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Written by David Haas

 

In a typical year, home fires kill more people than all other natural disasters combined in the United States. The Red Cross has set a goal to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries in the US by 25% through the Home Fire Campaign. Each spring during the last weekend of April and first two weeks of May, Red Cross hosts the National Signature Event – Sound the Alarm. The 2018 Sound the Alarm campaign promotes fire safety and seeks to install 100,000 fire alarms in at-risk communities nationwide.

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The Red Cross of Eastern PA held a large event Friday, May 4th in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. Helping to kick off the morning’s event were a wide range of senior leaders of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania safety community.  Dan Bradley, the Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management highlighted the importance of our involvement in Sound the Alarm by stating that “Fires are the #1 most frequent hazard occurring across the city, and the most important thing someone can do to prevent fire is to install a smoke alarm; the second most important thing is to have an emergency escape plan.”

Approximately 150 volunteers and partners from Wawa, PECO, FEMA, Boston Consulting Group, Philadelphia Fire Department, Duke Realty, CapTech Ventures, Temple University and Philadelphia Soul fanned out across the Port Richmond neighborhood for five hours installing smoke detectors and educating residents on fire safety. Through the volunteers’ hard work, 125 homes were made safer and 267 smoke alarms were installed free of charge.

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Volunteers received a warm welcome from the community and several instances of non-working and outdated detectors were found and replaced.  Said Interim Red Cross CEO Angela A. Broome Powley: “You never know which smoke alarm installed today will save a life tomorrow.”  To date, over 400 lives have been saved through the Home Fire Campaign.

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From left, Boston Consulting Group David Webb, Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Interim CEO Angela A. Broome Powley, Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management Dan Bradley, Pennsylvania Acting State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego, FEMA Region 3 Administrator MaryAnn Tierney and Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel

Go to www.SoundTheAlarm.org/EasternPA to learn more, or access Volunteer Connection to sign up for an upcoming event.

Written by Megan Speight

Guests partied with a purpose at the 18th Annual Red Cross Red Ball. Named “Philadelphia’s best black-tie charity”, the event did not disappoint. More than 1,100 guests consisted of Red Cross supporters and volunteers, along with people looking to have fun on a Saturday night for a good cause.

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The event was held for the third year at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles. The setting provided incredible views of the City of Philadelphia and great photo opportunities looking out over the field.

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Like many events organized by the Red Cross, volunteers were on hand to help everything run smoothly. Volunteers are a crucial reason the Red Cross is so successful and many volunteers have tenure with the organization that can last decades.

So where does this loyalty come from? Jennifer Ingram, communications volunteer, shared why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I was unemployed, looking for something to do amid job searching. With a passion for writing, I decided to volunteer with the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Communications Department. That was about six years ago and I haven’t stopped since. I continue because I like the mission and what the organization stands for. Their impact is much wider than just asking people for blood and I’m happy to support them,” she said.

Volunteers aren’t the only individuals who support the Red Cross because of its impactful mission. Guests Ron and Kristina DeGregorio shared that they are “very supportive of the mission and the wonderful job the team does rallying the broader community.”

Community is one of the reasons that I continue to volunteer with the Red Cross as well. I know that no matter what event I support, there is an almost immediate bond I feel with other volunteers. We all know we are there to do great work and support an organization that has a global impact. Additionally, when I volunteer with the Red Cross, I meet and interact with new and interesting people.

One interesting person I was able to meet at the Red Ball was the newly crowned Miss Philadelphia 2018, Aimee Turner. Aimee shared that this is traditionally the first event Miss Philadelphia attends after being crowned. The event draws a fun crowd of diverse people from the Greater Philadelphia Area and provides a great opportunity to mingle and make new connections. She also reiterated that the Red Cross is an “important and great cause to support.”

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One of the highlights and draws of the event is all of the delectable food choices available for guests to enjoy. There were over two dozen appetizer and dessert vendors that served everything from pork croquettes and pizza to water ice and strawberry shortcake.

 

 

One volunteer, Tashema Johnson, raved about the food when sharing why she volunteers for the Red Cross. “I initially started volunteering with my old job a few years ago. When I left, I had already been so involved and supportive of the mission that I didn’t want to stop volunteering. I currently volunteer at the local Red Cross House, but I also support the organization at fire safety events and of course the Red Ball. I love volunteering at the Red Ball because I get to learn about different restaurants and caterers in the city to try out and because I’m guaranteed to wear a nice dress,” she said.

Throughout the evening, guests are able to vote on their favorite appetizer and dessert vendors. This year’s winners were Mission BBQ and Candies and Cakes by Mary Ellen, who both won for the second year in a row.

My favorite appetizers were the Pork Croquettes at Walnut Street Café, Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab Fries and Cheese, and the melt in your mouth scallops served by Devon Seafood during the VIP pre-game party. My favorite dessert was definitely the Moscato drenched water ice served by Mr. D’s Sweets.

In the end, guests partied the night away thanks to the talented CTO bands who got people on their feet and on to the dance floor. Overall, the event was a warm evening filled with fun people, incredible food and was geared towards supporting the mission of the Red Cross.

 

 

Next year I’m looking forward to another mission driven evening with great food and incredible fashion. Did I mention how incredible everyone looked in almost every shade of red in countless different styles? Red Ball 2018 was definitely a fashion moment for the City of Philadelphia.

 

 

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“I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.”–President Franklin D. Roosevelt, first Presidential Proclamation of March as Red Cross Month, 1943

Each year the president of the United States proclaims March “Red Cross Month.” The Red Cross uses this opportunity to thank our supporters, increase public awareness and consideration of Red Cross’ mission and drive contributions.

The City of Philadelphia kicked off the month by flying Red Cross flags around City Hall. They were a beautiful site to see.

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While four back to back nor’easters were an unplanned surprise for March is Red Cross Month, the staff and volunteer of Red Cross Eastern PA were prepared.   We opened and supported more than half a dozen shelters and warming centers for more than 700 people affected by winter weather.

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Even with the bad weather and shelter openings, our volunteers continued to respond to the Red Cross’ most common emergency, home fires. Red Cross of Eastern PA volunteers responded to more than 100 emergencies and home fires during the month of March, assisting more than 450 people. We worked with the Philadelphia Fire Department to install smoke alarms and talk fire safety at three different neighborhoods where fatal fires occurred.

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Daylight Saving Time began and people lost an hour of sleep by turning the clocks forward. The Red Cross encouraged people to “Turn and Test” – Turn the clocks and test your smoke alarm.

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The Harlem Globetrotters named the Red Cross their “official charity” and we had the opportunity to raise funds and engage our volunteers at nearly 300 performances across the country. Our volunteers “passed the bucket” to collect donations from those attending games in Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia, and Wilkes-Barre.

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The Lehigh Valley-Bucks chapter gave a sneak peak of the upcoming 2018 Cabaret and Cuisine: Back to the 80s. Doc Brown even showed up to encourage people to attend the event held Friday April 20th at Olympus Headquarters in Center Valley.

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The Northeast chapter honored 19 local heroes at the NEPA Heroes celebration. The evening celebrated the prior year’s local heroes for using their First Aid, CPR, AED training and/or other actions to save lives or make Northeastern PA a better place to live and work.

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The Southeastern chapter hosted Philadelphia’s premier party and best black-tie charity gala, Red Ball. The evening was a big success with more than eleven hundred guests enjoying live entertainment, delicious delight from more than two dozen restaurants, a silent auction and much more at Lincoln Financial Field.

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Red Cross Month wrapped up with Giving Day on March 28th. The Red Cross geared up for the big day, asking people to #help1family. Thousands responded and more than two million dollars was raised to help 28,000 families with urgent relief like food, shelter, and other essentials.

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It certainly was a busy month and that’s how we know we are fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross.

Written by Bryan Meyers

The night before the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade, I strolled down Vine Street in the cold and windy rain. Heading for Logan Square, I saw the Jumbotrons with 24-speaker setups. As I walked the Ben Franklin Parkway, dozens of port-o-potties were stationed alongside the stretch of road leading to the Art Museum. Production trucks rumbled as generators offered light to workers drenched in rain. The Eagles flags flew high in the night.

The City of Philadelphia planned for approximately 2 million people to attend the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade — giving public workers the day off and closing schools. In just a few short hours, this area would be packed with rowdy Eagles fans, celebrating their long-awaited Super Bowl victory.

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Anticipating the large crowds and cold temperatures, the Red Cross suggested the public dress warm, prepare for long walks, and bring snacks.

Public transit also geared up for the impending overload to their system. SEPTA’s regional rail sold out half-a-million transit tickets within 24 hours. Independence Blue Cross took on the costs of the Broad-Street and Market-Frankford subway lines.

The Super Bowl champions started from the Sports Complex, south of Oregon Avenue, and headed north up Broad Street.

The Eagles fans were more than ready.

With the warm sunlight pouring onto the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade. “E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!” could be heard throughout the streets of Philadelphia.

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The parade began at 11 a.m. Although, people were gathering around the Art Museum steps some twelve hours prior. They even crossed the Delaware River via the Ben Franklin Bridge through the early morning hours.

There was nothing that could stop riled Eagles fans from participating in a city-wide celebration.

Medic (EMS) tents were positioned in two locations on the Ben Franklin Parkway by the Philadelphia Fire Department. Alpha-numeric “location markers” were also posted along the parkway “to clearly and easily identify a location or section … to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.”

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Road closures and parking restrictions along the parade route were mandated, while meter and time limit regulations from the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) were not enforced.

Thus the celebrations rang out, wild and free, with the late-afternoon sunshine.

The Philadelphia Eagles were Super Bowl champions.

Written by Sam Antenucci

I was anticipating a rowdy crowd, after all the Eagles just won their very first Super Bowl. My group of friends and I ventured into the massive crowds around the Art Museum and were immediately overwhelmed with the sheer volume of Eagles fans. People of all ages gathered around, cheering to see their sports heroes paraded around after their victorious win against the Patriots.

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Before we descended into the sea of green jerseys, we set a meeting point at a local café on Fairmount Avenue. The Red Cross suggested that groups traveling to the parade designate a meeting point in case anyone got lost in the shuffle. The Red Cross also ran a reunification center at 30th Street Station, assisting families separated by the frenzy of the parade.

With our phones at our side, we linked arms and made our way down as far as we could to see the parade. I was pleasantly surprised by the courtesy and energy of the crowd. Even through their excitement, a please and thank you went a long way. As my friends and I descended into the masses, we had several groups of people help find a good spot for us to see the parade by clearing paths to the procession.

We got as far as we could, when we decided to stay near a mother and her three children. When I asked them how they felt about the crowds, they told me that everyone was very courteous and looked out for each other. The mother told me how she didn’t any trouble getting her young kids to a nice spot to see the parade. Another woman and her friends stood ahead of us and began to explain that even though Eagles fans have a reputation for being a rough fan base, everyone was here to celebrate an amazing victory with their favorite team. That sense of community filled all of Philadelphia and it was apparent in the lively energy of the crowd. Whether you were a stranger or not, the sense of family, community, and security was felt by all that day.

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We found ourselves thoroughly enjoying the parade. We made sure to stand guard and watch after the woman’s children, making sure they wouldn’t get pushed around within the crowds and had a decent view of the show. Once the Eagles arrived on the busses, cheering and waving to the crowd, the fans reciprocated their excitement with cheers. Cell phones flew into the air to take videos and pictures. To be a part of this historical event was an honor that nearly all Philadelphians had the chance to experience as one united community!

While the parade was certainly new and exciting, it is always important to exercise caution when venturing out in crowds. In case you get separated from your group, make sure to let a local police officer know and establish ahead of time a meeting point everyone can go too. Take only the necessities like your cellphone, a small sum of money, water, snacks, and your I.D. card. Most importantly, as a community event, look out for one another, especially the elderly and the children. We are one giant community celebrating the marvelous victory of the Eagles. Philly reintroduced the meaning of our wonderful city’s name; the city of brotherly love.

The people who serve our armed forces are very essential to the safety and protection of the freedom, inalienable rights, and security of our great nation. However, sacrifice for the good of the nation for many soldiers is often one to their own well-being.

15155385434_d93a849b45_m While enduring the horrors of war and living a life estranged from that of a civilian, many develop and suffer from PTSD and lose touch with life outside of war and duty. Furthermore, there are many veterans who still suffer these ills developed from heeding the call to duty. Therefore, it is important that those serving or who have once served be honored today for their selflessness. Veterans Day should not be merely looked upon as just another bank holiday but as a celebration to those who give up their sanity, health, and former existence for the sake of maintaining our freedom.

Through its volunteer work and services given to veterans and soldiers, the Red Cross does just that. The Red Cross provides Reconnection Workshops which help post-deployed soldiers reconnect with their families and reintegrate into civilian life through the help of mental-health professionals. Also, it offers a Coping with Deployment course used to help families of the deployed cope with the departure of their loved ones.

Locally, the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania recently held a Veterans Day Ceremony at the 23rd Street Armory in Philadelphia. American Red Cross Divisional Disaster Executive and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, Scott Graham delivered the keynote address honoring all who served in the United States Military. Lt Col Graham said that, while serving in Iraq, he was grateful for a Red Cross Emergency Communication about the passing of his mother in law. In his last tour of duty, he served with several superior officers who were also in Vietnam. He told a story of returning to a celebratory homecoming and how much that meant to his superiors, who had returned from Vietnam to silence and shame.15584753497_2da892a9c8_o

After the ceremony, Red Cross employees, volunteers and members of the Girard Academic Music Program Red Cross Club distributed, 200 “Totes of Hope”(See Photos)to four local veteran’s service organizations that support homeless veterans in the Philadelphia area: Support Homeless Veterans, The Veterans Group, Safe Haven and Project Home. The totes contained items like toothbrushes, soap, dental floss, band aids, t-shirts, socks, rain ponchos and pocket tissues. In addition, there was information about essential support programs offered by local agencies.

It is programs such as these that demonstrate the Red Cross initiative to remember those who have fought and suffered on the country’s behalf. Knowing that such programs exist for these dedicated men and women makes me very proud to serve as a volunteer for the Red Cross.

— Submitted by Communications Volunteer Betty Thomas

Front of City Hall

Capture a waving Red Cross flag in a photo between March 1 and March 6? Post it to Twitter or Facebook to enter a drawing for tickets to the Red Ball!

 

March is designated as the month to recognize the achievements of the Red Cross locally, nationally and internationally.

In the Philadelphia area, we celebrate by flying the telltale red and white flags around Center City, and City Hall. The effect is striking in several ways: the stark red and white of the flags looks striking against the brisk blue sky of early March, they add to the grandeur of Liberty Square, and they remind one and all of the essential role of the Red Cross in our community.

City Hall is not the only place flying flags. Starting Saturday, March 1st, there will be dozens of Red Cross flags flying in downtown Media and West Chester, as well.

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For the week leading up to our 14th annual Red Ball – the Red Cross’s grand celebration party at the Please Touch Museum on March 8 – we invite our social media community to play a modified game of Capture the Flag. If you see a Red Cross flag in your community, take a photo and post it with the location to Twitter or to our Facebook page and mention us (@redcrossphilly) and use hashtag #redcrossflag. Feel free to be creative and by all means, feel free to make them selfies. We’ll RT as many as we can.

We will enter you in a drawing for two Main Event Red Ball Tickets on March 6 for each photo you send. (Maximum of five entries.) We will select one suburban photo and one Philadelphia photo winner. They will be announced on our Twitter and Facebook feeds and the tickets will be available for pick up at the Red Ball. For details on the Red Ball, visit theredball.org.

While you’re snapping those photos, enjoy some of the other ways the Red Cross is celebrating. Look out for lights as well! Even coffee clutches are getting in on the action!

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The beautiful Ben Franklin Bridge will be dressed in red starting March 1st. The red lights can also be seen at One Liberty Place, Hyatt Penn’s Landing, the Cira Center and on the PECO Crown Lights. Wawa coffee will sport the red and white and we all know the coffee at Wawa is HOT! Protect yourself with the help of the Red Cross. Enjoy!BenFranklinBridge