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Written by Bryan Meyers

The American Red Cross offers 24/7 emergency communications, counseling, and financial assistance through its Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) network. Eligible members include the U.S. Armed Forces, their families and military veterans. Mind-body workshops, information and referral services in the local community and global service delivery options are available for home and overseas installations.

Soliders

Nearly 100,000 families have received aid through the SAF program this year, including more than 36,000 emergency communications to military members and their families. The program can help families to cope with military deployments with courses, pre-deployment preparedness tools, reconnection workshops and post-deployment support resources. A Hero Care App is also available for free to access vital resources for military members, veterans and family members.

The emergency services that are also available through the SAF network include the American Red Cross Hero Care Center, which is accessible 24/7. You can submit a request online or call toll free to speak to a Red Cross Emergency Communications Specialist at 1-877-272-7337. Service member information will be required in addition to information about the emergency.

In addition to military hospital and clinic programs that are designed to offer comfort and boost morale, veteran’s services are available for veterans and their family members. The American Red Cross will assist veterans and their families with local, state and national resources including emergency needs for clothing, shelter, counseling referrals and claims for veterans’ benefits.

Through its local chapters and the SAF network, the American Red Cross is there for active-duty military service members and their families 365 days a year. Red Cross volunteers also serve in Veterans Administration (VA) and military hospitals around the country and the rest of the world to ensure that vital assistance is given to the men and women who need it.

Written by Sam Antenucci

We underestimate the importance of the letters A, B, and O. When these letters are missing from a sentence, it ceases to make sense. Likewise, these letters hold the utmost importance in our hospitals. Representing the main blood type groups, they can mean the difference between life or death. Unfortunately, hospitals nationwide have been going through extreme shortages in our blood supplies and have reached dangerously low levels.

Missing Type

In response to the shortages, The Red Cross is kicking off The Missing Types Campaign to address and bring awareness to the shortages during the summer months. Since 2013, there has been a decreasing number of Red Cross donors, declining by 80,000 people each year. To make matters worse, every two seconds, someone in the U. S. needs a blood transfusion. This disproportion in donors and the high demand of blood has left many hospital’s supplies low and shelves empty.

blood donors

U.S. Health officials state that over 13 million units of blood are needed yearly to keep up with the demand for patients in need. Though the Red Cross provides 40% of that blood, only 3% of the population donates annually. The frightening reality of going to the hospital and needing a blood transfusion, only to find your type is no longer available, is one many patients will soon have to face.

Without the generosity of blood donors, patients with various cancers, traumas, and chronic diseases might not be able to get the blood that they desperately need to stay alive and healthy. Fortunately, this was not the case for a brave 2-year-old, Lindsey Crowder. At the time of her lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis, Lindsey and her family went through a two-year chemotherapy regiment that put her into remission. However, once Lindsey turned six, she relapsed and had to rely on over 100 different blood transfusions to keep her healthy and give her another chance to recover. Lindsey’s mother, Lisa recalled, “Without the generous donors, I don’t know where we would be. Which is why we are now donors.”

Normally, you might not realize the importance of the letters A, B, and O, until they are gone. Likewise, these letters are vanishing from our hospitals shelves, leaving many critical patients without the blood they desperately need. You are the missing type, and by donating this summer season, you can save three lives with your life saving donation. You can give life to more patients like Lindsey by signing up for a blood drive near you on the Red Cross’s website: http://www.redcrossblood.org/give. You can also read more stories like Lindsey’s and see how your donation will make a difference to those in need, here at https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/how-to-donate/how-blood-donations-help.html.

In March of 1944, Frances Etherington was in her mid-20s and just joined the American Red Cross to serve in World War II. Following a six-week course at the American University in Atlanta, she sailed to London from Brooklyn, New York.

Paper shortages, buzz bombs and blackouts did not damper France’s dedication. She qualified for an international truck driver’s license and began driving a 12-ton truck through the busy streets of London; a “horrifying” feat, in her words. She served in the Red Cross Club Mobile Unit, providing coffee, doughnuts and special meals to soldiers.

Frances Eth

A couple months into her deployment, Frances sensed something big was about to happen. Just before what would come to be known as D-Day and the Invasion of Normandy (June 6, 1945), “London became very quiet and eerie. It wasn’t as crowded and many soldiers had been moved out,” she recalls. That night, while listening to the radio news, she learned of the attack.

Later that month, her unit sailed from Portsmouth to Utah Beach in Normandy. Etherington spent her first night on land just beyond the beach in a field that had been swept for German mines. She slept under a truck because the hedgerows were mined. In the coming weeks, her unit followed troops liberating European towns, never staying in one place for long.

While Frances’ unit avoided the immediate war zone, the devastation of the bombed French villages, images of refugees walking in hordes along the roads and a “nauseating” visit to a concentration camp were etched in her memory. “Such a methodical and scientific means of destroying human lives that I shuddered at the coldness of it all,” she remembers.

Etherington considered herself lucky to serve soldiers coffee and food. She was given a whiskey allowance, which she put towards the doughnuts fund since she didn’t drink alcohol. There was even some fun during it all, the unit was entertained by an army group of musicians and magicians.

In May 1945, victory in Europe was declared. In August, Etherington sailed back to New York on a hospital ship filled with amputee soldiers. As they entered the New York Harbor, a huge message painted on the banks of the river was there to greet them: “Welcome Home. Well done.”

Etherington returned home to her native North Carolina and remained involved in the Red Cross, donating throughout the years and establishing a Charitable Gift Annuity. She recently turned 100 years and her daughter thought to document her mother’s experiences with the Red Cross before it was lost.

Transcribed by Laurie Etherington

Written by Kathy Huston

 

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage that could affect patient care.

Jan 2018 Urgent Need Blood Appeal_Hospitals

Here’s how you can help:

  1. #GiveNow: Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an urgent need for their help. New and current donors of all blood types are needed to help ensure the Red Cross can meet the needs of patients every day and is prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood.
  3. Bring a friend to donate with you.

You can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who rely on the generosity of volunteer donors. Please make an appointment to give blood or platelets now and help save lives.

<Links used in blog:

Volunteer Spotlight

By: Elizabeth McLaren

Agnes Han, a senior at Downingtown East High School, knows a thing or two about initiative. With aspirations to become a physician, Han wondered what she could do about the lack of high school clubs available to her that focused on health and wellness.

So she created her own, founding Downingtown East’s Red Cross Club during her junior year to explore her passions and “to get myself and others more involved in helping others medically.”Agnes Han 1

Her vision produced results. “We started with about five people, but over the course of year, it grew to around 25 people,” Han says. “Officers do most of the work. Our teacher advisor, Mrs. Resnek, helps us when we need it and lets us know when we can hold meetings. Other than that, the students pretty much run the show.”

Han currently serves as club president, and is part of a five-member team of officers including fellow students Jordan Guistwhite as vice president, Megan Osterstag as treasurer, Ian Goodstein as secretary and Kate Dippolito as head of fundraising.

The next order of club business for Han was volunteer training for Red Cross Blood Services with the Tri-County Chapter. She became a Blood Donor Ambassador. “A lot of it was fairly straightforward and things I could learn on the job. I met once or twice with Blood Services to review safety protocols and such,” she says.

Han started doing registration at blood drives after she completed training. “The first thing donors see is us – registration – and it’s my job to get them all signed in and ready to go with a smile on their face,” she adds.

Her first blood drive was also her most memorable. “It was the WMMR blood drive that Preston and Steve hosted. I remember feeling at ease and not at all awkward because all of the other volunteers were so friendly. The one volunteer who I got a chance to talk to a little bit, loved mascots and chased around the man in the Blood Drop costume, wanting to take a picture. She was hilarious,” Han recalls.

With college applications on her agenda these days, Han recognizes that both the Red Cross Club and her volunteer role have helped prepare her for the future. “The Red Cross has shown me the joy in helping others through medicine and I’m glad I joined because I was able to learn a lot about the process of giving blood and the mechanics behind the different types of blood,” she says.

The idea of the club continuing after she graduates is something Han loves. For now, Han said that she and the Red Cross Club members are busy setting up a fundraiser for hurricane relief. They are also hoping to host a blood drive in the spring.

Han has a bit of Red Cross volunteer inspiration of her own, too. She adds, “Get involved early and become an active volunteer! Help out with whatever you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

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

pleaseantville-halloween-5Looking back on the events two years ago when Superstorm Sandy was covering the almost the entire eastern Atlantic Ocean, I remember feeling astonished that the storm would actually turn toward the coast and make landfall in New Jersey. Hurricanes come north, of course, but not often and not with such threatening power. Were we ready? I suspected we weren’t, because how could we be? We tend to be “ready” for events we have already experienced. Sandy was unprecedented. Still, it was incredibly comforting to be a volunteer for the Red Cross. These were the folks who knew how to prepare and they were on the job.

I wrote, soon after the storm, about a friend who had texted me “Thank goodness for the Red Cross.”  Yes, indeed, for so many reasons. Here’s the rest of my 2012 blog post:

“What a week it’s been. Our job is to take care of the important stuff: shelter, food, comfort, survival. Currently, the Red Cross is sheltering close to 9,000 people in 171 Red Cross shelters across 13 states. Wow. . . Locally, close to 200 people (196) and 19 pets stayed the night in local SEPA Red Cross shelters in Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia Counties.

When I was in our offices last Thursday, I peeked in on a meeting of disaster preparedness personnel on the potential for a large hurricane to incapacitate the East Coast early the following week. At that point, the encounter between Sandy and the coast of New Jersey was still purely hypothetical and only one model was suggesting the storm would not turn safely out to sea. Even so, our staff was taking the situation seriously and beginning to make the preparations necessary to provide support and shelter should the worst case scenario occur. Thank goodness they did.

Needless to say, we’ve been moderately busy since then. At the height of the storm, we were ready with 14 shelters set up in five counties. We hosted a phone bank to answer storm related questions at a local television station. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, a Hurricane App and several media appearances by our CEO, Judge Renée Hughes, shared vital information with the citizens of Southeastern, Pennsylvania. We helped people prepare and they did. We encouraged them to “shelter in place” by staying home, staying off the streets and letting our public officials do their jobs. People listened and we made it through this.

For those forced to evacuate, we provided warmth with blankets, food, shelter and the companionship of volunteers and others in the same situation. We take comfort seriously and believe it helps everyone weather the storm. And with comfort in mind, we are proud to say that Halloween celebrations went ahead for several of our younger shelter residents at a shelter in Pleasantville, NJ. “

I remember feeling so moved by these Halloween festivities. It’s so important to help children feel a sense of normalcy when their entire world has been disrupted. I was proud to be a Red Cross volunteer on that day, and I still am.