We Need a Hero!

We’re holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night!

Not all heroes wear capes
The American Red Cross of Wisconsin is now accepting nominations for 2016 Hero Award recipients.  Each year, the American Red Cross recognizes everyday heroes in our community at three events in Wisconsin: the Evening of Heroes in Wisconsin Dells, the Heroes Breakfast in Altoona and Brave Hearts: Heroes Among Us in Milwaukee.   Nominations for recognition for the spring 2016 events are open until December.

Whether they’re stepping up during a medical emergency to provide assistance or helping others through a lifetime of volunteerism, heroes reflect what is best about our community. They also inspire others to follow their example.

Heroes abound everywhere we look at the Red Cross. Our heroes are there to help a family who just lost their home in a fire—any time of the day or night. Our heroes teach the community lifesaving CPR and first aid skills to respond in an emergency. Our heroes spend a lifetime donating blood and recruiting others to donate in order to save patient lives.

Do you know an everyday hero who deserves recognition?  Then submit them for recognition at one of our three hero events across the state! Details and categories vary by event.  For more information:

Or contact: Megan Bessett at megan.bessett@redcross.org or (608) 232-5832.

Photo-Hero Trumpet player

Restock the Shelves – Blood Donations Still in Need for this Summer

With the kiddos heading back to school in some areas and vacation tans starting to fade, it may feel like summer is beginning to wind down. For the American Red Cross, though, summer isn’t over yet, and it still needs blood and platelet donations to help ensure a sufficient blood supply throughout August.

IMG_4042Platelet donors and those with types AB, O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed to help restock Red Cross shelves and prevent an emergency shortage. Donors are encouraged to download the free Blood Donor App to schedule a convenient appointment and keep abreast of current blood supply needs. The app even notifies donors when their donation is distributed to a hospital.

If you gave earlier this summer, you might be eligible to give again. For those who have been meaning to donate, but haven’t gotten around to it, please don’t put it off until some other time.

How important is it to donate this month? From June through August, on average, about two fewer donors schedule an appointment at Red Cross blood drives than what is needed for patients. That can add up to more than 100,000 fewer donations during the summer. Your donation counts more than you might think.

If you are unable to give blood, you can still support the Red Cross by signing up to host a blood drive, volunteering your time, asking others to donate or creating a SleevesUp virtual blood drive.

Every day this summer is a chance to help save lives. Make an appointment to help #RestockTheShelves by downloading the Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Two States + Two Disasters = One Team

Mary Gagnon

Mary Gagnon

For six non-stop weeks, the Texas weather was dreadful. Residents were experiencing multiple tornadoes, large hail, heavy rainfall and flooding causing the dams to breach. More than 100 counties were affected by this treacherous weather. (Wisconsin only has 72-counties; so this was a massive area) American Red Cross chapters throughout Texas helped residents affected by opening 60 shelters, served more than 350,000 meals and snacks and engaged 2,300 trained Red Cross responders. Wisconsin provided 42 responders; this is the first-hand story of our own Mary Gagnon.


On June 15, the Red Cross asked my husband Dean and I to deploy to Houston, Texas to help with disaster relief. Both of us volunteer with the Red Cross and reside in Texas AND Wisconsin. We arrived on the 16th and were reminded immediately of the heat and humidity that sends us back north each spring.

After a week of providing shelter and food near Houston, we were reassigned to the Rio Grande Valley, near the tip of Texas. Coincidentally, this general area is where we live during the winter. And our ‘hometown’ Red Cross Chapter there became headquarters.Flooded road, Edinburg, TX

There were so many people with so few personal resources. Residents told us of flood waters three feet deep in their homes and side streets were impassable for days. When we found an unflooded driveway, we parked the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), which contained water, food and hygiene kits. There, we asked people to phone neighbors down the street to let them know we were there to help. Invariably, word travelled fast, and people lined-up to receive what they needed and wanted: hot food, bottled water, Clorox, shovels and mosquito repellant.

Cruz Roja at Edinburg shelter

When there were still items remaining in the ERV, which is a large ambulance sized vehicle so we could haul large amounts of supplies, we drove to a nearby street and started the process again.

Steve Stringer with Cruz Roja in Edinburg-2

The American Red Cross increased its staffing resources when Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) arrived. As the flooding decreased and people could get out of their homes, the Cruz Roja site provided necessary cleaning materials and, just as importantly, the ability to respond in Spanish to needs and stories provided by those flooded out of their homes. We felt fortunate to work with Cruz Roja! They understood the community needs; the difficulties of the weather and the support needed to bring back ‘normalcy’ to Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.


The following week, on our way back to the local Red Cross Chapter to re-fill our ERV with cases of water and clean-up materials, we stopped at a gas station. The search-and-distribute system of helping home owners during the recent Texas floods brought much-needed supplies directly to people considering the scorching 96 degree weather. This system created a need for us to get just a few minutes of rest. An ice cream bar and air conditioning altered my core temperature just enough to make getting back on the road OK. But it was the unexpected ‘coolness’ of hearing The Spinners singing on the store’s music system that recouped my energy! With only the bathroom mirror watching, I danced to ‘Rubber Band Man’ with all of my best ‘60s and 70s moves.

And Coolness was achieved.


Upon returning to Wisconsin for the ‘summer’ they were deployed to Columbus, Wisconsin to open an evacuation center/shelter for people affected by the July 13th 90-mile per hour winds. Two (states) plus two (disasters) really can equal ONE RED CROSS. To begin your own Red Cross adventure, please check here for volunteer opportunities.

Beloit’s Late Night Hereos

By Carolyn Kuzuhara

When walls come tumbling down and dozens of residents are evacuated in the middle of the night, who comes to help at a moment’s notice? The American Red Cross is the answer.


In Beloit, there was a wall that collapsed onto the Brittan House, a transitional housing facility, early in the morning. The Brittan House is located in downtown Beloit, the building is 140 years old and is home to 45 residents. The Beloit Fire Department was called to the scene and deemed the building unsafe for residents because the east side of the building was weakened from the collapse. The residents had to vacate the building for safety purposes. At this point, no one was injured and with safety being most important,a full-evacuation was ordered.

Meanwhile, the local Red Cross responders arrived at the Brittan House while another team opened a shelter. The Beloit Transit System provided transportation from the Brittan House to the McLenegan Elementary School. With Memorandums of Understanding already in place with the Beloit School District, the shelter was ready upon the bus arrival. The Red Cross provided a place to rest, emotional support, hygiene kits and our health service professionals to fulfill health emergencies due to the stress of the situation.

The next morning, our team supplied a hot breakfast for the residents as they waited for the building to be deemed safe for residents to return. Thankfully, engineers and local officials deemed the building structurally sound. We then assisted residents back to their home. We are thankful for the Beloit Fire Department, Beloit School District and the Beloit Transit System for their collaborative efforts. This emergency situation highlights how our community works together to help their neighbors no matter what time it is.

See footage from the Regional CEO at the site of the wall collapse. 

Tom Mooney, Regional CEO, and Dan Stauffacher, McLenegan School Safety Coordinator

Tom Mooney, Regional CEO, and Dan Stauffacher, McLenegan School Safety Coordinator at the location of the shelter.

None of this would be possible without our 24-hour a day trained volunteers, partners and generous donators. To become involved and support the Red Cross in your community, please visit http://www.redcross.org.

Why I’m An American Red Cross Volunteer!

By Tara Williams 

I became part of the American Red Cross young professional group, Club Red of Northeast Wisconsin in November 2014, only to realize I loved volunteering! At my first fire safety canvassing, I helped install smoke alarms in Green Bay. Nationwide, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% over the next five years and locally we are working with fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms in communities with high percentages of fires.

I went to my sefiresafetysheboygan1cond fire alarm installation in Sheboygan recently. Because of a second fire within a short time frame, the Indian Meadows mobile home park was targeted for this grassroots effort. Along with the Sheboygan Fire Department, nine Red Cross volunteers including myself came together to install free 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms & educated residents on fire safety materials & escape plans. The teams went to 243 mobile homes & installed 63 smoke alarms! The whole neighborhood was covered in just three hours!

It was an eye-opening experience to see how many people haven’t checked their fire alarms in their own homes; many didn’t even work! We also created an escape plan if there was a fire in their home. I learned, a person has as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends families create a home fire escape plan and practice it with every member of your household several times a year. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes for every room and families should consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes above the ground floor. The Red Cross also recommends families pick a meeting place outside your home and make sure everyone knows where it is.

One memorable moment was when a husband and wife greeted us with wide smiles & were so excited and grateful to the Red Cross & fire department for the work we were doing.  She said she needed to give me a hug! It feels so good to make someone that happy & aware of fire safety and this is why I choose to volunteer.

redcrossThere are many ways to get involved with the fire campaign across the state. The first is even in your own home. The Red Cross is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills. Also, download our new Red Cross Emergency App which provides a guide to fire prevention and the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. And finally, join me in a community project by volunteering, please call your local Red Cross office or send an email to volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

See more pictures here: http://wps.sx/1JDaNHw

American Red Cross WI CEO, Patty Flowers, Shares Her Red Cross Passion with Young Adults

By Patty Flowers

As the Regional CEO of the American Red Cross in Wisconsin, I often get a chance to speak to groups about what we do and it’s one of the parts of my job that I love the most.  I can talk about the Red Cross and what we do for hours!  When you’re as passionate as I am about helping others and with the multitude of things we do at the Red Cross, it’s not hard to find lots of things to talk about.  Recently, I was asked to speak with a group of young adults who are learning English as a second language before they enroll in college here in the United States.  It was a mixed class of young men and women from China, Saudi Arabia, Japan and India.

Here is another note from the class which is one of many telling me they want to volunteer:

A note from the class which is one of many telling me they want to volunteer.

This very ambitious group was quite interested in what was happening in Nepal after the earthquake but also wanted to learn about the American Red Cross as a whole.  I brought some props along with me – a blanket, some comfort kits, water.  As I told them stories about all five components of our mission:  Educating through Classes, Service to Armed Forces, Disaster Relief, International Services, and Blood, they were all engaged.  I had to speak slowly so they could understand me but I constantly saw nodding heads, smiles and other signs that they were very interested in the information I was giving them.  Not one of them was on their phone texting and no one fell asleep – success!  When I paused for questions they had wonderful, very thoughtful questions for me.  As a group, they were very interested in how we keep our volunteers safe, how we manage volunteers who don’t do their job (I thought that was interesting!), and how much money we receive from the government.

This is her thank you note to me that I received just today.

This is her thank you note to me that I received just today.

They were all very surprised when I told them that most of our money comes from the American public and not from the government and that our relief services are free.  After I wrapped up the presentation, one of the young women approached me and told me that her friend was in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami struck and that the American Red Cross had saved her life.  She broke down in tears as she recalled the experience and thanked me several times for saving her friend.  It was such an emotional end to my time with them and as we hugged goodbye she told me she was going to tell her friend that she got a change to thank someone for her.

What an incredibly fulfilling day it was for me!  These young people who are trying to make a better life for themselves now all want to volunteer in some way for the Red Cross.  It’s my hope that they one day do show up at one of our offices and learn how to become a volunteer.

Would you like to volunteer with us?  Go to www.redcross.org and click on Volunteer Now to start learning the many different ways you can assist us and those in need.

Heroes 2015 Musicales = Resounding Success!

On a picture-perfect Saturday, in “wild” Wild Rose, the 8th annual HEROES 2015 Musicales were “over the top” in every conceivable way.  More than 200 guests experienced world-class music, dined on delectable hors d’ oeuvres and refreshments and bid high on 250 silent auction treasures.

May 16th was specially chosen by John and Vicki to celebrate Armed Forces Day.  Vicki’s own father served in World War II and was a 63 yr. member of his local American Legion in rural, northern North Dakota.  Additionally, as strong Red Cross supporters, John and Vicki wanted to also recognize the 110th anniversary of Service to the Armed Forces.

Prior to the first performance, the Wild Rose American Legion Daniel Dopp Post #370 honor guard posted the colors. Later in the afternoon, Kathy Marschman, Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and Eastern Wisconsin SAF Director, John Kost, spoke.  Spontaneously, well-known Wild Rose native and Korean War veteran, John Jones, spoke about his Red Cross-facilitated trip back home to be at his father’s bedside.

The music was spectacular! The Kat Trio (founded in Ekaterinburg, Russia), Greg Boerner (master blues guitarist/singer), Liam Teague (steel pan virtuoso) and Robert Chappell (multi-instrumentalist/composer)–all thoroughly inspired the audience.

The Musicales began in 2008 as a small concert presented by the Jenks Duo, a grand total of $3,308.39 was raised which purchased a shelter trailer.  This year, an estimated total of $80,000 (cash and in-kind donations) will support disaster education, relief and Service to the Armed Forces in Waushara, Green Lake, Marquette and Waupaca counties

SAVE THE DATE:  HEROES 2016Saturday, April 30th!!  Musicians to be announced later this summer.


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