Volunteer of the Month – Rachel Goodrich

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Congratulations to Rachel Goodrich, the February 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

Many of us have a great appreciation for our military service members who have so proudly served our country, but how often do we actually reach out to say thank you or lend support to them and their families.  Since July of 2013, Rachel has been doing all this and more, as a Red Cross SAF ‘Services to the Armed Forces’ program volunteer.

Rachel has volunteered in many roles within the Red Cross, but having military service members in her own family, makes the SAF program especially important to her. She has volunteered as a SAF Caseworker, connecting military members with support and communications with their families and during countless SAF Special Events, helping with programs that honor military members, veterans and families. Rachel expresses such gratitude when talking about these volunteering opportunities, “I have met some of the most amazing people by volunteering in this program.  I have gained lifelong memories of moments that I will forever hold and cherish because of volunteering with the Red Cross.”

Taking on an even larger role this year, Rachel coordinated the statewide Red Cross- HMFH ‘Holiday Mail for Heroes’ program.  She not only promoted HMFH with TV and radio stations, she also organized card sorting and distribution events with Federal, State, local governmental and nongovernmental organizations throughout Wisconsin. Rachel’s says her favorite part about volunteering in this program is, “being able to hand deliver Holiday Cards to our active Military Service Members and Veterans, shaking theirs hands (the hugs are the best) and being able to show how much the community supports them.”  The Red Cross SAF relies on the talents of volunteers like Rachel to bring its programs to service members and veterans.  John Kost Regional SAF Manager credits Rachel for her perseverance in organizing an event of this grand proportion stating, “It’s indeed a gift to the organization, to have a volunteer like Rachel, who steps forward to coordinate all aspects of a region wide program and do it with such success.”

Rachel encourages others to get involved with SAF, “The more volunteers we have the more help we can offer our Veterans and their families. It truly is a life changing experience!” Thank you, Rachel for continuing to proudly represent the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to so many military service members with your heartfelt compassion.

To learn more about the important services the Red Cross SAF program provides please visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help/military-families

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, 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.

Local Red Cross Responder Shares Missouri Stories

By Max Seigle, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

New Year’s Eve in an American Red Cross shelter, a few 30-hour shifts and helping a woman on oxygen cope with a mandatory evacuation. Those were just a few of the powerful experiences for Becky Tiles during a two-week disaster deployment to   Missouri.

missouri blogTiles, of Oshkosh, spent most of her time in Manchester, Missouri near St. Louis. She served as a shelter supervisor at the Manchester United Methodist Church. The church turned into an emergency shelter for area residents, who were forced to evacuate their homes while authorities monitored nearby levies.

In late December, rising river levels in Missouri triggered hundreds of evacuations and severe flooding. As of this week, the Red Cross had opened 12 shelters across the state with nearly 600 overnight stays. Shelter volunteers have also served more than 31,000 meals and snacks.

“You talk with them but you also do a lot of mental health, a lot of encouraging them and helping them to look ahead,” Tiles said in a recent interview with Red Cross Public Affairs.

Tiles said her shelter operated around the missouri blog 1clock, with volunteers doing 12-hour shifts. There were some days, however, where she had to pull 30-hour days to make sure there were always two people on staff.

“Someone has to be there and I would never leave the shelter or the scene without adequate coverage,” Tiles said. “It just wouldn’t be the right thing for the shelter manager to do, when it has to be done, it has to be done. I feel pretty strongly about that.”

The shelter offered clients a safe place to sleep, eat and clean up, and also get updates on when they could return home. Tiles spent New Year’s Eve with residents and brought decorations, lemonade and cookies to celebrate.

“It really brought us together,” she said. “It was really a heart-warming moment because people weren’t at home and they were missing out on their own activities. I think we all had tears in our eyes after we sat around drinking our lemonade.”

Tiles also recalled helping a middle-aged woman with an oxygen tank, who showed up to the shelter with her cat. She said the cat was able to stay in a Humane Society trailer outside and Tiles gave the owner a stuffed animal to sleep with in place of her pet. “She just adored that,” Tiles said. She also remembers some tough moments with that woman.

“Just talking with her and crying with her and saying this is where you need to be, this is the safest place you need to be and taking care of her. Her medical needs were important,” Tiles said.

Red Cross shelters offer nurses on staff to help clients with immediate medical needs. Their expertise is just one part of a comprehensive package of emergency services offered by the Red Cross. From her experience in Missouri, Tiles said the clients appreciate the assistance.missouri blog 2

“They repeat over and over again, I don’t know what I would do without you having been here. They really meant it,” Tiles said.

This national deployment to Missouri was the first one for Tiles. She says she’d do it again and would be open to new roles, like case work.

A Holiday Mail Story to Warm Your Holiday Spirit

It is always rewarding to give something that means something, especially during the holidays. No matter how big or small the gift is, it is the touching emotions and gratuity that make it all worth it.

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Mr. and Mrs. Claus are definitely watching! Tara and Alexa made it on the nice list!

Rachel Goodrich, Holiday Mail For Heroes Coordinator from our Madison office shares her heartfelt experience delivering holiday cards, celebrating with veterans, and watching her daughters as youth volunteers.

This past Tuesday, Rachel and her two daughters, Tara and Alexa, along with other Red Cross volunteers delivered holiday mail to the veterans at Tomah VA. The holiday mail delivery is part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The program gives people the opportunity to send holiday cards to U.S. Armed Forces members, veterans and their families. Cards may include thanks, support and holiday cheer. As Rachel describes it,

“… a magical night of laughter, tears, smiles and dancing. Red Cross volunteers helped serve cookies and punch. We danced the night away with veterans while wheeling, spinning them around in their wheel chairs on the dance floor. We even took some of them back to their rooms after the evening was over.”

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Special Delivery! Tara gives a veteran his holiday mail!

At the beginning of the eventful night, the girls were a bit timid but once they warmed up, they danced and even asked the veterans to dance with them. And how sweet is this? Tara received a kiss on the hand from a veteran and was thanked for dancing with him. She thanked him for his service too.

Rachel recalls the emotions in the room when the veterans received their cards, “We watched tears roll down the faces of some veterans while reading their cards, smiles lit up the room as we shook their hands and thanked them for all that they have done. The sound of laughter and pure happiness filled the air while volunteers danced with Veterans. ”

It is great to know that Tara, 10 on Christmas Day and Alexa, 8, are making a difference in their community as youth volunteers. They are also registered on the American Red Cross Volunteer Connection, where they log in their own volunteer hours and badges and earn certificates. Rachel continues with, “I don’t even know how to put this into words. Kids love the community service and learning how to give back, show their appreciation, there is more to the world than what’s in front of them”.

A total of 63 packs of holiday mail were given to the veterans! Both girls attend Caesar Chavez Elementary School in Madison. Students in their class created cards as well.

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Red Cross volunteers (L-R: Sharon Ernst, Rachel Goodrich and Jane Ramsey) posed with the big Red Cross holiday card! Can you imagine how many notes and signatures were filled with that card?

We thank each and everyone of our volunteers for their time and dedication. Special thanks to those that sent in and created cards for the members of our armed forces and their loved ones.

To learn more about the Holiday Mail for Heroes programs, please click here. For more ways to help and donate, please click here.

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Volunteer of the Month November 2015 – Laurel Cooper

Cooper, Laurel

Congratulations to Laurel Cooper for being selected as the November 2015 Volunteer of the Month by the American Red Cross.

“Laurel lives for the time of year when she can deploy, ready at a moment’s notice to take the ERV on a new adventure,” shares Wendy Savage, Red Cross Chapter Executive Director. Laurel has been part of the American Red Cross since January of 2006. During this time she has served in the Disaster Services Department as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) member trained in Mass Care, Bulk Distribution/Sheltering/Feeding and is also the volunteer ERV (emergency response vehicle) Coordinator for her chapter. “Having things ready and in working order can take more time and attention than people think but, I enjoy knowing that things are well organized, maintained and available for use,” said Laurel.  This is a clear expression of her dedication.

As one of the “go to” people, Laurel is often the first to volunteer, offering administrative office support, providing leadership as a Home Fire Documenter or deploying to help people recover from disasters. Brian Cockerham, Disaster Program Manager says, “Laurel keeps our ERV in serviceable condition and is an essential part of our Home Fire Campaign.  She is an enormous help to our chapter sharing her dedication, trustworthiness, and leadership which have earned her the respect and confidence of her fellow volunteers and chapter staff.”

Laurel has a great appreciation for the support shown to the Red Cross by neighbors, family, friends and businesses. Even her employer kindly allows her to be available for deployments from Labor Day through Memorial Day each year. Laurel’s most memorable Red Cross moment was during a deployment to Tuscaloosa, AL after a tornado. “I was sent to a valley north of Tuscaloosa that was also hit.  For a week I was there helping people who had lost everything yet, on Friday night the community invited Red Cross members to join them for a fish fry! It was really great, we were there to help them and they fed us!” An unmeasurable amount of fulfillment comes from assisting others as a Red Cross volunteer. Laurel stated, “I’m not real sure why I became a Red Cross Volunteer but, I’m sure glad I did, I’ve learned so much! Becoming a Red Cross volunteer allowed me to help others and much more with my training”

Thank you, Laurel for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, 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.

An Experience of a Lifetime – Tiffany Circle Summit 2015

Story and Photos by Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, WI Tiffany Circle, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter (BMH) Member

The Tiffany Circle was formed in 2006 to unite and engage a group of generous and highly-involved women to continue to ensure that the Red Cross has the ability to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life's emergencies.

The Tiffany Circle was formed in 2006 to unite and engage a group of generous and highly-involved women to continue to ensure that the Red Cross has the ability to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life’s emergencies. Visit the Tiffany Circle page to find out more information.

I don’t believe I have ever experienced such a delightful, passionate and generous gathering of women in my life! The American Red Cross Tiffany Circle Summit 2015, held recently in Washington, D.C., was all that, and more.

From the moment I checked in and gathered with some of the Circle Members in the Tai Pan Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I knew this was a very special group. Each person with whom I came in contact was genuinely interested in getting to know me, and helping me understand our Mission – whether that be Time, Talent or Treasure.

Washington DC offered an amazing setting for our events within the Summit. There were incredible speakers – who were both intelligent and entertaining – and, learning sessions, which were informative and focused. I found myself drawn into components within the Red Cross mission. I look forward to learning more about them, and getting more deeply involved.

I cannot think of a better way to ‘give back’ than through an organization of women who deeply care, are incredibly kind and generous, and passionate about their cause. I left the Summit thinking, “I have made friends from across the globe with whom I share so much in common!”

My only concern? The next Red Cross Tiffany Circle Summit is not until 2017!

For more information, Visit the Red Cross’ Tiffany Circle page.

Wisconsin Tiffany Circle members. Back row: Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, Patty Flowers; Front row: Sara Horein, Aymee Balison, LA Walker, Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara

Wisconsin Tiffany Circle members. Back row: Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer, Patty Flowers; Front row: Sara Horein, Aymee Balison, LA Walker, Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara

he Tiffany Circle mission is to advance the American Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure by engaging women locally, nationally and internationally.

The Tiffany Circle works to advance the American Red Cross mission through a focused investment of time, talent and treasure by engaging women locally, nationally and internationally.

Sheboygan Fire Prevention Campaign

sheboygan6Seven times per day, someone dies from a home fire in the United States. The Red American Cross is helping people take simple but effective steps to drive that number down. On September 17, 2015, the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter installed nearly 70 smoke alarms in Sheboygan homes as part of its Home Fire Preparedness Program.
The Red Cross event was held in conjunction with the United Way of Sheboygan County’s Day of Caring, which brought hundreds of volunteers together to participate in service projects throughout the community. Employees from Kohler and Sargento joined Red Cross volunteers and staff to spread the message about the importance of fire safety and to provide life-saving resources to Sheboygan families.
The volunteers canvassed the Gateway and King neighborhoods in teams of three, offering checks of smoke alarms, and sheboygan3free replacement alarms and batteries when needed. Volunteers also discussed fire safety information and escape plans with households, and offered disaster preparedness activity books featuring Disney characters for Sheboygan’s littlest residents. “Over 75% of the homes our team entered needed our services—either new smoke alarms or batteries,” said Viv Chappell, a Red Crosser that participated in the installation event. “Having working smoke alarms doubles a person’s chance of surviving a fire. It’s gratifying to know that our actions may help prevent a tragedy.”
The goal of the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Program is to reduce the number of fire-related injuries and deaths in the United States by 25% by 2019. As part of this initiative, the Red Cross and its partners plan to install 2,500 smoke alarms throughout the Wisconsin this year!

To learn more about fire safety please visit redcross.org/firesafety

Will you join us in life-saving community programs? Please contact us at     volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org

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Volunteer of the Month – Sally Reamer

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Congratulations, to Sally Reamer for being selected as the October 2015 Volunteer of the Month by the American Red Cross.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Sally serves in many roles within the Disaster Services Department. She is a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Leader, a Dispatcher and a Preparedness Project- Pillowcase Presenter. “The more I saw the Red Cross and all the good service the organization was providing, the more involved I wanted to get! I really like the fact that volunteering gives me so many new opportunities and allows me to meet so many interesting people.” For Sally, being a Red Cross volunteer, is near and dear to her heart, it gives her great purpose and an unceasing desire in serve her community.

Sally joined the Red Cross in September of 2012, Sally stated, “For years and years, I would see the Red Cross on the news at disasters helping and I knew I wanted to be a part of that someday.  So, the first thing I did when I retired was to sign up to volunteer.”  She demonstrates a great commitment to the Red Cross mission through assisting people during some of the most difficult events in their lives. Sally feels strongly about recognizing her fellow Red Cross members, stating that, “we would not be able to help so many people if, we didn’t work with such a great volunteer group.” Sally’s devotion is evident by the more than thirty hours she volunteers each week. As a Disaster Dispatcher on a 24 hour hotline she is an integral part of the Red Cross disaster response effort, taking calls from 911 and dispatching Red Cross volunteers to respond to disasters. Fellow Red Cross DAT member and dispatcher, Melody says, “Sally is caring, understanding and always there when needed, often taking dispatch shifts that are not covered.” Others who work with her explain that Sally does her job and much more, with great accuracy and attention. According to Sally, who started dispatching over two years ago, “It is a great way to stay involved, and I have learned so much more about what the Red Cross does by being a dispatcher.  Plus, I can do that right from my house!”

October is National Fire Prevention Month and as a Pillowcase Project Presenter, Sally helps children prepare for home fires and other possible disasters. “This is a wonderful project, because it allows children to learn how to prepare for a possible disaster in a way that doesn’t scare them,” Sally says. The Pillowcase Project is a free interactive preparedness program designed for youth ages 8 to 11 and offered by Red Cross to youth in schools, after-school programs, and at other sites and events. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of natural hazards, teach safety and emotional coping skills, as well as the importance of personal preparedness. Through instructor-led presentations, students learn the best ways to stay safe, how to handle stressful situations, and what tools they can use at home to prepare for emergencies. For more information about The Pillowcase Project, visit the Pillowcase Project webpage at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/school/preparedness-education/the-pillowcase-project .

Sally encourages everyone to join the Red Cross. According to Sally, “The Red Cross, unlike many other volunteer organizations, has so many DIFFERENT ways to give back to the community.  It’s like one stop shopping for volunteering.”

We, thank you, Sally for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community!

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

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