Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seeking Digital Volunteers!

Like everything else, the world of disaster response is going online. And the American Red Cross is following, so we can continue to help people, wherever they are, when they need it the most. Recently we opened our new North Texas Digital Operations Center (DigiDOC) in Dallas, a social media command center designed to help us better connect with people online with resources during disasters. Here's how it works:

Digitizing the Power of Volunteers

To make the most of this innovative technology, we need your help! We're looking for digital volunteers to help us staff our new DigiDOC and help our communications team monitor and engage on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter before and during disasters to let people know how to stay safe during emergency situations and connect them to Red Cross resources afterwards. 

What do digital volunteers do?
  • Support the Red Cross mission through social platform interactions and content creation. 
  • Use personal social media accounts to engage with donors, clients, and other members of the public on Red Cross-related subjects.
  • Monitor and post to official Red Cross social channels as assigned.
  • During disasters, provide moral and emotional support, connect affected communities with critical disaster information and resources and identify actionable posts or information on social platforms. 
  • Tag, sort and categorize posts from social platforms using software and processes established by the social engagement team. 
  • Communicate perceived trends in conversations, information about Red Cross-related topics back to the social engagement team. 
What are the requirements for becoming a digital volunteer?

  • At least one active social media account 
  • An active and regularly checked email account 
  • Intermediate to advanced proficiency in using social media sites 
  • Familiarity with social media monitoring applications and online group collaboration tools (examples: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, online forums) 
  • Regular access to the internet 
  • Access to a computer than can run required software with no issues
  • Communications/marketing background or experience using social media professionally is a plus.
What are the availability requirements?
  • During times of disaster or severe weather, digital volunteers are asked for on-call availability to take 4-hour shifts, including during overnight hours.
  • During non-disaster periods, the volunteer can take assignments as their schedule allows. Time requirements will vary by activity, but are flexible.
  • Digital volunteers work both in the DigiDOC at the Dallas chapter during times of disaster and also remotely. In-person availability is NOT required to be a digital volunteer.
Socially savvy and interested in using your online presence to help people during disasters? Become a Red Cross digital volunteer!
Email amy.yen@redcross.org to learn more or visit RedCross.org/DFW to apply.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On-Call With the American Red Cross On An Atypical Valentine's Day

by Lauren McMinn Clarke, volunteer contributor

It wasn’t a typical Valentine’s Day — for me, or for them…

I had woken up thinking about what to wear on my date with my husband that evening. They woke up in a strange place with only the clothes on their backs.

I was on-call that day to volunteer with the DFW Red Cross, so when I got the text at 8am that I was needed; I sprung into action, grabbing needed gear and supplies. I was paired up with a senior public affairs volunteer, Dan Halyburton. Dan and I drove to the site in East Dallas with our gear, not sure what to expect.

All we knew was that there had been a four-alarm fire in an apartment building, displacing dozens of families. The Red Cross had arrived during the night and found shelter for the residents for the evening.
The Red Cross responds to about 6 home fires
or other local emergencies in North Texas
every single day.
Upon arriving at the scene, we could see that one apartment building had been completely decimated by the fire. Weary looking firefighters were hosing water over the burnt out frame and the surrounding intact buildings. Dozens of bleary-eyed residents were standing around the perimeter of the scene, in their pajamas and no shoes, staring in disbelief. Some residents in the adjoining water logged building were now able to drag out their few possessions that weren’t ruined by the water, hastily stuffed into white garbage bags.

One young resident I spoke with had just moved into the apartment complex the week before. She was in her bathroom the previous night and started smelling smoke. When she went into her living room and saw that a wall was on fire, she ran out of the apartment immediately, taking nothing with her. She had no family nearby, she was afraid, in shock and exhausted.

Another women approached us asking for help from the Red Cross. Where could she and her family stay now? She had three young boys, and she had to get to work, she couldn’t lose her job. She was able to get the boys out the night before, but what now? She felt helpless, protective and panicked.

Thankfully, we were able to connect everyone that approached us that morning with our Red Cross Disaster Services team. The team sprung into action by arranging services to help them with their recovery.

As a volunteer this Valentine’s Day, I was able to witness first hand the compassionate power of the American Red Cross during a disaster situation. That compassion is tangible. During fires specifically, the American Red Cross provides shelter, clothing and food to affected families, supplying their most basic needs.

The compassion is also intangible and comes in the form of quiet listening, or in simple gentle statements such as, “I’m so sorry this has happened to you.”

It was a privilege to help my Dallas neighbors this past Valentine’s Day with the American Red Cross.

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 a day. We're always looking for great volunteers willing to be on-call a few days a month to join DAT. To join, get started at RedCross.org.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Volunteering for the American Red Cross Makes One Volunteer's Heart Flutter

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

American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer, Julie McDaniel says volunteering at the Tyler, TX veterans home is where she is meant to be. 

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.

After suffering a stroke, McDaniel, a mother of four, had to accept the fact that she was going to have to find a new normal. With her kids fully grown and her husband retired, she was looking for something fulfilling. Her husband, who is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that travels to various events to honor fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans, inspired Julie to think, "Why golly, why can't I do something?"

McDaniel started volunteering with the Red Cross East Texas Piney Woods Chapter in June 2013 and wasn't sure what she would be able to provide for her community. She figured that she would be wonderful as an office volunteer, which she does every Friday at the chapter. Yet, when she saw an opportunity to volunteer at the veterans home, she knew she had found her place. 

"When I saw that volunteers were needed at the veterans home, my heart just kept beating," said McDaniel. "I couldn't help but think 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.' I didn't know what was involved in the opportunity, I just knew that I wanted to be there."

The veterans home in Tyler, TX opened in 2012, and the partnership with the Red Cross was new when Julie joined the volunteer team. The Red Cross was assigned Cottage D at the veterans home which housed ten veterans, two of which are bedridden, one capable of walking and the rest in wheelchairs. 

"When I first walked in, I had nothing to go on, it was a blank canvas. I immediately fell in love with the guys, the staff and the concept. It was a twofer, I work with veterans that I greatly care about, and I work with the Red Cross which I also greatly care for."

McDaniel's role at Cottage D of the veterans home quickly turned into a type of activity's director role. With her cottage not being so mobile, she focuses on trying to motivate them to do things that are fun. McDaniel says she loves hosting parties for the vets; everything from Super bowl parties to decorating sugar cookies at Christmas. 

"I've never seen grown men have so much fun doing something so simple," said McDaniel. "We're family now, we celebrate their birthdays and I take cake and balloons. We even had a sweet heart dinner for their spouses and significant others on Valentine's Day." 

In the next couple of months, McDaniel plans to help build a raised vegetable garden for the veterans. She says that the garden will help get the less mobile veterans outside, and will give them the chance to feel like they have ownership of something. 

After volunteering at the Veteran's home for less than a year, McDaniel says that she's learned more about the wars now than she ever learned in movies or in school. 

"My guys are from all over, some were in World War II, the Korean War and the Afghan War. When they tell their stories, some with tears in their eyes, their posture changes, they sit up straight as if they almost want to salute you," said McDaniel. 

"Mr. Barker, the first vet to approach me when I started at the home asked me if I wanted to see a book in his room. He brought out a book, almost like a high school yearbook but instead a book full of documents and images of the ship he was on during the war," she explained. "He took me picture by picture, and I knew that this is something I wanted to be a part of. Mr. Barker took me under his wing to welcome me, he is my hunny bunny and I will be forever indebted to him."

McDaniel said that when she first started looking for volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross she was afraid that she wouldn't be accepted because of her stroke, or that she wouldn't find the right place to serve. Her mindset soon changed when she got involved.

"Under the Red Cross umbrella, there are so many opportunities for people. If you're interested in the military aspect, you can do SAF. If you're interested in disaster, you can join the Disaster Action Team (DAT). They have a place for everyone. It doesn't matter who you are - that is it, they just accept you. I didn't know if I was going to get involved but I learned that if you give a little, you'll get so much more in return," marveled McDaniel.

"Oh, and the people!" exclaimed McDaniel. "The people, the staff and the volunteers, they're like family now. I have never encountered such a group of people that are so dedicated and focused on their cause and the purpose of the Red Cross. It doesn't matter which group of people I'm speaking about, they all amaze me."

Last week was National Volunteer Week, and we continue to salute volunteers like Julie year-round. Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and are the reason we can work toward our mission every day. To join Julie in Service to the Armed Forces or to learn about other volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org to start your Red Cross story today. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Volunteer Charles Wilson Has Been Everywhere and Seen Everything

by Kassidy Ketron, Intern

Charles Wilson is 78 years old and, through his volunteer work at the American Red Cross, has traveled all across the country.

Since he began volunteering in 2005, he has done just about everything and been everywhere.

“I’ve been all over the United States,” Wilson said. “I’ve been to Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, up there in Indiana, Chicago. Let’s see, New Jersey, Oregon, California. I’ve just about been all over.”

Volunteering with the Red Cross can take you
all over. Just ask Charles Wilson.
In 2004, he retired as a locksmith supervisor at Texas Christian University and began volunteering with Meals on Wheels, but that only took about 45 minutes per week.

“I had retired and I didn’t have anything else to do,” Wilson said, “so I started doing Meals on Wheels, but that didn’t take but 45 minutes a week. And then after [Hurricane] Katrina, I decided to check with the Red Cross. I went down there and volunteered and I had something to do.”

He has done everything from client casework, to being a member of the disaster action team and to driving emergency response vehicles, which is his favorite.

Wilson said he enjoys traveling and helping people, which is a perfect combination with the American Red Cross.

One of his disaster responses that took him on the road to Arkansas left him with a funny memory.

“They had a tornado come through there and they’ve got a lot of chicken farms down there. That tornado had came and then it had sucked the feathers off a lot of these chickens,” Wilson said laughing. “That was the funniest thing I had ever seen, you know? A chicken with no feathers.”

Although, he has a few light-hearted memories during disaster responses, some of them have affected him more than others.

One time in particular, he said, was during a flood in Haltom City at a trailer park.

“This lady was trying to hold on to the kids, but the water was so strong that it pulled the kids out of her,” Wilson said. “And I don’t know if she ever caught them, but she had scratch marks on her arms where the baby was trying to hold on to her.”

Regardless of the disaster, he said volunteering for the Red Cross and helping people that are glad to see you makes it all worth it.

“[It’s rewarding] helping people in need,” Wilson said. “People that have lost everything that you can go in and help, just a little bit. That’s rewarding to me.

This National Volunteer Week, we salute volunteers like Charles, who make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and are the reason we can work toward our mission every day. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org to start your Red Cross story today.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Service to the Armed Forces Volunteer Could Not Imagine Anything Better

by Kassidy Ketron, Intern

Joy Morris said volunteering for the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Division gives her life worth.

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.

“The Red Cross has an amazing ministry and I think it is far more a delight to my soul to be giving in this way than to be spending my time doing something for myself,” she said. “I mean, this is for myself. I love this. You know what adds more value to the way you spend the day than to hear someone say, ‘Oh, thank you so much for helping. I need help so much.’ What could be better than to reach out to someone who is in pain, or afraid, or confused, or feeling desperately alone in a very hard situation?”

Morris, who has been volunteering for SAF for nearly three years, said her job is to follow up phone calls to military families who have reached out to the American Red Cross to contact their service person.

When a military family has an emergency, they can call 877-272-7337. A caseworker will take down the service person’s information, verify that there is a real emergency and begin working to make the proper military contact.

“So they make all those arrangements and then they pass it on for closure and follow up,” Morris said, “And that’s where I come in. I have all this information, we have these queue lines that come in on the computer and I handle Texoma and Dallas and so I call each of these families.”

One case, she said she remembers particularly well was one about six-year-old boy who had gone in for a routine tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, and ended up in a coma.

The distressed mother called the American Red Cross, and thanks to the quick work of a nurse, Morris said the Red Cross was able to verify to verify the emergency, and beat the 11:30 a.m. deadline by two hours to contact the military, who then got the father on the only military transport that would be there for a week.

“[The child] woke up and the doctor said he was totally convinced the power of communication and prayer, and having those people hanging on to his hands all night long — that child took strength from that and he came back to them,” she said. “[The doctor] said he couldn’t have done that had Red Cross not gotten that father there. It’s an amazing ministry to hear story, after story, after story like this where the presence of the family member, because of what the SAF team and the military did working together, literally saved the life of someone.”

Because of the amazing work the caseworkers do getting families in contact with their loved ones, Morris said she wanted to let them know just how much these families appreciated their hard work.

She spoke to her supervisor and began taking notes during her follow-up calls. She would then send these notes to the caseworker’s supervisor to let them know exactly what their work had done.

“More than once I have had a caseworker call me or email me and tell me, ‘We had no idea. I was actually considering quitting my job because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything that really mattered and then I get these notes.’ My gosh. For years, people have been doing this and they never heard the thank yous,” Morris marveled. 

She said she loves volunteering so much that when she goes on vacation, it’s as if she suffers from withdrawal symptoms because she’s not able to call her military families.

Even during her busy months, Morris said she is where she belongs.

“I do not think I have met finer people on this planet than I have at the Red Cross. The leadership is amazing,” she said. “They really, totally live out the ideal and goals of the Red Cross. Their loving and acceptance of people, they way they stand by people, they support their people and very receptive to answering questions or accepting ideas that one of us might come up with.”

This National Volunteer Week, we salute volunteers like Joy, who make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and are the reason we can work toward our mission every day. To join Joy in connecting military families with their service members or to learn about other volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org to start your Red Cross story today. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hockaday School Day of Service

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

The Hockaday School, the largest all girls' school located in Dallas, Texas joined the Dallas Area Chapter last week for their Hockaday School Day of Service event. In celebration of the school's centennial year, the students completed two days of service working in the warehouse of our Dallas chapter.

The students spent Red Cross month fundraising to support our measles and rubella prevention initiative as part of their commitment to service. Raising $560, $1 per vaccination, their gift will save hundreds of children. 

On April 3rd and 4th, the students came to the Dallas chapter to deliver their gift, learn about how it makes an impact across the world, take a tour, learn about what the Red Cross does locally and complete a service project in the warehouse. 75 students joined the area chapter each day, putting together comfort kits and cleaning emergency response vehicles which soon headed out to those affected by the Hunt, Hopkins and Collin county tornadoes over the weekend.

Gabriel Munoz, a junior at The Hockaday School shares about the initiative of youth helping youth down the street, across the nation and around the world. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

The North Texas DigiDOC is Officially Open!

by Amy Yen, Digital Communications Manager, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Our big launch event for the new North Texas Digital Operations Center was a huge success! We even took it out for a test run with the severe weather in the Metroplex last night. Big thanks to everyone who came out for the launch, especially our panelists and our partners at Dell, who made this all possible.

If you weren't able to be there, here's a summary of what you missed. Learn more about our new DigiDOC at RedCross.org/DFW, including how you can become a digital volunteer & do some good with your online presence!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You're Invited: Introducing the North Texas Digital Operations Center!

We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new Digital Operations Center (DigiDOC)! It's our new social media command center that allows us to monitor social conversations before and during disasters to help anticipate needs and connect more people with resources during emergencies. The Dallas chapter is honored to be the first location outside of our national headquarters in D.C. to receive this innovative technology, courtesy of our partners at Dell.
A few special guest joining us are:

  •  W. Nim Kidd, Chief of Emergency Management, Texas Dept. of Public Safety
  • Tom Bradshaw, Meteorologist in Charge, National Weather Service
  • Clay Jenkins, Dallas County Judge
  • Dave Passey, Deputy Regional Administrator, FEMA Region 6
  • Shelby Montgomery, Dell
  • T.D. Smyers, CEO, American Red Cross North Texas Region
Join us for our big unveiling event next Thursday, April 3! See below for details, RSVP by March 31 to anita.foster@redcross.org & follow #DigiDFW online for more.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flood Awareness Week Safety Tips and Resources

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor

Citizens boating through the corner of 7th & University
during the flood of 1949 in Fort Worth, Texas. 
Unlike hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes, everyone in the United States is equally at risk to experience devastating flooding. From deaths due to severe weather events, flooding is the leader. Over half of those deaths are due to misjudgment of passable floodwater. It takes only 18 inches of water for the average sedan to float away and only two feet for trucks and SUVs. March 16-22 is National Flood Awareness Week and the perfect time to prepare your household for the upcoming spring weather. 

Though floods are possible all year round, flooding, whether overland or flash flooding, are more likely to occur during the spring and summer due to snowmelt and the likelihood of heavy rainstorms. An overland flood is one in which a body of water, such as a stream, river, or creek overflows its banks. Flash floods happen when water containment systems, such as city drains, levees or damns cannot hold the amount of water flowing into them. Flash floods are especially dangerous because they happen quickly, are difficult to predict and can carry large objects for miles. 

The new Red Cross Flood app
alerts you to real-time flood
watches & warnings.
To better prepare people, the American Red Cross released a brand new flood alert app for iPhone and Android on Monday. Available free at the iTunes and Google Play app stores, the Red Cross app is an interactive and easy to use app that provide real-time flood alerts, step-by-step instructions on how to prepare, a list of open shelters in your area, and even a tool kit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm feature. I was able to download the app, called “Flood by American Red Cross,” on my iPhone quickly and love how simple and straightforward it is to use. With a few pushes of easily accessible buttons, app alerts your friends and family that you are safe through your social media channels. To learn more about the app, visit RedCross.org

You and your family need two separate plans in case of flooding—what to do if you stay at home and one in case of evacuation. 

Staying Home

The first priority during a major flood is procuring safe drinking water. Floods have great potential to contaminate your city’s water supply. Safe drinking water is essential to our survival. Keep bottled water on hand for a minimum of three days. However, it is recommended to keep enough for every member of your family for five days. 

One gallon of water per person per day meets just the minimum amount of water a person needs for drinking and basic hygiene. For example, for a family of four for five days, you need to store 20 gallons of water. I find the cheapest and easiest way to do this is buying at least two gallons of grocery store brand drinking water every time I shop. Keep water in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. 

Another alternative is to keep large water storage containers—like a bathtub bladder—on hand. When a flood warning or watch is issued, fill up these containers with water right away. 

Your next priority is food. Floods can cause damage to the electrical lines. You may have to live without power for a few days. Stock up on non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration, such as milk and butter, to prepare. Do not forget an alternative way to heat it up! Barbecue grills and propane camp stoves work just great when the power goes out. 

Keep flashlights, lanterns and plenty of fresh batteries available and ready accessible. You and your family will feel more secure if you have plenty of light. 


If you must evacuate, it is imperative to have a solid plan in place. Will you go to a far away family or friend’s house, a local hotel safe from flooding or an American Red Cross shelter? Either way, you need to be ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice. In this case, prepare a flood kit beforehand and pack it in a ready-to-grab bag. 

In your kit, you will need:
Copies of important documents; I keep mine on a flash drive
Rain gear and sturdy shoes
Cell phone charger
Emergency blankets
Essential medicines
First aid kit 

Last, but not least, double-check your homeowner’s insurance policy. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not include flood insurance. Call your insurance agency and discuss your options. 

Most shelters do not accept pets. Do not leave your four-legged companions behind. Arranging accommodations for them now assures not only yours, but your pets safety as well in case of disaster. Call ahead to hotels in your area to find which ones allow pets to stay or find a local animal shelter that boards pets during an emergency. 


After a devastating flood, you might not know where to turn. The American Red Cross provides a wide array of services for victims of disaster. Please reach out—The Red Cross is here to help

Friday, March 7, 2014

Severe Weather Awareness Week: 5 Tips to Stay Safe During Severe Weather

Photo Courtesy of redorbit.com
by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor

Severe weather has threatened nearly every part of the country already this year. The American Red Cross has steps you can take to help stay safe if dangerous storms threaten their neighborhood.
Step one: Refresh your household disaster plans. Jim Cantore, The Weather Channel meteorologist and member of the American Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet, offers tips on what to do now to be ready when emergency strikes.
Step twoDownload the free Red Cross tornado app for mobile devices. The tornado app puts everything you need to know to stay safe in a tornado at your fingertips.
Step three: Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Watch for storm signs and go inside. If you are outside or driving, there are things you should do to remain safe. Information about what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm is available on this web site.
Step four: Spring can be a time of year for flooding. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps include
Step five: The Red Cross first aid app (DOWNLOAD APPS FOR MOBILE DEVICES) puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. The shelter finder lets someone know where Red Cross shelters are open. The free apps can be downloaded from the iTunes or Google Play stores by searching for American Red Cross.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Severe Weather Awareness Week: FOX 4’s Jennifer Myers Offers Six Safety Tips

Photo courtesy of greatblogabout.com
by Kay Pinkerton, volunteer contributor

Sunday, March 2 marks the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Texas.  The purpose of SWAW is to inform and equip people with knowledge when severe weather threatens.
Whether in the form of thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, severe weather can quickly develop.  By preparing now, you and your family can take immediate action when the clouds darken and weather alerts are issued.
Preparation is not only key -- it’s smart.
So how does one prepare for severe weather?  The American Red Cross asked KDFW FOX 4 Meteorologist Jennifer Myers for weather safety tips. 
Myers replied with the following:
  •  Have a family plan. If you don't have a shelter, find someone who does and become “shelter buddies."
  • Get a weather radio for your home.  You can also keep track of severe weather watches, warnings and updates with free weather apps such as FOX 4’s “WAPP”  [and the Red Cross Tornado App].
  • Check weather conditions BEFORE you head out on the roads.  Roadways are among the deadliest places to be when a tornado hits. 
  • Large outdoor events (concerts, baseball games, etc.) can be especially dangerous when severe weather strikes. Check the weather before you leave the house. If there is a chance of severe activity, keep your phone charged and check for weather updates.
  • Stay away from flooded roadways. Period. You may have driven on the same road for years and the water looks only six inches deep.  Don’t be fooled.  The roadway could be washed out below, or hidden debris could leave you and your vehicle stranded.  Turn around, don't drown. 
  • Constant vigilance. I can't stress this enough. Living in the great state of Texas comes with a price. Mother Nature can strike at any time. Check the weather. Check it often.
Everything is bigger in Texas  - especially its storms.  Be smart, stay prepared and keep an eye on the sky. Don't forget to check out RedCross.org for safety information on emergency weather situations.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Black History Month: “He Had Guts” - The Legendary Life of Doctor Jerome H. Holland

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor 

When I told friends and colleagues I started volunteering for the American Red Cross, I had many people tell me they wanted me to let them know when it was time to donate blood. For many, the Red Cross has become synonymous with blood drives and for good reason. The organization is one of the country’s largest blood collectors, allowing for the distribution of more than eight million safe blood transfusions a year. Further, The Red Cross was a leader in developing testing for infectious diseases spread by blood, as well as continuing to lead in research and development through the Red Cross Jerome H. Holland Laboratory for the Biomedical Sciences.

Unless you have been a recipient of blood products and services, you probably don’t give much thought to the safety of blood given by donors. Thanks to Dr. Jerome H. Holland, the Red Cross’ first African-American Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross, the organization’s dedication to the health and well-being of victims needing blood services expanded greatly by Dr. Holland’s service, passion and commitment.

Dr. Holland was born into poverty on January 9, 1916 in Auburn, New York. He was one of 13 children. From 1931 to 1935, Jerome played football for Auburn High School. After graduating high school, he was accepted to the prestigious Cornell University, where he was the first African-American to play football for the school. While attending Cornell, he was inspired to volunteer while helping victims of a major flood in the area. For the rest of Dr. Holland’s life, he was dedicated to serving not only his community, but building relationships around the world.

Though he was an accomplished sportsman and academic—named twice All-American while at Cornell and received honors, Jerome did not get the opportunity to interview with career recruiters. Still segregated at the time, a career in professional football was also out. He documents his thoughts on this in his published book, “Black Opportunity.”

Dr. Holland did not let discrimination set him back, however. He continued at Cornell. After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Jerome entered the Master of Science in Sociology degree, and earned a Master’s in 1941. He left Cornell to teach Sociology and Physical Education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. From there, Dr. Jerome H. Holland continued for the rest of his life to be an educator, activist, and volunteer.

In 1950, Dr. Holland received a Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout the rest of his life, various colleges and universities gave Dr. Holland over 20 honorary degrees. He also served as President of two Historically Black Colleges and Universities—Hampton Institute and Delaware State College, where he grew the failing Delaware State College enrollment tenfold during his tenure there.

President Richard Nixon offered Dr. Holland the controversial position of U.S. Ambassador to Sweden in 1970. Due to a strained relationship between the United States and Sweden, Dr. Holland knew the appointment would be a challenge. Always willing to meet a challenge head-on, he accepted. At the time, Jerome was only the second African-American Ambassador to have served in a European country.

After asked to serve as the Director of the Board of the United States Stock Exchange, he left the position in 1972. He was the first African-American to hold the position.

In 1979, Dr. Jerome H. Holland was elected and appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross. The Board of Directors leads the Board of Governors, which oversees the organization. The volunteer position of Chairman is the highest leading official position in the Red Cross. He served as Chairman, until he passed away in New York on January 13, 1985. During his time as Chairman, he facilitated a positive relationship with the Red Crescent. The Red Cross renamed the research and development lab in honor of Dr. Holland in 1987.

The legendary Jerome H. Holland certainly led an honorary and inspiring life. Besides all the great, major accomplishments listed, Dr. Holland served on nine boards of major U. S. companies—often being the only African-American to do so, researched for the Pew Memorial Trust, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and the first African-American to be awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award in 1972, as well as serving as the first African-American Chairman of Planned Parenthood in 1968.

After his death, Dr. Jerome H. Holland was post-humanly awarded the highest civilian award one can receive—the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. During his speech, President Ronald Regan described Jerome as “…a leading educator, civil rights activists, author and diplomat…,” leading “a life of service. The memory of which today serves as an inspiration to millions.”

The American Red Cross in Westchester County has put together an informative documentary honoring Dr. Holland’s life. 

You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKVSjh0V30U

Friday, February 14, 2014

Share the Love: Share Piper the Puppy

Photo courtesy of American Red Cross
by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor

When I was a little girl, my dad’s friend, who was the town sheriff, gave me a white teddy bear, which I ended up naming after him. Rex, like his namesake, made me feel safe. Recently I unpacked a small bunny wearing worn out pink overalls, and while I don’t remember her name, I do remember carrying her around everywhere when I was young. She made me feel needed and less alone. Now that I’m older, I don’t rely on stuffed animals like I used to, but I still have one on my bed: it’s a ball-shaped, silly-looking black sheep my favorite uncle gave me. When I put him on my bed every morning, I remember there is someone who loves and cares about me.

Most of us grew up with that one object to which we felt attached—whether it was a stuffed animal, pillow, blanket or remnants of something that was no longer recognizable. Their presence—maybe the softness of their fur or the reassurance that they would never leave—made us feel safe, loved and needed.

In a disaster, children often lose their favorite stuffed animal or blanket and need something to redirect their attention and bring them comfort. This Valentine’s Day, consider sharing your love by making a donation to the Red Cross and sponsoring Piper the Puppy for a child who has lost his home due to a disaster. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and relief to the family in need—all very important—but Piper will bring much needed comfort to a child who feels confused, alone and afraid. And while your recipient will delight in receiving a plush puppy, in years to come he will remember that there was someone who cared about him and brought him comfort when he most needed it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Black History Month: Frances Elliott Davis, A Story of Determination

by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor

Few people have dreams as noble as Frances Elliott Davis, and even fewer have the determination to achieve them in the face of so many obstacles.

Born in 1881 in Shelby, North Carolina, Frances Davis was the daughter of an African-American Cherokee sharecropper and the daughter of a plantation owner and minister. By the age of five, she had lost both of he parents and entered the foster care system. She became a domestic helper in one of her foster homes, which left her little time for education. But Frances persevered on her own to improve her reading skills.

At the age of fourteen she had the good fortune to work for the Reed family, who helped finance her education. In pursuit of her dream to become a nurse and care for children, Frances worked at a hospital at Knoxville College until bad health forced her to resign. In 1910, she applied and was accepted into Freedman’s Hospital Training School for Nurses, where she became the first African American in the district to pass the exam given to white nurses which was considered more rigorous.

In 1913 Frances assumed the position of nursing supervisor at the Provident Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and ran a community camp for low-income mothers and their children. While at Provident, she applied to the American Red Cross and became the first African American to attend their program at Columbia University. After completing her training, she continued to serve as a nurse and as an instructor in sanitation and prenatal care.

During Word War I, rules barring African Americans from joining the Army Nurse Corps kept Frances from directly serving the armed forces. Nonetheless, she contributed to the war effort by nursing soldiers in training in Cickamauga, Tennessee.

Frances Davis’s accomplishments as a nurse are numerous. She served as the director of nurses training at the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama; she organized the first training school for African American nurses in Michigan at the Dunbar Hospital in Detroit; She managed prenatal, maternal, and child health clinics at the Child Welfare Division of Detroit; she ran a commissary at the Ford Motor plant during the depression to provide workers with food; and she established a day nursery in Inkster, Michigan that was so successful it caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped raise funds for the center.

Sadly, Davis died nine days before she was scheduled to be honored at the American Red Cross convention in 1965. Today, her Red Cross pin remains in the American Red Cross historical collection, and Frances Davis’s contributions to nursing, prenatal and maternal medicine, and advancement of other African American nurses remains in our memories.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I Cross My Heart

Photo courtesy of American Red Cross
by Sydney Holt, volunteer contributor

“I Cross My Heart” – A promise, playground rhyme and a familiar country tune, the saying “I cross my heart” is one that we associate with the truth or a pledge. When it comes to taking the pledge to volunteer, I think many of us become overwhelmed and let our commitments fall by the wayside between school, work, parenting and all the other roles we take on as productive members of society. Well, listen up because do I have news for you… Volunteering can be what YOU make it!

Don’t believe me? 30 minutes, a few hours, part-time – take a look at a few ways you can volunteer with DFW Red Cross in 2014 – I “Cross My Heart” it’ll be quick!

30 – 45 minutes – Donate Blood. Contribute to your community's blood supply and change lives. Do it on your own schedule, volunteer as much as and as often as your schedule permits.

A few hours - Learn CPR or Become a Red Cross Instructor. Be ready to serve your community (and loved ones) at any time by learning the important skill of CPR. Then take it to the next level by attending additional courses to become a certified Red Cross Instructor. The Red Cross also offers other life-saving training classes, including Lifeguarding, Babysitting & Swimming/Water Safety.

More flexible – Admin work, accounting experience, writing experience – we welcome all of your talents! To search for opportunities in the DFW area (and beyond) click here.

No time? Don’t feel bad – be a financial participant by donating $10 – text ‘redcross’ to 90999.