expected to need more blood. 

In total, 22 units of blood were collected at the drive last week.
The timing of this blood drive is important to the American Red Cross as we look ahead to the long, hot summer. We are hoping this drive can serve as a reminder to put donating blood on your list of important things to do in May and throughout the summer months. To make your blood donor appointment, click on

Friday, May 9, 2014

Keeping Mom Safe This Mother’s Day

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

Mary Ann Wiley, mom of
Red Crosser Suzanne
A few years ago, my parents retired from a 20-year “temporary” stint as expatriates in Indonesia. Twenty years is a long time to live overseas and it took them almost as long to repatriate back to America as it did getting over culture shock when they first moved there. 

When my Mom decided she was brave enough to drive again—(they had drivers in Indonesia. Yeah, I know, rough life)—I crossed my fingers as she climbed in their brand new Crossover and told her, “Text me when you get there!” I planned our dinner dates early enough in the evening to make sure they could get home before dark. On the first chilled day in autumn the year they returned, I agreed to meet them for lunch. They strolled up wearing t-shirts, while the rest of us Texans were bundled up in our sweatshirts and jackets. I really let them have it that day—didn’t they know older folks cannot regulate their body temperatures as well? Since then, my Mom texts me on chilly days just to let me know she is wearing her jacket. 

Fortunately, my retired parents are in good health. They remain active and are probably in better shape than my sitting-all-day-desk-job self. In fact, my Mom walks at least three miles every morning and swims in the afternoon. (As retired people whose only job is to cheer on the Rangers and occasionally watch their granddoggie, they have the extra time to spend at the Y.) However, when you get THAT old, regardless of how good a shape you are in, things just stop working the way they used to—darn them! As so, I make sure they stock up when ice is in the forecast, help Mom carry groceries, or take a heavy turkey out of the oven. 

You know, it’s somewhat funny when you realize the roles have reversed, like that day I scolded my mom and dad for not wearing jackets. We still joke about it years later and my parents continuously tease me about how they need me to tell them what to do. 

However, in all seriousness, with the realization of the role reversal comes the acceptance of my eventual role as caretaker. My mother gave me life and kept me alive so the best thing I can do on this Mother’s Day is to help repay the favor. And that means a lot more than just reminding her to put on her coat.

The following life-saving gifts from the American Red Cross store are perfect tokens to say, “Thanks, Mom for keeping me fed, clothed and warm!”

Glow stick
Mom’s raving days are over, but during storms, which we have frequently in North Texas, these emergency lighting glow sticks may not help Mom bake chocolate chip cookies, but they will at least help her get to her safe room. 

Emergency radio
Besides being essential for getting emergency weather alerts, charging cell phones to check in from your Red Cross tornado and flood apps, and for back-up lighting, Mom will never miss her beloved baseball even when the power goes out. I can just hear her now, “Can’t that storm wait until after the 9th inning?” In addition, it’s red—Mom’s favorite color. 

First Aid Kit
Be still my mother’s beating heart! When dad takes her out for a nice steak dinner, he like to look sharp and Mom still thinks he’s the most handsomest man on the planet. (Insert “awwwww” track here.) This first aid kit includes aspirin—which stops blood-clotting platelets when one is suffering from a heart attack. If you or someone else you are with is having a heart attack, call 911 and take or give them one 325mg aspirin immediately. 

Mom’s current jacket does just fine—as long as she wears it. However, the Red Cross Classic Track jacket with fleece lining will keep her warm when it is cold, dry after walking her three miles, and most importantly keep her looking smokin’ hot for dad! Moreover, just like when I colored Mom a picture in preschool and she would proudly display it on the refrigerator, Mom will always want to wear the jacket her baby gave her. 

To all of you moms out there, we wish you a happy and safe Mother’s Day! 

For more emergency readiness items and to download any Red Cross apps, visit the Red Cross store.