Why do people volunteer? The answers are as varied as the opportunities. I recently searched a volunteer website to find ideas.

Childcare worker. No thanks. Dog walker. Uh, no. Tutoring?  Nah. Helping the elderly. Not feeling it.

I started to wonder if I had any charitable cells in my body.

Five pages into the volunteer website, I finally found a link which suited my personality. Writer for the American Red Cross. I hadn’t considered the American Red Cross before. I’m certainly not a hurricane expert, blood specialist, or nurse. I expected all those positions as volunteer opportunities. But a writer? I clicked on the link the learn more.

I was floored to discover how much the American Red Cross offers beyond disaster relief and blood. You will be, too. The most fascinating part of the American Red Cross environment is the size of the volunteer pool. Over 90% of the humanitarian work is done by volunteers. What makes all those people tick?

I had the chance to talk with my friend’s father, who was a Transportation Specialist for the Red Cross approximately twice a week for five years. Here’s a snippet of my conversation with Mr. Bill Miller:

Me: Mr. Miller, how did you find out about volunteering with the American Red Cross?

Mr. Miller: I had been giving blood for several years, and after I retired, I was looking for something to do. I got into a conversation with the volunteers at the blood center, and found out about the transportation specialist role.

Me: Why did you decide to volunteer?

Mr. Miller: I felt it was a way for me to serve the community. Knowing blood is needed every day, I thought it could be a way to give back. It made me feel good, even though it was a small role.

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As evidenced in Mr. Miller’s comments, volunteering provides personal rewards, both tangible and intangible. But that’s the thing. When I think about volunteering, I don’t consider personal rewards. It’s about helping others, right? It’s in helping others I can simply be… human.

Physically, volunteerism has been linked to a reduced level of stress. Sounds good to me. Emotionally, it can also reduce depression. Personally, it provides an outlet for purpose and meaning as well as a connection to others. It’s also a fun way to learn something new, and to meet others who are liked-minded.

The cost? A little bit of my time. But if my life is enhanced as a result, I think it’s worth it.

For more information on the American Red Cross volunteer opportunities in the Eastern Pennsylvania region, go to the website. We look forward to having you join us!

 

By: Lisa Tomarelli

 

We’re a month into hurricane season and as Tropical Storm Cindy showed us the week of June 21st, these weather systems can stall, causing severe weather and damage as storms move inland. Heavy rain, flooding, and the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can occur hundreds of miles away from where these storms make landfall.

Severe weather is the last thing you want to interrupt summer fun, but it’s a real concern, and can develop from a threat into a warning in just a short period of time. Not only is it a good idea to keep up with the latest weather news, but it’s crucial to prepare in advance.

Planning now can protect you and your loved ones from serious emergencies. The Red Cross has some key steps you can take so you can stay safe if severe weather or flooding is possible in your area.

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Radio Broadcasts: Stay informed of severe weather developments by NOAA radio broadcasts. Battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radios are available to purchase in the on-line Red Cross Store.

Watches vs. Warnings: A watch means flooding or severe weather is possible. A warning means flooding or severe weather is already happening, or will be happening very soon. Don’t hesitate. If a warning has been issued, you should take immediate action.

Evacuation Plan: You and the members of your household may need to quickly leave your residence. Having a plan already in place will allow you to evacuate if local law enforcement or emergency responders tell you to do so.

Be Informed: Do you know what your local community’s response plan is? Now is the time to discover local plans and map out routes to local shelters. If you’re traveling to another destination, learn about how that city or town spreads the word about emergency situations.

Shelters: Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters. If you have any special requests or needs, you can contact the Eastern Pennsylvania Region chapter ahead of time to speak with a Red Cross staff member. Register any family members who have special medical needs. Service animals are welcome in shelters. Make separate arrangements for all other pets. To find out real-time shelter availability, you can log onto http://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/find-an-open-shelter and search for open shelters by your zip code.

Emergency Kit:  Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool like a Swiss Army knife, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. If you have an emergency kit already packed, be sure to check if your food and water supplies haven’t expired, and if your paperwork is up to date. Replace as necessary.

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Securing Property: If your residence is in the path of a hurricane or tropical storm, install permanent storm shutters or invest in pre-cut one-half inch marine plywood to fit windows and doors. High winds can turn typical outdoor items into dangers. Store lawn furniture and other loose items like toys, garden tools, decorations and trashcans so these items are secure.

Red Cross Emergency App: Want to learn more in-depth tips? Download the free Red Cross Emergency App from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or by texting “GET EMERGENCY” to 90099.

Weather Red Report: The Red Cross and The Weather Channel have partnered to produce a weekly national weather roundup, airing on The Weather Channel on Sundays at 8:40 am EST. Segments from the Weather Red Report are available online at http://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/weather-red-report. Stay up to date and know what to do in a weather emergency.

-Written by Elizabeth McLaren

There’s something to be said for a meal prepared on an outdoor grill. Marinated chicken has a whole new dimension after those flames do their thing. Vegetable kebabs become a treat instead of a main course you beg your kids to eat thanks to flavor provided by charcoal and heat. Add a warm afternoon or evening, and you have the ideal recipe for a Fourth of July holiday weekend you’ll fondly recall during those cold Winter days.

With great potential, however, comes great responsibility. Grilling safety deserves your attention, and with a few tips, meals can be prepared with ease and without an unexpected visit from the good folks working with your local fire company or emergency services.

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Always Outdoors: Never grill indoors. Inside the house, camper, tent or any other enclosed area aren’t options. Ever.

Stay Clear: Keep kids and pets away from the grill. Set up the grill in the open, away from the house, deck, low-hanging tree branches or anything that could catch fire.

Starter Fluid: Never add charcoal starter fluid after coals have been ignited.

Supervise: When the grill is in use, always be there to monitor cooking. Follow the grill manufacturer’s instructions when operating the grill.

The Right Tools: Long-handled tools just for grilling keep hot food away from the chef.

Emergency App: More safety questions beyond these basics? Want to know if any severe weather will disrupt the grilling process? Download the free Red Cross Emergency App from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or by texting “GET EMERGENCY” to 90099.

Now that you’ve mastered these tips, you’re on your way to a delicious Summer  barbeque.

-Written by Elizabeth McLaren

Judge Renne Cartwell HughesI am many things. I am a lawyer. I am a retired judge. I am CEO of the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region. None of these roles explain my most important role. I am a Mom. More specifically, I am a Military Mom! My son and his wife are both officers in the United States Army.

As a Military Mom my heart bursts with pride as I marvel at the amazing young men and women who have stepped up to serve our country. Their dedication to America is even more extraordinary when you realize that less than one percent of Americans serve in the United States military. These young men and women are truly not only our best and our brightest, but also our bravest.

Military families need our support. A tremendous burden is placed on families when a loved one steps up to serve and protect America. The stress placed on a family when a soldier, airman, sailor or marine deploys, often to very dangerous places, and the emotional challenge of reintegrating that service member back into the family upon their return, is significant. Military kids are both proud and sad and as a result face unique challenges. Their families, our families, need our help.

The Red Cross can help. The American Red Cross works with the service member and their families from enlistment to retirement and beyond.

This Mother’s Day, in addition to thanking a mom for her love and support, take a moment to reach out to a Military Mom. Say thank you! Because when a family member serves, we all serve. In addition to saying thank you, share the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces website, redcross.org/SAF.

We can help and we always will help. The Red Cross was born on the battlefield and it is our greatest honor to continue to serve America’s military.

From one Military Mom to all Military Moms: Happy Mother’s Day!

Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region

The Red Cross has a proud history of service to the nation when America turned to the Red Cross to develop a supply of livesaving blood in 1940 to our armed forces. Nowadays, we hold about 400 drives around the country each day because someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. We are the single largest supplier of blood in the U.S. and in fact, collect and process 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Since blood and platelets cannot be manufactured, donating blood makes a big difference in the lives of others. Nearly 21 million blood products are transfused each year. One donation can actually help more than one person.

There are five main steps in the process of blood donation.

Step One: The donor registers, provides a health history and receives a quick physical. One pint of blood and many test tubes are collected then transported to a Red Cross center.
Step Two: The blood is spun in centrifuges to separate out the transfusable parts. Step Step Three: The blood is tested to establish the blood type and screened.
Step Four: The units that are suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored.
Step Five: The blood is available 24/7 and distributed whenever needed.

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Are you interested in donating? Less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets and only 7% of people are O negative (the universal blood type) so if you are eligible, we really need your help. To ensure the safety of blood donation for both donors and recipients, all volunteer blood donors must be evaluated to determine their eligibility to give blood. The final determination will be made on the day of the donation at the blood drive or blood donation center. If you were deferred from donating in the past, you may be able to donate again. Beforehand, it is important that you hydrate and maintain a healthy level of iron. On the day of, you should wear something comfortable, have a list of the medications you take and bring an ID. Afterwards, hydrate more and avoid exercise or heavy lifting on that day. Donating is so easy!

For more information or to find a blood drive, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Written by Brady Schneider

One of the most important things we do at the Red Cross is serve those who serve our nation. We support America’s military by helping members of the military, veterans and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to challenges. We do so in three main ways. First, we provide help and critical services on bases and in military hospitals. Second, we aid military families during deployments and emergencies. Third, we serve our veterans long after their service ends.

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The Red Cross provides 24/7 support services around the world for our military every single day. So far this year, nationwide we have served 64,111 families. Just yesterday, we served 550 families. This includes emergency communications, financial assistance, deployment services (including coping assistance), information referrals to community resources and services for veterans (such as reconnection workshops and VA hospital programs). Our commitment never wavers.

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Written by Brady Schneider

 

Red Cross is here to provide disaster relief all day, every day, wherever someone needs us. It is a vital part of our mission. We respond to an emergency every 8 minutes. No one else does this; not the government or any other charity in the United States. That’s over 65,000 disasters every year. These emergencies range from small house fires to multi-state national disasters. No matter what, we are here to help.

91 cents of every dollar spent is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross provides relief efforts through a variety of services. Red Cross workers deploy within hours of disaster striking and 95% of these responders are actually volunteers from around the country. These volunteers include health, mental health and spiritual care professionals which are vital at disaster sites. They provide first aid treatment, monitor people’s wellbeing, ensure everyone has their prescription medications and give emotional support for coping. The Red Cross also helps support emergency responders on site.

Overnight shelters provide a safe and dry place of protection for those displaced. People may come preemptively amidst hurricanes or to emergency shelters opened responsively after earthquakes. At these shelters, we can provide distribution of much needed items. We give out emergency supplies to help people both in the moment and over the long term. Comfort kits contain basic personal supplies such as toothbrushes and emergency kits include tools like shovels and trash bags. Emergency Response Vehicles may be deployed which can provide feeding in communities that may need it. We also provide meals, snacks and water, and other essential resources that people often do not have access to during disasters.

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In addition to medical professionals, shelters and supplies, the Red Cross aids people and communities in recovery. We work with families to create a recovery plan which can include connecting people to needed community resources and organizations. We can also connect loved ones through our Safe and Well website. Whether for home fires, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, the Red Cross is always ready to respond.  Each disaster is different but we adapt our resources to the needs of the people we serve.

Written by Brady Schneider