Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Supporting the Red Cross...One Cake at a Time

by James Knowles/American Red Cross

Every year Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada hosts a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross by selling King Cakes. The fundraiser, dubbed “Cakes for a Cause,” has raised more than $15,000 for the Red Cross. Through this annual fundraiser ad others like it, Rheinlander’s owners, Ed and Maro Dimmer, demonstrate a commitment to charity and community that exceeds their commitment to creating delicious, tasty treats, and even gluten, dairy, and sugar-free pastrnies and cakes.

Ed and Maro Dimmer at the Rheinlander Bakery, Arvada, Co.
Photo courtesy of Ed and Maro Dimmer
Maro Dimmer’s first experience with the Red Cross was as a refugee in her home country of Cyprus at age 15. Having lost everything, she credits the Red Cross for providing her family with comfort and care, including water, food, and clothing, while they were refugees in their own country. More than a decade later and nearly 7,000 miles to the west, while pursuing a doctorate at CU-Boulder, Maro met Ed Dimmer on Valentine’s Day. The couple was married, and Ed introduced Maro to his family’s bakery.

Ed’s parents, Jakob and Katharina, founded Rheinlander Bakery in Arvada in 1963 after emigrating to the U.S. from Germany. Ed began working in the bakery when he was just 9 years old, barely tall enough to see over the counter. Ed and Maro took over the bakery from his parents in 1986. Maro continued to pursue her degree at CU while working at the bakery. Eventually, Rheinlander became Maro’s passion and she switched her focus to the bakery full time.

Jakob Dimmer, original owner, at the Rheinlander Bakery
in Arvada, Co. Photo courtesy of Ed and Maro Dimmer
The first fundraiser that the Dimmers held for charity was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Dimmers chose to donate a percentage of sales from their King Cakes to the organization Rebuild East Mississippi in Meridian, a sister city to Arvada. The fundraiser garnered significant media attention to the point that Rheinlander received orders for King Cakes from all over the country. When Rebuild East Mississippi finished their work, Ed and Maro switched their King Cake fundraiser beneficiary to the American Red Cross. “Cakes for a Cause” was born, and the fundraiser persists today. A mission-driven bakery, Rheinlander also hosts fundraisers for the Arvada Community Food Bank, Ralston House, Susan G. Komen, CancerCare for Kids, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

When asked why they give back to their community, Ed replies, “It feels good to have some connection with your community…it’s good to be of service to people. In some way we’re still family, even if you don’t know the people.” Ed adds a quote from his wife’s oncologist’s office: “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray to be strong.” Maro, a cancer survivor, and Ed have been strong for themselves and for their community. Ed says, “Can we help people maintain their strength? Because sometimes it’s hard to be strong, when you’ve been beaten down…as long as you’re strong you’ll do fine…For most people, giving them the ability to be successful again in life can be as simple as assisting them a little bit when they really need it.” This is precisely what Ed and Maro have done and continue to do for the Red Cross and their community.  For that, we thank them.

As a special fundraiser in honor of Red Cross Month, Rheinlander is donating $1 to the Red Cross for every red velvet cupcake sold. Please visit the bakery at 5721 Old Wadsworth Blvd in Arvada to say hello to Maro and Ed and try a red velvet cupcake (gluten free available!) to support the American Red Cross and help us ensure that we can continue to be strong for those who are in need.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Today is World Water Day!

Water covers 71% of our Earth’s surface, and touches almost every facet of our daily lives. As a vital component of human health, hygiene, industry and agriculture, water access, use and management are some of the most important issues in developing and developed nations alike. For these reasons, the UN established March 22 as World Water Day in 1993, as a day to celebrate the role water plays in our global community, and to inspire worldwide action to promote water causes like accessibility, sanitation, sustainability and conservation.

Jenna Saldaña, who presented at the International Services February Lunch and Learn, has worked with water-related causes for 12 years, primarily with El Porvenir, a Nicaragua-based non-profit organization. In a nation where only 37% of the population has access to sanitation facilities, El Porvenir coordinates work trips to Nicaragua for North Americans, to support local workers on projects that provide health education, access to clean drinking water, and sanitation facilities. Saldaña is currently the director of El Porvenir’s US operations. She says the trips, and the universal human need for access to water, help North American travelers understand the commonalities between themselves and the communities they work with.

“There’s so much we have in common, globally,” she said. “When people travel to Nicaragua, they really begin to see that the people [in Nicaragua] are really like them, they have kids, they want their kids to get a good education, they just don’t want to spend five hours a day walking to get water.”

The International Federation of the Red Cross (the IFRC) has also worked extensively in projects attending to world water needs, from addressing the water-related causes of cholera outbreaks to providing water access in disaster areas. The IFRC’s Global Initiative on Water and Sanitation  has grown to include more than 300 water-related projects, with 20 Red Cross societies and partners working in 56 host nations. The Initiative is projected to serve the water and sanitation needs of 30 million people by 2025.

For more information on El Porvenir, visit their Web site. For a full listing of global World Water Day events, visit the UN’s World Water Day site.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 Colorado Springs Hometown Heroes: Doing What’s Right!

By Leila Roche

Heroes come in many forms. They are from all walks of life and from every profession. Some are trained to respond to emergencies while others just seize the moment and take action. Some heroes save lives and some heroes affect lives and communities.

To celebrate the legacy of some of those heroes, more than 350 supporters gathered to honor them at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs, Colo., March 19 for the 2015 Colorado Springs Hometown Heroes awards dinner hosted by the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Colorado Springs Hometown Heroes Dinner, March 18, 2015
Each year, the Pikes Peak Chapter accepts nominations from the community for our Hometown Heroes award to honor those who have saved a life or helped make a life better within the last 18 months. This year, 10 individuals and groups were recognized as our 2015 heroes across nine categories – each with their own story. 

The Hometown Heroes dinner began with entertainment provided by In the Stairwell, an a capella singing group from the U.S. Air Force Academy that also sang the national anthem as the El Paso County Sheriff Honor Guard presented the colors. Joe Cole, news anchor from KXRM-Fox21, was the master of ceremonies and paid tribute to each award winner as they were presented with hero medals, certificates and framed newsprint provided by the Gazette.
Jordan Wilson, Rebecca Clark and Tristina Altman
of Girl Scout Troop 931 were the recipients
of the 2015 Hometown Youth Hero Award 
“This is such a great event,” said Patty Baxter, a member of the Pikes Peak Chapter board of directors and a longtime supporter of the Red Cross. “I love attending and being part of this wonderful organization.”

The event would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of our partners and those who pledged to support the Red Cross. With their help, we are honored to be able to recognize those people who have done extraordinary things in our community.

“What is the difference between Spartans and the rest of the Greeks? All Greeks know what is right, but only Spartans do it,” said Thomas Gonzalez, executive director of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross. “Like the Spartans, let’s not stand by when the community is in need. Let’s do [what is right.]”

Thank you to our heroes, our sponsors and our many supports for helping continue the tradition of doing what is right.

Additional information:
-          Flickr: See professional photos from the event
-          Twitter: Follow our hashtag #ColoradoSpringsHometownHeroes to see posts and photos (and follow us at @PPRedCross to show your support!).
-          Facebook: Check out our album of the event and follow our hashtag #ColoradoSpringsHometownHeroes! 

       Don’t forget to “like” us and tag yourself or someone you know in our photos!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March Lunch and Learn: Saving Lives in Deadly Places

With their shared commitments to providing help to those hurt in times of conflict, it should come as no surprise that The Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or, Doctors Without Borders) also share a history. MSF was established in 1968 during the Nigerian Civil War, by a team of doctors, nurses and clinicians who answered a call for volunteers from the French Red Cross. As they cared for victims of Nigeria’s violent civil conflict, the group decided to establish a corps of humanitarian medical service providers committed to the provision of medical care, without regard for the borders drawn by ideology, nationality, politics or religion. With over a decade of experience working with MSF in sites of conflict and disaster, this month’s Lunch and Learn speaker, Karen Stewart, LCSW, is intimately familiar with the difficulties encountered by medical professionals in war zones.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a mental health officer, Stewart has been deployed with MSF to nations all over the world, including India, Bangladesh, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. Her years of work with the organization has meant attending to the psychological needs of populations decimated by domestic and international conflict as well as health crises like addiction, domestic and sexual violence, and HIV/AIDS.

The lifesaving work of Stewart and other health care workers for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and MSF has always been perilous, but workers today face unprecedented dangers while providing medical services. In Nigeria and Pakistan, medical workers have been killed while providing polio vaccines. Impartiality its
elf can create unanticipated liabilities: workers with the ICRC and MSF face dangers of reprisal from one side of a conflict, if their services save the life of someone from the other side. Stewart will discuss her own experiences providing impartial care in the world’s most dangerous places, and the complex challenges health care workers face in difficult, complex environments.

More information on the challenges faced by the ICRC and MSF medical workers in areas of conflict can be found here.

The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, March 18, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, by clicking here. Webinar options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflecting the face of our community - past, present and future

By Kristyle Solomon, volunteer writer

Although we recently concluded Black History Month at the end of February, at the Red Cross we believe in honoring, celebrating and seeking diversity year-round. It's a long part of our history and a continuing effort.

Frederick Douglass was a close friend of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton. Dr. Charles Drew started the American Red Cross blood bank. From those pioneering leaders through today, African Americans have made invaluable contributions to The American Red Cross. As we conclude Black History Month, we’re reminded not only of the African American leaders that have helped shape this organization but also of the individual contributions made by countless others. We now need to continue this legacy and make sure we continue the outstanding contributions of African Americans into the future.

At the recent Red Cross Heroes Soiree in Denver, MC Reggie Rivers lightheartedly pointed out that the event kicked off with an all-star cast of African American leaders from our community -- including him, CBS4 on-air talent and Mile High Chapter Board Member Gloria (Glo) Neal, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. We're proud to have such fantastic community members represent the Red Cross, and we are seeking more people of color to be part of the Red Cross throughout our region.

If you’ve ever wanted to use your skills to help people in need, the American Red Cross needs you.

There’s no better time than now to get involved, whether as a leader, as a disaster responder, or as a volunteer lending your skills at the office.

The next fantastic opportunity to get involved is our upcoming 3-day Training Academy. This weekend-long training will help you get the training necessary so that you’re ready to assist when disaster strikes. From leadership and supervision to assisting in shelters during crisis, the training will prepare you so you're ready to hit the ground running helping your community through the Red Cross. It’s volunteers like you that make help from the American Red Cross possible -- and we want to ensure our volunteers reflect the communities they serve.  Getting trained and being prepared will make you part of the line of diverse volunteers who make this organization exceptional.

Find out more and sign up here: 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Heroes Soiree Set Trend, Touched Hearts

On Friday, Feb. 27, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Red Cross and honor everyday heroes at the 2015 Red Cross Heroes Soiree.

The event, held at the Sheraton in downtown Denver, buzzed with energy during a pre-ceremony cocktail hour set in a modern-chic “bistro” style environment where business leaders and community members mingled with special guests such as Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Major General Michael Edwards, District Director Morris Price of the U.S. House of Representatives, several state elected officials and Consul General of Canada Marcy Grossman.

Event hosts Reggie Rivers and Glo Neal revved up the energy, launching an awards ceremony that left nary a dry eye in the room after the audience heard the inspiring stories of five local heroes:

1. Recovery Hero Beth Brotherton:

2. Community Hero Ranya Kelly:

3. Miltary Hero Neah Howard:

4. Youth Hero Mikayla Brown:

5. Family Hero the Garza Family:

The event, which is the Mile High Chapter’s largest single fundraiser of the year, raised nearly $400,000 – including more than $90,000 in financial pledges from attendees during a live paddle-raiser. All proceeds will support the lifesaving work of the Red Cross in Colorado, including responding to disasters, teaching preparedness and lifesaving skills like CPR, assisting military families and supporting international Red Cross services and programs.

Tisha and Brian Schuller chaired the successful event, with help from a dynamic event committee and support from these generous sponsors.

View event photos here and on our Flickr page.