Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Red Cross Story: Proud of My Lifesaving Son on Prom Night

Hunter Hoagland on Prom Night
My son, Hunter, was trained as a lifeguard by the Red Cross and worked this past summer as a lifeguard for Pinehurst Country Club. He is a junior at Dakota Ridge High School. Several weeks ago as Prom season was kicking into gear, he was asked to a Prom at another high school.

He arrived at a home where pictures were taken.  He and his date exchanged flowers, smiled big for the camera and boarded a bus for transportation to dinner. As the bus was emptying, a young man from another bus boarded Hunter’s bus, vomited and passed out. As others avoided the boy and made their way to the door, Hunter as well as the bus driver noticed that the young man was in trouble. He was not breathing.

Without thought to his tux, date or situation, Hunter administered CPR until the bus driver could reach a hospital several blocks away. Hunter and his date stayed with the young man until he was stabilized in the hospital. The bus driver and hospital personnel praised Hunter’s quick and decisive action in helping the young man out of a clearly life threatening situation.

I have included a picture of Hunter in his tux prior to the Prom. I would imagine there aren’t many formal life saving opportunities!

I believe you guys should know that your training can and does make a difference in many situations, clearly it did here. And I would hope that you would be as proud of Hunter as his family and friends are.

Jack Hoagland

Note: Yes, Jack, we are as proud as a papa that Hunter was such a hero and used his training to save a life! We are very impressed with his calm under pressure, compassion and service. Way to go, Hunter!

Have you used your Red Cross skills to help someone in need? Was your life saved by someone trained in CPR? Share YOUR Red Cross story at

Monday, April 14, 2014

April Lunch & Learn to Focus on the Challenges, Narratives of Refugee Resettlement

For some refugees, fleeing a homeland blighted by conflict and violence is only half the battle. Once refugees are relocated to the United States, many face employment challenges, language barriers, health issues and difficulty integrating into an entirely new culture. To help refugees overcome these challenges, groups like Denver’s African Community Center (ACC) offer educational resources, housing assistance, health services and job training. At this month’s International Services Lunch & Learn event, April Sugimoto and Lindsay Dean of the ACC will discuss the ways their organization rises to the challenge of meeting the individual resettlement needs of those seeking refuge in the Denver area. 

Sugimoto, the ACC’s Outreach Coordinator, emphasized that while some refugees share common basic needs, every refugee’s story is distinct and requires a tailored response. “We like to say, ‘Once you’ve met one refugee, you’ve met one refugee,’” said Sugimoto. “When an individual comes to Denver, we support them with basic needs and benefits, every step that you can imagine you’d need to take if your life was completely uprooted, but [each resettlement approach] is really case-by-case.”

Recognizing the many distinct experiences of refugee life, the ACC coordinates a recurring storytelling event, “Voices of Refugees,” where “community members” (the group’s term for resettled individuals) are invited to tell their stories of displacement and resettlement. The event functions as part of the group’s efforts to promote multicultural exchange between the refugee community and the greater Denver population “I think it’s an amazing opportunity to make that connection between what’s happening globally, what issues are creating refugees, and creating that local level of understanding and interest, understanding who our neighbors actually are,” Sugimoto said.

In conjunction with services offered by the ACC and organizations like it, The Red Cross offers the Restoring Family Links Program for refugees who need help locating and communicating with family members separated in the chaos of conflict. The Red Cross assists about 5,000 families annually with this service.

The Lunch & Learn lecture will be presented Wednesday, April 16, from noon to 1 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. RSVPs are requested by 12 p.m. Tuesday, April 15 to Tim Bothe at WebEx options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week: An Opportunity to Prepare

Understanding the types of severe weather that are possible in your area is an important aspect of preparedness — and that’s the impetus behind Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 14-20.

With spring in full swing, we’re getting into warmer temperatures and the time when severe weather is more likely to occur. Although tornadoes may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about  severe weather, Colorado’s threats also include flash floods, wildfires, thunderstorms, hail, lightning and heavy winds.

“We always encourage people to think through what they would do each day during that particular type of severe weather,” said Tom Magnuson, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Pueblo. The Weather Service, an expert that the Red Cross turns to for information on upcoming and current weather threats, will release information focusing on a different weather hazard each day during Severe Weather Awareness Week.

In addition to the information provided by the National Weather Service and organizations like Ready Colorado, the American Red Cross provides tools to aid personal preparedness for severe weather. Among its many resources are mobile apps that put vital information at your fingertips. The FREE American Red Cross apps provide information that can help you plan for, respond to and understand different types of severe weather and scenarios through features like interactive quizzes and preloaded content, so the info can be accessed even when cell towers are down.

A few of our favorite apps are:
  • Tornado App (iTunes/Google Play) — sounds an audible siren when NOAA issues a tornado warning for a location monitored by a user
  • Flood App (iTunes/Google Play) — will sound flood and flash flood watches and warning alerts
  • Wildfire App – shares news about wildfires in a selected area, lists shelter locations and provides advice for safety before, during and after a wildfire
  • First Aid App (iTunes/Google Play/Amazon Marketplace) — provides expert advice for everyday emergencies through videos and step-by-step advice.
Being aware of the weather threats in your area and familiarizing yourself with what to do before they strike could save your life and reduce your potential losses. For example, after using the Tornado App to learn what to do if there’s a tornado in your area, you may want to look around your environment and locate safe places for taking cover. By considering what your response should be to each severe weather scenario, you’ll be better prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure your safety.

It’s especially important to listen for emergency alerts and warnings, because severe weather isn’t limited to a certain season in Colorado. While the peak months for stronger storms are April, May and June, there can be severe weather almost any time of the year from February through early November, Magnuson said.

Coloradans’ love for the outdoors is another reason to be knowledgeable about these weather hazards. Thunderstorms, for example, occur almost on a daily basis throughout the summer, especially in the mountains. “That’s why we tell people to get your hike done and get your fun done in the morning before thunderstorms develop,” Magnuson said.

And with thunderstorms comes lightning and hail, which residents need to be aware of and understand how to respond. Lightning in particular should be taken seriously when people are outside working or doing other activities: It typically kills three people and injures another dozen each year, according to Magnuson. The threat of hail is also important to understand. In fact, Magnuson said, Eastern Colorado gets bigger hail and more of it than most of the U.S.! New residents may be unaccustomed to this type of severe weather and how to respond to it (get yourself and pets indoors during thunderstorms as small hail can suddenly change into large “ice missiles,” according to the National Weather Service).

Just as it’s important to learn about the types of severe weather in Colorado before they strike, users shouldn’t wait until there’s an emergency to use the mobile apps. “The apps have shown that they can save lives but the key is to download it before you need it and to learn how to use the features that it provides,” said Bill Fortune, communications specialist for the Colorado and Wyoming Region of the American Red Cross.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Red Cross Story: The Most Meaningful Donation, by Jason Romero

I attended the Century of Champions Red Cross Ball in Denver on March 22, 2014. It was a night I’ll never forget – in addition to being inspired by heroes’ stories and volunteers’ dedication amid the glamorous backdrop of black ties, ball gowns and live music, I had a five-minute conversation that touched my heart and illustrated the depth of human compassion and generosity.

Jason Romero shares a moving experience about Red Cross impacts.
The Ball was an “event of the century” to raise funds for Red Cross services in honor of 100 years of the Red Cross in Colorado. I became involved in the Red Cross gala when a friend from Behind the Red professionals group, Deirdre Wildman, encouraged me to attend the event. I joined my Wells Fargo colleague and Board Member Dan Barry, as well as QEP table host Shanda Vangas.

I was impressed by the details of the gala. The presentation was very well done, beautiful and streamlined. And the music was amazing!

After the dinner, I took a phone call outside of the Sheraton Hotel ballroom on the 16th Street Mall. While ending my phone call, a passerby approached me. “Why do you look so sharp?” the man said, complimenting my tuxedo to start the conversation. I was flattered and briefly had the impression that the man might ask for change.

That impression was transformed 180 degrees instantly.

I explained I was attending a fundraiser for the Red Cross inside the hotel.  Then the anonymous man grabbed all the change from his pocket and handed it to me. “Here. It’s everything that I have collected today. This is all I have,” he said.

I gently refused and told him, “You don’t have to do that; I’ll make a donation in your name.” But the man insisted that the American Red Cross had helped him and his family immensely and it was very important to him that his contribution go to the Red Cross to help others. The man only revealed that he was originally from Louisiana and had been living in Denver for a few years.

As the impromptu donor walked away on the 16th Street Mall, I was stunned by the profound gesture from the man. To me, that 80 cents was as valuable as a gift a thousand times its dollar value because it was so heartfelt and inspirational. The memory of Red Cross volunteers’ assistance was worth everything the man had that day just so that another family could receive the same support from Red Cross volunteers in the future.

That anonymous man’s donation provided me with a deeply moving, personal philanthropic perspective. The perspective of donating a day’s worth of income, all your personal wealth from one day, to an organization that had impacted your life was tremendously uplifting.

It was a rare opportunity that I was not going to waste.  I returned to my table and shared my experience. Everyone was as awed and touched as I was. Our table host, Shanda Vangas, did the honors of delivering the donation to the Red Cross during the Gala.

I am so glad that I attended the Red Cross Ball so that I could support the lifesaving work of the Red Cross and so that I could cross paths with that man whose life was so touched by the Red Cross that he wanted to pay it forward in any way he could.

Jason’s photo booth image of black ties and friends.
(Jason - bottom row third from right. Shanda - top row third from left)