2015 Heros Musicales / Red Cross Fundraiser / Central Wisconsin Photographer

*Blog reposted with permission from Studio 455 Photography.

On May 19th, I volunteered to photograph the 8th Annual Heros Musicales, an American Red Cross fundraiser founded and hosted by John and Vicki Jenks. Throughout the afternoon I had the privilege of hearing two different concerts. First, Greg Boerner, a singer / songwriter who played a blend of blues, folk, country, and rock and roll all in an awesome southern style. One of my favorites from his set was, “The Hong Kong Cafe.”

The last concert of the afternoon featured Liam Teague on steel pan and Robert Chappell on percussion. It was nothing short of magical. I was delighted that they started their set with one of my all time favorites, “Tico Tico.”

Throughout the course of the afternoon, concert goers had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items, learn about the Red Cross from people who have benefited from their services, share in hospitality, and visit with one another. It was a truly unique fundraiser and easy to see why it has grown to be so popular.  What could be better than an awesome concert for an important cause?

1:30 Concert - Greg Boerner Guitarist/singer/songwriter

1:30 Concert – Greg Boerner Guitarist/singer/songwriter

4:00 p.m. concert with Liam Teague and Robert Chappell

4:00 p.m. concert with Liam Teague and Robert Chappell

*We thank and recognize Jeremy and Kristin Albright from Studio 455 Photography for volunteering their time and talent to a great cause.

May Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Johnson

Nancy JohnsonCongratulations to Nancy Johnson of Walworth County on being named one of the May 2015 Volunteers of the Month!

Intrigued by disaster response activities and supporting clients affected by disasters, Nancy joined the American Red Cross in early 2005. Nancy explains, “Being a military wife and mother, I have found that volunteering has always made life easier. I began by going into the Racine office once a week and helping wherever necessary. When Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast we began getting clients in Wisconsin, and I worked with getting clients settled in the area. When Rita came six weeks later, I knew I wanted to go and immediately made myself available. I was assigned to Lake Charles and worked with a team doing disaster assessment. The joy of working with clients in need, meeting and sheltering with volunteers from various places in the United States was very fulfilling.”

Since 2006, Nancy has continued to volunteer as a deployment officer. Her nominator, Melisa Myers, of Disaster Staff Services said, “Nancy has been a deployment officer for years now, since becoming one statewide region, deployment officers have been asked to take on other roles, including further developing our national deployment process. Nancy was asked if she would be able to help reach out and talk to returning volunteers from national responses. Nancy was able to help by contacting volunteers and having conversations with them about their experience, current roles, and future roles. With Nancy’s help, we as a region are able to help volunteers feel supported before, during and after a deployment.”

“Staff Service has been my favorite part of working with the American Red Cross. Now that I am unable to travel myself, I feel that being a deployment officer makes me feel just as much a part of the American Red Cross.”

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

Congratulations to the American Red Cross Transportation Drivers

Thursday, April 16, the Volunteer Center of Brown County hosted the 27th Annual WPS Volunteer Awards Breakfast, the community’s most broad-based volunteer recognition event in Brown County in conjunction with National Volunteer Week.

The American Red Cross is honored to have the American Red Cross Transportation Volunteers awarded runner-up for the Green Bay Packers Large Group Volunteer Award. 

(left-right) Attending the breakfast on behalf of the American Red Cross Transportation Program: Randy Wery, Jeff Baum, Bill Craig, Kenton Immerfell, Cathy & Tom Harrison, Dick Neuses and Tina Whetung, Program Manager.

(left-right) Attending the breakfast on behalf of the American Red Cross Transportation Program: Randy Wery, Jeff Baum, Bill Craig, Kenton Immerfell, Cathy & Tom Harrison, Dick Neuses and Tina Whetung, Program Manager.

Here is a brief summary of the impact these individuals make on a daily basis to those 60 and over and/or with a disability. 

An elderly parent needing rides to/from dialysis 3 days per week and they no longer drive or perhaps never had a driver’s license.  An individual with special needs who received job training while in high school, has now graduated and is in need of rides to/from work. 

These are just a couple of the reasons why American Red Cross provides this much needed transportation service.  American Red Cross Transportation Services has provided rides to the elderly and/or disabled residents of Brown County for more than 50 years. 

ginger and drv 2Door to Door transportation is offered Monday thru Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. for the cost of $3.00 per person/per one way ride.  Rides are provided to/from medical, employment, nutritional, educational and social appointments.  Medical rides are priority and can be scheduled months in advance or on a routine basis for trips to/from dialysis, radiation, wound treatment, etc.  Employment rides can be scheduled on a routine basis as long as the days/times are the same each week.  Nutritional trips can be scheduled one week in advance with educational and social trips just two days in advance. 

American Red Cross provides volunteer drivers with a vehicle, schedule, insurance & training, what the volunteer provides is essential, their time.  As the demand for safe, dependable, low cost transportation continues to grow; we continue to ask more of our dedicated volunteers.  Some of our volunteer drivers are here 4-5 days per week for 4 1/2 – 5 hours per day.  Each time a volunteer gets behind the wheel of a Red Cross car they take comfort in knowing that they are not only helping the client but many times they are also helping the family of that client.  Individuals with elderly parents or a special needs child are not always able to provide the rides their loved ones need, that is why they contact American Red Cross Transportation Services.  Our volunteer drivers provide a safe and reliable transportation service, allowing those they serve to lead a more fulfilling, self-sufficient lifestyle.

In 2014 American Red Cross Transportation Services provided:

48,928 total rides

40,320 to ambulatory clients (walking)

8,608 to client using a mobility device such as a wheelchair

25,342 medical trips

16,357 employment trips

1,583 nutritional trips

808 educational trips

4,838 social trips

Drivers volunteered 32,861.75 hours  and traveled 404,043 miles to transport clients in need      

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.

 

 

 

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.

Why I Help: John Meinke, Madison, Wisconsin

By Andrea Coan, Red Cross Volunteer Journalist

1418832675579 John M - MadisonA talented new addition to our American Red Cross volunteer corps, John Meinke works on media and communications efforts with the Red Cross of Badger Chapter, as well as the South Central Wisconsin Region. Here, he makes his own unique contribution to the organization.

Meinke photographs volunteers and employees at blood drives, programs supporting the Armed Forces, disaster training events, and so much more. Awed by each person who gives back, Meinke feels lucky to have an opportunity to capture the strong individuals who work for the Red Cross.

“When I see Red Cross teams in action, I feel proud to be a part of something much larger than any individual involved,” said Meinke. “I know that my assignments, which are very important to me, are just a small part of what happens every day in the Red Cross.”

After retiring from a career in visual arts education, which included darkroom and digital photography, Meinke made the choice to join the Red Cross in 2013. He was determined to stay active and engaged in meaningful endeavors during his retirement, and felt volunteerism would be the ideal way to achieve this personal goal.

When he isn’t behind the camera, Meinke works on the Red Cross photo archive where he preserves the value and quality of photos representing the history of the organization. He works closely with Katie Gaynor, external communications manager of Red Cross Blood Services.

Meinke will never forget an encounter with a family at a blood drive in Portage, Wisconsin where he met two parents who took turns donating blood, while holding their newborn son. They wanted their young son to experience the “giving spirit” as soon as possible. Meinke felt a deep respect for this family, which put the value of giving at the center of their lives.

In his short time with the Red Cross, Meinke has already photographed some powerful images.

“In my work, I help others become aware of and understand the services provided by the Red Cross, but those who build and share shelter, nourishment, comfort or life-saving blood are true heroes,” said Meinke.

American Red Cross Celebration of Support Honors Announced

The local American Red Cross honored volunteers and community partners at the Celebration of Support event Thursday, November 6, 2014. Around 100 Red Cross volunteers and community supporters attended the event hosted by The Waters and sponsored by Festival Foods.

Joining Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive was community members from several cities. The Northeast Wisconsin Chapter covers 20 counties and the diversity of skills; experience and proximity are recognized in the awards below.

(l-r) NIck Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, Tom Powell, Mental Health Disaster Volunteer, Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

(l-r) Nick Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, Tom Powell, Mental Health Disaster Volunteer, Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

Thomas Powell, of Ripon, Victor Fousek Emergency Services Award for outstanding commitment assisting local and national communities impacted by disasters.

Norman “Gene” Wallis, of Appleton, Outreach Award presented to a volunteer for exceptional support in Health and Safety, Services to Armed Forces, or other areas that involve education and outreach promoting Red Cross services.

Nancy Hammock, of Fond du Lac, Blood Services Volunteer Award for exceptional reliability and dedication to the blood services program.

Janet Meyer, of Hortonville, Behind-the-Scenes Award presented to a volunteer who assists with essential office work at our (Appleton) office locations in development, facilities, reception and other behind-the-scenes jobs.

Angie Dusenberry, of Oshkosh, Rookie of the Year, presented to a volunteer for exceptional level of service who has started within the past year.

Traded Treasures, in Ripon, and ADOVCAP, in Oshkosh, Corporate Benefactor Award, for a business with outstanding commitment to their communities and collaboration with the American Red Cross.

(L-R) Pat Exarhos, Board Member and Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

(L-R) Pat Exarhos, Board Member and Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

Pat Exarhos, of Appleton, Leadership Award, presented to a member of the volunteer board of directors, committee or program for exceptional leadership, contribution and support for the advancement of the American Red Cross.

Charles Patzer, of Wild Rose, Volunteer of the Year Award, presented to the individual who has demonstrated excellence and long-term commitment to the American Red Cross. This individual gives time, talent and knowledge in ways that improve the quality of the programs and services of the organization.

Howard Porter, of Appleton, Clara Barton Award, presented to an individual who exemplifies the qualities of American Red Cross pioneer Clara Barton.

(l-r) NIck Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, Charles Patzer, Disaster & Services to Armed Forces Volunteer, Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

(l-r) NIck Cluppert, Disaster Program Manager, Charles Patzer, Disaster & Services to Armed Forces Volunteer, Steve Hansen, Chapter Executive.

All award recipient photos are posted on our local Facebook page and Flickr site.

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