Monday, February 20, 2017

Canon City Fire Brings Help from Red Cross

By Bill Fortune

Fire changes everything. One day you have your new home, new furniture and ready to start a life together. The next day you have nothing. “I didn’t even have a tooth brush or a comb,” said Sandy. She and her fiancĂ© had purchased a home a little over two months ago. They used all of their savings to get the home and were in the process of fixing it up. “It was looking so nice. We had recently painted and bought new living room furniture,” Tom said. “Now we have nothing.”
Sandy and Tom's home after the fire in Canon City.
Photo Courtesy of Tom.

The fire struck on Tuesday, February 7. The couple was helped by the Fire Department’s “Burn Out Fund” that provided a stay in a hotel. The Fire Chief also notified the Red Cross of the couple’s loss and that is when the disaster action team went to work. 

Thursday, Team Captain Esther Savage and volunteer Laurie Riddock traveled to Canon City to meet with the couple who were reluctant to accept Red Cross help at first. “I could tell that they were struggling.” said Savage. “It was hard for them to admit they needed our help.” After all, they had insurance and they felt that accepting help form the Red Cross meant someone else might not get the help they needed. What they didn’t realize is that it would take some time for those benefits and in the meantime they didn’t know what to do. All of their belongings were burned or heavily damaged. They even lost their beloved cats. The more they talked with the Red Cross disaster workers, the more they realized how little they had and how much help they needed.

The disaster team gave them an assistance card that they could use to buy clothing and food. They were also given comfort kits with personal hygiene items and vouchers to help them replace the glasses that were ruined. “The Red Cross has been amazing,” Sandy said. “They gave us the things we needed even before we realized we needed them. I can’t believe how many times I have reached into that Red Cross bag [comfort kit] to get something that I needed; a tooth brush, a comb, soap to wash with, it was all there in that Red Cross bag.”

Sandy (L) and Tom (R) pose with Team Captain Esther Savage
at the Red Cross office in Pueblo. Photo by Bill Fortune/
American Red Cross
Recognizing the difficulty the couple was having, Esther connected them with another Red Cross resource, volunteer. Dr. Julaine Field. Field is a Licensed Professional Counselor who volunteers as part of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health program. She was at the airport in Atlanta, on her way home, when they were able to connect with one another. She spent time on the phone talking with Sandy and Tom helping them come to grips with the loss of the pets and the loss of their home. “She really made a difference,” Sandy said tearfully, “We hadn’t had anyone that we could vent to, other than each other. It helped so much just to talk it through.”

“We truly appreciate the kindness and support that the Red Cross gave to us, especially Esther and Laura. They were so easy to work with and they made us feel whole again," Tom said. "We’ll get through this disaster and when we are back on our feet, maybe we will join to help others.” 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Journey to the Summit

By Susan Poulter
Photos by Susan and Don Poulter

USS Yorktown was a highlight of the
Red Cross Mission Summit in Charleston, SC.
To reach the summit of a mountain sounds daunting…equally intimidating, is attending a Mission Summit for the American Red Cross as a new volunteer.  I wasn't sure if I had the necessary skills and talking points but my husband and I together, embraced everything and everyone in Charleston, South Carolina in September 2016.

The itinerary clearly stated that we would “experience all the lifesaving missions performed by the American Red Cross,” highlighting the active and compassionate Tiffany Circle members and the entire community in Charleston.  Hundreds of ladies and a strong, bold group of men from all over the country were taken on a journey that generated a level of excitement and for me, a renewed commitment to public service that will continue far beyond the expectations of the Summit.

Don Poulter (L) with other Summit attendees learn about
firefighting at the Charleston FD Training Center
Incredibly well organized with an equal amount of grace, our hosts had created a smorgasbord of activities, luncheons and guest speakers emphasizing the relationships between the American Red Cross and this astonishing community.  However, our experience was far beyond any typical informational seminar; donning firefighter equipment to fight a vehicular fire, practicing our knitting skills for blankets that can be used for disasters and manning computers as a way to map uncharted territory in Malawi, as the American Red Cross prepares to eradicate measles in an upcoming immunization program in 2017.

Officers escort Summit attendees as they tour the
USS Yorktown in Charlston, SC
Our access to the “Heroes of Charleston” extended well beyond the local and state government leaders, to the partnership with Red Heart, and the American military families, as well as the local blood collection center.  We had the privilege to meet with inspirational members of the Emanuel AME Church, and were presented with most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace and the gracious words of the Pastor and local State Representative.  As we departed, we left knowing that the relationship between the American Red Cross and the Charleston community on that fateful day, stands as a true testament to love defeating hatred.

After three wonderful days at the Summit, we left with our stomachs and hearts full, sensing we all could do more! Regardless of my circumstances and my skill set, I could return home to my community and train for disasters, or participate in a fire safety program and even continue the mapping of Malawi from my own computer.  Relationships definitely matter…they have the power to lift up a community and restore hope and a path well beyond a Summit.

If you would like to learn more about the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, visit our  Tiffany Circle website. Here is a video about the 2016 Red Cross Mission Summit in Charleston, SC.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Boulder County Wildfire Response

Boulder County Wildfires - Friday, February 10, 2017, 1:30 p.m. Update
Boulder County OEM sent a tweet out to clarify fire status. The #RogersFire is 100 percent contained and evacuations are lifted, The #WagonWheelGapFire is NOT fully contained and evacuations remain in effect.. Red Cross remains on standby.

Boulder County Wildfires - Friday, February 10, 2017, 11:30 a.m. Update
According to Boulder OEM the #Rogersfire is fully contained at 24 acres. Evacuation orders have been lifted. The #WagonWheelGapFire is also fully contained at 5 acres. Red Cross remains on standby status.

A map of the two fire sites has been posted by Boulder OEM at
Boulder County Wildefires - Friday, February 10, 2017, 10 AM UPDATE

Boulder County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been working two wild land fires in Boulder County and evacuations are in place. The Red Cross has not been activated to provide sheltering but remains on standby with sheltering teams and supplies ready  to respond quickly.

According to the Boulder County OEM:

The #RogersFire, is a large grass fire near the 5000 block of Nelson Road. One hundred twenty-five homes have been evacuated  and 29 additional homes in pre-evacuation. The second fire is the #WagonWheelGapFire which is on Wagon Wheel Road. The fire is currently 3-5 acres, 157 homes are being evacuated.

Longmont Humane Society is acting as a small animal shelter for #RogersFire. Large animal shelter at Boulder County Fairgrounds. The Exhibit Building at the Boulder County Fairgrounds is also an evacuation point for people.

Safety reminder: if you’re near a wildfire, do NOT wait for reverse notification from dispatch if you feel unsafe. Evacuate at any time.

Boulder County OEM is on Twitter as @BoulderOEM or search with #BoulderOEM. Information is also on their website at:

The Red Cross is on standby to provide mass care support if needed. The Red Cross mobile app, Emergency, provides imformation about wildfires that will be helpful if you are impacted. DOwnload the app at

Monday, February 6, 2017

Volunteers Make Things Happen; Highlights for January 2017 and Upcoming Events!

The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming responds to calls for assistance, on average, twice a day across the region. Of the 147 people helped, at least 46 were children under the age of 18 including several infants. 20 of those assisted were age 60 or older. February is already off to a busy start with more than 14 calls for emergency assistance; help given to 43 people in the first 5 days of the month.

Volunteers, all across the region, give up their free time to make this amount of help in their communities possible.

Breakdown of the CO & WY 87 county service area:
Mile High Chapter (MHC): 49 individuals received aid. The MHC response area includes 10 counties in the Denver Metro area. Follow @RedCrossDenver for real time updates.

Southeastern Colorado Chapter (SoCO): 15 individuals received aid. The SoCO response area includes 16 counties. Follow @PPRedCross for real time updates.

Northern Colorado Chapter (NoCO): 34 individuals received aid. The NoCO response area includes 11 counties. Follow @NoCORedCross for real time updates.

Western Colorado Chapter (WeCO): 18 individuals received aid. The WeCo response area covers 27 counties, serving all of western Colorado and the San Luis Valley. Follow @WCoRedCross for real time updates.

Wyoming Chapter: 31 individuals received aid. The Wyoming Chapter response area covers all 23 counties that make up the state of Wyoming. Follow @WyoRedCross for real time updates.

The families and individuals were provided a place to stay, money for clothes, food and medicine. Along with providing casework for the residents in a quick and efficient time frame, Red Cross volunteers will continue to provide support to these families going forward, by doing follow up work to ensure all needs are met and the individuals have a clear path to recovery from this personal disaster. 

Volunteers make this level of response happen on a regular basis, in addition to all the other amazing things our volunteers do every day. Keep reading to learn more: 

Upcoming Disaster Training
We will be facilitating a number of training's that can help you qualify to respond to disasters.  Some of the training's include:
-Logistics: An Overview, February 11th
-Sheltering Fundamentals, February 11th
-Psychological First Aid, February 18th
-Concept of Operations, February 25th 

Find out more about the training and register to attend or if you have any questions, please contact Disaster Program Specialist Dennis Hughes at

Restoring Family Links Training Institute, March 13-15
Restoring Family Links (RFL) works to reconnect families separated internationally due to armed conflict, disaster, migration or other humanitarian crises. Caseworkers work locally and through the national RFL Helpline to help clients initiate searches for loved ones and to help search within the local communities for those being sought by relatives overseas. 

The American Red Cross will host a training institutefrom Monday, March 13th – Thursday, March 16th. The institute will cover topics such as RFL Casework, conducting outreach to local refugee and migrant communities, identifying RFL needs following a disaster, and conducting RFL casework through the new national RFL Helpline. 

*Volunteer opportunities within Restoring Family Links may be available for those that meet training and other requirements. 
Please contact International Services Manager Tim Bothe at, with any questions.

Some of the Opportunities to support our mission are listed below. For information about becoming a Red Cross Volunteer or to sign up for one of the events please visit us online 

           Mass Care Workday - Mile High Area 
Date:  Saturday Feb 11, 2017
Description:  Every 2nd Saturday of the month our volunteers of the Red Cross participate in a workday to ensure all Mass Care supplies are Red Cross Ready.

Pillowcase Facilitator Training - Western Colorado 
Date: Friday Feb 17, 2017

-                                  Air Force Reserves - Yellow Ribbon
Date:  Saturday Feb 18, 2017
Time: 11:30 AM - 04:00 PM
Location: Denver (Exact TBA)
Description: Staff an info table and distribute info about Red Cross services and programs.

          Home Fire Campaign - Englewood
Date:  Saturday Feb 18, 2017
Time:  08:00 AM - 02:00 PM

Description: Home Fire Campaign is a service that we provide communities in greatest need of home fire safety education.  We go door-to-door in communities to provide education on home fire safety and install free smoke alarms for residents.

Mesa County Safety Fair - Western Colorado 
Date: Thursday & Friday, Feb 23-24, 2017

Red Cross Training Academy - Southeastern Colorado 
Date: March 3-5, 2017

Sending More Volunteers to Southeast U.S.

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles providing meals
during tornado cleanup efforts. Photo American Red Cross
The American Red Cross of Colorado & Wyoming is sending additional disaster workers to support the response to the devastating tornado damage in the southeast U.S.  Typical deployments are 14 to 21 days depending on the needs of those affected by the disaster.

Sylvia Raumaker, from the Wyoming Chapter and Ron Hedrick from the Northern Colorado Chapter departed Sunday and will serve as a sheltering supervisors in southern Mississippi. As such, they will be responsible for the care and support of the twenty-one people who are still living in a Red Cross shelter following the devastating tornadoes that hit the area January 21, 2017.

These two will bring the total number of Colorado and Wyoming volunteer deployments to the southeast tornado and flood response to seven.

Red Cross volunteers bring help and hope to people
affected by tornadoes in southeast U.S. Photo:
American Red Cross
Following the tornado outbreak, Red Cross disaster workers were on the ground immediately providing support for those affected and those responding. More than 1,100 homes were affected by the tornadoes and floods in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.  Most current estimates suggest that the Red Cross will spend more than $1 million helping the people affected by the storms.

For the latest information about the Red Cross response to the southeast U.S. tornadoes visit