Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Response to Reserve at Hunters Run Apartments

By Bill Fortune
Our Disaster Action teams continue to help residents that were displaced by the fire at the Reserve at Hunters Run Apartments on Yale Ave. Twenty-four units were affected. Displaced residents found their own overnight lodging but Red Cross was able to provide some initial support.
Apartment fire on East Yale Ave. Photo courtesy
Denver Fire Department
A Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) was opened late Monday evening and remained open at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 East Hampden Ave. Case managers will be on site at the DAC until 5 PM. 
Red Cross, Salvation Army, Denver Office of Emergency Management, County Human Services and other Arapaho County community services have been activated to help residents displaced by the fire.

Hitting the Streets in Fountain for the Home Fire Campaign

By Bill Fortune

Going door-to-door on a warm Friday afternoon to install smoke alarms is probably not what most people think about at the end of their work week. For the Red Cross and local Fire Departments that activity is right in line with their mission and their hearts.

The Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado and the Fountain Fire Department joined forces on September 16 to try and make families in Fountain just a little bit safer. Laura Kozuszek, American
Fire Inspector Mark Stanwood (l) watches as Laura
Kozuszek gets a big hug from Anthem McConnel. Photo by
Beverly Santarelli/American Red Cross
Red Cross Program Development Specialist/AmeriCorps VISTA coordinated the event along with the Fountain Fire Department. "This was my first attempt to organize a Home Fire Campaign event," Kozuszek said at the end of the event. "I wasn't sure how it would work out but I am so excited about the cooperation I had with the City of Fountain and the Fire Department and our great volunteers."

Teams knocked on every door they could find in the targeted area and at the end of the day they had installed 25 smoke alarms in 19 homes. They also spoke with families about home fire safety and winter safety. 

A Fountain resident watches as Red Cross volunteers install
a new smoke alarm. Photo by Ray Granado/American Red Cross
At the end of the day the volunteers were tired but happy about what they had accomplished. "This really made me feel like I was helping someone," one volunteer said. "Some of the homes had smoke alarms that looked like they were 20 years old and some had none at all." In each case the Red Cross and Fire Department tested existing smoke alarms and if they were found to be inoperative they were immediately replaced. "This is what we like to see," said Fountain Fire Department Fire Inspector Mark Stanwood. "What we don't want to see are people being killed or injured in a home fire because their alarm was faulty."

The Red Cross will be out in full force on October 14 as they partner with the Air Force Academy cadets to install smoke alarms in El Paso and Teller Counties. If you are interested in receiving a smoke alarm through the Home Fire Campaign on October 14 please visit our website as More photos of the Fountain, Colorado Home Fire Campaign event are on our flickr page at Fountain Home Fire Campaign

Volunteers and Fire Fighters pose for photo before hitting
the streets in Fountain for the Home Fire Campaign. Photo
by Ray Granado/American Red Cross

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fueling the Engine that Drives the Mission

By Bill Fortune

At the American Red Cross we are driven by our mission statement that says, “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
Donors and volunteers listen to CEO Gino Greco at the
Clara Barton Society reception at Denver Botanical Gardens.
Photo by Walt Palmer/American Red Cross

We aspire to turn compassion into action every day and we couldn't make that happen without mobilizing our volunteers and our donors. Ninety percent of our workforce is volunteer while 100 percent of our financial support comes from donations.

We had a chance to thank both, volunteers and donors, recently at the Clara Barton Society reception held at the Denver Botanical Gardens. A beautiful setting for a moving experience.

Nearly 100 people gathered in a decorated tent surrounded by floral and beauty that is the Botanical Gardens. Attendees represented the core of the Red Cross experience whether they were a volunteer or a member of a giving society such as the Legacy Society or Clara Barton Society.

Legacy Society is a planned giving society where you can demonstrate your commitment to the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross. Find out more about the Legacy Society at this link.

CEO Gino Greco talks about the Red Cross humanitarian
mission at the Clara Barton Reception at the Denver
Botanical Gardens. Photo by Walt Palmer/American Red Cross
Clara Barton Society members are those who have stepped up to make a difference in people’s lives by contributing annual gifts of $1000 or more. To learn more about the Clara Barton society you can go check out a description at this link.

Gino Greco, CEO for the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming opened the event with a heartfelt and humorous reminder about how important the Red Cross is to America and the importance of donors and volunteers. “If the volunteers are the engine that drives the Red Cross response to emergencies, then surely donors are the fuel that makes that engine perform,” Greco said.

He went on to remind the audience of what the Red Cross has accomplish in the past with wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. He was humbled by the tremendous response that Americans have given to the flood emergency in Louisiana. Nearly one month into that crisis the Red Cross has utilized nearly 5,000 volunteer and expects the cost to run close to $30 million. “This was the biggest disaster response for the Red Cross since Superstorm Sandy slammed the northeast U.S. in the fall of 2012,” he said. “And it shows how the Red Cross and other agencies and organization have learned to work together.”

Guest speaker, Eric Jones, Division Disaster State Relations Director for the Southwest and Rocky
Eric Jones talks about his Red Cross disaster experience
at the Clara Barton Reception at Denver Botanical Gardens
Photo by Walt Palmer/American Red Cross
Mountains Division reminded us that September 14 marked the 3-year anniversary of the Colorado Floods and he quickly drew the comparison to the level of destruction in Colorado versus Louisiana. “We know what the people of Louisiana are going through,” he said. “We sent 55 Colorado and Wyoming volunteers to Louisiana to help them because we know they were here to help us.” He also reminded us about the tremendous challenges we have faced all across the country. "The Red Cross is what some call, a "2nd Responder" recognizing that we are there to help those responding and those that were affected by the emergency.

David Zader, a wildland fire fighter from the Boulder Fire Department and a life-long friend of Eric Jones, spoke to the audience about his experience with the Red Cross and the important role they play helping first responders deal with emergencies. “Just knowing that the Red Cross is never very far away from the disaster makes my job easier,” he said.
Wildland Firefighter Dave Zander talks about the support that
the Red Cross provides to first responders. Photo by
Walt Palmer/American Red Cross.  
“Knowing that if I need water or food so that I can get back into the response is a big relief in a wildfire situation.”

The stories seemed to resonate with those in the audience. Their applause was genuine and you could tell by the conversations that there was genuine appreciation for each other, volunteer and donor, both playing an important role in the mission of the Red Cross.

If you would like to learn more about the work of the Red Cross and how you can be a part of it, visit or If you would like to see more photos about the Clara Barton event at the Botanical Gardens visit our Flickr page at this  link MHC Clara Barton Reception

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

American Red Cross launches Hero Care App

Free app puts Red Cross services at the fingertips of military and veteran communities

The American Red Cross has a new Hero Care mobile application. This free app is designed to help members of the military, veterans and their families identify and access both emergency and non-emergency Red Cross services from anywhere in the world.
Hero Care screenshot

“When an emergency happens, accurate information, easy access to services and time are of the essence, especially for military families,” said Wayne Lacey, Director, Service to Armed Forces. “That’s why the Red Cross has designed the new Hero Care App - whether you’re the parent of a child joining the military, a military member, a military spouse or a veteran, the Hero Care App will connect you vital services and guide you to valuable resources that will help alleviate stress during emergencies and provide important information right at your fingertips.”

Some the important features of the app include:
Request Red Cross emergency services including an emergency message or assistance with emergency travel or emergency financial aid.

Hero Care screenshot
Securely and easily access information about their service member in the case of an emergency, including updated information as they move or change duty assignments.

Access non-emergency Red Cross behavioral health assistance including financial assistance and free local workshops for military kids and spouses.

Find local resources and information provided by trusted community partners like Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Blue Star Families, Military Child Education Coalition, United Way, Goodwill, Easter Seals, and others.

Locate information on key government resources such as MilitaryOneSource, VA Benefits and Services, Department of Labor VETS, the VA Caregiver Support Program, and SAMSHA Community Health Support Services.
Hero Care screenshot

Content in the Hero Care App is available in both English and Spanish, and the call center is staffed 24/7 with multi-lingual translation services.

The Hero Care App is available to download for free in app stores, by texting ‘GETHEROCARE’ to 90999 or by clicking on the following link from a mobile device .

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Did You Do Over Labor Day Weekend?

By Bill Fortune

So, what did you do over the Labor Day weekend? Camping, travel, site seeing, or maybe just stayed home and spent time with family. Any number of possibilities come to mind for what some call the “last weekend of summer.”

Colorado volunteers Suzanne Faerber 
and Kenneth Harnett serving food in
 Louisiana. Photo American Red Cross
For many Red Cross volunteers the time was spent providing humanitarian services across the country, across the state or across town.

Around-the-clock disaster support continued in Louisiana just like it has been since the flooding began. As of Saturday, September 3, the Red Cross and our partners with the support of over 2600 volunteers have:

  • Served more than 857,000 meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 541,000 relief items
  • Provided more than 68,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters 
  • Handled more than 31,000 calls from people seeking help
  • Provided nearly 29,000 health services and emotional support contacts

Red Cross volunteers manned shelters in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in response to Hurricane Hermine. Shelter were opened South Dakota due to storm damage and in California due to wildfires. As of Tuesday morning there were nearly 2800 Red Cross disaster responders deployed across the country with 18 shelters open supporting nearly 1000 people.

Volunteer Rich Garcia makes a call for more supplies to
help people affected by flooding in Colorado Springs.
Photo Arnett Luce/American Red Cross
Colorado and Wyoming volunteers continued support for the Louisiana Flood recovery efforts and while some disaster responders came home, after weeks of deployment, many others remained and additional volunteers deployed. Since the flooding began we have deployed 35 people to Louisiana with another 11 deployed to support virtually. Eighteen responders have returned home and over the weekend three additional volunteers deployed.

Locally, disaster responders have been helping people affected by the Colorado Springs flood of August 29 with 10 volunteers working in the heavily affected areas. Case work was on going with 18 families contacted on Sunday. A total of 28 families have been helped along with support from some of our partners.

Volunteers responded to three home fires in Colorado over the weekend and one in Wyoming. In addition, the Red Cross mobile feeding vehicle was called out to support law enforcement and fire departments in Parker, CO.

Sunday our volunteers were placed on standby should there be a need for sheltering due to the Starwood Fire in Larimer County, Colorado. No shelters were opened but Red Cross staff and volunteers were ready to move into action if needed. Those numbers do not include the people who were involved with coordinating responses or those volunteers serving as on-call responders.

Why are our volunteers willing to be away from their families to help others in need? One volunteer summarized his feelings after returning from 14 days in Louisiana, "I saw many things both good and bad during my deployment. However, I kept my eyes on only one thing, the clientsI was truly blessed by the clients that were very poor and had lost everything but were helping each other! I would do it all over again in a heart beat!"

The American Red Cross is in need of volunteers in Colorado and Wyoming. If you are interested in helping as a disaster responder or to help in the “behind the scenes” support effort please go to our web site to begin the volunteer application process. Visit and click on VOLUNTEER. Can't volunteer? Consider donating to American Red Cross Disaster Relief at or by calling 800-REDCROSS.