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By: Sophie Kluthe

When I walked into the Red Cross Eastern PA Headquarters for my First Aid class that day, I thought I knew what to expect; all Red Cross employees are required to be certified in First Aid. What I didn’t expect was the cross-section of people I would meet from different lines of work, and the many reasons they had for signing up.

In the row behind me was the new owner of a fitness center. He wanted CPR skills, he said, so he could step up if there were ever an emergency at his facility. Across the room was a childcare professional who wanted to best serve the kids in her care. There was even a guy who needed CPR certification to be a card dealer at a casino. (Who knew?) The knowledge we acquired would help us help others in the workplace—but that’s not where it ends. The fact is, we’d be safeguarding everyone in our personal orbit.

The best time to sign up for a First Aid class is yesterday, of course. But the second best time is now, during National Heart Month. You’ll learn to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator, or AED—a huge lifesaver in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, which claims thousands of lives a year. 

Our teacher that day was Wereuche Nze, a licensed training provider with the American Red Cross. “I have a passion for teaching and anything to do with health-saving measures,” she says. “I love what I do.” 

Wereuche Nze, a
licensed training provider with the American Red Cross.

Many who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before reaching a hospital, I learned. Every second counts. Every minute without defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival. That fact is a huge motivating force behind Nze’s dedication to teaching lifesaving skills. “I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s very important for everyone to take the training,” she says.

Having training means you could be the person who makes the life-and-death difference—whether it’s for a client, a loved one, or even a stranger on the street. It’s not something you’ll do often, but recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest is critical. Time is of the essence: “It takes only a few minutes for brain death to occur,” Nze says.

With American Red Cross training courses, you can earn the knowledge and skills to deal with an emergency. A variety of options are available; in-person classes are held at convenient locations with hands-on training from experienced instructors. You can also opt for online and blended (combining hands-on training with online content) simulation learning. Several courses are OSHA compliant, so if you need the training to fulfill a job requirement, check with your employer to determine which class you need.  In the meantime, download the free Red Cross First Aid App to have instant information on handling the most common first-aid emergencies—including sudden cardiac arrest—at your fingertips.

By Samantha Antenucci

As a loving pet owner, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my cat and five dogs (two of which are pictured below!). Pets are valuable family members—and as with any family member, they need to be looked after, especially when challenging weather poses health risks for them.  

This winter’s polar vortex in the Midwest and East Coast left single-digit temps and subzero wind chills in its wake. Although that episode has passed, it doesn’t mean winter has loosened its grip on the Northeast. We may still see subfreezing weather blast through before the season is over, and inclement conditions can stress our pets. Here are some simple guidelines to ensure that your furry friends survive the season. 

Keep ’em in if it’s cold out 

Yes, Fido has a fur coat, but extreme cold is dangerous for humans and animals alike. So bring your pet indoors when temperatures dip. If it’s an outdoor pet, it still needs warm indoor shelter during freezing and below-freezing temps. The rest of the time, your pet needs an enclosure that protects it from wind, rain, and snow. The size of the enclosure matters—it should be large enough for the animal to sit and lie down, but small enough to ensure conservation of body heat. It should also face away from any wind and be elevated above ground to prevent further heat loss. It is also good practice to cover the doorway with a waterproof material for warmth and to keep the elements out.  

Wipe those salty paws 

Unless you’re in the country, chances are that after a storm, your streets and sidewalks are heavily treated with salt or chemical deicers. These compounds can stick to your dog’s paw pads during a walk,  causing major irritation. In addition, if Fido tries to lick his pads clean, the salt and chemicals can make him sick. So make a habit of ending your winter walks by wiping off your dog’s feet with a damp cloth or towel, and checking regularly for cracked or bleeding paws. 

Avoid household hazards  

Speaking of chemicals, antifreeze is a deadly poison that’s often kept indoors. Its sweet taste attracts animals and ingestion can lead to death. Keep this and other household chemicals safely stored, and clean up any spills immediately.  

Consider the local critters  

Your own pets are not the only animals who may suffer in winter, so keep an eye out for creatures in need. Neighborhood cats have been known to crawl under car hoods or onto the tops of tires to keep warm. Before starting your engine in the morning, bang on the hood to scare away any animals that could be hiding inside. 

Expect the unexpected                               

Being prepared in winter is vital; extreme weather can knock out heat, power, and communications. Make a plan to deal with storms, and keep an emergency kit handy—including five days’ worth of food, water, and medications. That way you can better protect your whole family—and your pet—from unforeseen hardships.  

For more tips on weather safety for your pets, check out the American Red Cross’s Pet First Aid app. With veterinary advice and emergency preparedness info, the Pet First Aid app can help you keep your pets safe and warm this winter. To access all Red Cross apps, click here.

By: Kathy Huston

It’s Black History Month and we wanted to celebrate an honored member, and leader within our Eastern Pennsylvania Region, Gregory L. Smith.  

Smith has a long history of dedication to the American Red Cross, which started in 1992 as a volunteer. Since then, Smith has worked his way to his current role as Regional Disaster Program Officer for the Eastern PA Region, headquartered in Philadelphia.  

“In this role, I am the lead employee responsible for preparedness, readiness, response and recovery activities for the 17 counties that comprise the region’s territory,” Smith said. 

Smith has held a number of titles during his years of service, including Disaster Cycle Service supervisor, manager and director in Northern California, Columbus, OH and Philadelphia, PA, and at the national headquarters, where he also served as the VP of Volunteers, Youth and Nursing Programs from 2000 through 2002.  

Over the past two decades, Smith has seen his fair share of major disasters. His wealth of information and knowledge come, in part, from deployments to support major disaster relief operations across the country, including the North Ridge earthquake, hurricanes Fran, Ike, Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Matthew and Florence, and tornados in Moore, OK and Joplin, MO. He was also on the scene for the relief efforts that followed 9/11 in New York City.   

During the month of February, when we reflect on the contributions of African Americans and the cultural richness and diversity of our country, Smith explains why honoring diversity and inclusiveness ultimately helps the organization succeed in following through on its mission.  

“Diversity is vital for the American Red Cross, because we must reflect the diverse communities we serve, whether translating the care and concerns of our donors into actions, or engaging volunteers in the delivery of our services,” he said.  

In talking to him, it’s clear that Smith is motivated by the impacts he has made, and continues to make, on individuals, families and communities, as they prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters and emergencies.  

“My greatest motivation is that I can engage and support community volunteers in these efforts,” he notes. 

For Smith, black history is a year-round celebration, as is his determination to carry out his unwavering service to the American Red Cross. 

 “I do my best every single day to demonstrate that you can look like me and not only deliver the Red Cross mission, but be a leader in the movement as well,” he said. 

Smith’s dedication and commitment to making a positive impact on the communities he serves is certainly an example we can all look up to.  

By Kathleen Huston

Safety is the Goal at Your Super Bowl Party

Quicker than you can say “double doink” (with a shout-out to my Philadelphia Eagles, who unfortunately didn’t make it this year), the Rams and the Patriots will go head to head in Atlanta, GA for Super Bowl LIII. Here are some timely tips to help ensure that all you fans out there don’t take a hit as well.

For the Host With the Most

The focus of your get-together should be on the five F’s: football, fun, family, friends and food. You might be watching for a while! The longest Super Bowl game was number XLII in 2013, clocking in at four hours and 14 minutes, according to Bustle.com.

In addition to your chips and dips and pizzas and wings, be sure to have healthier options on hand. Hummus, guacamole, veggies and dip, turkey chili with lots of healthy peppers and beans, nuts, and popcorn without butter all fit the bill. Also make sure nonalcoholic drinks (especially water) are in plentiful supply.

Finally, sure, your fun and festive football-themed hand towel in the bathroom is nice for guests to look at, but have disposable towels at the ready so they can avoid getting the last person’s germs. Also, make sure your hand soap dispenser is full. In that same vein, have serving utensils to use with each food item — even a spoon in the nut bowl — so guests don’t have to stick their hands in anything and risk spreading the flu virus.

For the Party People

Be sure to designate a sober driver before game day. If everyone in your group wants to imbibe, make sure you install a ride service app on your phone or have a taxi company number available in your contacts.

If you’re sick, don’t think you should rally and attend anyway. Stay home. You aren’t doing yourself any favors and nobody wants to score your cold or flu either. There’s always next year!

If you are the designated driver, practice defensive driving (as you always should). Snopes has confirmed time and again that car accidents soar after Super Bowls. “Even those fans who don’t drink during or after the game pose a risk to themselves and others once they hit the road because of the distraction factor,” it notes. Whether you’re wallowing in the fact that you’re team didn’t make the cut or celebrating your victory over and over again in your head, save those thoughts until you’re home safe and sound. You don’t want to be one of those distracted drivers yourself.

Download the App

To wrap it up, the Red Cross offers a free first-aid app you can install on your phone now. Among its many features, it provides tips and videos addressing common first-aid scenarios. Content is available in English and Spanish. Read more about it here.

By: Chris Peralta

The new year is here, and that means Red Ball will be here before you know it! Red Ball is the black tie gala fundraiser for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Red Cross, with proceeds benefiting the Red Cross House, a center that provides care and support for families affected by disaster.

Red Ball has no shortage of fun to offer! Here are just a few things you’ll get to enjoy when Red Ball takes over Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, March 30, 2019.

1. FOOD! Food is one of the biggest draws of Red Ball each year! With more than two dozen restaurants offering samples of their appetizers and desserts, there will be no shortage of options for you to fill your plate. Click here and scroll down for a full list of restaurants at Red Ball 2019!

2. LIVE MUSIC! Four bands will keep the music going all night long at Red Ball 2019! With an eclectic selection of music from different genres, you’ll no doubt hear some of your favorite tunes and show off your moves on one of the two dance floors.

Guests at Red Ball 2018 had plenty of tunes to keep them dancing.

3. SILENT AUCTION! Each year, guests leave Red Ball with all sorts of Philly sports memorabilia, from autographed footballs, to jerseys, to season tickets! The silent auction also offers fine wines, artwork, and goodie baskets – so no matter what your interests, you’re bound to find something to bid on!

4. LOCAL CELEBRITIES! From the Harlem Globetrotters, to Miss Philadelphia, to the Eagles cheerleaders, to Philly’s super star athletes, Red Ball’s guest list includes members of Philly’s own A-list. Catch some of them as they are interviewed live during the event, or snap a picture with them as you enjoy the event!

5. GAMES!  When you’ve had your fill of food and need a break from the dance floor, try your hand at some of the games at Red Ball! Corn hole and Jenga are guest favorites every year. If games aren’t your strength, snap some fun pictures at the photo booth!

Red Ball 2019 is taking place Saturday, March 30, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Field! Tickets are on sale now – get yours today!

By: Sophie Kluthe

Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference. It’s something we at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross witnessed first-hand this week, and we didn’t have to look very far to see it. 

Right across the street from our chapter office in Philadelphia, some tenacious students at the Albert M. Greenfield School were raising money — collecting change — with the hopes of creating change in the world around them.  

Students and teachers at the Albert M. Greenfield School pose for a photo with Regional Red Cross CEO, Guy Triano (far right).

John Neary, an 8th grade literacy teacher at the school told us what the fundraiser was about. “Earlier this school year, our school ran a charitable campaign called ‘World of Change.’  The campaign was organized and led by a group of middle school students in an after-school club called Student Voice.  Our belief is that even small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the world,” Neary said.  

He said each classroom was given six empty mason jars, with each jar representing an area of need: Hunger, Housing, Health, Literacy, Recreation, and Employment. Over the course of two weeks, students collected coins and donated them to the jars. The school nominated the American Red Cross as one of the organizations to possibly benefit from the money in the Health jar.  

“We put together a ballot, and our community voted on which organization would receive the money collected for each category. I am happy to say that the Red Cross was an overwhelming favorite!” Neary said. 

The Red Cross is the proud recipient of precisely $996.28! What we are equally as proud of, was the time and dedication the students at Albert M. Greenfield School put into collecting all the coins for the jars. It proves that no matter a person’s age, or the amount they have to give, every little bit counts!

By: Sophie Kluthe

Guests enjoying Red Ball 2018! Photo by: Daniel Moyer Photography

The Why:

On average, 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in services and programs. This is only possible through the generosity of donors like you.  When you give to the Red Cross, your donations support:

  1. Disaster Relief
  2. Home Fires
  3. Training and Certification
  4. Help to Military Families
  5. Health Care and Blood Drives
  6. International Efforts

Every year the Red Cross in Eastern PA conducts a number of signature events throughout region that would not be possible without the generous support of our community and sponsors. We welcome you to come out in support of these events as money raised goes back into the many services we provide to the local community.

The What, Where and When:

March 17, 2019 Pocono Telethon: Annual fundraising telethon and talent show www.redcross.org/poconotelethon 

March 30, 3019 Red Ball: Gala featuring dancing, auction and tastings from 30 premiere Philadelphia area restaurants www.redcross.org/RedBallPhilly 

April 12, 2019 Lehigh Valley Cabaret & Cuisine Annual fundraising dinner/dance- 90s theme: To the 90s and beyond www.redcross.org/Cabaret

April 16, 2019 Northeastern Pennsylvania Heroes Breakfast Awards ceremony hosted by the NEPA Chapter www.redcross.org/NEPAheroes

May 9, 2019 Berks County Heroes Breakfast Breakfast and awards ceremony www.redcross.org/BerksCountyHeroes

May 14, 2019 Red Cross Cup Golf Tournament A golf tournament, lunch, reception & dinner, contests, silent auction, and raffle www.redcross.org/RedCrossCup

May 19, 2019 Run for the Red Pocono Marathon Annual Marathon and 5K hosted by Pocono Chapterwww.redcross.org/PoconoMarathon

June 21, 2019 Bucks Heroes Breakfast and awards ceremony www.redcross.org/buckscountyheroes