When I learned that Pope Francis would be visiting the United States, specifically my home city of Philadelphia, I booked my airline ticket from Portland, Ore. to Philadelphia, Penna.  It must have been divine timing, as I return annually about this time of year to visit family and friends.

For the past year and a half, I have enjoyed volunteering for a variety of charitable organizations’ special events. Knowing that the American Red Cross supports humanitarian needs, I contacted my colleague at the Red Cross in Philadelphia to see what needs the communications team might have.  With 20 years of staff and volunteer experience with Red Cross Disaster Relief, this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime assignment.  What an exciting and challenging opportunity to serve my Red Cross in its efforts to make sure the people of Philadelphia would remain safe and well through the Pope’s visit to the City.

As one of nearly a thousand people, including Red Cross volunteers and staff, I and the team of about a dozen set out to capture, in words and images, the Red Cross at work. Along with our partner organizations, we set up first aid stations and reunification centers throughout the city. Our primary role at this event was to help reunite families and friends who were separated and could not get in touch with or find each other at the event.

What an honor and a privilege to serve my home city in this historic — and personally humbling — event.

Kim Elizabeth Manning

Salem, Ore.

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PHILADELPHIA – In anticipation of the Pope’s visit to Philly this weekend, the American Red Cross is very busy. Staff and volunteers are setting up first aid tents and reunification stations for families and friends that may get separated in the large crowds expected throughout Philadelphia this weekend.

Red Cross volunteers will be a huge part of keeping everyone safe. Volunteer and Chaplin Thomas Kadel commented that he has had a great experience staying in the city and helping out so far. Overall, this is an exciting time for everyone in Philly, but it can be a lot for someone that has never been here.

And for some, being in such a crowded area can also be an overwhelming experience.  Here are some tips for coping with the crowds during the Papal visit:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking since many of the streets in Philadelphia are blocked off. Wear sneakers or worn in but durable shoes.
  • Be respectful of everyone else’s space. There will be a lot of people in a confined area. Make sure not to push or squash anyone. Also, be aware of your surroundings.  If you feel overwhelmed, go to a more open space with less people. If you are feeling ill, find one of the many first aid/medical tents set up throughout the city. Medical tents can provide snacks and water.
  • Bring only clear bags or small purses. There will be security checkpoints throughout the city. Officials have asked that you only have clear bags or small purses to speed the security screening process along.
  • Keep this phone number handy: 1-855-259-2114. If you or a loved one get separated, call the toll free number or go to a Red Cross station and ask a Red Cross official for help.  We’ll help you get reconnected.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is important that you stay hydrated, especially when there are large crowds and you are outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Bring your own food. You don’t know the next time you are going to be able to find something to eat. Bring food that is light and easy to carry like granola bars, fruit, or candy bars to keep your body nourished.

And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the overall experience. For many it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There will be people from all over the world here to celebrate the Pope’s first visit to the United States. Let’s give them all a warm Philly welcome!

Comcast’s Partnership and Commitment to Safety during Natural Disasters Plays a Critical Role for the Public and Emergency Responders

The recent severe storms that impacted our region and interrupted power and services for days, provide yet another reminder to us that, in an increasingly interconnected world, companies like Comcast are playing a critical role in helping residents and local governments to recover from natural disasters.

In recognition of the many ways that Comcast NBCUniversal stepped up and assisted millions of Pennsylvania and South Jersey residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross’ Eastern Pennsylvania Region was proud to name Comcast NBCUniversal as our 2015 Citizen of the Year.


Even before Hurricane Sandy made landfall along the East Coast, Comcast NBCUniversal’s news teams provided unprecedented, up-to-the-minute coverage of the storm, and Philadelphia’s own NBC10 held an informational telethon with the Red Cross to provide crucial disaster preparedness information to area residents.

After Sandy struck, Comcast organized a telethon to support relief efforts in less than 36 hours. Attracting stars like Tina Fey, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Jimmy Fallon, Comcast raised more than $23 million for the American Red Cross during that event.

But here on the ground, at some of the hardest hit areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Comcast also stepped up in a quieter way. They provided free broadband and telephone service at temporary shelters; opened up thousands of XFINITY hotspots providing free Wi-Fi access so that disaster victims could communicate with family and friends and get additional recovery information; provided free power charging stations at customer service centers, so residents could remain connected through their devices; and powered local gas stations with generators so that emergency responders and residents could get fuel after it was in scarce supply.

But perhaps most importantly, Comcast’s 1,300 field technicians mobilized along with first responders to protect and restore critical infrastructure. These ordinary heroes, working around the clock for days and often sleeping on air mattresses, came from as far away as Maine to ensure that our communications grid remained up and running for emergency responders and millions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents.

One of these heroes was Pete Imler, a headend technician who cut short a vacation to help keep the Long Beach Island local Office of Emergency Management up and running. As Sandy was bearing down, Pete was sandbagging and safeguarding equipment until being evacuated when the island lost power. Pete was on a military truck the very next day to return to the facility where he stayed around the clock for the next ten days straight to help power the recovery effort.

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Pete’s story is one of many that demonstrate the lengths Comcast and its employees will go to ensure that Delaware Valley residents remain safe even during one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory. This commitment to service and the community is why we at the Red Cross are proud to call Comcast a partner and a friend and to honor the company as our Citizen of the Year in 2015.

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Check out pictures from the event by clicking on the link below!


By: Francesca Green

There are times when we forget to thank the unsung heroes of our communities—the people like our local firefighters, police officers, and EMTs. They put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe, yet they still manage to find time to educate us on topics that will help prevent further emergencies.

I had an opportunity to watch the firefighters from the 7th Engine and Ladder companies in Philadelphia work in our community. Through the Red Cross, I also had the honor of working with those firefighters. The Red Cross partnered with the Philadelphia Fire Department to kick off their “No More Fire Deaths” campaign. The event was launched on Tuesday, July 7th. Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes (ret.), CEO, American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region spoke in partnership with Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Derrick Sawyer. Stressing the importance of ensuring that every resident had at least three working smoke alarms in their homes, the campaign is also designed to practice a fire escape plan. Statistics show that after a fire starts, a family only has a few minutes to exit the house. The aim of the campaign is to reduce the number of fire deaths as much as possible.


Did you know that fire experts say that you only have approximately two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late? That information came as a bit of a shock to residents in the Philadelphia neighborhood where we launched the campaign. They were grateful for the information and were eager to come up with their own fire escape plans. Even more residents asked us to check their smoke alarms to make sure that they worked. It was easy to see that fire preparedness was going to become a priority in their lives.


These heroes in our community are so inspiring. I spoke with one of the lieutenants about being a firefighter, and he told me that most people have an instinct to run away from danger, while those that choose to become one of these people that serve the community actually want to go towards the danger in order to help. It’s wonderful to know that I can help out as well by volunteering with Red Cross. With more people aware of fire preparedness, we can get that much closer to our goal of ending fire fatalities. Visit the Home Fire Safety page on the redcross.org website to find out more information!


Check out more pictures from the event by clicking the link below!


smoke alarms save

The American Red Cross is partnering with the Philadelphia Fire Department to eliminate fire-related deaths in the city. The program involves installing working smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods in addition to educating people about the dangers of home fires.

The program kicks off with free smoke alarm installation on Tuesday, July 7th between noon and 3 p.m. along the 5800, 5900 and 6000 blocks of Osage Avenue.

A recent study identified senior citizens and young children as the most vulnerable to fire-related deaths in the city. That’s a population of about 200,000 people in Philadelphia.

The No More Fire Deaths program involves several steps and kicks off on 7/7. Firefighters from the 7 Engine and Ladder companies that make up the 7th Battalion, along with the Red Cross, will go door-to-door and install 10-year lithium battery powered smoke alarms free of charge.

Together with the Red Cross they will also provide fire prevention education as well as a home inspection checklist that residents can go through to make sure their home is fire safe. Throughout the coming weeks, firefighters and the Red Cross will continue to spread an information campaign reminding residents to call if they need working smoke alarms.

The Red Cross is asking everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

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

*   If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, call 3-1-1 and we’ll help you get one. At a minimum, there should be one smoke alarm on every level of the home.
*   If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, get them replaced.
*   Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.

To request a smoke alarm through the No More Fire Deaths program, call 3-1-1 or visit www.freedomfromfire.com.

By: Maria Lobron

As part of the millennial “Me” generation, many people assume that we don’t care about anyone but ourselves. That is far from the truth. In a survey of men and women ages 18 to 34, 75% of millennials contributed to charitable causes last year.

As a 25-year-old woman in the working world, I have donated to numerous organizations such as Penn State’s THON Dance Marathon and Best Buddies. While millennials tend to give smaller amounts of money, we can influence our friends and family to get involved in a charitable organization. Donating gives me the reward of giving something back to the local community and helping the world become a better place.

The American Red Cross has given me the ability to help those in need in natural disasters, blood donation and other services. Here are the top 10 top reasons why you should donate to the Red Cross too:

#1) Make an impact. Around the world and in our communities we can help those in serious need. Some 70,000 disasters strike unsuspecting people each year. Others need one of the more than seven million blood products delivered to hospitals across the United States.

#2) Join the cause. There are thousands of people that donate to the Red Cross every day. Major companies such as Wawa, The Weather Channel, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and others donate too. When you donate, you become part of an organization that helps millions of people.

#3) It’s easy. Just go to http://www.redcross.org and donate. It takes only a few minutes.

#4) You’ll be happier. In a 2008 study, people expressed more happiness when they donated to
pro-social causes.

#5) Help save a life. Your donation will help to fund lifesaving classes like CPR and first aid around the world.

#6) Raise awareness. Help raise awareness by encouraging people to be prepared for a natural disaster or even a blood shortage. Natural disasters can happen at any time and the local blood supply would not exist without volunteer blood donors.

#7) Give back. By giving back you appreciate the things you have a little bit more.

#8) Every little bit helps. By donating just $10, you can help provide a second chance for someone in need. You can make that donation by simply texting REDCROSS to 90999.

#9) Be a leader. When your friends see you donating your time and talents, they will be inspired to give back as well.

#10 ) It’s good for our future. We are the next generation of leaders and want the world to be a better place. Start now!


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