Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflecting the face of our community - past, present and future

By Kristyle Solomon, volunteer writer

Although we recently concluded Black History Month at the end of February, at the Red Cross we believe in honoring, celebrating and seeking diversity year-round. It's a long part of our history and a continuing effort.

Frederick Douglass was a close friend of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton. Dr. Charles Drew started the American Red Cross blood bank. From those pioneering leaders through today, African Americans have made invaluable contributions to The American Red Cross. As we conclude Black History Month, we’re reminded not only of the African American leaders that have helped shape this organization but also of the individual contributions made by countless others. We now need to continue this legacy and make sure we continue the outstanding contributions of African Americans into the future.

At the recent Red Cross Heroes Soiree in Denver, MC Reggie Rivers lightheartedly pointed out that the event kicked off with an all-star cast of African American leaders from our community -- including him, CBS4 on-air talent and Mile High Chapter Board Member Gloria (Glo) Neal, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. We're proud to have such fantastic community members represent the Red Cross, and we are seeking more people of color to be part of the Red Cross throughout our region.

If you’ve ever wanted to use your skills to help people in need, the American Red Cross needs you.

There’s no better time than now to get involved, whether as a leader, as a disaster responder, or as a volunteer lending your skills at the office.

The next fantastic opportunity to get involved is our upcoming 3-day Training Academy. This weekend-long training will help you get the training necessary so that you’re ready to assist when disaster strikes. From leadership and supervision to assisting in shelters during crisis, the training will prepare you so you're ready to hit the ground running helping your community through the Red Cross. It’s volunteers like you that make help from the American Red Cross possible -- and we want to ensure our volunteers reflect the communities they serve.  Getting trained and being prepared will make you part of the line of diverse volunteers who make this organization exceptional.

Find out more and sign up here: 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Heroes Soiree Set Trend, Touched Hearts

On Friday, Feb. 27, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the Red Cross and honor everyday heroes at the 2015 Red Cross Heroes Soiree.

The event, held at the Sheraton in downtown Denver, buzzed with energy during a pre-ceremony cocktail hour set in a modern-chic “bistro” style environment where business leaders and community members mingled with special guests such as Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Major General Michael Edwards, District Director Morris Price of the U.S. House of Representatives, several state elected officials and Consul General of Canada Marcy Grossman.

Event hosts Reggie Rivers and Glo Neal revved up the energy, launching an awards ceremony that left nary a dry eye in the room after the audience heard the inspiring stories of five local heroes:

1. Recovery Hero Beth Brotherton:

2. Community Hero Ranya Kelly:

3. Miltary Hero Neah Howard:

4. Youth Hero Mikayla Brown:

5. Family Hero the Garza Family:

The event, which is the Mile High Chapter’s largest single fundraiser of the year, raised nearly $400,000 – including more than $90,000 in financial pledges from attendees during a live paddle-raiser. All proceeds will support the lifesaving work of the Red Cross in Colorado, including responding to disasters, teaching preparedness and lifesaving skills like CPR, assisting military families and supporting international Red Cross services and programs.

Tisha and Brian Schuller chaired the successful event, with help from a dynamic event committee and support from these generous sponsors.

View event photos here and on our Flickr page.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015 Pueblo Hometown Heroes Dinner

By Julie Schroeder, volunteer writer

The Pueblo Hometown Heroes dinner honored heroes in the community on Thursday, February 26. With approximately 300 community members in attendance, it was a wonderful night to honor local heroes. 

The night opened with a presentation of colors by Pueblo Veterans Ritual Team, the recipients of last year’s Military Hero award. It was an honor watching these ambassadors as they exemplified a positive image of service and country. After the ceremonial display of colors, Tom Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Red Cross Pikes Peak Chapter, commenced the ceremony recognizing selfless acts of ordinary people doing extra ordinary things.

The American Red Cross recognized the heroic actions of seven individuals and two organizations.
- Humanitarian Hero - Burnie Zercher
- Military Hero - Dr. Graham Hoffman
- First Responder Hero - Justin Hunter
- Adult Hero - John Volk
- Community Service Partner - Pueblo Community College
- Community Service Hero - Colonel, U.S.A.F.(Ret.) R. J. Schultz
- Youth Hero - Jace Martellaro
- Animal Hero - Koa, Pueblo County Sheriff's Office
- First Responder Organization Hero - City of Pueblo Police Department

An in-depth description of each recipient's significant contribution can be seen here,

Burnie Zercher - Humanitarian Hero
Jace Martellaro - Youth Hero
Koa - Animal Hero with her human partner
Pueblo County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Bernal
In addition to appreciating our heroic community members, the Hometown Heroes Dinner allows attendees to partner with the American Red Cross through financial support. Partnering with the American Red Cross allows all individuals to become a local hero by providing the means to further the touch of the Red Cross during times of crisis locally, nationally and worldwide. Whether by serving, saving, volunteering or donating financially, the Red Cross appreciates all the heroes who give back to the community. Thank you to all the Pueblo Hometown Heroes!

Casey Colleti and Kacee Willbanks
show their support for the American Red Cross

To view all the pictures of our recipients, attendants, and presenters of the Pueblo Hometown Heroes Dinner please visit the Flickr album here,

Friday, February 27, 2015

Red Cross Helps Pueblo Family Recover

By Bill Fortune

It was a cold February morning when Shantal Baker was awakened by a loud beeping noise. At first she didn’t recognize the noise but then the audible smoke alarm started chanting “Fire…Fire…Fire.” Moving quickly she began waking up the rest of the family, her husband Michael Smith, daughter Rebecca and 3-week old son Timothy.

Shantal and Michael holding 3-week old Timothy at the
Pueblo Red Cross office.
Photo by Bill Fortune/American Red Cross
According to Baker, the smoke was not very noticeable at first but the family evacuated the home. By the time they were outside they could see the smoke from one of the rooms. The fire moved quickly through the home on Pueblo’s south side resulting in a total loss. Michael was able to grab a blanket to wrap the family in while they waited for the fire department. “We lost it all,” Baker said. “Everything went and in only a few minutes. Thank goodness we had a smoke alarm so that we could all get out safely.”

The Baker-Smith home after the fire. Photo provided
 by Shantal Baker
The family was helped by the Red Cross Disaster Action Team that day and over the next two days as they worked to recover from this personal disaster. They are staying with family while they look for a new place to live. The Red Cross gave them a few items to help with immediate needs like comfort kits and diapers. They were also given funds to help replace some of the clothing that was lost, especially winter clothing, along with food and infant supplies. “It will be good to get a coat for our daughter that actually fits.” Smith said. “We really appreciate what the Red Cross has done for us, and the support we are getting from our friends and the Pueblo community.”

This is just another example of how important it is to have a working smoke alarm in your home. The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign in an effort to educate people about the need to have a family emergency plan and a working smoke alarm.

If you would like to be part of this campaign go to our Home Fire Preparedness page to find out how you can help us reduce the number of fatalities caused by home fires.