“Hey, Don’t Freak Out!”

 

For Denise Parker hitting ‘send’ to her husband Anthony Parker, who is stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and serving in the US Coast Guard, was a scary proposition. Upon opening his email, he knew the next words would not be good. Thankfully, seven days after the Northern Wisconsin floods, he can chuckle about it “that’s the best she could do?” he smiled a sheepish grin knowing his wife experienced a harrowing experience and her life may have been in danger. Through the support of the American Red Cross, Services to Armed Forces Emergency Communications program, he was by her side as the reality of several feet of water in their home set in.

On July 11th, more than a foot of rain fell with several inches of rain in just over an hour. The babbling streams turned into torrent rivers, washing away roads and scaring the landscape adjacent to majestic Lake Superior.

As the water rose above her ankles, Denise knew she and the pets were in trouble. She called 9-1-1. They traveled three separate routes but could not reach her; they retreated. She felt alone.  Via Facebook, her mother was able to reach a gentleman nearby with a ‘pick-up’ truck. She was rescued, with no time to spare, after she waded through chest deep water. In each hand, she carried a five-pound pet. The Great Dane wanted nothing to do with the water outside and refused to swim so he was left in the home. Her eyes filled with tears as she shared the thought of him drowning as the Marengo River now ran through her home.

Once safe, she sent an email to her husband serving on the USS Alex Haley. Fortunately, the ship was coming into dock.

She also reached out to her local American Red Cross, like she had done twice before to reach her husband serving abroad throughout the course of his career. In each instance, the Red Cross validated the emergency – a father’s illness and her surgery – for the commanders and in each instance; he was granted emergency leave to be with his family.

“Hey, don’t freak out. I’m o.k. that’s what is most important. The house is under water and the rabbits died.”  As he says, “Don’t freak-out is the best she could do? She also didn’t say the water was up-to the steering wheel in my 2010 F-150 truck.”  She retorts, “I could have died last night.” They can smile about it now.

For Red Cross responder, Marilyn Skrivseth, this case struck a similar cord as her first contact with the Red Cross when her brother was serving oversees and the Red Cross made an emergency connection.  At first, she worked with the Parkers on the phone to begin casework.

She also encouraged them to visit the Multi-Agency Resource Center for cleaning supplies, bottled water and to garner referrals for assistance. Upon arrival, they received bottled water, cleaning supplies, bleach and more material goods. What they also received was contacts for a “muck-out” team which helps families remove the water, sludge, drywall and personal items.  Any soft material will be destroyed.  Knowing he has a short emergency leave, the race is on to recover from this disaster. Thankfully, due to the Red Cross support, they are not alone.

By: Barbara Behling

Photos: Marilyn Janke

 

Meet Kendall – Our New Disaster Cycle Services Intern

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

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Kendall enjoys traveling, concerts, jet skiing and spending time with her family and friends.

We have a new Disaster Cycle Services Intern Kendall Stauber at our Oshkosh office. Kendall is a student at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and plans to graduate by next spring. She majors in Human Services Leadership with a minor in Communication Studies.

“I love to volunteer and help where I can. I have volunteered for several Hands on Oshkosh events where I was put with groups of people on campus and sent into the community to help certain organizations. I have also volunteered for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh and I was an intern this past spring semester at the Oshkosh Seniors Center.  These volunteer opportunities have led me to work with diverse age groups and help with a variety of projects that were rewarding to see the impact that I can do to help.”

Although this is Kendall’s first time interning with the Red Cross, she has been aware of their mission and services for a while. When she was younger, she obtained her babysitting certification through the Red Cross. Now that Kendall is an intern with the Red Cross, she’s excited to assist in carrying out the mission, stating:

“The American Red Cross is an interest to me because I wish to help, inform, and be there for people and communities after a disaster has struck or to inform people with possible resources before a disaster occurs. I am really excited to see what I can learn and give during this summer internship.”

Post college Kendall plans to continue her education with a focus on social work . She then hopes to pursue a career in counseling, specifically helping those affected by disasters and trauma.

The Red Cross is grateful to have Kendall as an intern, and to be a part of her educational experience. To start volunteering like Kendall, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.

 

 

 

 

 

Milwaukee Volunteer Tackles the Logistics of Disasters on Month-Long Deployment to Missouri!

By: Max Seigle

It’s a role you don’t always see in the headlines when it comes to American Red Cross disaster help. But if you ask volunteer, Phyllis Wiggins, she’ll tell you Logistics is vital to ensure clients get help.

“We get you the people, places and things you need to be successful on the operation,” Wiggins said in a recent interview with Red Cross Public Affairs.

Wiggins, of Milwaukee, spent a month helping with flood disaster relief in the St. Louis area. She left in late December and served as a Logistics Manager at the Red Cross headquarters in the city.

“If you need a 26-foot truck to load things around, Logistics gets that for you,” Wiggins said.

Requests also included more basic things, like food, bleach, gloves and comfort items for children staying at Red Cross shelters.

“We actually had to go out and make a run for coloring books and crayons,” she said.

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Phyllis (middle) is an essential part of the Logistics team. With a motto of “Mission First”, she makes sure people are taken care of in times of need! L-R: John Trieb, Phyllis Wiggins and Megan Bessett

Wiggins said Logistics plays a big role in securing locations for shelters and assistance centers during disaster relief. She explained the Red Cross works with community partners to find places, like schools, churches and office buildings. The Red Cross also has its own technology team to equip those facilities. On her deployment to St. Louis, Wiggins said churches, especially, rose to the occasion to offer space. She was also amazed with additional support from corporate donors.

“I’ve been on some operations where people were just begging for help — just trying to dig up that big truck of stuff. Here, it was just never an issue,” Wiggins said.

Wiggins recalled one day where a fellow Wisconsin Red Cross volunteer, Megan Besset, was on the phone working to get meals for the mission. What came next was a major delivery, and all of it donated.

“All of the sudden we had food from Popeyes, White Castle, pizza, Italian…” she said.

Wiggins worked about eight to 11 hours a day on her deployment. She was even on the ground New Year’s Eve and Day.

“If you’re doing good as the year rolls over, then the year is going to be good for you,” Wiggins said.

It’s clearly “Mission First” for Wiggins. And serving behind the scenes in Logistics is a role she’s happy to take on with a humble nature.

“It’s more important that people get help, that they feel safe, that they feel taken care of,” Wiggins said.

“That is much more important than me getting a slap on the back or a Thank You.”

Volunteer of the Month Anne-Marie McDonald

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Congratulations to Anne-Marie McDonald, the April 2016 Red Cross Volunteer of the Month.

Anne-Marie joined the Red Cross in 2005 explaining, “After seeing how much my husband enjoyed volunteering with the Red Cross I followed his lead,” and eleven years later she continues to support the Red Cross by giving of her time and talent.  She ensures Blood Donors receive a warm smile, answers to their questions and have a fantastic overall experience. Disaster clients get her full attention during local disasters, national disaster response and through preparedness outreach.  And if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, recently Anne-Marie took on the role of Community Volunteer Leader (CVL).

As a Donor Ambassador, Anne-Marie works with donors at Blood Donor Centers and Blood Drives. She makes every person feel special–whether they are regular donors, first time donors, staff or volunteers.   Panghoua Maua notes, “Anne-Marie is always going above and beyond. She also assists as a volunteer trainer for new Donor Ambassador Volunteers to ensure they get the information and tools they need to be successful. This has been instrumental in the satisfaction and retention of Blood Services volunteers.”

As a Disaster Response volunteer Anne-Marie is always willing to step-up and takes on responsibility to help when-ever and where-ever needed. Last July she helped opened a shelter, during some torrential rain, in the Hudson area for residents of a flooded mobile-home park. Even though Anne-Marie spent much of the day on site at that shelter, when a request for assistance from a flooded out family in the neighboring city of River Falls came through, she volunteered to help go and meet that family’s needs. Luong Huynh said, “The thing that I am most proud of when it comes to Anne-Marie has been her commitment to the Red Cross mission. In tough situations, she responds with grace and strength of character.”

Anne-Marie said her most memorable volunteer moment took place when responding to a residential fire earlier this year. While offering support to the family, she learned that she had also assisted the client’s mother after her residence burned in early 2015. “The client remembered us! This family was so grateful for our help and resources provided by the Red Cross. It was so rewarding, we were very happy to be able to help both family members begin to get back on their feet.”

Throughout local communities Anne-Marie’s impact as a CVL has been felt. She encourages others to join the Red Cross stating, “Part of the Red Cross mission is to ‘prevent and alleviate human suffering’.  There are so many ways to contribute to this mission through Disaster Services, Blood Services, Service to Armed Forces, and Preparedness Services.  Select an area which interests you and dedicate as little or as much time as you have available to help.  Volunteering with the Red Cross is a very rewarding experience.”  Kyle Kriegl,says, “As a CVL Anne-Marie is just a great person to work with.  She is always willing to help and make a difference in her community!”

Thank you, Anne-Marie, for promoting the importance of the American Red Cross mission throughout your community! To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

Sherri Galle-Teske: My Red Cross Story

By Sherri Galle-Teske, Account Executive for the American Red Cross 

The American Red Cross has touched my life and family in so many ways. My earliest memory of learning about the Red Cross was when I was five years old. My grandmother Agnes Patoka (fondly known as Nana) would put me up on her lap and read children’s books when I would come to her house for visits. My favorite books however-were her old photo albums which included many photos of my father as a child. She would reminisce and explain in detail every photo and always explained the “story” behind it.

On one occasion Nana had a photo album that I had never seen before and it contained special pictures of her prior marriage. One picture in particular was of great interest to me. The picture was taken in 1919 when my grandmother was 18 years old. The photo shows my grandmother sitting with two of her friends on a lawn. All of the girls are wearing long white gowns with a white cloth on their heads. On their foreheads the white cloth sported a red cross. She explained to me that she and her friends volunteered at the American Red Cross in Menasha, WI. There was a terrible war going on in Europe and many soldiers and civilians needed their help. After school she and her friends went to the Red Cross and ripped apart long cotton petty skirts (now known as slips) into long strips. The men at the Red Cross office bundled them together in bales and they were sent to the war front to be used as bandages.

That photo is framed and currently hangs on the wall in my Stevens Point office. Nana’s special picture has been in many of my presentations and displays for the Red Cross. The picture travels with me frequently.

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Prior to my birth, my father was enlisted in the Navy. He knew his Aunt Francis and Uncle Luther were expecting their first child. While on ship he suddenly received bad news – Uncle Luther was killed in a plane accident. He received the message from the Red Cross. Soon after he received another message – my Aunt Francis had delivered a beautiful baby boy. Would he be the godfather? Naturally my father agreed-he recited the religious oath from the ship’s control room over the radio (somewhere close to the Philippine Islands) – all arranged via the Red Cross!

My Aunt Phyllis Petts of Neenah, WI, spent many years as a Red Cross blood volunteer until her death. I received her Red Cross volunteer pin from my cousins after the funeral.

I guess it was destiny for me to work for the American Red Cross. I am excited to be part of a family tradition that has followed this organization for such a long time. When I refer a blood drive, sell an AED, discuss Services to Armed Forces (SAF), or recommend our volunteer program, I know “someone above” is smiling down at me – and feeling proud.


Sherri Galle-Teske supports the Preparedness, Health and Safety Services in both Wisconsin and Michigan. As February is National Heart Month, it is important to know that Sherri’s support of Preparedness, Health and Safety Services includes helping people obtain AEDs for their home, business, school or organization. AEDs, devices that analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, are an important element in reducing the number of cardiac arrest deaths. In addition, the Red Cross offers AED program management, maintenance and service. To learn more about AEDs or the Red Cross AED Program, contact Sherri via sherrigalle-teske@redcross.org.

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Click here to view full-size flyer.

A Safer Way to Get that Candle Glow

By Jody Weyers, Communications Volunteer

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The weekend after Thanksgiving I was so excited to get out all my holiday decorations and go to town decorating in a new space. I moved into a new duplex seven months ago and this was my first Christmas in my new place. What makes a place feel cozy and warm during the holidays –candles and lots of them.

I have been with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, so I know candles are dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December, and over half of these are started by candles.

This year, I transitioned to the battery operated candles. I know you are thinking, it is not the same…. But yes, it really is. Battery operated tea-lights are all over my house and you cannot tell the difference from a real candle. They are available in all sizes, shapes and colors. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and was floored by all the different varieties available. I know they don’t give off any scent, and part of the holidays I love is the smells of cinnamon, pine and vanilla so I also invested in an aromatherapy room mist in all my favorite scents and for when I have guests.

IMG_20151128_172634At first you might think they are expensive, but when you look at the cost of your house burning down or investing in battery operated candles, that price tag soon becomes a non-factor. They also provide peace of mind.  If I go to bed or leave my house with one of these candles still on, I don’t have to worry about it.

This is just one small change I am making this year so my holiday is a little safer. The Red Cross offers these additional tips to keep your home safe during the holiday season.

  • If you do decide to burn candles, make sure to keep them away from children, pets and decorations.
  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • If hanging stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

On average, 7 people die and 36 people suffer injuries from home fires every day. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it is too late. The Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign works to reduce this number by urging American to follow two simple steps: check existing smoke alarms and practice home fire drills.

People can visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from home fires.

Stayin’ Alive with Hands-Only CPR

By: PaKou Lee, Red Cross volunteer and RCYP member

Get CPR Red-y this fall with our Red Cross Young Professionals Group of NEW (RCYP).

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Our one year of RCYP is coming up at the end of September and we want to celebrate it with YOU! As part of our mission to Give, Guide and Provide, we are giving back to our community by teaching hands-only CPR!

Please join us on Wednesday, September 30th at the Red Cross Appleton Office! Get trained on how to #SaveALife in only 10 minutes. Enjoy food and drinks with the RCYP members, local volunteers and guests. Learn more about what we do as young professionals in the Northeast WI community and how you can be part of the club! (Don’t be nervous – we’re laid back and fun! I promise!)

Sign up now! Don’t forget to bring a friend! For questions, please contact Jennessa Heiting, heiting.jennesa350@gmail.com.
(For a larger view, click on the image).

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We also want to share with you some of our highlights from our first year!

  • We started with our kick-off party last September and created holiday cards for the Holiday Mail for H11201835_839042179537301_5780583661192536279_neroes campaign in November.
  • We volunteered for Dancing with Our Stars 2015 main event- working backstage for social media and videos, collecting votes and recording the dances.
  • RCYP raised $500 for the Red Cross – we filled out the Best of the Bay results for the Press-Gazette and co-hosted with Current for an networking event.
  • We hosted a Thank-a-Thon- called local sponsors to thanked them for their donations and spread awareness about Giving Day.
  • We also volunteered for the Packers 5k at the water station and recently worked with youths for the Pillowcase Project, guiding children on creating a pillowcase kit for fire safety and needs.
  • RCYP took 2nd place in Current’s Bench Challenge, hosted by the Green Bay Area Habitat Young Professionals. All thanks to Ben and Dan for building the bench and taking a selfie!
  • One of our members, Dan Terrio is a part of the Dancing with Our Stars 2016 campaign and we are ready to show our support!

We hope to see you on the 30th! Don’t forget to bring a friend! For questions, please contact Jennessa Heiting, heiting.jennesa350@gmail.com

RCYP enjoying an outside evening concert, hosted by Heritage Hill.

RCYP enjoying an outside evening concert, hosted by Heritage Hill.

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