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.

Harvey Lorenz – Dedicated and Engaged Legacy Society Member

m16140841_legacy-society_137x135We are very proud of Harvey Lorenz and the incredible work he does in the field and his long term planning to ensure the future of the American Red Cross critical services and programs.  Harvey and his wife Margaret, were featured in the Summer 2014 Legacy newsetter published by the American Red Cross.

You can read his entire story here.  

 

By Harvey Lorenz, American Red Cross Volunteer 

Soon after I retired in 1995, a church friend who served on the board of the local Red Cross chapter recruited me to join the board as its treasurer. After two terms as treasurer, I served as chair of the nominating committee and then served three terms as local chapter chair. During this time, I became active in the local disaster response team, mainly by being called out as a “caseworker” in the middle of the night to assist various families experiencing home fires.

Typically, I’d receive several of these calls every month, and my wife Margaret became known as the most awake and cheerful person to answer the phone in the middle of the night.

harvey LorenzIn 2005, my heart went out to the many victims of Katrina and I quickly volunteered to go south. I was sent to Mississippi where I was an intake interviewing caseworker helping to determine what kind of aid displaced families and individuals could receive and counseling them on how to receive additional assistance from other community resources or their own insurance companies. So often these people had left their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, they had no rapid access to any savings because their banks were flooded and not operating, and/or they didn’t remember the names of their insurance agents (or those agents had been displaced as well). I talked to one woman who had given birth the day after fleeing her home, had named her baby Katrina, and was staying in the mass shelter with her week-old infant. Another put her two-year old in a laundry basket “boat” and swam to safety, pulling him behind her. Her friend who left their flooded house with her never made it to dry ground. Several people had been pulled off their roofs by helicopter crews, and others had lost touch with family members or were grieving relatives who had died.

These interviews were hard on me personally. There were times when I had to put a “closed” sign on my table in the shelter hallway for a few minutes while I went outside to clear my head.

When I came home after three weeks in Mississippi, I knew I wanted to keep helping on the national level, but I also knew I wasn’t good at being a caseworker in such extreme situations. I immediately signed up for classes in disaster assessment and financial/statistical information gathering and reporting.

Right away, over Thanksgiving in 2005, I was able to use some of the assessment skills in Florida after Wilma, and most of my responses since then (14 more national disasters in all, generally two to three weeks each) have been related to the financial/statistical responsibilities, often as a supervisor and even as “state manager” in New Hampshire after Ike-related flooding. Some of the other national calls have involved Kansas ice storms, flooding in southern Wisconsin, and multiple tornados in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. I responded after Superstorm Sandy twice actually, once initially (over Thanksgiving again) and then about three months later when the Red Cross was making a big push to permanently relocate everyone who’d been in temporary housing since the storm. I’ve stayed in gymnasiums, church shelters, converted warehouse shelters, a Boy Scout camp, motels with barely dry rooms and no other services, and low-end walk-up big-city hotels.

On the local level, disaster services has been reorganized so that now I am captain of a team that’s on-call about one week out of six, and that has meant fewer late-night phone calls. Additionally, I’ve responded as shelter worker for a couple of regional flooding situations, doing disaster assessment after a tornado in our own city, and—last year two weeks after my total knee replacement, when I couldn’t walk anywhere on rough terrain–I served as the phone liaison between the Red Cross and County Emergency Services. I have been active on fundraising committees and also serve as a kind of a 24/7 back-up to the local staff disaster manager during those times when he might be out of town or on vacation.

Although Margaret has never accompanied me on any of my responses, she says she feels that she is contributing a bit too, as she never complains about my being gone over holidays and family events, and she takes over my at-home responsibilities with our own two dogs and our volunteer fostering of rescue dogs. We can’t really identify when, how, or why, we changed from sending Red Cross minimal yearly contributions and became larger donors. That and designating the American Red Cross in my will just seemed the right things to do in order to continue to respond to local and national disasters. I’ve seen the good we can do.

If you would like information about how you can support our mission and help those in need by creating your own legacy like Harvey and Margaret Lorenz have done, please contact our Gift Planning Office at 1-800-797-8022 ext 5,  giftplanning@redcross.org or log on to http://www.redcrosslegacy.org 

Welcome Americorps Member: Caitlin Schenck

By Caitlin Schenck, Americorps Member 

My name is Caitlin Schenck Caitlin Schenckand I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay where I completed two bachelor’s degrees in three years’ time.  I received a B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning, a B.A. in Political Science and my minor was Public Administration.  As the mother of a toddler, I was unable to become as involved as I would have liked to be during years at UWGB, I was able to gain some amazing work and volunteer experiences when my schedule allowed me to do so.  The last nine months of my college career I interned with the blood services department of the American Red Cross.  When the opportunity presented itself to me, I was really excited because the Red Cross is an organization I have held near and dear to my heart for years.

Originally, I come from a small town near Wisconsin Dells, Reedsburg.  I graduated high school in 2006 and moved to Madison almost immediately after.  In 2008, what has been referred to as the 2008 Midwest Flood happened where several states including my hometown had a flood that almost bankrupted the town’s economy.  Many of my close friends lost their homes and were forced to rebuild.  The Red Cross was the first organization in town after the first responders.  All of the roads were closed for a few weeks and so much traffic was rerouted I couldn’t make it back right away to help, and to this day, I am so thankful those volunteers in the community were there to help all of my loved ones when I couldn’t.  So when I was given the opportunity to become a part of the Red Cross team here in Green Bay, and given opportunities to volunteer as well, I jumped on board and I can happily say they’ve gained a lifer out of me.

In my time as an intern, I enjoyed the work I was doing, helping out at blood drives, but the chapter end of the Red Cross and disaster services was something I was much more interested in.  Then, I got a tip from a friend that there was a part time AmeriCorps position open in Green Bay working in Disaster Preparedness.  I applied, interviewed, and have become a member with AmeriCorps.  Once again, I have the opportunity to work with the Red Cross in Disaster Preparedness and I could not be more excited for this amazing experience!  Now, I will be reaching out to community members and performing preparedness presentations, recruiting new volunteers, and assisting in the Red Cross’ Pillowcase Project which is geared toward 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.  I just cannot express how excited I am to watch this next year unfold and to be able to be a part of the Red Cross family once again, gain new experiences, spread the word of the importance of preparedness and hopefully make an impact in the process.

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