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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

HO HO OH NO! Tips To Ensure A Safe Holiday

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster on average every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.

Don't let your time with loved ones be turned into a tragedy. The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining
  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.
Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both
  •  Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
You can also download the free American Red Cross First Aid app, which provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. The apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

And if you have a little downtime during days off,  log on and test your knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz!

Wishing you Happy, Safe Holidays to you and yours,
All of us at the American Red Cross of Colorado

Friday, December 20, 2013

Colorado Red Cross Continues to Monitor and Respond to Emerging needs as Part of our Recovery Efforts

In response to the Colorado Office of Emergency Management's media release regarding specific flood center needs, the American Red Cross of Colorado donated several items to the Flood Recovery Center in Loveland for survivors, and to aid in continued recovery efforts.

The Red Cross continues to respond to the needs of communities affected by the floods as part of our recovery efforts.

Items that were donated include:

  • 22 bottles of Clorox
  • 28 boxes of trash bags
  • 1 box of masks
  • 2 boxes of canned goods
  • 120 comfort kits
  • 60 family comfort kits with bath toys
  • 30 rubber gloves 10 cotton gloves
  • 100 chapsticks
  • 50 bags full of toys, to include puzzles, action figures and games,
We were able to do so thanks to the generosity of everyone who made a donation over the past three months.

Affected by Colorado Flood? Help Still Available

The American Red Cross of Colorado would like to remind residents affected by September’s devastating floods that help is still available to assist with recovery.

Residents with flood-related needs can call the Red Cross Colorado Flood Relief Hotline at 888-635-6381 to speak with a caseworker who can:

  • Connect individuals with useful referrals for needs such as furniture, clothing, food, government assistance programs, clean-up assistance and more
  • Provide qualified disaster survivors with Red Cross assistance to help with unmet, disaster-related needs such as transportation, move-in assistance,  temporary storage, furniture replacement and clean-water storage
  • Track additional needs callers may have for follow-up resolution when additional resources become available or new/expanded recovery programs launch.
The Colorado Flood Relief Hotline is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.*
* In observance of holidays, the call center will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and will close at noon on Dec. 24 and 31.
“Recovery from a disaster of this magnitude is a long-term process, and the Red Cross will be working alongside our community partners to deliver aid, identify emerging needs and provide solutions for those needs for months to come,” said George Sullivan, Community Preparedness and Resilience Director for the American Red Cross of Colorado.
In addition to helping individuals affected by the floods, Red Cross recovery workers are working with numerous local long-term recovery groups to identify and implement community solutions that will support the long-term success and resilience of affected areas. The Red Cross role in supporting these community-led efforts could include providing expertise, training, resources or funding.
For example, in early December the Red Cross purchased and delivered a dozen 450-gallon water tanks and accompanying de-icers for residents of mountain communities who had no access to clean water; local volunteer groups distributed the tanks to Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven and will continue to transport the tanks into Estes Park to be refilled until water supply infrastructure is repaired and/or contaminated wells are deemed safe to utilize again.
Today, in response to a community need (described here by the Colorado Office of Emergency Management), the Red Cross delivered cleaning supplies, toys and hygiene items to help resupply the Flood Recovery Center in Loveland.
In addition to the Flood Relief Hotline and individual and community relief, the Red Cross also offers informational resources online to help with flood recovery: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood 

The Red Cross Honors the Local Military with Thank You Banner

By Arnett Luce and Bill Fortune

The words "Thank You" can be powerful in almost any situation. Combine them with the words "for your service and sacrifice" and they take on a whole new level of impact. On Dec. 18, 2013, members of the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program presented a large banner with those words inscribed on it to the Airman and Family Readiness Center on Peterson AFB.

The 5 foot by 7 foot banner was created by the Red Cross Colorado Service to Armed Forces Program to show support for those who serve, and have served, in America’s Armed Forces. On Veterans Day and following weeks the banner was posted in public forums to allow members of the community to also express their thanks and appreciation.


Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing (left) and CMSgt Rich Redman, Command Chief, 21 Space Wing (right) accept Thank You banner from James Griffith, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces manager, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013 at Peterson AFB, Co. Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross.
The banner was inscribed with the phrase, "Thank You for your Service and Sacrifice" at the top, and the silhouette of a serviceman in the center followed by the words, "from the American Red Cross and the Residents of Colorado." Over a three week period hundreds of people wrote touching thank you notes to the banner. "The idea was to give our community a chance to say thank you to those who serve," said James Griffith, Service to Armed Forces manager. "It may seem to be a simple gesture but it carries a strong message of support."

Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing, accepted the banner on behalf of the Airman and Family Readiness Center. "Thanks so much for recognizing and supporting the outstanding service of our Airmen," said Col. Shaw.

The banner will remain on display in a classroom at the Airman and Family Readiness Center where Airmen and their families receive support and information before they deploy, during deployment and when they return. MSgt James McClung, NCOIC of the Airman and Family Readiness Center was on hand at the presentation. "As a military member who has deployed many times, a banner such as this reminds me of the support I have from my community," said MSgt McClung. "We are honored to accept such a gift so that our deploying members will always have a reminder of the support they have, and will continue to have, from the local community and the Red Cross."

The American Red Cross has provided humanitarian support to the United States military, veterans and their families for more than 130 years. Through the Service to Armed Forces program, the Red Cross provides emergency communications, supports military and veteran health facilities, and provides social services to the more than 2 million military members to include National Guard and Reservists, 23 million veterans and their families. To learn more about the Red Cross and the Service to Armed Forces program visit: www.redcross.org/what-we-do/support-military-families.



Airmen recently returned from deployment and other attendees pose in front of the “Thank You” banner that was presented to the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Peterson AFB, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Pictured from left to right are Colonel John Shaw, Commander, 21 Space Wing, SSgt Keenan Mondragon, MSgt Walt McClung, SSgt Warren Smith, SSgt Gerald Basel, SSgt John Kroll, MSgt Derrick Dembrowski, Capt Ewa Gray, CMSgt Rich Redman, Command Chief, 21 Space Wing, SSgt Evan List, Maj Joel Trejo, James Griffith, Red Cross Service to Armed Forces manager. Photo by Arnett Luce/American Red Cross.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Cross Instructor Honored For 50 Years of Service

Doing anything for half-a-century is amazing and worthy of recognition all on its own. Few careers would span that length of time but when the career involves the teaching of lifesaving skills the recognition becomes that much more important.

Terri Seiple, a Licensed Training Provider who has lived and worked in Grand Junction, Colorado for 12 years, was recognized recently for 50 years of service to the American Red Cross as a Health and Safety Instructor. The recognition came as a surprise to her when she went to the Western Colorado Chapter office under the auspices of a supervisory meeting. Matt Reeves, Training Specialist for Health and Safety in Colorado was the mastermind behind the trickery. "We had to surprise her because she is not the type of person that wants public recognition." Reeves said.

Terri Seiple receives plaque for 50 years of Red Cross
service  from Matt Reeves (left) CEO Eric Myers (right)
Terri began her career as a Red Cross instructor teaching water safety in Sunbury, Pa., in 1963. Her affiliation with the Red Cross actually began much sooner. Her parents were Red Cross volunteers serving as disaster responders and instructors. As a child she was "dragged along" to Red Cross activities. "I began teaching as soon as I reached the right age," Seiple said. "Teaching water safety was just a natural thing for me to do."

Over the years Seiple has taught thousands of people how to save lives. She has taught water safety, lifeguarding, wilderness first aid, and cardiopulminary resuscitation (CPR) at the basic and professional levels. She has seen the changes in medical science that have improved the effectiveness of CPR and truly believes that every person in America should be trained. Seiple is certainly doing her part to spread lifesaving skills across western Colorado. She teaches hundreds of people each year, as many as 750 in some years, as a Licensed Training Provider for the Red Cross and as an Approved Provider for the Colorado Mountain College. She also serves as a volunteer trainer for others who want to be Red Cross instructors.

Seiple is proud of the work she does and extremely proud of her students who have taken the skills they learned in her Red Cross classes and applied them to save the lives of coworkers and loved ones.

She gets "goose bumps" when she talks about a recent event when students that she taught saved the life of a co-worker. "These guys did everything right," Seiple said. "One called 911, another took safety vests and arranged them so that the helicopter could find them, and another administered CPR." The workers did CPR for 50 minutes while waiting for emergency medical services. "The person survived the cardiac event because these people knew what to do," Seiple said. "Not because I trained them, but because they had the skills and the courage to do the right thing."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lunch and Learn Lecture to focus on International Humanitarian Law

Although the iconic Red Cross is a symbol for comfort and care worldwide, it is perhaps less well-known that the Red Cross is actually implicated in some of the most important International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) currently guiding global humanitarian policy. In fact, the very formation of the Red Cross is related to a specific component of the Geneva Convention that required the creation of a neutral body to provide care to those wounded on the battlefield.

The history of the international humanitarian services of the Red Cross, as well as current issues affecting the organization’s services abroad, are the subjects of this month’s Lunch and Learn lecture, featuring a presentation and Q&A session with IHL expert and International Services manager Tim Bothe. For Bothe, the Lunch and Learn talk is a way to help uphold the Geneva Convention’s responsibilities for the Red Cross.

WHAT:            Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Lunch and Learn
WHEN:            2-3 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 18
WHERE:         American Red Cross, 444 Sherman Street, Denver, CO
RSVP:             To Tim.Bothe2@redcross.org.

“The Red Cross is the only non-government entity that has any specific roles as spelled out in the Geneva Conventions,” Bothe said. “So, we are to educate the populace as to the Geneva conventions, as well as perform our specific roles during wartime.”

Bothe has instructed courses in IHL for the Red Cross for five years and is an international IHL mentor with the organization. Bothe has an academic background in international humanitarian work, and “jumped at the chance” to apply his education to specifically international work at the Red Cross.

Part of the lecture planned for Wednesday will include a discussion of how International Humanitarian Law plays a role in the daily lives of American citizens. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may not have a direct impact on everyday life,” Bothe said. “But they have an indirect impact, in things like The Patriot Act and Drones, The War on Terror. Those things do impact our daily lives, so we want to talk about the policies impact our lives and what IHL says about those policies.”

The Lunch and Learn lecture is aimed at raising awareness and volunteer interest as well simply as informing interested parties of the effect of IHL on the services of the Red Cross. Bothe said that International Services is an essential component of the organization, and one that needs informed volunteers for casework and outreach.

“When you ask people what they know about the Red Cross, people think disaster, health and safety courses, very rarely do you get someone who knows about international services, or the services to the armed forces, so we always need to educate people on the breadth of what we do as an international organization,” Bothe said.


Lunch and Learn events are free and open to the public. Attendees must RSVP to the event, but for some events, Webex or Skype may be used to remotely connect to the conversation. 

Partnerships Deliver Clean Water to Flood-Affected Towns

by Patricia Billinger
Three months after historic flooding devastated dozens of communities in Colorado, the American Red Cross and a number of local community partners are still active meeting basic needs by providing safe drinking water for flood-affected communities.

Due to a variety of flood-related circumstances, some residents in Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven remain without access to a local source of safe, clean water. In some cases, private wells have tested positive for contamination caused by the flood, including e-coli.  In other instances, damaged infrastructure has cut off the local water supply.

Red Cross recovery specialists have been participating in disaster recovery assessment and planning efforts being coordinated by local communities throughout the flood-affected area, and those efforts identified the need – and the solution – to ensure flood survivors have access to clean water.
It took a partnership of many to pull it off.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, Red Cross volunteers delivered a dozen 450-gallon water tanks and a dozen accompanying de-icers to a staging area at the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church in Estes Park. The Red Cross had purchased the water-tanks at a discounted rate from Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply in Longmont and secured a large truck to deliver the tanks to the central distribution point in Estes Park.

From there, community volunteers from Big Elk, Pinewood, Drake and Glen Haven – including members of the Big Elk and Glen Haven volunteer fire departments – loaded the water tanks onto their own trucks to transport them to each of their respective communities.

When the water runs out, those volunteers bring the empty tanks back to Estes Park, where the town refills them at a minimal cost that is being covered by the Rocky Mountain Evangelical Church.
“This collaboration between local volunteers, community leaders and regional  agencies exemplifies the  type of partnership that is essential to successful recovery for disaster-affected communities,” said George Sullivan, Director of Community Preparedness and Resilience for the American Red Cross of Colorado. “When a disaster of this magnitude occurs, we must all come together to meet unmet needs and build a stronger, more resilient future for our neighbors.”

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Red Cross Assists With Santa's Workshop For National Guard Families

Jim Griffith hands a Red Cross donated hand quilted
comforter to National Guard Family Assistance
Specialist Airen Hall and Santa.
Story and photos by Charlie Mussi and Carolyn Sharp

Happy Colorado National Guard families and Red Cross Volunteers gathered on Saturday, Dec. 14th, for a Santa’s Workshop at the Chestnut Street Armory as Colorado Spring’s Citizen Soldiers prepare for the holiday season. The Red Cross and the National Guard Family Assistance group were handing out linens, toys and blankets and being Santa’s helpers for parents who had their arms filled.  Jim Griffith, Manager for the Service to Armed Forces program for the Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming Region said, “It’s a great way to support our National Guard families.”

Red Cross Volunteers and National Guard Family
Assistance Specialist pose with Santa
Santa’s Helper Karena Couillard, who is also a Red Cross volunteer and was handing out large wrapped hand quilted comforters, seemed to be in heaven as her Santa’s sack got lighter and lighter.  “I love seeing people’s faces lighting up. I love volunteering,” said Couillard. “I can’t afford to financially give, but I love giving my time.”

Christina Leydet is Colorado National Guard family member who brought her four children to see Santa. “I am grateful for all the help being provided by the Red Cross,” Leydet said.  “And the kids loved seeing Santa.”

The Santa’s workshop was organized by the National Guard Family Assistance group, in partnership with the Red Cross Service to Armed Forces program.

Karena Couillard hands out wrapped Red Cross donated hand
quilted comforters to National Guard families at a Santa’s
Workshop at the Chesnut Street Armory.

Karena Couillard helps a National Guard family member
with her Christmas wishes

“Lacie” A Red Cross Therapy Dog gets some attention for
Brian Jenkins who stopped by the Santa’s Workshop

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hope and Butterflies from Australia for Colorado Flood Survivors

Yesterday, on the 3-month anniversary of the start of the Colorado floods, we received a surprise package in the mail from Australia.

The letter was accompanied by dozens of brightly-colored, hand-made butterflies and drawings that the children created to be shared with Colorado children affected by the floods to "put a smile back on your face."

The Red Cross plans to share the butterflies, drawings and letter with a local school affected by the flood.

Here's the full text of the sweet letter from far away:
"Dear Flood victims,
We are writing on behalf of all the staff and children from Honeybee Preschool Australia. We are aware of the floods that affected you and we have decided to help you by getting all of the children to make butterflies and drawings that will put a SMILE back on your face. We have chosen to make butterflies as they are a symbol of freedom. Although we can't give you a new house, we would like to give you this gift to lift your spirits and put a BIG smile back on your face. We know the sun will shine again, and we LOVE you very much."

We don't know about you, but our hearts just melted. Thank you, Honeybee friends!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Cross Paid and Unpaid Staff Celebrated at Awards Event

The Colorado and Wyoming Region (affectionately referred to as the "COW" region) held its annual recognition event for employees and volunteers on Friday, December 6th at the Denver Athletic Club. Below is a list of winners; congratulations to all!


Preparedness Health & Safety Services Volunteer of the Year Award: Derek Hodovance, Mile High Chapter

Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year: Mike Ring, Northern Colorado Chapter

Transportation Services Volunteer of the Year: Wanda Worrell, Mile High Chapter

Service to the Armed Forces Volunteer of the Year: Magdalena Delgado, Mile High Chapter 

Preparedness Volunteer of the Year:  Beckie Kenter, Mile High Chapter
Beckie Kenter, left, with presenter Luzon Kahler


Communications Volunteer of the Year: Justin Kenter, Mile High Chapter

Leadership Award:  Doug Constance, Pikes Peak Chapter

Volunteer Employee Partnership Award: Pat Chappell & Eric Jones

B.J. Coyle Passion for Service: Betty Kaan, Northern Colorado Chapter

B.J. Coyle Passion for Service: Bill Werner, Southwest Colorado Chapter

Honor Roll: Sandy Hill, Northern Colorado Chapter

Honor Roll: Phyllis Dunn, Northern Colorado Chapter

Board Member of the Year Award: Cori Streetman, Mile High Chapter

Employee Excellence Award: Tim Bothe, Mile High Chapter
Tim Bothe, left, with COW Region CEO Gino Greco

Friday, December 6, 2013

A small gesture to one person may mean the world to another: Emergency Kit distribution in Jefferson County

Last month, the American Red Cross was one of many partners that helped the Seniors Resource Center distribute 100 Emergency Kits to seniors in Jefferson County. Red Cross was part of a much larger program through the Aging Well Project in Jefferson County, a group that works to identify and address the many issues seniors in Jefferson County face in their day-to-day lives.  Fellow members of the committee include DRCOG, Adult Protective Services, JeffCo Long Term Care, JeffCo Public Health, Volunteers of America, and Seniors Resource Center. 

Recently, the Aging Well Project committee decided to focus on emergency preparedness for seniors and invited the Red Cross to help with planning.  As a result, Red Cross was able to provide first aid kits for inclusion in the 100 Emergency Preparedness Kits that were distributed.  The other parts of the Emergency Preparedness Kit items were donated by members of the committee and community partners. Items such as flashlights, batteries, weather radios, water bottles, and hand sanitizer were included in the kits in addition to first aid supplies.  

More importantly, the Red Cross committed to training the volunteers and staff that make up the Aging Well Project committee in basic Emergency Preparedness for seniors.  With this training, the people who delivered the Emergency Kits were able to talk to the 100 recipients about emergency preparedness. The recipients knew and trusted these people, as they were people who had helped them before via Seniors’ Resource Home Care Coordinators, Meals on Wheels volunteers and Adult Protective Services caseworkers. 

The primary mission of the distribution was “to talk to seniors about having an exit plan in case of an emergency,” said Bob Schrant, Home Care Coordinator of the Seniors Resource Center.

The distributors were trained in how to talk to seniors about preparednessabout having a plan in case of disaster. This 'train-the-trainer' model allowed the team to get useful information from the American Red Cross and disseminate it further than the Red Cross ever could have on its own.

“A lot of these people don’t have family members to take care of them. They can easily be stranded in their homes because they live in such remote areas,” Schrant said, explaining how the Emergency Kit candidates were chosen. Most of the kits were given to isolated elderly people living in the small mountain towns of West Jefferson County. The kit’s contents—such as a bottle of water— were items crucial to survival in the event one is stranded.

The kit included a brochure which explained disaster preparedness and listed the most important basic needs in the event of a disaster. The information was discussed with the recipients at the time of deliveryy, allowing the them to voice any concerns they still had. 

Some unexpected benefits came from this safety-based generosity as well. “To have someone come in and take the time to give you a gift,” Schrant said, “just touches peoples’ hearts.” Schrant reported that one woman just kept holding the objects in her hands, her eyes filling with tears.

At 70 years old, Schrant said the kits made him consider his own preparedness; he started taking note of crucial items he otherwise wouldn't have thought of. He ended his interview with by addressing the American Red Cross directly.

“Thank you for being there and thinking of all this stuff we may not have thought to include,” he said, “God bless you all.”

Learn more about the Aging Well Project on Jefferson County: http://jeffco.us/human-services/aging-and-adult-services/aging-well-project/  


Holiday Mail for Heroes Turns Soccer Holiday Party into a Successful Volunteer Event

When Christy Clark began to plan the annual holiday party for her daughter’s soccer team, she saw an opportunity to take a different approach than the usual snacks and gift exchange. “This year, I thought, they could do something besides opening a gift; they should do something for others” she said.
 
Christy found a natural fit for the team’s volunteer efforts in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. She received an email from her mother-in-law, Sherry Clark, an employee of Subaru, a generous donor to the Red Cross. In the email, Sherry described the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, in which the Red Cross delivers cards from the public to members of the military – both overseas and stationed at home – and veterans. “It was so easy to put together.” Christy said. “The girls love to do crafts anyway. It was their little party and social time, too. ”

The event resulted in three bins full of completed cards for service members, and the teams succeeded in collecting 195 pounds of donated food for the Arvada Food Bank. The event was coordinated originally by Christy’s daughter’s 11th grade team, but was opened up to welcome all players from the local Colorado Edge Soccer Club to participate. The event coincided with indoor soccer events at Arvada’s Apex Field House, so players passing by between games completed cards  and dropped off donations throughout the day.

Christy said her family volunteers together every year, and she believes the Holiday Mail for Heroes event sparked an interest in volunteerism for the players involved in the event. She said that players who dropped in to make cards were overheard discussing volunteer possibilities for their own teams. “It was so much fun, and the girls had such a blast. We’re going to start doing this every year,” she said.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pueblo High School Students Make a Difference For Flood Victims

Story by Charlie Mussi, photos by Jeanie Poindexter

Dylan Purkey, left, and Cailey Sweckard, center, present
their donation to Bill Fortune of the Red Cross
It is easy to look at all of the problems in the world and shrug.

It is not easy to step up and make a difference. In the wake of the devastating flooding and wild land fires that have affected so many Coloradans one student decided to make a difference.

Dylan Purkey, a sophomore at South High School in Pueblo, Colorado is an active student with a strong sense of community.  He could not sit back and ignore the plight of those affected by the recent disasters in Colorado. "When I saw what was happening in northern Colorado where people were forced out of their homes not knowing if, or when, they would return," Purkey said.  "I knew I had to help."

Dylan Purkey, sophomore at South High School
Dylan put together a grant request based on the idea that the grant would serve as seed money that would lead to a donation to the Red Cross to help people in Colorado. The grant allowed Dylan to purchase t-shirts, printed with the message "Pueblo South Colts Care".  With the help of Cailey Sweckard, Isiah Pannunzio, and Stephany Pickard the shirts were sold during lunch hours and school activities. All of the proceeds from the t-shirt sales were then donated to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

On Saturday, November 23, at the Colorado Class 4A playoff game the donation was
presented to Red Cross representative Bill Fortune in front of a large crowd at the Pueblo Dutch Clark Stadium.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Your Holiday Shopping Can Help with Disaster Recovery

Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs, one of the
communities impacted by the floods.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
It's always important for communities to invest in local business, and since its inception in 2010, Small Business Saturday has been one way to do that. Small Business Saturday encourages people to check off their holiday lists at the unique, local brick-and-mortar shops that lend personality to their streets and keep the money close to home.

This year, Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for Coloradans to stand behind their
recovering businesses. The wildfires and floods that affected more than a dozen communities in
our state cost many businesses significantly in both damage and lost revenue. Our communities
are hard at work on recovering physically, emotionally and economically – and you can help!

One of the easiest ways to contribute to their recovery is to buy goods and services in local establishments in disaster-affected communities. On Saturday, Nov. 30, go shop at local businesses in Manitou Springs, Estes Park, Loveland, Evans, Lyons, Colorado Springs, Larimer County – or any of the small towns you’ve seen in devastating coverage on the news.

According to the Small Business Administration, about 70 percent of all businesses are considered small businesses, and they also make up for 68 percent of all jobs created.

You do three important things when you patronize a small business in a disaster-affected area:

1. You help a shop keep its doors open so that it can continue adding value to its street, its neighborhood and its town.

2. You help ensure jobs and wages for the shop’s employees.

3. You inject life into a recovery cycle that keeps on growing: if local employees have jobs and wages, they, in turn, have income that they can spend to support other shops and businesses, paving the way for a thriving commercial community. Additionally, the tax revenue provided by sales tax and business property taxes support the local government’s ability to continue providing vital services and community rebuilding.

Approximately 40 percent of small businesses affected by natural disasters never reopen. Don’t let the places you love become part of this figure. This Small Business Saturday, we urge you to support those businesses still working to recover in disaster-affected areas. Help keep those shops among the 60 percent who survive – and thrive!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kids, adults alike sign over 100 holiday cards for service members at Family Volunteer Day

At a table strewn with crayons, markers, cards and envelopes, children with painted faces intently composed messages for members of the armed forces deployed over the holidays. Though this year’s Family Volunteer Day featured balloon sculptures, face painting and all the hallmarks of a fun family event, kids at the Holiday Mail for Heroes table took their jobs very seriously.

“The parents have been really good about telling kids where they’re sending the cards, and who’s getting them,” said Maggie Gonzales, a volunteer on hand to help with the event. Of course, colorful art supplies (generously loaned by The Children’s Museum, who hosted the event) were a big draw, too. “Colored markers help a lot,” said Peter Nguyen, another Red Cross volunteer coaching kids through the card-signing process.
Family Volunteer Day, an annual event coordinated by Metro Volunteers, encourages families to volunteer as a group for various local organizations and causes. The event took place at the Children’s Museum on Saturday, Nov. 23.

The Holiday Mail for Heroes program, a time-honored Red Cross tradition, proved to be a good fit for this year’s event, with eight boxes of cards signed by both children and adults who attended.

The Holiday Mail for Heroes program sends cards to service members overseas and at VA hospital facilities every year. Anyone who missed Family Volunteer Day is welcome to send cards for service members to: Holiday Mail for Heroes P.O. Box 5456 Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. For mailing guidelines and more information, visit http://www.redcross.org/support/get-involved/holiday-mail-for-heroes.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Red Cross Selects the Pueblo 2014 Hometown Heroes Humanitarian Award

Medal of Honor recipient Drew Dix to receive award February 13, 2014
Story by William Fortune

Medal of Honor recipient
Drew Dix
The Red Cross Pikes Peak Area Chapter has selected Medal of Honor recipient Drew Dix for the Humanitarian Hero award for the annual Hometown Heroes event for 2014.

Drew Dix is usually a private person but he is very well known in Pueblo, Colorado.  He considers Pueblo his home town and is one of four Medal of Honor recipients that have earned Pueblo the tile of “Home of Heroes”. Born in New York, but raised in Pueblo, he is best known for his Medal of Honor, his support for Veterans, his love for Pueblo and for co-founding the Center for American Values. Dix received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson in 1969 for his actions during the Vietnam War. His citation reads, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty”.  He was the first enlisted man in Special Forces to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Drew Dix signs a giant thank-you banner in Pueblo
Dix distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving as a unit advisor in Vietnam. His personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons and the rescue of 14 United States and free world civilians.

Dix has always been a strong support of the American Red Cross and its Service to Armed Forces program. “The Red Cross has supported our Armed Forces for a very long time,” Dix said. “That symbol has always been the symbol of caring for the American service member; it is a friendly face far from home.”

The Hometown Heroes event grew out of a desire to develop an event that is closely related to the mission of the American Red Cross – responding in times of emergency. The annual Hometown Heroes Dinner honors that longstanding tradition of heroism by recognizing local individuals who have made a difference through their individual acts of courage.

“We are excited that Drew Dix has been chosen for our Humanitarian Award in 2014,” said Tom Gonzalez, CEO for the Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter. “Drew exemplifies the spirit of humanitarianism in Pueblo and he has always been a strong proponent of the American Red Cross.”

The 2014 Hometown Heroes Dinner will be held on February 13 at the Pueblo Sangre de Cristo Arts Center. Anyone interested in attending and/or sponsoring this event please contact Tom Gonzalez at 719-785-2701, or by email at Thomas.gonzalez@redcross.org.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Red Cross Helps Filipino New Yorker after Sandy and Haiyan

by Anita Salzberg, American Red Cross Greater NY Region

Greater New York Red Cross volunteer Craig Cooper meets with
Emelyn Saavedra at an event Saavedra organized for the
Filipino community in Long Beach, N.Y. on November 17, 2013.
In the past 12 months, two storms of unimaginable magnitude and destruction struck at the opposite ends of the globe. Both times, the American Red Cross has been a source of hope and comfort for New Yorker Emelyn Saavedra, a native of Tacloban, Philippines.

After Sandy struck the East Coast last year, the 37-year-old home care worker, her 13-year-old daughter and her boyfriend, who lived near the water in Long Beach, N.Y., took refuge a few miles away in the Rockaways with her boyfriend’s family.

Although she had grown used to typhoons in the Philippines, Saavedra, who has lived in the U.S. for 14 years, was badly shaken up by Sandy. She recalled being able to see the water levels rising and lapping at the steps of the building from the second floor apartment in the Rockaways.

“We just had to pray," she said. "That’s all we could do.”

Saavedra, her daughter, and boyfriend made it through the storm, but have remained in the Rockaways, since her Long Beach home was destroyed.

Meanwhile, after the storm, the Red Cross was on the ground helping storm survivors in the Rockaways, as well as throughout the hard-hit coastal communities of the five boroughs of NYC and Long Island.

“The Red Cross was right there—everywhere—looking for people who had gotten hit with Sandy, who had no shelter,” Saavedra said. “They were asking us all: ‘Is there anything that could help right away? Are people hurt?’ We were happy hearing from Red Cross, telling us, ‘Don’t lose hope, we are here.’”

Saavedra needed only food and beverages from the organization. She did not ask for further assistance because, as she said, “I was thinking other people could use help more.”

Then, on November 8 of this year, just a little over a year after Sandy made landfall, Haiyan roared through Saavedra's hometown of Tacloban where nearly all of her family still lives.

At about 5 a.m. Philippine time, as Haiyan was hitting Tacloban, Saavedra was on the phone with family members. She told them to make sure they were prepared for the storm and to gather up enough food and water. She also urged them to boil their water to assure its safety.

As they spoke, she could hear the wind howling in the background. In their final minutes speaking together, her family told her, “This is it, we have to move. We have to go.”

“That was my last conversation from them,” she said.

Two days after the storm, Saavedra was franticly trying to reach her siblings. Then, she saw a Red Cross posting on Facebook: People unable to locate family in the Philippines could call the Red Cross for help.

Though it was the middle of the night in New York, Saavedra dialed the number and was connected with a Red Cross worker, Tim Bothe, in Colorado.

“I need help right away,” she told him. “I haven’t talked to my family; I know the Red Cross is worldwide, and I’m sure you have people over there already. Can you please check on my family?”

The Red Cross took all the information Saavedra could provide.

“The last person I talked to, the last places they were … I tried to help the Red Cross locate my family through the information I was giving,” Saavedra said.

The next day at work, Saavedra was sick with worry, unable to concentrate.

“And then I receive a call from the Red Cross,” she said. “‘How are you doing?' they asked. 'I want to make sure everything is okay with you. We’re still with you.’”

Saavedra still felt worried, but was reassured that she was not alone.

The Red Cross continued to check in on Saavedra, who had not expected this level of support.

“You guys rock,” she said.

Finally, Saavedra’s youngest sister called from Tacloban, with the news that her siblings, though displaced from their homes, were all okay.

Although Saavedra is still distressed about the dire situation her relatives face in Tacloban and grieving the loss of some extended family members, she knows the Red Cross is there for her.

She has now connected with her local Red Cross chapter. A number of chapter members paid her a visit last Sunday in Long Beach as she was organizing a community event for the local Filipino community.

Saavedra has even expressed interest in volunteering with the Greater New York Red Cross. “I would sign up as a volunteer and give my whole heart to it,” she said, “because you have helped me.”

She added, “I just want to thank the Red Cross. I needed a family and I found it in the Red Cross."

Monday, November 11, 2013

What Veterans Day Means To Me


By the time that I was eight, my dad had retired in anticipation of my baby sister’s birth. While my youngest years were spent bouncing around, the chaos of being a military child ended at a younger age, but not without the values and morals of the military lifestyle being instilled.
Although I was young, I can remember the loneliness I felt while my dad was gone, but nothing compared to the memories of his homecomings.
This is why Veterans Day means so much to me.
On Nov. 8, the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross hosted a banner signing on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, where the public was invited to sign two banners and holiday cards to send to our troops overseas. The experience was humbling to say the least.
Throughout the day, I had the opportunity to chat with some of the people who had stopped to see what was going on, and heard some of their stories. From a group of little girls who had a neighbor deployed to Vietnam Vets who saw the banner with tears in their eyes, the stories were humbling.
One man’s story stood out the most to me. His name was Todd. Although he wasn’t able to serve himself, he came from a lineage of veterans, and his brother as well as his son continued on the legacy of military service in his family. When he approached the banner, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes. Todd was accompanied by his dog Sarah Moon, who seemed to have felt his emotion, and cuddled against him to comfort him. As he signed the banner with intricate precision due to his art background, I could tell that Veterans Day meant as much to him as it did to me.

After he finished signing the banner, I was able to sit and chat with him for a few minutes. We talked about sports and the weather, and he told me a bit about the history of service within his family before he said, “This made my day, and if this touched me as deeply as it did, imagine what his is going to do for the guys like my brother.”
The stories I’ve heard from people like Todd, in addition to those from veterans like my father, will always have a special place in my heart. For these men and women, their service and sacrifice came as a second nature to them, and that selflessness is what makes today so special.
Thank you Veterans for everything you’ve done.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Get Prepared for Winter!

Story by Kristin Greco

It’s that time of year again. We've already seen a few dustings, so now is the time to make sure you and your family are prepared for when it really starts to snow. One of the primary concerns is a blizzard that knocks out heat, power and communication services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Here are some ideas of ways to prepare for a winter storm.

Household emergency supplies should include enough food, water and supplies to last four days without power. Following is a basic checklist of items:

  • Food that doesn't require heating or refrigeration such as canned meats, soups and stews, cereal and energy bars
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Battery-powered radio and clock
  • Cellular phone
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medicines
  • Blankets and cold-weather clothing
  • Heating fuel in case you become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources are cut off

Before traveling this winter, make sure your car is winter ready. Road conditions can change in an instant and the following items could be useful:

  • Bag of sand, road salt or non-clumping cat litter to spread under slipping tires
  • Ice scraper
  • Jumper cables
  • Small shovel to dig snow away from tires
  • Tire chains
  • Flares or reflective triangle to warn other motorists if you break down
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Gallon jug of drinking water
  • First aid kit

And don’t forget your pets. Here are some tips from the Humane Society:

  • If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat. Raise the floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
  • Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach.

And the last important step in winter preparedness is to make a family communication plan.  If your family is not together, it will be important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

For more winter preparedness ideas, take a look at the Winter Storm preparedness section of redcross.org: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/winter-storm

Monday, October 28, 2013

Increased Risk of House Fires in Nearing Winter Months

April Blanton’s Aurora home caught fire on July 25; it was one of the fires The American Red Cross responds to every eight minutes.

“It was definitely one of those things you just don’t think about,” Blanton said, “You never think you’re going to lose your house to a fire.”

James Adams’ Centennial apartment building caught fire earlier this month, landing him in the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are almost 365,000 residential fires reported in the U.S. every year. These fires cause more than $6 billion in property loss. Though this number has decreased as a result of increased fire safety awareness, 2,400 Americans still die in house fires each year.

Many of these fires can be prevented by taking simple precautions. As we near the winter months, homeowners should be cautious of space heaters, as they can easily become a fire hazard. Candles and fireplaces are also warm reminders of the winter season that can quickly turn deadly.

The American Red Cross recommends keeping items that can easily catch fire at least three feet from any sources of heat. Smokers should never smoke in bed and portable heaters should be turned off when leaving the room or going to sleep. 

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of the house and outside each sleeping area. Detectors should be installed either on the ceiling or high on the wall and batteries should be changed every year. The American Red Cross recommends smoke detectors be checked regularly and replaced every ten years.

Though fires can be prevented by taking precautionary steps, some causes, such as a faulty transformer in the Blanton house, can be hard to predict. April stresses the importance of renter’s insurance, something she feels is “affordable and a necessity” after losing everything she owned.

The American Red Cross was able to provide April Blanton and her family a hotel for several days following the fire as well as food vouchers and a small sum of money to purchase necessities.

Less than 24 hours after the apartment fire, Adams said he wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross—he wanted to give back. The disaster relief personnel assisting Adams was incredibly touched, reporting the man still smelled of smoke when he made this pledge.


To learn more about house fires and how to prevent them, visit www.redcross.org

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Local Middle East Expert Draws Largest-Ever Crowd for October Lunch and Learn

A lunch hour may not seem like enough time to accomplish much. Between noon and one, we can run an errand, squeeze in a quick workout, maybe make a rushed trip to the bank. But thanks to the Red Cross Lunch and Learn lecture series, a lunch hour is just enough time to take in an informative, in-depth talk on global areas of particular humanitarian concern. This month’s lecture featured a discussion of the situation in Syria by Dr. Nader Hashemi, a University of Denver professor and a local expert on the Middle East.

Dr. Nader Hashemi, DU professor and Middle East scholar
According to Tim Bothe, International Services lead for the Colorado & Wyoming Region and organizer for the Lunch and Learn series, the Syria talk drew the largest crowd yet for this year’s lectures. Previous talks have focused on other regions where the Red Cross provides humanitarian services, including Columbia and Guatemala.

Dr. Hashemi, who has authored several books on the Middle East, Islam and political movements in the region, chose to speak at the event after being approached by DU research assistant and Red Cross volunteer Yadira Rodriguez-Bernal. Although he has appeared on international media outlets like Al Jazeera and the BBC, as well as at numerous academic events, Dr. Hashemi said it was a personal privilege to speak at a Red Cross event. ”I have a huge soft spot for the American Red Cross and the work they’ve done in the past through today,” Hashemi said.”I was happy to lend my support to an organization that I support and admire. That made this event special.”

Dr. Hashemi said that the audience for his talk was engaged and curious, asking questions to the point where the time scheduled for the event ran out. “There was a lot of interest,” he said. “There was a lot of fruitful discussion.”

For Dr. Hashemi, the Lunch and Learn lecture was an opportunity to offer those interested a deeper understanding of the events in Syria, and offered a forum for discussion in which all sides of the issue could be considered. “[Talks like this] help provide expert opinion on a subject that is in the news, and people have a general familiarity with, but they don’t have a sense of the specifics,” he said. “Bringing in a speaker with some expertise in the subject helps deepen and expand the knowledge base. It’s an opportunity as well for some interaction.”

Lunch and Learn events are free and open to the public. Attendees must RSVP to the event, but for some events, Webex or Skype may be used to remotely connect to the conversation. Presentations are given at the Red Cross facility at 444 Sherman St. For more information, log into Volunteer Connection or keep an eye out for updates on the Red Cross Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Highlight on our Partners: Tzu Chi "Compassion and Relief"

by Dick McGee
Major disasters exceed the scope of any one agency or organization to fulfill all the needs in an affected community.

Recognizing this reality and the vital role that local businesses and organizations play in the recovery of their communities, the American Red Cross maintains a continuous relationship with a large number of community partners. Each has something unique and valuable to bring to the total effort. To capitalize on the synergistic effect of cooperative partnering, the Red Cross actively supports the work of all groups who prove over and over again that, in disaster relief, the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

One such Red Cross partner is the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental humanitarian organization, which operates out of nine regional service areas in the United States. Very few Americans have ever heard of this organization, unless they have been disaster victims, and have been fortunate to receive their services., This is because, according to the Tzu Chi founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen, “Buddhism teaches people to do good deeds without seeking recognition.” According to a basic tenant of Tzu Chi, compassionate disaster relief means “expressing kindness to all sentient beings, and taking their suffering as our own.”

In disaster relief, Tzu Chi performs this obligation by delivering cash and emergency supplies directly into the hands of disaster survivors. The principles that guide their relief work are gratitude, respect and love. That’s why Tzu Chi volunteers present cash and supplies to victims with both hands, a smile and a bow, or hug.

Founded in the small town of Hualien on the East coast of Taiwan in 1966, Tzu Chi now has 10 million volunteers and donors in more than 50 countries worldwide. Their four major missions include charity, medicine, education and humanistic culture. Disaster relief became a way of fulfilling these missions after Dharma Master Cheng Yen first sent volunteers into the Formosa Strait in the summer of 1991 to support survivors of the severe Yangtze River flood that devastated Eastern China. Working out of 80 offices in the United States, over 100,000 volunteers have served side-by-side with the Red Cross in the wake of 9/11, on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, and on the streets of Port-au-Prince after the Haitian earthquake. They were a major presence in New York and New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

And they came to the Colorado Flood area to extend their special brand of love and compassion. The words Tzu Chi mean “compassion and relief.”

About 20 Tzu Chi volunteers from Los Angeles came to Greeley and Lyons on Saturday, October 19, to deliver disaster aid. Consistent with their guiding principles, Tzu Chi specifically chose the Greeley area because of the large population of flood survivors who may be underserved by virtue of not qualifying for many of the usual governmental services.

Read one Red Cross volunteer's touching experience that day here: http://www.coloradoredcross.blogspot.com/2013/10/hoy-por-mi-manana-por-ti-example-of.html

"Hoy Por Mi, Manana Por Ti" - An Example of Paying it Forward

by Claudia Giannetti, a Red Cross Mile High Chapter Volunteer
On Saturday, October 19, I was part of fellowship of people coming together to provide, as well as to receive, support in light of the recent Colorado floods. 

I am a Red Cross volunteer and I have been working with the disaster response and recovery operations centers since the devastating floods swept through our beautiful state of Colorado mid-September.  Thousands of people suffered incredible destruction. Yet, as it happens in crisis situations people come forth to offer assistance, breaching lines of economic status, religious belief and ethnic makeup. 

The Tzu Chi Foundation, which literally means “Compassionate Relief” and is a Buddhist, non-governmental international humanitarian organization that visited Greeley, Colorado this past weekend to provide additional aid to support some of  those greatly affected by the flood waters in an area of Weld County.  Buddhists, Christians, and perhaps other religious beliefs... Latinos, U.S. Citizens, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and other ethnic backgrounds...came together under the roof of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Greeley, sharing emotions and compassion to help alleviate hardship for those currently in need. 

I went to the meeting to assist with the English/Spanish interpretation.  I was deeply touched by the experience.

As part of the intake process, the Tzu Chi volunteer gave each client two additional gifts - a small “piggy bank” and a fleece scarf.  The piggy bank symbolizes that by saving a few cents a day, the person who received the help may one day help out another person in need. Indeed, this is how the Tzu Chi members are able to gather funding for the aid they provide in the community! The fleece scarf, besides providing warmth, was made out of two recycled plastic water bottles, teaching us the importance of recycling garbage for a repurpose use such as this. 

There is a perfect saying in my native Spanish language that symbolizes the overall message of that day: "Hoy por mi, mañana por tí" – Today for me, tomorrow for you.  Today, we are here for you, but tomorrow, you may be called to assist another in need. 

What a great way to spend my Saturday morning, in fellowship with people I may never cross paths again, but an experience that left a path of sunshine in my heart.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Red Cross CPR Training Saves Young Lives

When Troy Steadman and his friend, Daniel Bertram, decided to spend the evening of September 7, 2013, at Cherry Creek Reservoir, neither could have guessed they would be responsible for saving the lives of two young boys.

The boys, both 5 years old, were playing in the reservoir when one reportedly went under. The other boy began to drown himself while attempting to save his friend.

“We were about knee-high deep in the water when we heard a woman screaming in panic and running into the water,” Steadman said.

When the men saw two bodies floating in the water, Bertram immediately made moves to bring the boys to the shore where Steadman was waiting, ready to perform the life-saving technique he teaches to nearly 150 people each year.

Troy Steadman has been an Authorized Provider of Red Cross health and safety courses with the Bureau of Reclamation for four years, where he teaches Red Cross CPR classes. He emphasizes the importance of his own Red Cross CPR training in his ability to save the boys’ lives. Although not all other certification classes teach respiration in conjunction with chest compressions, the Red Cross certification courses do include respiration, and Steadman is confident it was the artificial respiration that successfully saved the boys’ lives.

“With each breath, water came out of each boy’s mouth.” Steadman said.

Rich Mandevill, an airline pilot and officer of the Air Force Academy, was the third respondent to the situation and was able to resuscitate one boy while Steadman worked on the other. All three men were presented with Life Saving Medals by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office on October 1, 2013.
It was the first time he had used his CPR knowledge in a real-life situation, Steadman said, “and it will probably — hopefully —be the last time [he’ll] have to use it.”

Meet Your Bloggers: Kaitlin Sullivan

A Minnesota native, I graduated from UMN with a degree in Strategic Communication. After working in advertising as a copywriter for the past few years, I’m making the transition into my journalism career. There are few things I enjoy in life more that writing, except, of course, dogs.

I spent last spring in Brazil and feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit seven countries in the past four years.  Seeing the world is what I plan to do for the rest of my life, thus I am shaping my career goals around it. I plan to attend graduate school to pursue a masters in international journalism. I want to spend my life telling the stories of people who have never been asked to tell their story before.

I moved to Colorado because of a job, but it is the mountains, the outdoor culture, and the sunny winters that convinced me to stay.  As a blogger, I look forward to getting to know the niche communities that make up my new home. Writing for the American Red Cross will give me the opportunity to tell the stories of Colorado locals, maybe some who have never been asked to share their story before.


Kaitlin in Thailand on her first trip abroad.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Get Prepared for Earthquakes with the Great ShakeOut

 Story by Rochelle Ball

Throughout elementary school, we all had the phrase “stop, drop and roll” engrained in our heads as the motto for home fire safety, but have you ever heard “drop, cover and hold on”?
While home fires are the most common disaster that the American Red Cross responds too, there are many other disasters that individuals should be prepared for – one of those being earthquakes. Yes, earthquakes.
While not too common in the Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado has experienced a few notable earthquakes, the largest being a 6.6 out of 10 magnitude on the Richter scale in November 1882. More recently, two 5.3 earthquakes have been recorded, one in August 1967, and the other in August 2011.
Colorado Earthquake Map through 2008, courtesy of the Colorado Geological Survey

Being able to act at a moment’s notice is essential in case of an earthquake. Earthquakes aren’t something you can forecast, so they catch many people off-guard when they strike. It’s a good idea to be prepared – not just for the rare case of an earthquake in Colorado, but also in case one strikes when you are traveling in a more earthquake-prone area.
On October 17 at 10:17 a.m., the American Red Cross invites you to prepare for an earthquake by participating in the Great American ShakeOut drill.
Recently, standards have changed for what you should do in case of an earthquake. Popular assumptions surrounding earthquake safety include seeking refuge in a doorway, running outside, or the so-called “triangle of life” which refers to estimates about the direction in which debris collapses. These assumptions are false, and earthquake safety is much more simple.
In case of an earthquake, the safest thing to do is drop, cover, and hold on. DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you), take COVER under a sturdy desk or table, and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. These steps are simple, and practicing could save your life, whether you’re in Colorado for the next unexpected quake, or you’re in California for “the big one”.
If you’d like to participate in Thursday’s drill, visit http://shakeout.org/rockymountain/register/ and register yourself or your business.
Just as you committed “stop, drop and roll” to memory as a child, commit “drop, cover and hold on” as well to better prepare yourself and your family.

It's Never Too Late to Get Prepared

by Patricia Billinger

The best time to prepare for the worst is before a disaster or emergency strikes.
The next best time to get prepared? Immediately after a disaster has happened, when the importance of preparedness is still fresh in our minds.

As part of its ongoing mission to help people prepare for and prevent disasters and emergencies, the American Red Cross of Colorado is offering free preparedness trainings in several locations.

The workshops train attendees about tangible steps they can take to prepare for and mitigate the effects of a disaster – steps that can help them bounce back more easily should a disaster strike their home or neighborhood.

“We offer preparedness trainings year-round to help save lives and reduce the impacts of disaster, and we highly encourage Coloradans to sign up today,” said George Sullivan, Director of Preparedness and Resilience for the American Red Cross of Colorado. “We know that in the immediate aftermath of disasters, people are more likely to take action to get prepared, and we hope that Coloradans will act on this natural inclination to take steps to safeguard themselves and their communities.”


According to a 2012 Red Cross survey of Colorado residents, 43 percent of people who had taken steps to prepare themselves did so after hearing about a disaster in another community, and 21 percent took preparedness actions after experiencing a disaster in their own community.

“It’s not too late to get prepared – and it’s certainly never too early to start preparing for the next disaster or emergency,” Sullivan added.

To browse upcoming classes and sign up for a free training, visit https://coloradoredcross1.wufoo.com/forms/be-red-cross-ready/

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Prepared Pair!

Nick and Tiffany Renz received some items for their disaster
kit as a first anniversary gift following a
Disaster Preparedness Class on Saturday, Oct. 12.
Story by Don Underwood

Tiffany Renz knew the right gift to husband Nick for their first wedding anniversary would have to do with being prepared.

So she surprised him Saturday, Oct. 12 with a class on disaster readiness being done by the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“He loves being prepared. …On road trips, we go over different scenarios,” Tiffany said.

Still, Nick wasn’t prepared for the gift and was surprised when they walked into the Disaster Preparedness Class being held at Faith Ministries Church Intl. in Lakewood. The Denver couple learned about disaster kits and guidelines for dealing with emergencies from Red Cross volunteers Claudia Giannetti and Bill Davis.

“It’s good to be prepared. … and to be able to help people,” Nick said after the class. He is training for his emergency medical technician (EMT) test in November and is planning to become a firefighter.

Nick’s desire to be prepared included packing some unusual items for their trip to Cancun a year ago. Tiffany found a multi-purpose tool and water purification tablets in their luggage to be checked – and they made it through customs with little trouble, she recalls.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Avoid Common Zombie-Movie Mistakes with Good Preparedness Strategies!

ZOMBIES!! RUN!!!
Story by Cassie Schoon

We’ve all shouted (or wanted to shout) at the screen of a b-rate horror movie when a character makes an obviously bad choice. Don’t go up the stairs! Don’t open that door! Don’t get in that car! But many of the bad decisions in zombie movies and TV shows can also be thought of as examples of bad (or nonexistent) preparedness planning. As a celebration of this year’s World Zombie Day, we’re using a few of these tropes as teachable moments for good preparedness habits and practices.

Instead of: Going it alone
Have a: Plan to meet up and a way to inform others of your whereabouts
Although a character’s dramatic split from the core post-apocalypse group provides for stirring narrative in a film or a TV show, it usually ends badly. A good preparedness strategy includes a plan to communicate and regroup with family and friends during a disaster. Any good preparedness plan should also include two places for you and your family to meet: just outside the home for sudden disasters, like a house fire, and outside the neighborhood, for disasters that may involve evacuations. If you should get separated, the Red Cross provides communication platforms like Safe and Well, available online and by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, to help those separated from loved ones get back with their group.

Instead of: Getting caught empty-handed
Have a: Preparedness kit specialized for your family and area
It never fails- the zombies find a way into an area the characters think is a safe zone, and everyone runs off with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Again, this is poor planning. The Red Cross offers many helpful guidelines for survival kits that should be on-hand as well as kits that can be taken with you in an evacuation situation. But it is important to consider the specific needs of your family and the additional contingencies that your local environment may present when building your own kit.

Instead of: Getting infected
Have a: Good understanding of your risk for illnesses like the flu, and get vaccinated if necessary
Zombie movie characters seem to have a real knack for finding themselves in situations where they’re vulnerable to infection. While the transmission of flu may not be quite as dynamic as the contraction of whatever virus that causes transformation into the flesh-eating undead, a good preparedness plan should include considerations for staying healthy in the case of any pandemic. A wealth of tips for avoiding infectious disease can be found at the Web site for the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

And finally, instead of panicking, be prepared. A preparedness plan and keeping a well-stocked survival kit not only offer resources in the event of a disaster; they offer peace-of-mind. And in any uncertain situation, whether it involves floods or reanimated corpses, that may be the most important supply to keep on hand.