Welcome Alex Lombard – Volunteer Specialist, American Red Cross Southeast Wisconsin

College Headshot - Alex LombardThe Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the American Red Cross is proud to announce the addition of Alex Lombard to the Volunteer Services Department. In his role as a Volunteer Specialist he will be primarily focused on the recruitment, onboarding, and placement process for volunteers throughout the Southeast portion of the state.  Alex comes to the Red Cross after successfully working in another segment of the non-profit world. He is passionate about community service and has hands on experience recognizing the untapped skills individuals from all walks of life, then placing them in positions to flourish.

Originally from Boston, MA., Alex is the son of David and Barbara Lombard. Early on in high school Alex discovered his passion for volunteerism; working as an after school tutor, in transport services at a local hospital, and participating in multiple service trips. Alex found his way to Wisconsin first to attend Marquette University, where he earned a B.A. degree in Social Welfare and Justice. Alex explains, “in college I got started right away with volunteering through various channels at the university. When it came time to choose a major, it just seemed to make the most sense for me to study something that applied to how I was already spending my free time.”

Prior to the American Red Cross, Alex was working as an Employment Consultant with Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. (CEO), a non-profit in Milwaukee focused on providing employment support to individuals with disabilities in the community. In his role, Alex worked directly with job seekers to develop systems and accommodations for success in the workplace. Likewise, Alex formed many strong relationships with local businesses, consulting them on best practice hiring methods to promote diversity and inclusivity.

“Volunteering not only taught me so much over the years but shaped my entire career goal. It is extremely exciting to me that as a volunteer specialist with the Red Cross I can put others in touch with the same rewarding experiences.”

 

Service Leaders Conference Military Letter Writing Campaign Leader - Alex

Winter Ice Storms Cover Tennessee; Wisconsinites Respond

Kathy.Schuh.RiesWinter storms differ; yet, how the American Red Cross responds is the same by providing a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder-to-lean. Five Wisconsinites flew south to support 31 shelters opened during the storm. We are honored Kathy Schuh-Ries, a mental health professional, shared her Tennessee Ice Storm deployment experience.

By: Kathy Schuh-Ries, American Red Cross Disaster Responder

On February 25th, I was deployed to Cookeville, Tennessee to assist with the winter ice storms. I arrived in Nashville, and then rode to Cookeville with another disaster volunteer. It was too late to go to headquarters so we checked into our hotel. The next morning we arrived at headquarters to learn that a series of FIVE winter storms have impacted the state of TN in the last two weeks.

The Cumberland Plateau are was hit especially hard with an inch of ice accumulation in some areas leading to downed trees, power lines/poles, etc. causing 100% electrical grid failures in rural counties.

Several shelters were opened in the Cumberland Plateau due to prolonged power outages. More than 30 fatalities had been reported in TN alone due to the winter weather. When I arrived, several thousand customers still were without power in Putnam, Overton, and Cumberland counties.

Most people seeking shelter have had functional needs. As a disaster mental health worker, I assisted in visiting the shelters and working as a liaison with other Red Cross workers. We worked with shelter staff, nurses, and caseworkers to meet the needs of the clients in the shelters and assist them in returning to their homes once the power was restored.

As mentioned earlier, many of the needs were functional. Needs varied from person to person. Some needed assistance in getting medication, others needed assistance from health care assistants, some just needed someone to listen, and share a cup of coffee.

Fallen trees, debris, lack of fuel were common needs.

Mid week, the Noro virus struck several shelters. Effected parties were isolated and the nurses assisted in caring for the sick. Shelters were sanitized and extensive hand washing was encouraged to stem the virus. Parts of our mission included caring for volunteers as well and assist in covering their shelter shifts.

On Sunday, I participated in an Integrated Care Team. The team is comprised of a nurse, a case worker and a mental health worker. We visited the home of a sibling who lost a brother to hypothermia. After meeting with the family, it was determined that assistance was needed for his burial. The Red Cross assisted since his death was directly related to the storm.

As power was restored, shelters were closed and volunteers were sent home.

Final reflection: 

  • I am always moved by the resilience of people impacted by these forces of nature.
  • My life is put back in perspective after deployment.
  • I love the interesting people I meet along the way. The former cook on Air force 1, the retired FBI agent, the 80 year old mother who could run circles around most of us.
  • While not being part of an organized religion, I find these experiences to be spiritual in their own right.

 

 

 

Bridging the Generation Gap Through Volunteering

By Kaitlyn Schmitt, UW-Oshkosh Red Cross Club Member and Service to Armed Forces Chair

11045509_409289322566098_3802830992405436313_nOn Sunday, March 8th, members from the UWO American Red Cross Club visited King Veterans Home and assisted with Bingo with the veterans. This was the club’s third time volunteering with our heroes at King. We assisted the veterans to their seats, and once we heard someone yell “Bingo,” we checked their cards and handed out prize quarters. When the veterans entered the room and saw us, they got so excited to see a young group of caring and dedicated women who want to make an impact in the lives of our nation’s true heroes.

UWO American Red Cross Club member, Courtney Gussert stated: “It was a great time at King Veterans Home as many of the veterans along with the women instantly had a smile on their faces when they entered the bingo room and saw us.  There was tension in the air during bingo as you could tell how competitive some of the veterans got to win a quarter.  It was eye-opening to see the beautiful location on the water along with the high-tech underground transportation system.  Volunteering here was a fun experience which I hope UWO American Red Cross Club decides to do again!” Ali Sommerfeldt also noticed the smiles of the veterans and stated: “There were many times when I would catch a resident’s eye while we were playing bingo and they would just beam over at me. It is the best feeling knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s day just by spending a few hours with them.”

Rachael Carlson recounted: “I thought that it was an amazing experience to be with a generation we’ve heard so much about. In school, we learn what these people have been through. But it’s not every day that you get the chance to socialize with them. This experience really showed me how happy people can get from little things like bingo and quarters, and reminded me that it’s the little things in life that matter.”

Getting to talk with the veterans was very eye-opening and it was amazing to put a smile on these incredible people’s faces. I feel extremely blessed to have been given this opportunity to spend time with such an amazing group of individuals – those who selflessly served our country for the freedom that we have today and who have given so much for others. It is an incredible feeling spreading hope and joy to the veterans and making a positive impact in their lives. Seeing the excitement and gratitude on their faces makes what I do all worthwhile. Club member, Brooke Trzebiatowski, also enjoyed the experience and exclaimed: “Going to the veteran’s home was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed how excited all of the residents got because we were there to help, and it was really cool to see the place! I would love to go again! They were a blast to be around!”

These veterans, who have served our country, make us honored to serve them. Nicole Knudtson expressed: “I loved helping out with bingo today! The veterans all seemed to have a good time and their excitement when they got bingo made my day. Several veterans thanked us for our service at the end, and I wish I would have thanked them all for theirs. We did just one simple task, but they did so much for us!”

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Volunteering at King was a very rewarding experience and I look forward to more opportunities volunteering with these brave men and women again in the future. It is always heartwarming to see the impact that I have on individuals – especially those that helped give us our freedom. This month is Red Cross month, and I feel absolutely honored to be a part of the American Red Cross commitment to providing services to those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Getting involved with the American Red Cross was the best decision that I have ever made, and I am blessed to be able to do so much for Services to the Armed Forces and see the immeasurable power of volunteering positively impact our American heroes.

Brown County Do 1 Thing encourages individuals, families, and businesses to prepare for emergencies

By Anna Destree, MS, Brown County Do 1 Thing Project Manager

Do 1 Thing, based out of Lansing, MI, is an award winning and nationally recognized, web-based emergency preparedness program that enables individuals, families, businesses, and communities,  to prepare for emergencies.

In September of 2014, the Brown County Health Department, City of De Pere Health Department, Oneida Community Health Services, and Brown County Emergency Management, partnered together with local businesses and the Green Bay Press-Gazette to promote Do 1 Thing in Brown County.

Each month, Brown County Do 1 Thing features a Public Service Announcement with local organizations whose interests or goals are related to monthly Do 1 Thing topics. In March, Brown County Do 1 Thing partnered with Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive from the American Red Cross of Northeast WI Chapter to promote Emergency Sheltering.

Click on the picture to view psa: 

be prepared

American Red Cross was a natural fit to help Brown County Do 1 Thing promote Emergency Sheltering. The Do 1 Thing goal for March is to know how to respond safely when instructions are given to evacuate or take shelter. Participants are provided with three things they can do to prepare and are asked to do at least one of them.

The three things in March are:

1) Identify the best place in your home to stay safe from storms and practice getting there with your family

2) Learn how to safely shelter in place

3) Make a “Go Bag” for emergency sheltering.

In addition to being better prepared, Wisconsin residents who participate by completing a Do 1 Thing task can enter at greenbaypressgazette.com/do1thing each month for a chance to win great prizes from partnering Brown County organizations. Just click on the “Prepare and Win” story and fill in the short entry form.

Prizes include a monthly drawing for a $50 energy credit/gift certificate from Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and grand prize drawings including a $250 gift certificate from Festival Foods, a $250 gift certificate from Shopko, a $50 gift certificate from Kwik Trip, and a 7” Samsung WiFi Tablet from Cellcom.

To learn more about Do 1 Thing, visit www.do1thing.com or visit the Brown County Do 1 Thing site at www.greenbaypressgazette.com/do1thing

Red Cross Reminder: Check Smoke Alarms When Clocks Spring Forward

Nationwide home fire campaign aims to reduce the number of home fire deaths, injuries

daylight-saving-time-570Daylight Saving Time is this weekend and when everyone turns their clocks ahead, the American Red Cross reminds them to also take these steps to make sure their household is prepared for emergencies.

We urge people to take these steps now and know what they should do if an emergency occurs.

  • Check smoke alarm batteries. When turning the clocks ahead, take a few minutes to replace the smoke alarm batteries and push the test button to make sure the alarms are working. It’s also a great time to check carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install smoke alarms. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.

Home Fire Preparedness Campaign The Red Cross responds to 70,000 disasters across the country every year and most of these are home fires. Tragically, some people lose their lives in these fires, countless others are injured. The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.

The campaign is happening all over the country and involves Red Cross workers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Those visits include educating people about fire safety through door-to-door visits and installation of smoke alarms in some of these neighborhoods.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Maxine Klumb of the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter

maxineCongratulations to Maxine Klumb, of Oshkosh, on being named one of the March 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Retired, and eager to keep busy with volunteer work, Maxine joined the Red Cross in September of 2009. “After working in the health profession helping people in need for 30 years, I figured that this would be a good fit for me,” explains Maxine.

Volunteering about 18 hours per week, Maxine wears a number of very important hats – she is a Casework Supervisor for Northeast Wisconsin, Fox Valley Disaster Action Team Captain and Co-Chair, and a member of the Regional Disaster Planning Leadership Team. Maxine also assists with preparedness activities and deploys on national operations. According to her nominator, Nick Cluppert, Disaster Cycle Services Program Manager, “Maxine is always willing to help wherever she can. She has taken on a number of responsibilities for Disaster Cycle Services, and excels in all of them!”

Maxine’s work impacts the Red Cross every day. Maxine stays busy making sure that clients’ needs are always met on time. When cases are opened, Maxine ensures the case is assigned to a casework volunteer and the necessary steps are being followed to meet the client’s disaster causes needs. As a Fox Valley Co-Chair, when new volunteers come on board she will make sure they are assigned to a team and have all necessary supplies and resources to do their jobs.

“Maxine is dedicated and knowledgeable about what she does. She is reliable, and is always someone you can count on…Just this past month Maxine has gone above and beyond. There was a single family fire in Waupaca County, Maxine lives in Winnebago County, and when we were not able to get someone to respond she was on her way to assist the family. She also did a deployment recently to Washington State for a flooding operation. Maxine was recruited for her knowledge of the Client Assistance System. Upon her return, she literally landed at the airport I called her, she was then responding to an apartment fire in Menasha that had displaced 50+ residents…If this isn’t dedication and going above and beyond I don’t know what is!” Nick exclaimed.

Maxine encourages everyone to join as volunteers of the American Red Cross. According to Maxine, “there is always a need for volunteer help. You will love the feeling you get after you have helped someone, be it a single house fire or a major disaster. You can volunteer as much or as little as you desire.”

Thank you, Maxine, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Phyllis Wiggins from the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter

phyllisCongratulations to Phyllis Wiggins of Milwaukee on being named one of the March 2015 Volunteers of the Month by the American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region.

Phyllis joined the Red Cross in March of 2013, and her motivation to volunteer came from an incredibly unique experience. Phyllis explains, “When I was in the military, I was accused of a heinous crime. Of course, I didn’t do it but I was imprisoned. Since I did not have a lawyer, nobody in my family could find me. My family contacted the American Red Cross and Red Cross found me!  They provided my family with the contacts and advice they needed to help me get out of prison. I could not wait to get out of the military and volunteer with the organization that helped my family, when I could not.”

Volunteering about 30 hours per week, Phyllis works as a Chapter Logistics Lead. Within logistics, she is involved in six different activities – transportation, warehousing, supply, facilities, life safety & asset protection, and procurement.  As a leader, she is responsible for building capacity, training, and mentoring volunteers. Phyllis has also deployed on several national operations.

Phyllis recently led the new Logistics team through a massive undertaking…cleaning up the Milwaukee office’s basement! Through this project Phyllis engaged a team of more than 10 volunteers. The new space is being used to house the logistics team. Phyllis’s nominators, Kyle Roeder and Nicole Gulatz of Disaster Services and Fund Development described her as “determined, positive, persistent, organized, and willing to improvise and do whatever needs to be done to get the job done!”

“I love the fact that the American Red Cross will help anyone in need. We do not discriminate against anyone and gladly provide valuable services to people when they most need it. It is very fulfilling, to me, to help for no reason other than someone needs help.”

Phyllis encourages everyone to consider volunteering their time with the Red Cross, “If you love to help others while others help you; If you love to give for the sake of giving with no expectations other than to help others; If you love giving your all to a cause you truly respect and are passionate about; If you can imagine yourself going to places where everyone needs your help and you can give it; If you love to be the best you can be and give the best you can give, volunteer for the Red Cross!”

Thank you, Phyllis, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed.

To learn more, visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

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