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

sheboygan5 sheboygan7

Volunteer of the Month – Sally Reamer

Pic2 for RC
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.

Through the Eyes of a Red Crosser

By: Anna Fernández-Gevaert, Regional Communications Director of the American Red Cross of Idaho & Montana

I am at a Red Cross shelter in Browning, MT, sitting around a large collapsible banquet table with a handful of Red Cross volunteers. We are eating baked potatoes and chili off Styrofoam plates, in the middle of a warehouse the size of an airplane hangar. All around us, people are unloading supplies, cleaning, talking, eating and sleeping. A radio is blaring on one end of the hangar and just 20 feet farther away, a Blackfeet boy with a long braid down his back is watching a zombie movie on a 13-inch portable TV.

I look around the table and see tired faces. These Red Crossers have only been here a few days, but the work is hard and the emotions are harder. Volunteering for the Red Cross is never easy, even on a good day. During a disaster like this, when hundreds of evacuees rely on a small group of trained volunteers to meet their immediate needs, it is all hands on deck, each giving their all. It takes a toll.

Gene Wallis smiles his way through a day at the Browning Shelter

Gene Wallis smiles his way through a day at the Browning Shelter

Yet, these people look—happy. Across the table, Gene Wallis, a bon vivant in his seventies from Appleton, WI, with the gift of gab and an impish smile, is holding court. Gene started volunteering with Red Cross 4 years ago and has seen a thing or two. When I ask him what distinguishes this disaster from the others he has seen, his answer is immediate: “The people-–never seen anything like it.”

I ask him what he means. “The Blackfeet people–they are dignified, resilient, they don’t complain. And they are helpful–to us as volunteers and to each other,” he explains. You don’t have to ask them to help—they look around for what is needed and they just do it. It is part of their culture.” He pauses, searching for the right words. “It’s impressive,” he adds.

Joan Richards, a proper-looking lady in her sixties whose face exudes goodness, nods in agreement. “I mentioned that very thing to my supervisor yesterday,” she says. “How impressed I was with this community. I am from Hyannis, MA, and I really did not know anything about the Blackfeet Nation before I arrived at the shelter a few days ago. As soon as I started working here, I noticed how warm and friendly and solicitous the people are in this community.” She leans in, and adds, woman to woman: “Have you noticed how attentive the men are to their children?” I nod, having remarked on that very thing only a few hours earlier. “They also show such respect to their elders,” she says. She adds quietly: “I feel so privileged to have had this experience.”

Nancy McKenney, who sits to my left, adds her own experience as shelter manager. “I needed to do a shelter check, writing down the names of each guest,” she explains. “A group of local women who had been helping us just took over. They knew everyone and got it done in 20 minutes. It would have taken us 2 hours.” Nancy, who is from Pierre, SD, is veteran Red Crosser, the type that has seen it all and takes no prisoners. If she’s impressed, that means something.

I smile to myself and sit back in my chair, looking at the tired faces around me. I marvel at these people, these Red Crossers, who are enthralled with the people they are serving. I wonder if they realize how awestruck I am with them.

Volunteer of the Month – Larry Griffin

Larry Griffin 2

Congratulations, to Larry Griffin on being named the September 2015 American Red Cross Volunteer of the Month!

When Larry retired in 2012, he along with his wife Pat decided that volunteering for the Red Cross Disaster Cycle Service (DSC) efforts would be worthwhile. Larry stated, “I now realize, more and more, the many facets in which the Red Cross is active, preparing to prevent misfortunes, is as important as responding to disasters, is as important as providing ways to recover from a loss.”

The Red Cross is so thrilled to have volunteers like Larry. “Larry is always not only willing to help but expresses gratitude when called out to a disaster site,” says Jenny Legaspi, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager. As a Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteer he shows a high level of commitment. “Larry consistently signs-up for DAT response shifts. Even when not on-call, he is happy to assist with a response whenever he is available,” states Luong Huynh, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Larry serves as a DAT member, helping people during times of disaster.  “We help people who experience a sudden misfortune due to fire, storm or other unexpected cause,” Larry states. Larry enjoys providing comfort to clients and working professionally with first responders to ensure community members are supported during times of disaster. “He’s the guy that I would want to come and help me!” notes Barbara Behling.

Larry is also making significant contributes to the Red Cross Preparedness Programs while volunteering with the Home Fire Prevention Campaign. This Campaign involves Red Cross volunteers joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Visits include educating people about fire safety, creating safety plans and installing free smoke alarms in homes. View this link to see Larry and other Red Cross DAT team members in action!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI5DfmVYIIc

“When volunteering with the Home Fire Preparedness Program, Larry has become my go-to Documenter and Reporter Lead. His reporting is accurate and I can always count on him to train new volunteers in the role,” Luong Huynh DPS.  Over the last six months, Larry devotion has been evident as he has now volunteered at five separate Home Fire Preparedness events and helped to install sixty-four smoke alarms in homes. “I take satisfaction in possibly preventing a house fire and saving a life,” Larry state

Larry’s humble response when asked of this honor was simple, “Really my efforts have not been any greater than that of other Red Cross members. Anyone who becomes involved with the Red Cross will feel the same way!” Thank you, Larry, for making a real difference in your community and the Red Cross!

Join us! Volunteer like Larry and help your neighbors recover from disasters like home fires by becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Contact the Red Cross to get trained.

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

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


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