Red Cross Volunteers Inspect Family Homes for Fire Safety

Christopher Balderas’ home now has working smoke alarms and he knows what to do in case of a fire.  Photo Credit: Marci Pelzer

Christopher Balderas’ home now has working smoke alarms and he knows what to do in case of a fire. Photo Credit: Marci Pelzer

When the American Red Cross knocked on Sharmain Balderas’ door Saturday morning, the Racine resident agreed to a friendly fire safety inspection immediately.

In June, the 39-year-old hairdresser and her family survived a house fire caused by a faulty fireplace. The fire caused extensive damage and required her to rebuild the home’s chimney and wall. Fortunately, Balderas and three children who live in the home were not hurt.

“That’s the most important thing,” Balderas said.

During Saturday’s visit, the Red Cross volunteers found that Balderas’ existing smoke alarms were not working and installed two new devices with 10-year lithium batteries. They also counseled Balderas and her young children about developing an escape plan for the family.

“This is serious. Our fire burned for two hours with me in the home before we noticed,” Balderas said.

After the fire, Balderas cut off the gas line to her fireplace and did research to learn about flammable chemicals in common household products. But she never realized her smoke alarms were out-of-order.

“They say you only have two minutes after you notice a fire to get out. If there’s a next time, we’re ready, thanks to the Red Cross,” she said.

To learn more about our efforts in Racine, visit http://journaltimes.com/news/local/red-cross-hits-the-streets-to-prevent-fire-deaths-injuries/article_e8f1f499-2233-584d-a72e-e00d78ef77a0.html

Team Racine went door-to-door to share life-saving information.

Team Racine went door-to-door to share life-saving information.

Please join our initiative to reduce fire deaths by 25% over the next five years! We’re looking for volunteers around the state to install smoke alarms.

Share your fire escape plan with us!

How UW-Oshkosh Red Cross Club is Impacting their Community

By: Alesha Huffman and Ali Sommerfeldt, UW-Oshkosh Red Cross Members

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Taking a quick break for a picture at the Project Play 60 event at Lambeau Field.

Through the past year, the UW-Oshkosh American Red Cross Club has continued to be actively involved in the community and fulfill the mission of the American Red Cross. To start the semester off, a few of our UWO Red Cross Club members participated in the Polar Plunge to help raise money for the Special Olympics. In March, we carpooled to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Volunteered at Project Play 60, the NFL movement for an active and healthy generation. Some of us passed out healthy snacks while others helped with face painting. No matter what we did, it was great to see all the children staying active and having a great time. Later that month, we visited King Veterans Home where we played bingo and interacted with the veterans.

Over the past year and a half, the UW Oshkosh American Red Cross Club has visited King Veterans Home in King, WI three times. On one of our visits, our club had the opportunity to assist with bowling at a bowling alley, which was located in the facility. That was a very memorable experience seeing the veterans destroy all of the volunteers on the scoreboard! Many of the veterans had a competitive spirit and we had an absolute blast alongside such wonderful people who have dedicated themselves to our country.

On our recent trip on Sunday, March 8th, our volunteers had the most powerful experience. We assisted the veterans to their seats and prepared them for an intense game of Bingo. As volunteers, we assisted with distributing prizes, visiting with the veterans, and talking with them. As soon as the veterans entered the room for Bingo, their faces lit up with smiles. A UWO American Red Cross Club member, Courtney Gussert stated: “It was a great time at King Veterans Home as many of the veterans along with the volunteers instantly had a smile on their faces when they entered the bingo room and saw us…” Ali Sommerfeldt had a similar reaction to her experience at King, “There were so many times when I could catch a resident’s eye while we were playing bingo and they would just beam over at me. It is the best feeling knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s day just by spending a few hours with them.” Volunteering at King was an exceptionally rewarding experience. Our club looks forward to volunteering with these amazing men and women veterans in the future.

UWO Red Cross members sold yummy snacks to raise funds for the Measles and Rubella Initiative.

UWO Red Cross members sold yummy snacks to raise funds for the Measles and Rubella Initiative.

Since March is Red Cross Month, we hosted a Measles and Rubella Initiative in our campus library. We sold homemade snacks that came with a ribbon pin for $1.00 and we raised just under $100. In April, we hosted and participated in, “Give What Fire Takes” and placed donation boxes throughout campus dorms. We collected new blankets, books, and toys for children who have been impacted by a fire. Later that month, a few students volunteered at a local fire station to collect and disassemble old car seats so that children have safe and up to date car seats. In three hours, they recycled a few hundred car seats! In May, a few of our members volunteered at Kidsfest at Menominee Park in Oshkosh to celebrate the opening of the park, which features a zoo. Kaitlyn Schmitt volunteered at March for Babies in Oshkosh where she helped set up and face paint for the little kids at the walk. Our final event of the semester was an American Red Cross Blood Drive set up by our Blood Services Chair, Brenna Schobert. We were able to successfully collect fifteen units of blood.

On May 5th, 2015, a few of our members attended the Student Leadership and Involvement Awards. We were nominated for Volunteer Organization of the Year and Volunteer Event of the Year. We also nominated Crystal Wrensch for Outstanding Emerging Leader and Ali Sommerfeldt, Courtney Gussert, and Brooke Trzebiatowski for Emerging Volunteer of the Year.

Kaitlyn Schmitt, the outgoing Service to Armed Forces Chair who has now stepped up to fulfill the role as president of our club, nominated King Veterans Home for Volunteer Event of the Year for the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh Student Leadership and Involvement Awards. We are pleased to announce that our nomination won! The campus was very impressed with our dedication to serving our American heroes at King and our memorable experiences doing so.

Crystal

Outstanding Emerging Leader Award winner Crystal Wrensch (L) and Brenna Schobert (R) spread the word about the American Red Cross.

The UW-Oshkosh American Red Cross Club was happy to announce that its very own member, Crystal Wrensch, was the winner of the of the Outstanding Emerging Leader award at the Student Leadership and Involvement awards this year! Crystal is not only part the American Red Cross Club, but is also an active member of the Oshkosh Student Nursing Association and is a Student Alumni Ambassador. She is able to balance being a part of many clubs while carrying 17 credits and keeping a 3.0 GPA. She recently traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer at an orphanage, which has helped her develop into the outstanding leader that she has become. As part of her role as the Fundraising Chair on the executive board of the American Red Cross Club, Crystal was responsible for the entire organization of two large-scale events and executed them perfectly.

The first event Crystal organized was the Service to the Armed Forces Awareness Concert which took place this past November on the day after Veteran’s Day. Crystal formulated the idea, organized the location and decorations, as well as secured promotions and prizes, and of course hired our performer for the event, Rob Anthony. She called upon fellow club members to assist her with promoting the event and encouraged the collaboration of marketing ideas. Amazingly, Crystal was able to put together a spectacular event in only a month and she executed the task flawlessly.

Another event Crystal was in charge of this past March was a week-long fundraising initiative to raise money for Measles and Rubella vaccinations for children in developing countries through the American Red Cross. Crystal took charge of informing the volunteers about the initiative and got them excited about it as well as other students around campus. Under Crystal’s leadership, our club was able to raise enough money to provide vaccinations for almost 100 children! Her leadership skills brought on a global impact while staying right on the UW Oshkosh campus.

Crystal is a responsible, passionate, and goal-oriented individual who strives her best in all aspects of her life. She takes pride in her work and the UWO American Red Cross Club is proud to have her as an executive member. Her “just go for it” attitude has helped her excel in every aspect of her life and other club members look up to her as a leader. We are thankful for her leadership and dedication and we are eager to see what the future holds for her.

We are very proud of all of our club members and the amazing things that we have accomplished this semester. With a strong executive board next year and a list of ideas to make a positive impact on the lives of others, we are looking forward to what incredible achievements we can accomplish next year!

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Congrats to UWO Club Red members on their winning nomination for King Veterans Home for Volunteer Event of the Year for the University of Wisconsin!

Red Cross NAT Training Changes Lives

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Andrea Johnson’s Red Cross NAT training offered her new opportunities.

The American Red Cross is a premier provider of Nurse Assistant Training, preparing students to play an important part in today’s health care.

Nurse Assistants learn to provide quality care for residents in long-term care facilities, hospitals, home health care and hospice settings. The Red Cross program is designed with input from educators, caregivers and industry representatives from across the United States.

Andrea Johnson, Wisconsin, is a nursing assistant at an assisted living facility where she spends her days tending to the basic needs of her patients. She gathers vital information about her patients’ conditions that she shares with her nurse supervisor. The ability to use her skills to help those in need in a career with full benefits is motivating and rewarding.

Johnson trained as a nurse assistant through the Red Cross. She found out about the Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training (NAT) program and the scholarships that were available. She applied, was accepted into the program and received a scholarship from State Farm, which was a significant turning point for her. The knowledge gained and training received provided her access to new opportunities.

“My entire life changed,” Johnson said. “I had the great opportunity to meet Sarah, my instructor. Her sensitivity, care, responsibility and respect made me the professional woman I am now.”

PROGRAM DETAILS Day classes are available and students learn the nationally developed curriculum in a hands-on environment. The training meets or exceeds state standards. Through lectures, DVDs, role playing and laboratory practice, students learn skills such as vital signs, bathing, dressing and positioning. Graduates are prepared to pass state tests and be successfully employed. Training requirements for the Certified Nurse Assistant varies from state to state. For more details, including how to register for training, visit the Training and Certification information on this web site.

STATE FARM SCHOLARSHIP State Farm® has awarded a $15,000 grant to fund scholarships for the Nurse Assistant Training Program being offered by the American Red Cross in three Wisconsin communities. The program and the scholarships will be available in Green Bay, La Crosse and Altoona. The nurse assistant training is part of the health care training programs offered by the Red Cross.

For more details and to apply, please click here.

Danz Street Fire Bring Multiple Agencies Together

The American Red Cross ran a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) at our Green Bay, Wisconsin office on April 29th. This is the second in the state and the first following a large- scale apartment building fire. MARC is a collaboration of private and public agencies that come together and provide assistance in one convenient location. In a comfortable setting, victims of disasters learn and share what resources are available, help them receive assistance and take one giant step closer to recovery.

With the help of bi-lingual volunteers, we helped disaster clients create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate assistance for their specific disaster-caused needs.  Representatives from government, non-profit, and religiously-affiliated disaster relief organizations included:

  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • Vincent DePaul
  • Green Bay & Brown County Housing Authority
  • First United Methodist
  • Brown County Human Services
  • 2-1-1
  • Crisis Center
  • Head Start
  • Register of Deeds
  • Preble High School Culinary Program served an amazing meal

Agencies in the MARC are vetted and their staff and volunteers adhere to high ethical standards to maintain the confidentiality and dignity of the clients. A verification system was implemented to confirm those who have been affected by the disaster. (click for WBAY-TV 2  ,  WFRV-TV 5 , Fox 11  and NBC26 video coverage)

The intentions of a MARC is to save the clients time, money and gas as there is no need to go from one organization to the next. Each client leaves with real assistance – some even received first months rental assistance and confirmation they could start moving into a new apartment later that same day after meeting with agencies! By the end of the day, 12 of the 16 families had confirmed new housing arrangements!

The mother who could now replace her son’s eye glasses was thrilled, the Red Cross would replace them at no cost. With the service, he will also have a complimentary eye exam. “He’ll be a better student when he can see again,” she exclaimed. For all the families, referrals for on-going services, bring them deeper into the recovery process and provide a little piece of mind.

The Danz Elementary School has served as the overnight shelter, provided food, snacks and hope for nearly 70-people after their apartment building fire earlier in the week.

Letter from a Danz Student written to the children of the families impacted.

Letter from a Danz Student written to the children of the families impacted.

Tiffany Circle Donates New Blood Services Van

“It’s been two years in the works, and it’s finally here!” exclaimed Aymee Balison, co-chair of the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle.  On April 14, 2015, members of the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle and their guests gathered at the chapter office in Madison, Wisconsin to celebrate the arrival of a new van for the American Red Cross Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services region.

The Dodge Pro Master, purchased with donations made by Tiffany Circle members in the region, has been on the road since January.

Tiffany Circle members Beth Anderson, Patty Flowers, Aymee Balison, Sara Horein, Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer and Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara celebrate the new Blood Services van.

Tiffany Circle members Beth Anderson, Patty Flowers, Aymee Balison, Sara Horein, Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer and Lavina Harjani-Kuzuhara celebrate the new Blood Services van.

The van is on the road nearly every day, carrying supplies to and from blood drives around the state. Eighty percent of the blood donations collected by Red Cross are given through mobile blood drives like these; they are critical in helping the Red Cross meet the nation’s need for blood.  And, the new van has made a big difference.  In just the four months it has been on the road, it has allowed the Red Cross to collect an additional 1,500 units of blood – red cells, plasma and platelets that are being used to help patients in Wisconsin and beyond.

This project was very personal for Aymee, whose mother lost her battle with Leukemia when she was only 50 years old.  Though her mother died very young, Aymee explained that she was very grateful that blood donations had helped extend her mother’s life.  She advocated that the Tiffany Circle take on this project so that they could help others in a similar situation.

Today, the Wisconsin Tiffany Circle boasts a membership of 17.  With this project now finished, the members are now in the process of determining what their next project will be.

Please visit our website to learn more about Tiffany Circle and American Red Cross Blood Services.

The new van in action!

The new van in action!

April Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Arnold

MaxCongratulations to Linda Arnold of Milwaukee on being named one of the April 2015 American Red Cross Volunteers of the Month!

Intrigued by what nurses could do to help clients affected by disasters, Linda joined the Red Cross in February of 2008. Linda explains, “my daughter had volunteered for Red Cross when she was an undergrad at UW-Milwaukee (First Aid Service Team), so I checked it out and met April Eagleboy who was in charge of staffing and new volunteers at the time. She [April] was a good recruiter, and I took a number of classes at the Red Cross “Institute” a month later. In April there was a tornado outbreak in Atlanta and I was deployed. It was only a 6-day deployment, but by the time it ended, I was hooked on the Red Cross.”

Volunteering about 40-hours per week, Linda works in Disaster Cycle Services as the Health Services Lead for the state. Linda has taken the initiative to build the department by making policies and procedures strong, repeatable, and expandable. She has also invested a great deal of time building capacity among Health Services volunteers. Linda has set standards, developed organizational charts, and established efficient chains of command. Because of Linda, Health Services is stronger both in our region and nationally as well!

When asked about her favorite moment with the Red Cross Linda explained, “I would say it is not a moment, but a deployment. I was sent to Super Storm Sandy in New York just before the storm hit. I was on one of the last flights into New York before the storm. I was sent to Long Island to teach and mentor the Health Services Lead and to manage Health Services there. When I arrived, there were 10 shelters open with 1500 people in them. We worked together that night to get medications for 80 people who critically needed them. We worked all night with a pharmacy that had a small generator and was willing to help and asked the nearest open hospital if they could send a doctor to write prescriptions for the people who needed them…I stayed approximately two months and developed a long lasting friendship with the volunteer I mentored.”

Linda encourages everyone to consider volunteering their time with the Red Cross, “You can find something you enjoy doing by volunteering with the Red Cross. You can feel good about the work that you do. You can spend as much or little time as you have to give. You can make friends with people you would have never met otherwise. You can use your lifelong skills to learn new ones. You will have precious memories from working with the people who have been affected by disaster and may see parts of the country you’ve never seen before. You can be part of the solution!” Thank you, Linda, for sharing your talents and time with the American Red Cross!

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Services at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

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      

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