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rco_blog_img_firesafteywalkthroughYAROS

Although I’ve only been interning with the Red Cross Communications team for several weeks, I have already gained an entirely new perspective on both this community and providing assistance to those in need. The future of the Red Cross is dependent on volunteers who recognize the importance of this organization and then donate their efforts towards fulfilling its mission.

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During my time at the Red Cross, I have had the opportunity to assist outside of the office. One day, I hope to be part of the Disaster Action team and respond to local disasters. So far, the closest that I have come to disaster response is participating in Red Cross Fire Safety Walkthroughs. During Fire Safety Walkthroughs, Red Cross workers distribute fire safety materials, such as educational materials as well as a 9-volt battery for smoke detectors. The educational material comes in multiple languages and provides individuals with information on how to prevent a fire, making an escape plan and pet fire safety.  In the past several weeks, I’ve participated in Fire Safety Walkthroughs in the two communities surrounding the fatal fires at Gesner Street and North Sixth Street. When fire suddenly destroys homes and claims the lives of community members, the scene is always very sensitive.  It has been difficult to see the tremendous toll these disasters have on communities. As we made our way up and down the streets, I did my best to be respectful to people’s properties, especially the homes where the fires occurred.

Gesner St Fire picture of Laurel

When I am in the office, I work with both internal and external means of communication to keep the general public as well as Red Cross employees and volunteers informed about what is going on in the community and the office. I really value working beside and learning from my manager, Sara, and the rest of the Communications department. Our many responsibilities have so much purpose, which causes me to constantly look forward to my time here. This branch of the Red Cross employs many friendly and intelligent people. I’ve received nothing but a warm welcome to this team. The Red Cross never stops responding, so as long as I’m here I’m sure I will be kept busy by providing the community with the information they need to stay informed and safe.

~submitted by Laurel, a high school intern for the communications department

If you are interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross, click here.

Volunteering with the American Red Cross these last three years has been a great experience for me. When I first became a volunteer, I was unemployed and looking for something to keep me busy until I was able to find a job. Now that I have a job, I still continue to volunteer on a weekly basis. Just about every Tuesday afternoon you can find me in the Communication Pod (CommPod as its come to be known) on the 5th floor. I have a background in English with some journalism experience, and the communications department has been a perfect fit for me. I have written several posted blogs, press releases, captions for pictures, research on various topics and many other things. I enjoy being able to use my experience in a useful and rewarding way.  As I am making my way to the CommPod, if I am not spotted first, I usually stop and talk to all the wonderful people I have gotten to know.

rco_blog_img_jenniferOver the years, my volunteering has expanded beyond the CommPod. I sometimes call myself the 5th floor volunteer because, at times, my help has been needed all over the floor. For about a month after Hurricane Sandy, I came in several days a week to help with anything that needed to be done. I not only got to see first hand all the different services that the Red Cross provides when a disaster occurs, but I actually contributed to the success of these services. I feel proud of my volunteer efforts during that difficult time. I can also be found helping out on the 4th floor in the Volunteer Department with various things.

When I am here volunteering, it gives me such a warm feeling inside knowing that I am helping a great organization and that my work is well appreciated. Every Tuesday, I look forward to coming, and when I am not here, I can’t wait to come back. When I am gone for a few weeks and return, I am often told how much I was missed, which also makes me feel good. The most important reason why I continue to volunteer is seeing the difference that volunteering makes in the lives of those affected by a disaster whether you are in the field or working behind the scenes.

— Posted by Jennifer Ingram, Communications Volunteer for the Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania

Me with some of my favorite volunteers at Red Ball

Vicki Worrall, Janice Winston and me at       Red Ball

I volunteer for the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. I am not trained in Emergency Services. I am not an instructor in swimming or First Aid. I cannot drive an ERV (The acronym for Emergency Response Vehicle, a Red Cross response truck). I do not ever deploy in the middle of the night to scenes of fire and flood. Nevertheless, I make my contribution. I take in information at the speed of sound.  My fingers are a blur at a keyboard.  I am here to tell the world what we do, why we do it and how it is absolutely essential to a just and humane society.

A short perusal of my file in the Volunteer folder of our hard drive reveals that, since becoming a volunteer, I have written 34 blogs, 26 news articles, 10 storyboards and countless news releases.  Some of my favorite pieces are about the history of the Red Cross – I did one on the how the service of one of our founding members was inspired by her experience on the Titanic – but the pieces I love the most are about the day to day efforts of ordinary members of our community to make the world a more caring place.

This leads me to this morning, when the Red Cross office here at 23rd and Chestnut was a little empty. Several people I work with were out attending the Montgomery County Heroes Breakfast. For the last couple years, I have had the pleasure of writing a short summary of the deeds of heroes in Bucks County for the program to be read by attendees.  The Montgomery heroesare equally impressive. There is no way that one event could capture all the extraordinary things that we do for one another every day, but it’s important to remember that the honorees are representative of the rest of us and our “better angels”. Among them, Patricia Lloyd used her Red Cross training to save a five-year-old from choking to death at her school. Montgomery County police officers risked their lives to apprehend a dangerous fugitive and protect their community. Fire Chief Thomas Hayden rescued two women from a home engulfed in flames.  Did you know that men like David Gartner give both blood and plasma several times a year, saving countless lives?

My workstation

I love telling these stories, which is why I keep coming back to this desk, despite an increasing busy professional schedule as my children age into their college years. The work we do is here is essential and important. The people who are trained to teach First Aid, who respond to emergency calls and who provide comfort to veterans and their families are deeply committed and caring. The world is an uncertain place and everyone here stays vigilant, just in case others need our help. It is an honor to sit at this keyboard.

— Submitted by Sarah Peterson, Proud Red Cross Communications Volunteer

As a volunteer photographer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Red Cross communications, I have the opportunity to witness dozens of examples of my fellow _ALT4720volunteers on the job. Often, they are not just helping people who have experienced catastrophe, but are on hand at major city events to handle medical emergencies and participate in fund raisers, which are the “life blood” of our local Red Cross.

At the Hurricane Sandy Thank-a-Thon, I took pictures as volunteers manned telephones at Channel 3 and spent the day calling contributors to

Carolyn Smith V Front Desk

express thanks.  I was at Red Cross House during Thanksgiving week to witness over 400 turkeys being handed out to people in the community.  I was also at the delicious cook-out celebrating the Red Cross House’s tenth anniversary. There, I witnessed volunteers working tirelessly from morning to dusk to make the occasion a high point 

for current and past Red Cross House guests. What an amazing event!  Scrumptious food was prepared, cooked, and served by Red Cross House volunteers.


Volunteers are not only ON the scene of disaster but BEHIND the scenes working on-call shifts for 

Bob Brown at the BarbecueCommunications, tweeting key information on breaking and ongoing disasters.   On Independence Day, a Disaster team was on the job, performing first aid and signing up volunteers.  Large city events can sometimes involve crowd related injuries.  Red Cross volunteers were on the scene to assist people until late that night.ouse employees and volunteers.  This summer, I photographed the Annual Veterans’ Stand-down, a huge event to connect homeless veterans to essential services in their communities.

Then there are the people who volunteer to wear the Fred Cross and Buddy Tear Drop mascot costumes to delight the children at the annual Holiday party.  It is HOT inside those outfits, but nobody complains.BloodDropFredBaby

I could go on and on citing example after example, but I think you get the drift.

The selfless dedication to the Red Cross Mission, seen day-in and day-out in the hundreds and hundreds of people who do the work of the Red Cross in the Philadelphia area, is so apparent.  And the thing that stands out the most for me is that Red Cross Volunteers LOVE the work they do.  None would have it any other way.

I’m very proud to be associated with the American Red Cross SEPA Chapter, and will always be grateful that I signed up to be part of the team.

Michelle Alton

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Submitted by: Lisa Piraino

TV appearances, winning the lottery and deviled eggs – all part of a day’s work as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Although the real work of preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies is done by Disaster Action Team volunteers (those are the folks getting the call in the middle of the night to go help a family who has just lost their home to a fire), there are opportunities to help the local Red Cross in ways that you might not have imagined.

As a fundraiser by profession, I help the Red Cross Financial Development and Communications teams. In order to raise money, people have to know about what the Red Cross is doing! Through partnerships with TV stations and newspapers as well as the SEPA Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Communications team shares updates on preparing for severe weather, fire safety and other Red Cross events. They also work closely with the Red Cross fundraising team to share how donors can help.photo (2)

After the devastating series of tornadoes in Oklahoma last summer, the Red Cross partnered with CBS Philly to hold an all-day telethon. Volunteers staffed a phone bank and throughout the day CBS Philly anchors urged viewers to call in and donate. I worked a shift at the phone bank and enjoyed talking to many generous members of our community. I felt very privileged to be able to answer questions about Red Cross efforts

in Oklahoma (and in Philadelphia), many of the donors thanked me for my work, and it felt great to be a part of the Red Cross team. The highlight of the evening was when the woman sitting next to me took the information for a $5,000 donation – it felt like winning the lottery for the Red Cross.

I’ve also worked at Red Cross events designed to raise money and honor our partners, the first responders. At the Bucks County Police vs. Firefighter Football Game I was in charge of twitter coverage and staffing the biggest celebrity there – Fred Cross!photo (3)

 It was a beautiful fall day at Palisades High School. I played the part of a sideline reporter, interviewing the players and special guests, taking pictures and sharing game highlights.

Some Red Cross events focus on donors (like the telethon), or the community (like the football game), but many Red Cross events are for our clients: those who have suffered from fires, floods or other disasters. This past fall, Red Cross House hosted a barbeque for the residents, and asked for volunteers to help prepare and serve the food. So, on a Saturday morning I found myself making hundreds of deviled eggs. There were no TV cameras. There was no twitter feed. We were just a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers helping.

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If you’ve wanted to volunteer with the Red Cross but aren’t sure how to begin, don’t let that stop you anymore! The mission of the Red Cross is so big and the work so expansive that there is a place for everyone to help.

Find your perfect volunteering opportunity here!

Lisa Piraino is a former employee turned volunteer with the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The American Red Cross Southeastern PA is looking for one or two talented, reliable, and mission driven video production interns for the Spring 2014. (mid January through late April-early May.)

Here’s your chance to create videos about a great organization and its wonderful people.

You’ll have the opportunity to shoot and edit stories about responses to local disasters like fires, hurricanes, floods, etc. You’ll meet some of the most amazing people and get to document their work.

You’ll create videos seen by hundreds of people, possibly thousands of people, many of them some of Philadelphia’s most influential leaders. It’s very possible your videos will appear on the national Red Cross disaster newsroom blog.

You’ll be helping one of the world’s most recognized brands get the message out about its work.

And you’ll have fun.

Go to Youtube.com/redcrossphilly to check out the kind of videos you’d be shooting and editing.  You may also have the chance to work on a feature length documentary about our one of a kind Red Cross House – The Center for Disaster Recovery.

Below is a description of the position and the skills we are seeking. College credit is not required, but highly preferred.

Video Production Intern

Purpose: The video production intern will work to produce and edit videos for the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania that will be seen by many high level and influential leaders in the corporate, non-profit, and governmental worlds.

Key Responsibilities:

  1. Enthusiastic about supporting the American Red Cross mission
  2. Filming/editing/selecting video and sound bites and/or creating graphics to make a video anywhere from 45 seconds to 8 minutes long which will be used for a variety of internal and external events and promotion
  3. Digitizing video clips and organizing them on internal servers. Ability to convert and save clips from Mac to PC and vice versa crucial.
  4. Helping to manage our YouTube Channel
  5. Assistance with special events, depending on the time of year, including media and client outreach ahead of events, setting up signage, social media during events, escorting of media and VIPs, filming interviews for Chapter, social media videos, etc.
  6. Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:

  1. Editing and videography skills a must, experience with Adobe Creative Suite highly preferred.
  2. Must have access to editing and videography equipment capable of handling a variety of digital formats, plus microphone and lighting.
  3. Must be reliable and professional with dependable access to transportation (car or public transit)
  4. Working knowledge of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and/or Vimeo.
  5. Must be able to handle multiple tasks at once.
  6. Ability and flexibility to work odd hours when necessary for special events with advanced notice or disaster response with possibly little to no notice.
  7. Must go through interview process, complete American Red Cross volunteer application and pass background check.
  8. Commitment to the Red Cross mission of helping to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
  9. Creative vision with the ability to turn vision into results.
  10. Work under tight deadlines and occasional stressful circumstances
  11. Ability to work collaboratively, yet sometimes be able to work with little supervision.
  12. Excellent project management skills.
  13. Writing experience a plus
  14. Calm demeanor.

Reports to: Communications Manager and Chief Communications Officer

Time Commitment: Ideal candidate can commit to 12-20 or more hours a week on a set schedule with flexibility for early and later special events. Schedule and hours are negotiable as related to requirements for intern credits.  Internship lengths are negotiable with candidate and requirements for intern credits. Ideal length would be mid January through late April-early May

This is an unpaid internship but may qualify for college credit.

To apply, send resume and letter to sara.smith@redcross.org

DSC_0168_7138In the early morning hours of January 23nd, there was a serious house fire in East Norriton, Montgomery County. Since my volunteer role at the SEPA Red Cross began, I’ve been in the habit of checking the local news each morning. That’s how I saw the interview with the Montgomery County fire chief where he explained that the recent cold snap created some special challenges for the responders. It took a while to find a working hydrant. Water froze on contact with everything it touched: the grass, the pavement, the house. The hoses froze to the pavement and could not be moved once the fire was extinguished. Two fire fighters were hurt slipping on the ice. Two residents were hurt jumping out of a second floor window. It is safe to say that 10 degree temperatures made a terrible situation even worse, but the fire fighters were there to do their job and they deserve our admiration and respect.

The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania was also there. Volunteers rose in the middle of the night to be at the scene and care for residents forced out into the cold. They were there with financial assistance for food, clothing, shoes and winter coats to four people affected by the fire. Frozen hoses are not the only challenging consequence of a cold snap. Cold and fire are old friends. When heating bills become high and un-payable, people take risks to create heat. Stove burners are turned to high, a space heater overloads a socket, and an oven is turned to 500 degrees and left open.

In the last few frozen days, our volunteers responded to 10 fires in all five Southeastern, PA counties. We helped 48 people who were forced out of their homes. In every case, Red Cross volunteers were there side by side with fire fighters to do the other half of the work: care for the people involved.

These volunteers are extremely special people. Most of us are good at caring for our family and friends; very few of us are good at caring for strangers in 10 degree temperatures at 2:00 in the morning. But still Red Cross volunteers are there. We were there this week. Our volunteers are dedicated middle of the night risers, unstoppable on ice and determined to provide relief. We will see our region through the winter months, no matter how cold it gets

—————.

Below is a video of a separate fire response, this one Friday evening 1/25/13 in N. Wales, Montgomery County. It further underscores the point made above.