“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

 

It’s National Volunteer Week!

The American Red Cross Wisconsin Region is honoring all volunteers and the work you do in the community during National Volunteer Week, April 10-17.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for Red Cross volunteers and am reminded that volunteerism and the human spirit are beautifully intertwined. I truly believe Red Cross volunteers are the brightest and most uplifting people in our communities. The best part of my job is getting to know you and seeing you in action.  Recently, I had the chance to talk with a new volunteer who was very excited to join our team. When I asked what motivated her to get out of her bed in the middle of the night to respond to the scene of a fire she said, “I am able to do it, so why wouldn’t I?”. Another volunteer will achieve a major milestone this August – volunteering with the Red Cross for 60 years! His favorite saying is, “part of our payment for being on this earth is to give back”. 

Last month, a Red Cross volunteer turned 100-years-old and celebrated by hosting a blood drive with a goal of collecting 100 pints (1 for each candle). She blew that away – 114 pints were donated in her honor. While Red Cross volunteers have diverse backgrounds and perspectives, you share many similarities. Red Cross volunteers share an incredible selfless spirit and an urge to do good for others.

I am honored to work alongside all of you and am inspired each day because of the compassion you show. Thank you for sharing your time and talents with the American Red Cross! 

Patty Flowers

Chief Executive Officer

American Red Cross – Wisconsin Region

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.

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

By Max Seigle, American Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer

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.

PHYLLIS WIGGINS PICTURE

Red Cross volunteers, Phyllis Wiggins and Megan Besset, on deployment in St. Louis, MO.

“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.

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 had 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 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 a 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 take care of,” Wiggins said.

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

Thank you Phyllis for proudly representing the American Red Cross in Missouri.

This month, 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 redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources 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      

April Volunteer Spotlight: Linda Kohler

Linda KCongratulations to Linda Kohler, of Larson, on being named one of the April 2015 American Red Cross Volunteers of the Month!

Linda joined the Red Cross in November of 2010. “I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to get out of the house, but continued to volunteer because of the staff at the Red Cross,” explained Linda.

Volunteering about 12 hours per week, Linda supports the front desk at both the Oshkosh and Waupaca offices. As her nominator, Nick Cluppert, wrote, “Linda is always willing to help however she can. She puts on a smile and welcomes everyone that comes to the office. Linda is always eager to take on special projects from staff to help out by making phone calls, researching information and putting together packets of information for upcoming activities. If it was not for our front desk volunteers, our small staff would have a difficult time getting these things done. Linda really helps the office function smoothly and offers different perspectives on how things might be able to get accomplished.”

Linda’s work impacts the value of Red Cross every day. Not only is Linda a valuable resource for staff, but an important welcoming face of the organization. Nick explained, “Linda has a great sense of humor that she brings to the office every time she comes in. If anyone is having a bad day you can bet that Linda will bring a smile to your face. Linda is also very good at working with the clients and guests that come into our offices.”

“My favorite part of volunteering is being able to help people that need it. The staff makes me feel like I am part of their team and I feel really at home. Every day I’m here is a memorable moment even with the little things that happen. I would definitely recommend volunteering with the Red Cross. It will enrich your life and make a big difference, just as it has mine!” – Linda Kohler

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 Volunteer Services at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.

Red Cross Campaign To Reduce Home Fire Deaths and Injuries Begins in Kaukauna

Efforts will include installing smoke alarms and urging people to practice fire escape plans

10710893_10152718411990071_1668250310886687572_nRecently, the American Red Cross announced a new campaign throughout Wisconsin and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. Two days in December, teams will visit 500 homes in Kaukauna to install smoke alarms and provide fire safety tips and review escape plans with residents.

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross campaign focuses on joining fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms in communities with high numbers of fires and encouraging everyone to practice their fire escape plans.

The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.

The door-to-door outreach team includes Red Cross volunteers & staff, the Kaukauna Fire Department, Volunteer Center of East Central WI, Outagamie County CERT and Team Rubicon.  

  • Sunday, December 7th 9:00am – Canvas targeted neighborhood with door hangers in advance so residents know we are returning the following Saturday with smoke alarms and information.
  • Saturday, December 13th 8:30am-12:00pm – Smoke Detector Installation

On both dates, we will meet at the Kaukauna Fire Department on 206 W. 3rd Street. We will create teams, distribute supplies and then go door-to-door.

Teams will be partnered with local fire departments to install smoke alarms in homes that need them and teach people about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home because working smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half.

Simple Steps to Save Lives

Even as the Red Cross and other groups install smoke alarms in some neighborhoods, they are calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home,

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

  • If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
  • If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
  • Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

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New Poll Shows Many People Have False Sense of Security about Fire Safety

The Red Cross fire preparedness campaign comes at a time when a new national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire. The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape. Nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they have ten minutes or more.

When asked about their confidence levels in actually escaping a burning home, roughly four in 10 of those polled (42 percent) believed they could get out in two minutes.

While 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape with little help, the survey found that many families had not taken necessary steps to support that level of confidence.

  • Less than one in five of families with children age 3-17 (18 percent) report that they’ve actually practiced home fire drills.
  • Less than half of parents (48 percent) have talked to their families about fire safety.
  • Only one third of families with children (30 percent) have identified a safe place to meet outside their home.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Throughout Wisconsin, the Red Cross responded to more than 900 residential fires last year. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross July 17-20, 2014 using ORC International’s Online CARAVAN omnibus survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,130 American adults, including 311 parents of children aged 3-17. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education.  The margin of error for the total sample of 1,130 adults is +/- 2.92 percent. The margin of error for the sample of 311 parents is +/- 5.56 percent.

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